Locomotive Exchanges in 1948

Joined
6 Nov 2017
Messages
1,055
What was the exact purpose of these exchange trials and were any useful lessons learned from them?
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Peter C

Established Member
Joined
13 Oct 2018
Messages
4,114
Location
GWR land
The 1948 trials were used to test engines from each of the "Big Four" railway companies on other companies' routes, in order to try and find the best bits of their design which could then be incorporated into the BR Standards. BR had been formed that year.
Wikipedia says the following:
The 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials were organised by the newly nationalised British Railways (BR). Locomotives from the former "Big Four" constituent companies (GWR, LMS, LNER, SR) were transferred to and worked on other regions. Officially, these comparisons were to identify the best qualities of the four different schools of thought of locomotive design so that they could be used in the planned BR standard designs. However, the testing had little scientific rigour, and political influence meant that LMS practice was largely followed by the new standard designs regardless. However, the trials were useful publicity for BR to show the unity of the new British Railways. To record the locomotive performances, one of three dynamometer cars were included in the consist directly behind the locomotive (with a GWR, LMS and NER version being available).

LMS engines which operated over the Southern Region, where there were no water troughs, were paired with four-axled ex-WD tenders with larger water tanks. These were specially given LMS lettering for the occasion. Similarly, ex-Southern types used elsewhere were paired with ex-LMS tenders with water scoops.

-Peter :)
 
Joined
6 Nov 2017
Messages
1,055
The 1948 trials were used to test engines from each of the "Big Four" railway companies on other companies' routes, in order to try and find the best bits of their design which could then be incorporated into the BR Standards. BR had been formed that year.
Wikipedia says the following:


-Peter :)
Thank you. So, in effect, little useful was learned?

I remember in G. F Fiennes famous memoirs he described how borrowed Battle Of Britain locomotives wiped the floor with the B1s he was used to. Yet when a few years later I started train spotting, B1s (61000 series) were still in regular use.
 

Peter C

Established Member
Joined
13 Oct 2018
Messages
4,114
Location
GWR land
Thank you. So, in effect, little useful was learned?

I remember in G. F Fiennes famous memoirs he described how borrowed Battle Of Britain locomotives wiped the floor with the B1s he was used to. Yet when a few years later I started train spotting, B1s (61000 series) were still in regular use.
You're welcome :)
I actually know very little about the trials apart from what I said in my first post, so I can't help with specifics, but having read that bit of the Wikipedia article I quoted, I'd say you're right in that little was learnt. I don't think the BR Standards were ever really supposed to completely (if at all) replace existing classes (other than perhaps some really old ones?), so Big Four designs hanging around wouldn't have been odd. From what I've read it also wouldn't have been odd to see Big Four engines all over the place - I've seen a few photos of Southern Railway locomotives at Oxford, for example.

-Peter
 

Irascible

Member
Joined
21 Apr 2020
Messages
876
Location
South-West
Thank you. So, in effect, little useful was learned?

I remember in G. F Fiennes famous memoirs he described how borrowed Battle Of Britain locomotives wiped the floor with the B1s he was used to. Yet when a few years later I started train spotting, B1s (61000 series) were still in regular use.

Just the logistics alone would preclude having a few members of certain grouping classes sprinkled around the country, quite aside from them all being in use for what they were built for! in that respect the Standard classes were a better idea, although in retrospect just building more of what regions already had might have been an even better one - this was policy anyway for a few years. Bullied's pacifics were well ahead of anything else we ever built in some areas, especially the boilers, so it's not surprising they performed so well. My own suspicion was that even if something was learned, the team behind the Standards would already have their own idea of what they wanted anyway...

As an aside Bullied was offered the CME post at the LNER when Gresley died, so Fiennes might have ended up with Bullied B1s if OVS was in a different mood that day!
 

MarlowDonkey

Member
Joined
4 Apr 2013
Messages
1,081
I've seen a few photos of Southern Railway locomotives at Oxford, for example.
Through trains from the Southern Region to the Midlands and North regularly changed engines at Oxford. It's a route still used by Cross Country from Bournemouth to this day.
 

Peter C

Established Member
Joined
13 Oct 2018
Messages
4,114
Location
GWR land
Through trains from the Southern Region to the Midlands and North regularly changed engines at Oxford. It's a route still used by Cross Country from Bournemouth to this day.
Ah OK - I didn't know that. Thanks! Makes sense for them to change there.

-Peter
 

John Webb

Established Member
Joined
5 Jun 2010
Messages
2,272
Location
St Albans
Through trains from the Southern Region to the Midlands and North regularly changed engines at Oxford. It's a route still used by Cross Country from Bournemouth to this day.
Through trains from the LMS/ BR LM Region were also common at Oxford - even Eastern Region trains running through from the Great Central via Banbury, so a wide range of locos could be seen at this important interchange.
 

pdeaves

Established Member
Joined
14 Sep 2014
Messages
4,424
Location
Gateway to the South West
I suspect, though have never read and have no other evidence, that the exchanges were mainly about 'proving' to the various regions that their views had been taken into account in new designs, rather than having 'X-region's designs imposed on them.
 

JohnElliott

Member
Joined
15 Sep 2014
Messages
187
Fiennes' trials of Bulleid Light Pacifics were because his area was due to receive a batch of Britannias, and since the Britannias themselves weren't ready he borrowed the nearest equivalent to get some idea of what timings they'd be capable of.
 

Gloster

Established Member
Joined
4 Sep 2020
Messages
2,681
Location
Up the creek
I have always understood that the top level of the new BR CME’s department was heavily weighted towards the LMS. Riddles himself was a long-serving LNWR/LMS employee, but with a useful period in the Ministry of Supply. It seems that they were already set on continuing LMS practices and the exchanges were little more than a sop to give the impression of taking into account the views of the other three companies. No doubt, had something useful become apparent its lessons would have been incorporated in future designs, but it was unlikely that anything would: there were only four CMEs and all kept up with the others’ designs and ideas (Bulleid being full of them).
 

70014IronDuke

Established Member
Joined
13 Jun 2015
Messages
2,968
Thank you. So, in effect, little useful was learned?

I remember in G. F Fiennes famous memoirs he described how borrowed Battle Of Britain locomotives wiped the floor with the B1s he was used to. Yet when a few years later I started train spotting, B1s (61000 series) were still in regular use.
Just because one locomotive outperforms another in terms of haulage power doesn't mean the lower performance one (in terms of speed) in inferior as an economic tool for hauling stuff around.

B1s were actually excellent locomotives - of their type. Low on maintenance costs (relatively) and low on fuel.

Naturally, a Bulleid pacific, with a bigger firebox, bigger boiler and bigger set of cylinders SHOULD outperform a B1 - or something is dramatically wrong.

A Bulleid will also have a bigger thirst for fuel, water and maintenance downtime. (In fact, for the original Bulleid, it had a HUGE difference in terms of maintenance down time - they looked great but they were a complicated, troublesome design. )

But are you sure Fiennes compared the Bulleid with the B1s and not 3-cylinder B17s, which were the GE's principal express engine?
 

eastdyke

Established Member
Joined
25 Jan 2010
Messages
1,902
Location
East Midlands
.......
But are you sure Fiennes compared the Bulleid with the B1s and not 3-cylinder B17s, which were the GE's principal express engine?
He did (compare the Bulleid to B1's).
'I tried to run a railway', page 80 (reprint edition Head of Zeus 2016):
To minimise the amount of faith about the capacity of the Pacifics - now named Britannias - we borrowed from the Southern for trials two Battle of Britain class engines. We took these Spam Cans out. On the first run with 400 tons behind us we topped Brentwood Bank at 56mph with the Can BLOWING OFF. What a change from B1s at 42 with the water bumping about in the bottom of the glass. On another we deliberately ran down the fire till we had 110 lbs. of steam only. The fireman then hurled Grade 3 coal into the firebox for 15 minutes until it was up to the firehole door. Such treatment would have killed a B1 or any Thompson or Gresley engine stone dead. The Can just ate it all ..... etc.
In the context of the thread the Spam Cans were not borrowed as part of the 1948 trials but to design an enhanced timetable ahead of the arrival of the Britannias to Great Eastern section. Spam Cans were again later borrowed to fill in for Britannias when axle issues (the axles 'went round faster than the wheels, which wasn't so good for the motion') were initially experienced before modification.
 

341o2

Established Member
Joined
17 Oct 2011
Messages
1,397
Yes, what happened is that Feinnes designed a timetable based on a regular interval depature from Liverpool St every hour, this, combined with LE movements would result in a daily mileage of over 500 for each engine, needing decent coal and water capacity. The B1's did not have such capacity. The spam cans were borrowed to demonstrate that the timetable was feasible with the right, that is to say more modern and powerful locos.
 
Last edited:

Irascible

Member
Joined
21 Apr 2020
Messages
876
Location
South-West
I have always understood that the top level of the new BR CME’s department was heavily weighted towards the LMS. Riddles himself was a long-serving LNWR/LMS employee, but with a useful period in the Ministry of Supply. It seems that they were already set on continuing LMS practices and the exchanges were little more than a sop to give the impression of taking into account the views of the other three companies. No doubt, had something useful become apparent its lessons would have been incorporated in future designs, but it was unlikely that anything would: there were only four CMEs and all kept up with the others’ designs and ideas (Bulleid being full of them).

I think this one is an underappreciated point - members of all the CME departments went on trips together to look at the ideas of other countries & so forth, and of course Bullied was a GNR/LNER man, Ivatt's father was CME of the GNR ( and Bullied's father in law ), Stanier came from Swindon, etc etc so there was already a crossover before you start considering they were all members of various Engineer's societies. And that's without the input from the numerous private works in the country too.
 

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,701
Riddles was just wanting to continue LMS practice; apparently in the late 1930s he only reluctantly got on with Stanier, who was regarded as an interloper in the LMS hierarchy, and Stanier eventually shuffled him sideways to an invented senior position in Scotland, giving the heir apparent position to Fairbairn instead. Notably Riddles gave all the BR Standard express loco design and production jobs to his old mates at Crewe.

The Britannias were initially put, on arrival on the Western, onto the Cornish Riviera, apparently at 222 Marylebone Road's instruction. At least one dropped a fusible plug going over the summit at Dainton. It was a shared duty between Old Oak and Laira, the latter doing the Up service on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, lodging and and returning the next day. In days when management staff still worked, though at a lesser pace, on Saturday mornings, Riddles would apparently gather together a few seniors to be impressed, and get a taxi over to Paddington mid-morning to see it depart. An inspector hot-footed over when the bigwigs were seen to arrive, to stand between them and the Plymouth loco crew, just in case "Mr Riddles, Sir" asked the crew what they thought of the Britannia, and received a frank reply ...
 

AM9

Established Member
Joined
13 May 2014
Messages
10,423
Location
St Albans
Riddles was just wanting to continue LMS practice; apparently in the late 1930s he only reluctantly got on with Stanier, who was regarded as an interloper in the LMS hierarchy, and Stanier eventually shuffled him sideways to an invented senior position in Scotland, giving the heir apparent position to Fairbairn instead. Notably Riddles gave all the BR Standard express loco design and production jobs to his old mates at Crewe.

The Britannias were initially put, on arrival on the Western, onto the Cornish Riviera, apparently at 222 Marylebone Road's instruction. At least one dropped a fusible plug going over the summit at Dainton. It was a shared duty between Old Oak and Laira, the latter doing the Up service on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, lodging and and returning the next day. In days when management staff still worked, though at a lesser pace, on Saturday mornings, Riddles would apparently gather together a few seniors to be impressed, and get a taxi over to Paddington mid-morning to see it depart. An inspector hot-footed over when the bigwigs were seen to arrive, to stand between them and the Plymouth loco crew, just in case "Mr Riddles, Sir" asked the crew what they thought of the Britannia, and received a frank reply ...
Although, I'm sure the petulance and intransigence of the CMEs and their favoured flunkies played a part in rendering the exchanges as largely publicity exercises, I have read somewhere that a useful output of the swaps was learning how sensitive some locos were to different coal types. The most obvious one was Swindon designs' performance being particularly dependent on anthracite, which in 'real' GWR days was an obvious choice of fuel as most anthracite came from south Wales.
 

Titfield

Member
Joined
26 Jun 2013
Messages
587
An almost futile exercise more for quasi political reasons to demonstrate it was "one railway" ie locos could run perfectly well on foreign metals rather than any serious attempt to yield reliable data.

Bonavia in his books British Railways The First 25 Years points out:
1. there was no common standard of driving.
2. there was no common policy or uniformity for conducting
3. the locos could have been sent to the Rugby testing station for trials which would have removed some of the variables.

Perhaps of course it was completely irrelevant as Riddles wanted to design and build his own locos no matter how good any of the pre nationalisation types were.
 

chorleyjeff

Member
Joined
3 May 2013
Messages
569
Thank you. So, in effect, little useful was learned?

I remember in G. F Fiennes famous memoirs he described how borrowed Battle Of Britain locomotives wiped the floor with the B1s he was used to. Yet when a few years later I started train spotting, B1s (61000 series) were still in regular use.
Did you think those then modern class 5 engines should have been scrapped to be replaced with class 7 engines while other much older engines were retained ?
 

randyrippley

Established Member
Joined
21 Feb 2016
Messages
3,793
Although, I'm sure the petulance and intransigence of the CMEs and their favoured flunkies played a part in rendering the exchanges as largely publicity exercises, I have read somewhere that a useful output of the swaps was learning how sensitive some locos were to different coal types. The most obvious one was Swindon designs' performance being particularly dependent on anthracite, which in 'real' GWR days was an obvious choice of fuel as most anthracite came from south Wales.
Anthracite? I thought the GWR used Welsh steam coal, which is not the same thing
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,899
Location
Herts
Anthracite? I thought the GWR used Welsh steam coal, which is not the same thing

Anthracite (and trust me , I know a bit about it with a father who did 44 years down an anthracite mine , (and ended up as Duty Manager) , is not loco fuel - slow burning and pure carbon almost. Great for brewing and slow combustion.

The 1948 "trials" were a total waste of time , but great fun for enthusiasts etc. Nothing to be proved really.
 

Shaw S Hunter

Established Member
Joined
21 Apr 2016
Messages
2,345
Location
Sunny South Lancs
Although I am technically old enough to have seen it I grew up in the "wrong" part of the country and have no actual memories of working steam so tended to have the prejudiced view of steam locos being just mobile kettles. However when I later developed a more serious interest in railways I eventually became aware of the 1948 exchanges and was sufficiently intrigued that I borrowed a copy of Cecil J Allen's authoritative book on the subject.

Now that was many years ago but I remember being somewhat disappointed that in practice the exchanges were of little real value other than in reinforcing ideas already well established. In particular the benefits of designing for the highest steam pressure possible and that it is possible for fireboxes and boilers to be optimised to work on a specific fuel.

Mention has been made of CMEs having various opportunities to exchange ideas but this was not limited to the British engineers and lessons were also learned from French designers especially Chapelon as evidenced by the eventual adoption of his Kylchap double chimney design which transformed the A3s in the 1950s.

As for the BR Standards I think that they tend to be rather under-appreciated largely due to their significantly shortened lives. What might have been...
 

Rescars

Member
Joined
25 May 2021
Messages
65
Location
Coulsdon
Anthracite (and trust me , I know a bit about it with a father who did 44 years down an anthracite mine , (and ended up as Duty Manager) , is not loco fuel - slow burning and pure carbon almost. Great for brewing and slow combustion.

The 1948 "trials" were a total waste of time , but great fun for enthusiasts etc. Nothing to be proved really.
A bit off topic, but anthracite burns pretty smoke free was used to fuel kitchen car ovens in the pre propane gas era, though it needed a forced draft to reach the right temperature.
 

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,701
It wasn't just the 1948 loco exchanges that seem badly and minimally prepared, it occurred elsewhere. In 1925 the GWR (with a Castle) and the LNER (with an A1 Pacific) exchanged locos for a week on London to Leeds and to Plymouth. The outcome was the Castle was felt to have performed brilliantly (and speaking of Cecil J Allen, he timed it), and the Pacific poorly, especially west of Newton Abbot, and even lost time. But the latter was just sent over on a Monday morning with a footplate crew completely unprepared for it, being given a GWR conductor, and it was of course Welsh coal which they were quite unused to. Churchward did prepare a bit better, and the Old Oak crew were sent the previous week to hang out of the window of the first coach of a Leeds train to get a bit of a feel for the line, which LNER supporters described as "sneaky". It wasn't as if it was just a trivial test - apart from Allen's timing, it got into the national press.

Incidentally, I believe that after the A1 (4474 Victor Wild) in 1925, the next LNER Pacific through Taunton was Pegler's Flying Scotsman in late 1963. I've got a childish out-of-focus box camera photo of it somewhere which I took, coming off the train there.
 
Last edited:
Joined
6 Nov 2017
Messages
1,055
Did you think those then modern class 5 engines should have been scrapped to be replaced with class 7 engines while other much older engines were retained ?
I didn't then and don't now have a strong opinion one way or the other. I do think in a period when new locomotives are being supplied, it makes sense to scrap existing locomotives with the worst cost/performance ratio.
 

181

Member
Joined
12 Feb 2013
Messages
531
Anthracite (and trust me , I know a bit about it with a father who did 44 years down an anthracite mine , (and ended up as Duty Manager) , is not loco fuel - slow burning and pure carbon almost. Great for brewing and slow combustion.

The 1948 "trials" were a total waste of time , but great fun for enthusiasts etc. Nothing to be proved really.

Apparently some of the American railroads used anthracite in locomotives; I've put some information in a new thread because it's off-topic for this one.
 

Journeyman

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2014
Messages
6,278
A minor point and I admit to being a bit of a pedant - do you think we could spell Mr Bulleid's name correctly?
I suspect it gets autocorrected without people noticing.

What's the correct pronunciation, anyway? Bull-eed? Bull-eyed? Something else?
 

AM9

Established Member
Joined
13 May 2014
Messages
10,423
Location
St Albans
I suspect it gets autocorrected without people noticing.

What's the correct pronunciation, anyway? Bull-eed? Bull-eyed? Something else?
If it's of German origins it would be pronounced bull-eyed, - but with names many invent weird ways to pronounce them for all sorts of reasons and the chastise those who didn't guess right first time.
 

Irascible

Member
Joined
21 Apr 2020
Messages
876
Location
South-West
I suspect it gets autocorrected without people noticing.

Guilty! oops. And of course once autocorrected your brain tends to go with it in subsequent posts even without autocorrect.

What's the correct pronunciation, anyway? Bull-eed? Bull-eyed? Something else?

"Reid" as an english surname seems to be pronounced read/reed so I always assumed that's how Mr Bulleid's sounded, but as AM9 said, "however he pronounced it." Super helpful I know :)
 

Top