On the 1st of June 1948 Black 5 No.45253 left St. Pancras, bound for Manchester, on the first of her runs in the Mixed Traffic section of the 1948 Locomotibe Exchange Trials. The other locomotives in her pool were the B1 No.61251 Oliver Bury and the Bulleid West Country Class No.34005 Barnstaple, which was crewed by Nine Elms pair, George James driving, and George Reynolds firing.
During my own footplate service I worked on all three types; and in the case of No.34005 Barnstaple I worked on the actual engine. All I can say is that putting the Black 5 and B1 in the same category as a Bulleid ‘light’ Pacific was a bit of a mis-match, to put it mildly. And it wasn’t the only mis-match. The Southern engines were coupled to LMS tenders during their running on the Midland and the LMS engines were coupled to ‘Austerity’ tenders, when doing their turn on Southern metals. This was all brought about by of the lack of troughs on the Southern which meant that the tenders on the Southern engines didn’t have scoops.
However, despite these minor issues, the performance of the selected crews was highly professional, under what must have been challenging conditions, on a railway still recovering from the ravages of 5 years of warfare. And not just the hardware of the railway landscape and the p-way, but the railwaymen themselves who had been working on the footplate, in the stations, goods yards, and signal boxes, or on the p-way throughout the hostilities. To even be in a position, after less than 3 years since the war’s end, and only 4 months after the formation of British Railways, to organise and run the Locomotive Exchanges was, perhaps, miraculous.
The photo shows No.44806, now out of service, passing Esk Valley, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, with a Grosmont – Pickering service.
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