Monday, 2 March 2015

The History of 2874

The 28XX class of locomotives were designed by George Jackson Churchward of the Great Western Railway company for heavy freight work.  The prototype originally numbered 97, but later renumbered as 2800 first steamed in 1903.  In 1905, production commenced continuing until 1919. The class remained at work until the last one, 2876 was withdrawn on 31/01/65, so the class as a whole had a service life in excess of sixty years. The 28XX class was the first UK design of 2-8-0 locomotive.  

The principle work of the 28XX class was long haul heavy freight trains.  The sealing of the internal steam pipes was one of the few problems encountered with the class and commencing in 1934, most of them had external replacements.  2874 was among the few that retained internal steam pipes and is the only one of those in preservation likely to steam again.  The only other possible contenders are 2861 which survived at Barry Island scrap yard only to be cannibalised for parts to use on Didcot's Night Owl project2818 which is part of the National Railway Museum's collection and unlikely to be restored to steam and 2873 which survives in a sort of limbo, the chassis owned by the South Devon Railway and the boiler owned by Tyseley.  

From 1909, all 28XX locos were fitted with superheaters and ones built before that retrofitted. When in 1938, Collett embarked on building the 2884 class of heavy freight locomotives, his design differed from Churchward's in few material ways, the most obvious being the use of external steam pipes from the start and a side window to the cab which bears testimony to how essentially correct Churchward's original design had been.

2874 was built in Swindon to Churchward’s design and was part of a batch of 28 to Lot 210, Diagram I and had Works Orders of 2762 - 2789 respectively. Work started in 1918 and was completed at the end of November. The recorded cost to build was £4992 and when the tender was included £6193. It was rated 8F with a tractive effort of 35,380 lbs weighed out at 92 tons 12cwt with its tender.  The tenders used by these locomotives were almost exclusively the Churchward 3500 gallon models.

Coming into traffic on 4th December 1918 it was just too late to help with the major war effort where its class colleagues provided valuable assistance to the Royal Navy in hauling coal from the Welsh coalfields to numerous ports in the Western region and up into Lancashire for onward movement to Scapa Flow – the so-called “Jellicoe Specials”. The first shed was Old Oak Common where it worked turn and turn about on the coal trains from Wales to London - later homes included Reading, Leamington, Tyseley, Neath, Cardiff, Banbury (1947), Stourbridge Newport , Aberdare and its final one again at Neath. There is a lovely photo on the Warwickshire Railways website of her standing at Tyseley on Sunday 21st June 1931. Note that the photo on that link, the "Great Western" logo on the tender has faded to the point of being barely discernable.  There is a fine rake of clerestory coaches in the background too.  The loco was condemned on 24th May 1963 and sold to Woodham Bros on 9th October that year after a working life of 44 years.
2874 at Shrewsbury, photo courtesy of M. L. Boakes
The above photo features the early BR 'Cycling Lion' crest on the tender implying a date of 1950 or later.

As with so many other steam locomotives fortunate enough to be sent to Barry Island Scrap Yard, 2874 wasn't cut up straight away, as the scrap yard's owner Dai Woodham preferred to cut up the many wagons that he had as they were quicker and easier to dispose of, leaving the locos until later. 
2874 at Barry in May 1967.  Creative Commons.
For many of those locos of course that gave preservationists a chance to act to save them and finally after 24 years, 2874 left Barry Island Scrap Yard in August 1987 becoming the 191st loco to be saved from there.  As part of the Terry Rippingdale collection of locos, 2874 waited its turn for overhaul at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway for a further 21 years before being sold on to the West Somerset Railway (WSR) in April 2008. 
2874 languishing at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway.
The original intention had been for the WSR to restore 2874 however it was ultimately sold to DMLL and eventually moved to the GWSR at Toddington. The Churchward 3500 gallon tender remains on the West Somerset Railway, DMLL having only purchased the locomotive itself. 
2874 at her new home at Toddington
2874 (far right) lined up at the GWSR's 2014 gala
As for the future, well here is how she might look when finished:
As she may eventually look, actually a photoshopped 3850.
We would welcome any photos of 2874 in traffic to include on this page and would be delighted if you could forward them to us along with the permission of the copyright holder to use them here. 

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