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GWR 31xx Class Large Prairie 2-6-2T No. 3116

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EbbwJunction1

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Can someone point me to a place where I can find any details of this locomotive, please?

I know that it was built in February 1905 under Lot No. 150 and allocated to Newport, and it's last shed was Tyseley, from where it was withdrawn in February 1939. However, I don't know when it went from Newport to Tyseley, or if there were any other allocations between those dates. Any other information would also be appreciated, please.

Thanks!
 
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Taunton

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3116, like its compatriots 3111 to 3149, was renumbered 5116 in 1929 when Collett did a rebuilding of them, with new superheated boilers and other changes to the fittings, to reclassify them and make them look the same as the new 51xx, and later 41xx, which also first came out in 1929. The rebuilds didn't last too well because the original frames were starting to get weak (a long-term feature of early Churchward designs, alas), some were withdrawn before WW2, as you state, and the rest not too long afterwards. This led to the unusual situation where the last one, 4179, was not actually built until just into 1950, but identical appearing locos of the same class were being withdrawn as life-expired 12 years or more earlier.

I can only tell you that at the Grouping in 1923 No 3116 was allocated to Wrexham Croes Newydd. GWR policy was locos due for heavy overhaul were replaced on departure from their home shed, they were then put through overhaul, placed in the Swindon Stock Shed, and wherever one was required then sent out from there. It was common thus through a locos life for it to have worked at widely distributed points. I would guess when the frames were withdrawn the quite recent superheated boiler went back into the pool; it might have even been placed on a new loco. 4130 to 4139 were turned out towards the end of 1939, there was then a gap until the rest were built post-war.
 
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EbbwJunction1

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Thank you, that's useful.

As far as I know, the photo that I have dates from the early 1900s. Here's two versions of it, taken from my mobile phone, so they're not very good! The reason I'm asking is that one of the gents in the picture (possibly the one second from left) may be my Grandfather, as he worked on the GWR at Newport.

Any advice will be appreciated - thank you.

20200611_120218.jpg20200611_120223.jpg
 

Taunton

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Given that some effort seems to have gone into this photo, not only by the old gentlemen but also posing the loco in a perfect rods-down position, it may have been the brand new one at the shed. Would 1905 fit?

At a time when almost all 2-cylinder locos had inside cylinders with thrust lines close to the centre, those big Churchward, American-inspired cylinders mounted out at the extremity of the loading gauge, as can be seen, set up considerable alternating thrust forces on the frames, which very slowly over time weakened the whole structure.
 

EbbwJunction1

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Thanks - yes, 1905 would fit, I think.

This is one of five pictures which were found when a shed at the house was being emptied a couple of months ago; in fact, I wasn't even aware that they were there, and I certainly don't remember seeing them before! There's another picture of a gentleman who we think may have been our Grandfather (or possibly his Father), and he does look a little like the person who's second from left on this picture. More research is necessary, we think!

I wasn't aware of the problems with these and other locos - would this have been the reason why they were rebuilt later?
 

Taunton

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I don't think it was regarded as a problem, just age. They could have got new frames, which Collett's design had beefed up, but as described here http://www.gwr.org.uk/no-prairies.html there were outside accounting controls in the 1920s-30s on what you spent on repairs and what on new build, which impacted on some other railways as well. The article also describes how the prominent tool boxes on the front running plate were moved to the cab early on, further dating the photo.
 

EbbwJunction1

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Thanks, that's a very interesting article.

The picture of 3117 in pre-1927 condition looks very much like the one in my photo, albeit much better! I think that when time allows, I'll get all of the photos restored and see how they come out. It'll help with the identification if nothing else!
 

Clarence Yard

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The National Archives have the GWR allocation books and 3116/5116 is shown as follows;

2/05 (new) - Newport, 8/07 - Canton, 10/13 - Severn Tunnel Junction, 2/15 - Swindon, 6/15 - Severn Tunnel Jct, 10/19- Canton, 3/21 - Croes Newydd, 1/22 - Chester, 9/24 - Bristol, 7/27 - Ebbw Jct, 10/27 - Wolverhampton Stafford Road, 6/28 - Leamington Spa, 12/32 - Stourbridge, 4/34 - Tyseley, 3/38 - Stafford Road, 5/38 - Tyseley. Withdrawn 3/39 and frames rebuilt as (new) 8107, to service in 8/39 with new build boiler 5847.

Newport would have been the old depot at High Street which may have been where this picture was taken when the loco was fairly new.

The comment about boiler re-use is spot on. GWR changed boilers regularly at overhaul or when the boiler required serious repairs and the last boiler that 5116 carried was 3748, an old 1911 boiler that had previously been on 5142. This boiler was overhauled at Wolverhampton in 3/38 (with what became known from the 1940's as a D repair, quite an extensive one) and then it was fitted to 5116. After a year with 5116 (only 21030 miles), it was given minor stay attention at Swindon and served for nearly 5 years with 5112 (111838 miles) before boiler 3748 was finally condemned.
 

WesternLancer

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Thanks - yes, 1905 would fit, I think.

This is one of five pictures which were found when a shed at the house was being emptied a couple of months ago; in fact, I wasn't even aware that they were there, and I certainly don't remember seeing them before! There's another picture of a gentleman who we think may have been our Grandfather (or possibly his Father), and he does look a little like the person who's second from left on this picture. More research is necessary, we think!

I wasn't aware of the problems with these and other locos - would this have been the reason why they were rebuilt later?
Looks like a quality photo and nice to find in your shed, even if woodworm seem to have started to enjoy the frame. Hope they look good after a careful clean up!
 

Taunton

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I'd overlooked that 5116 was one of those rebuilt (again), as 8107 in 1939, and lasted until 1962, though with a new boiler type (again), new frames, different driving wheels, etc it's debatable how much of the original was left. 10 locos were done, supposedly all the rest of the 40 onetime-31xx now-51xx would have been but the war intervened. Given that batches of straightforward 51xx were still being built new at the time (the 41xx series) one wonders why the revised design was not just built new and the older locos left as they were.

The 81xx locos were rebuilt with non-GWR standard 5'6" drivers instead of 5'8", and a 225psi instead of 200psi boiler. This was to the same drawing as the original boiler, but made of a stronger steel alloy. The 225psi boiler was what made the "London" 61xx locos different and stronger than the general 51xx type, but these had the normal 5'8" drivers, so the tractive effort and performance of the 81xx was even greater.

The 2" driving wheels reduction hardly seems worth doing, it must surely have been within the scrapping tolerance of the tyres on the older locos, especially as the frame design would need to be different. Seems to have been a Collett thing to knock a couple of inches off the standard driving wheel diameter and end up with an oddball size, the same was done with the mainstream Star/Castle/Saint 6'8" wheels for the Kings.

I never saw an 81xx, we never had any at Taunton, but we got four of the 61xx when they were displaced in London by diesels. On the Minehead run they were absolute favourites, likewise as Wellington bankers, the extra power really made a difference and, sometimes a bit surprising for locos transferred in, they arrived in superb mechanical condition. The 81xx should have given even a greater edge on that.

Strangely this is the second mention of 8107 here in recent times. At nationalisation it was at Cardigan, and finally withdrawn from Worcester in summer 1962. Someone questioned whether a Blue loco like an 81xx would be allocated to a place at the end of an ostensibly Yellow route like Cardigan, but there were a range of variations, as we discussed further here https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...rent-route-cleared.209140/page-5#post-4786961
 
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randyrippley

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The 2" driving wheels reduction hardly seems worth doing, it must surely have been within the scrapping tolerance of the tyres on the older locos, especially as the frame design would need to be different. Seems to have been a Collett thing to knock a couple of inches off the standard driving wheel diameter and end up with an oddball size, the same was done with the mainstream Star/Castle/Saint 6'8" wheels for the Kings.
Were they actually new wheels or were they old ones machined down?
Just wondering if they picked up stress cracks where the wheel met the tyre and machining them down fixed this
 

Clarence Yard

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They would have been new.

Having a smaller wheel diameter with a higher boiler pressure that, combined, made the locos better on acceleration seems to have been the aim.
 

EbbwJunction1

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Thank you, everyone, that's very useful.

Was the old depot at Newport High Street in the same place as the one that I remember, i.e. at the Cardiff end on the north side, please? If so, some of that (one of the large sheds) is still there and being used. Thanks.
 

Clarence Yard

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Lyons (1837 to 1947 book) has a plan which shows it there and says it was demolished in 1916. But the four road carriage and wagon shed towards the north end of the site remained.
 
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Bevan Price

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Would this make it any easier to try and identify the people in front of the loco?
NetCopy_GWR3116.jpg
 

EbbwJunction1

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Yes, Bevan, it would - thanks very much!

Can you send me a copy by e-mail, please? If you send me a message, I'll let you have my address.
 

EbbwJunction1

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Thanks - I've just sent you a message.

I've got another question for you all, please.

My sister and I agree that the gentleman is our Paternal Grandfather. We know that he was a Cleaner in 1901 as that's how he's described in the 1901 Census. He eventually became a Driver, and was on the London Paddington route; my sister remembers hearing that he did this, and the crews had to stay in lodgings overnight before taking a train back the next day.

So, where is the best place for me to see if I can find his records, please? His name was William Archibald Stallard, born in 1884, retired c1949, died in 1966.

Thanks very much; if you have any questions, please let me know.
 
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