Michael L Roach
6836 Estevarney Grange
Apart from two months away at Carmarthen, 6836 was based at West Country engine sheds (Penzance, Newton Abbot and Laira) for more than eight years from May 1953 to October 1961. I saw the loco many times as it passed through Plymouth on passenger and freight trains during those eight years, and remember being intrigued by the name Estevarney; it did not sound English so perhaps it came from Wales or further afield. In 2021 I set out to find the big house that the locomotive was named after if indeed there was one. In Part 1 of this story, published on 17 June 2021, we saw a photo of 6836 at Dainton when it was shedded at Laira. Three months later in October 1961 the loco moved to Pontypool Road Shed where it was one of 17 Granges to be based at the shed in the 1960s, but not all at the same time. The shed closed in May 1965. From Pontypool 6836 would have worked passenger, parcels and freight trains over the hilly Welsh Marches line. There were four summits in the 43½ miles between Hereford and Newport alone of which the most famous was Llanvihangel involving a 7-mile climb in both directions to the summit. The road bridge across the line at the site of Llanvihangel Station was, and still is, a good place to see locomotives working hard.
The Granges at Pontypool Road shed would also have worked down the cross country line to Neath and Swansea via the Crumlin Viaduct, Quakers Yard and Aberdare, principally on longer distant freight trains. What marked 6836 out from the other Granges at Pontypool Road was that it was used on the last day of passenger trains between Pontypool Road and Neath which was Saturday 13 June 1964. The other locos in use that day on the last passenger trains were 3713, 4110, 4121 and 4639; but on a typical day the 56xx, 66xx and 84xx classes would also have put in appearances on passenger trains. The same month 6836 moved on again this time to Worcester Shed, where it was withdrawn from service in March 1965, reinstated a month later, and withdrawn again in August 1965. 6836 was still there at Worcester Shed on 28 November 1965 in the company of four other stored Granges: 6819, 6829, 6856 and 6876 plus 6 other stored steam locos. The following month the last three Granges were withdrawn: 6848, 6849 and 6872. On 6 May 1966 the last four steam locos at Worcester Shed were hauled away to Newport for scrapping by class 37 D6941 but 6836 was not amongst them having departed previously. None of the 80 Grange class locos was saved for preservation.
So where was the original Estevarney Grange after which 6836 was named. I could not find an Estevarney Grange and it appears that the Great Western Railway made up the name; indeed I suspect that the GWR made up most of the Grange names because none of them are well-known places like many of the other named Great Western locomotives: e.g. Dartington Hall or Caerphilly Castle. The only Estevarney I could find is located 2 miles north-west of the town of Usk in the valley of the River Usk and is an 11-bedroom farm house, listed Grade 2. Estevarney Farm was one of just 25 houses in the Parish of Monkswood and in the 1911 census is occupied by farmer William Glyn Arthur, aged 37 years, and his family. Living with him were a wife, 3 children, 3 farm workers and a domestic servant. All eight people were born in Wales or Monmouthshire but claim to be “English.” Heading south-west from Estevarney it is just four miles to Pontypool Road Station. I am sure that the shed master at Pontypool Road Shed would have known of 6836's local connections and rostered it to be used on the final day of passenger services for that reason. He is to be congratulated for a clever move, which most enthusiasts might not have appreciated at the time.
MLR/ 18 June 2021
4911 6836 Estevarney Grange is seen at Dainton on 15 July 1961.