Great Western '97XX' class 0-6-0PTs

euryalus

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Back in the 1960s the range of locomotives available to railway modellers was somewhat limited. However, K's produced '00' and 'TT' gauge kits for the construction of '97XX' class condensing panniers and, in consequence, these models ran on many layouts, including branch line layouts set in locations such as Devon or Cornwall. In reality, the eleven '97XX' class 0-6-0PTs were stationed at Old Oak and they rarely ventured far from Paddington. There was, neverthless, some debate over the use of these engines on branch lines, and in this context I have often wondered if they ever worked on the Staines West branch - Cyril Freezer remembered a run from Paddington to Uxbridge behind one of these locomotives, which suggests that they may also have appeared at Staines, the working of the Staines and Uxbridge lines being, in some cases, quite closely linked?
 
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Gloster

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Would the Staines West branch have been a Southall, or even a Slough, duty, rather than an Old Oak Common one? It would seem unlikely that a special type such as this would be lent out if either of the other depots was temporarily short. However, volume 6 of Shed by Shed lists 9707 as being allocated to Southall from 11/63 to 8/64, so it is just possible, unless the loco was OOU throughout its time there.
 
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euryalus

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The Staines West branch was a Southall duty, which is why I think No.9707 may have occasionally worked freight services on the line (?)
 

Gloster

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Two small points: the Staines West passenger service went entirely over to diesel-railcars in October 1958; it had been diesel-railcars in the off-peak since 1955. Goods services south of Colnbrook ceased in October 1953; the fuel traffic only started eleven years later. (Source: disused-stations website.)

As proof of the ‘prototype for everything’ theory there is a photo of condensing tank 9710 working a goods at Swan Village in the West Midlands in the late 1950s. It had probably been to Wolverhampton for work; the type also went to Caerphilly.
 
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Taunton

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The condensing Panniers ran two or three trips a day through to Smithfield depot. This could readily be handled by one locomotive. Having eleven of them was thus a complete overprovision, and they got used for the normal range of Pannier duties elsewhere. I just saw the last of them, never experienced one running over the Circle but there were usually one or two around Old Oak and on the line inwards. They were commonly overhauled at Wolverhampton works so could be seen around there on running in turns, and also at points along the line back to London.

The condensing gear was only used on the tunnel section, and not always then as it soon heated up the water in the tank and caused injector problems, though they had a feed water pump fitted as well. A valve operated from the footplate turned it on or off inside the smokebox, and likely it didn't get used that much on any one loco. Further valves allowed the crew to discharge the water from the tanks, so they could refill with cold from the column, so what ought to have saved water could end up the opposite. The locos had replaced old GWR saddle tanks which had been fitted with the same gear.

Further description of them by the people at Didcot :

 
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Gloster

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The condensing Panniers ran two or three trips a day through to Smithfield depot. This could readily be handled by one locomotive. Having eleven of them was thus a complete overprovision, and they got used for the normal range of Pannier duties elsewhere. I just saw the last of them, never experienced one running over the Circle but there were usually one or two around Old Oak and on the line inwards. They were commonly overhauled at Wolverhampton works so could be seen around there on running in turns, and also at points along the line back to London.

The condensing gear was only used on the tunnel section, and not always then as it soon heated up the water in the tank and caused injector problems, though they had a feed water pump fitted as well. A valve operated from the footplate turned it on or off inside the smokebox, and likely it didn't get used that much on any one loco. Further valves allowed the crew to discharge the water from the tanks, so they could refill with cold from the column, so what ought to have saved water could end up the opposite. The locos had replaced old GWR saddle tanks which had been fitted with the same gear.
I think that when they were ordered there were anything up to a dozen trains a day, with a fair number in the morning to get the meat that had been brought up by the overnight goods trains to market. Therefore there would have been several duties and, although eleven locos might seem an overprovision, better to have more locos than you need of a type that can do other work, than too few of one that cannot be substituted by any other type.
 

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