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Bromsgrove 1956

At the beginning of the year there was new that the Birmingham to Bristol route had been passed for the Britannia pacifics and 10100, the Fell diesel. However,  whilst the first visit of a Britannia was consequently not in the too distant  future  the Fell diesel has never been recorded passing Bromsgrove.

Unexpected Locomotives at Bromsgrove  

An unexpected visitor on Sunday 26th January was former GWR 2-8-0 freight  engine 3831(84C  Banbury) noted climbing  Lickey Incline with a ballast  train  from Droitwich to Kings  Norton. The most unusual visitor in February was  Carlisle Kingmoor  Black '5' 45138 (68A) on a Birmingham to Bristol parcels on 14th  February. During  February complaints by residents living near the incline caused  the Chief Sanitary Officer of the Bromsgrove District Council to raise the matter  with the Midlands Smoke Abatement Council in Birmingham. With trains being  banked by two or more steam engines  "the countryside was blotted out by a  huge black pall of smoke". By March, Toton (18A) Class 9F 2-10-0's were  regularly  employed on freights down to Westerleigh  Sidings, near  Bristol. The beginning  of  January 92056/7/8/9 were allocated new to 18A whilst 92050/1 were transferred from Wellingborough .Then in April came the first recorded  visit of a Britannia locomotive, as  mentioned  earlier. 70032 'Tennyson' (from 9A  Longsight, Manchester) headed a Birmingham to Bristol excursion on 7th April for  a school rugby international  and  brought the return working  back.

End of Big Berta  

May brought, sadly, the  withdrawal of the Lickey  banker 58100 'Big Berta', after 36 years service, and her replacement by Standard 2-10-0 92079, complete with  headlight. An obituary in  the July 1956  edition of Trains  Illustrated was as follows: "Farewell  to  'Big Berta' after the uproar when her imminent demise was  falsely rumoured a few months  ago, the quiet replacement of the celebrated 0-10-0  Lickey banker by 2-10-0 92079 at the end of the first week of May was  a  decided shock. The  Lickey Hills won't be the same now. Still more will  their traditional atmosphere be altered if,  as we hear, even the stout little 'Jinty' 0-6-0's  are to be displaced from their banking  jobs by Western '9400' Class  pannier  tanks -  probably seven of the later examples in the '34XX' series. Big Berta',  'Big Emma', or just plain 'Liz'  her nicknames were many - was conceived in Derby Works before the First World War, but  because of the hostilities she was not built until the end of 1919,  turning out for her first trial on New Year's  Day 1920. About a fortnight later she began work and for the next 36 years apart  from a  brief trial elsewhere and time off for overhaul at Derby, her whole  career was  spent blazing away  at  the  back of trains toiling up  the  two-mile 1 in 37 Lickey Incline, then  coasting down the hill again from Blackwell to  Bromsgrove for her next  job. The only interlude in this dead-end  job occurred in 1924, when the     0-10-0 was sent to Wellingborough  for  trials on Toton to Brent  coal trains, which soon proved that her forte was the hard work over short  distances for which she  had  been designed. This  apart, 'Big Berta' had a rest  about once a year for overhaul  at Derby,  during which boilers were changed (a  spare boiler the  type built in December 1922). She was  always  given  priority when she rolled into the works and was turned round and sent back to Bromsgrove shed as quickly as  possible. Other large engines came to Lickey  but failed to  conquer.  There was the  LNWR 0-8-4 tank, 7953, which had a short spell on the  bank in the 1929-30 winter; and LMS  Beyer-Barratt, 47998, which was  pitted  against  the  'Jinties'  in 1934; and more recently,  of course,  the unhappy LNER Garratt, 69999, on which so much  time  and labour was lavished in an  unsuccessful effort to adapt her for Lickey helper  duty. 'Big Bertha' outlived  them all, and one began to wonder if she had the secret of eternal  youth; but  not so a pigeon special to Mangotsfield on 12th May was hauled by Newton  Heath  Jubilee 45642 'Boscawen' (a rare visitor). Incidentally, this engine had  been observed in Aberdeen 12 days earlier, so it was obviously in a roving mood: was the last train to be banked by Big Berta.

Summer visitors to Bromsgrove  

On a visit to Bromsgrove on Sunday 27th May the following locomotives were noted on shed (21C) 43186/43762/47308/47565/47638 working 47313, and 47303/47425  banking up 44066 June turned out to be a much more interesting month, beginning with the first visit to the line since the war of a former LNER B1 Class. Towards the end of June, clearance  tests of former GWR engines were conducted on the Camp Hill  line; pannier 0-6-0 9432 84E Tyseley) was noted on 24th June, and was apparently fouling the tunnels. Six  days later on Saturday 30th June two Worcester based 0-6-0 tender locomotives 3216 and 3217 visited Bromsgrove to head a Bromsgrove to Porthcawl excursion. Yet another unusual visitor was noted during the month, although the exact date is unclear; Somerset and Dorset 2-8-0 53804 was observed in the down sidings at Blackwell, as a light engine, presumably returning to Bath from Derby Works. By July and August, the holiday traffic was at its peak, bringing unusual 'foreign'  locomotives. Some  of  the more notable visitors  passing Bromsgrove were:

Saturday 14th July  

45665 'Lord Rutherford of Nelson' (67A Corkerhill) on  the  westbound 'Devonian',  returning  north  with  the 1920  Bristol to Newcastle mail train  

Saturday 28th July  

45687 'Nepture' (also 67A) on the westbound 'Devonian' into Bristol

Tuesday 31st July     

92049 (18A  Toton) which was the first 9F-type to  be seen at Bath Green Park, although  details of its arrival are not known

Saturday 4th August  

44883 (68A Carlisle Kingmoor) 0640 Leicester to Paignton  

Saturday 4th August  

45508 (10B Preston) 0730  Bradford to Bristol  

7th August  

45112 (also 68A) northbound freight leaving Bristol 

Tuesday 7th August  

45163 (also 68A) 1358 Derby to Bristol parcels  

Saturday 11th August  

73100 (67A Corkerhill) 0955 Bournemouth to Leeds 

Saturday 11th August  

44993  (also 68A) 1230 Bournemouth to Loughborough  

Saturday 11th August  

42888 (11E Lancaster) 0640  Derby to Weston-Super-Mare  

Saturday 11th August  

45515 'Caernarvon' (8A Edge Hill) 09.25 Bournemouth to Manchester  

Saturday 18th August  

45529  'Stevenson' (5A Crewe) a pigeon special to Mangotsfield, then the 1932 Bristol to Birmingham 

Sunday 19th August  

45529 again, on the 1935  Bristol to Darlington. During the rest  of the year motive  power was fairly predictable with just a few surprises.  

Former GWR locomotive gets to Birmingham New Street   

On Friday 21st September, due to a derailment at Malvern, the  usual Ivatt Class 4 2-6-0 could not be made available to work the 0924 Malvern to Birmingham New Street; instead former GWR 0-6-0 tender engine 3217 (85A Worcester) was substituted, working through to New Street, returning on the 1355 to Worcester. This was apparently the first passenger train to visit Birmingham New Street with a former GWR locomotive at the helm.

More unusual visitors  

Then on Thursday 6th December another former GWR type, this  time 7819 'Hinton Manor '(now preserved on the Severn Valley Railway) was used on a 20 hopper ballast  train from Droitwich to Barnt Green. Finally on Friday 28th December, 92114 visited  Worcester before heading a Droitwich to Washwood Heath empties freight, the  first recorded visit  of this class to Worcester, emphasising how the rapidly growing numbers of the British Railways standard locomotives were spreading  throughout the rail network.