I have no doubt that this locomotive has featured before on this blog, as it is a visitor to the GWSR courtesy of the Mid-Hants railway, but no matter, it was one of the highlights of the weekend, and I have a fair few pictures of this locomotive, so I’ll write about it anyway!
You could never have a line up of BR black workhorses without having one of these locomotives, so associated with the colour they are even called black fives. Black fives were a success story almost to begin with, with only a few minor modifications along the way. By the time 45379 was built in 1937 the class were regarded as a complete success, so much so that when BR came to designing their standard classes, their standard was almost a direct copy.
45379 has been to a number of places in her working life, as a piece of scrap and in preservation. She began her life at Crewe, moving to Rugby on nationalisation, back to Crewe for a bit, moving to Bletchley and ending her working days at Willesden. Although many of her classmates survived right up until the end of steam 45379 was withdrawn in 1965 ending up at the infamous Barry Scrapyard, where after being saved by the Avon Valley railway, she went to the Great Central before ending up at the Mid-Hants. It returned to steam in 2010 for the first time in 45 years and has become a regular performer on her home railway.
I had several rides behind her over the weekend, including the only triple header of the weekend (rather difficult to picture, but it consisted of 45379, 48274 and 1501) on Monday morning. She did cause a bit of worry Sunday afternoon, when news was circulating of a falling brick arch. We were pleased to see her rounding chicken curve not too much later though, and on speaking to the driver informed that although a couple of bricks had fallen with some cracks too, it was fine to carry on through the weekend. I have no doubt it will be being fixed as I write, as it’s also rostered for normal running next weekend before returning to the Mid-Hants some time soon.
It was wonderful to have a black five on the line, a first in preservation times. It was rather fitting as the last service train hauled over the line in BR days was a parcels train with a black five at its head. It is also a sign of things to come, with 44901 (or what’s left of it) soon to be moving to the railway for restoration. this was one of the “Barry ten” the last few locos that weren’t removed from Barry when the yard shut. It is currently without a boiler but it is hoped that one can be obtained from one of the LMS 8Fs (see tomorrow’s post!) abroad. the society’s website is here, one day, 44901 too will feature in a GWSR gala hopefully, although it may be some time yet…