- PART 44
Michael L Roach
Exeter St. Davids is the main railway station serving the city of Exeter – population 133,000 – now 173 miles from Paddington via Westbury. However when the station opened in 1844 it was the western terminus of the Bristol & Exeter Railway and all trains to and from London ran via Bristol giving a distance of 194 miles to the capital. The station remained a terminus until the line was extended to Teignmouth in 1846 by the South Devon Railway. The B&ER, the SDR and the Cornwall Railway amalgamated with Great Western Railway in 1876; and the GWR carried out many improvements to St. Davids over the years between 1876 and 1947. The railways of Britain were nationalised on 1 January 1948. Latest figures for usage of the station are 2,200,000 plus 900,000 changing trains. As built the station was one of Brunel's infamous single-sided stations with one long platform to serve trains in both directions. This article is a follow-up to Part 43 to show more photos taken on the same day when I had made a half day trip to Exeter from Plymouth i.e 28 July 1962.
4-4-0 No. 16 “Brunel”
In Part 42 I outlined how a driver from Wolverhampton was expected to take 18 coaches out of Paddington on a night train to Birmingham and Liverpool on Christmas Eve 1906. The engine he was given for this mammoth load was no. 16 “Brunel” a 4-4-0 with half the tractive effort of the later Castle-class. In its 110-year history the GWR named three of its engines after its first engineer. The first two were just called Brunel while the third was named out in full Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The first was a broad gauge 2-4-0 which lasted from 1863 to 1879. The third was Castle-class 5069 which lasted from 1938 to 1962. This article is mainly about the second of the three engines, although it was not named at first. Number 16 was a 2-4-0 built in 1888 as a broad-guage “convertible” engine. When the broad-gauge was dispensed with in 1892 the engine was laid aside in one of the many sidings at Swindon holding redundant broad-gauge stock. In 1894 the engine was rebuilt to the narrow-gauge as a rather handsome 4-4-0 and only then given the name Brunel. It retained its 7 feet driving wheels; the cylinders were kept as 2 by 20 inches diameter, but the piston stroke was increased from 24 to 26 inches. Curiously (in my view) the boiler pressure was reduced from 180 to 160 psi resulting in a tractive effort slightly less than in its broad-gauge guise at 16,540. For comparison the tractive effort of 5069 was 31,625. Twenty eight years later in the GWR Magazine for January 1934 the Company wrote this: Summer service and holiday trains in 1933 were particularly heavy, especially at weekends, and loads of fifteen to seventeen coaches were frequentluy conveyed on the West of England trains by engines of the “King” and “Castle” classes. Comparing routes the 1933 trains would have had the long 17-mile climb from Newbury to Savernake Summit but might have shed some coaches before the later climb to Whiteball. Meanwhile the 1906 train to Liverpool would have had to contend with the shorter but steeper climb of Hatton Bank. I think no. 16 had a far harder task but may have been given assistance to surmount Hatton Bank.
In the attached table readers can see an interesting comparison of all three engines named after Brunel and also in the table are the three engines named Gooch i.e after Sir Daniel Gooch the first locomotive engineer of the GWR.
MLR / 24 September 2023