Michael L Roach
The 6400-class of pannier tank were introduced by the GWR in 1932 as a slightly scaled down version of the standard 5700-class of pannier tank introduced in 1929. Most of the dimesions of both classes were identical including the driving wheel diameter but boiler pressure of the 6400s was 165psi against the 200psi of the 5700s. This resulted in the 6400s having only 73 percent of the tractive effort of the standard pannier tank. BR rated the 6400s as 2P whereas the 5700s were rated 3F although in practice they were used on both passenger, freight and shunting duties as though they were 3MTs. The 6400 were built from February 1932 to April 1937 and were all auto-fitted for propelling auto coaches. The first of the new class was numbered 6400, and was allocated to Aberdare Shed where I imagine it would have been used on the auto-trains to Merthyr backed up by the fact that Merthyr Shed received 6401 in the same month of February 1932. 6400 was moved to Pontypool Road Shed in 1935 and stayed there right through nationalisation until the spring of 1959. 6400 was one of five of the class at Pontypool in 1950 one of the largest allocations of the class anywhere. The 6400s would have worked the autotrains between Newport, Pontypool and Blaenavon Low Level. Up until 1941, when the service was withdrawn, the class would also have worked the Pontypool, Blaenavon High Level to Brynmawr trains.
After 24 years at Pontypool Road 6400 moved to Plymouth in the spring of 1959 and was formally shedded at Laira from 18 April 1959. After 4 years the loco moved to Exmouth Junction and then Yeovil Junction from where it was withdrawn in April 1964. When 6400 moved to Laira the Saltash trains were still 100 percent steam operated, but the vast majority were dieselised the following year and after that 6400 would operate mostly between Plymouth and Tavistock South on the line to Launceston. I worked away from Plymouth for some time around then but returned to Plymouth at the end of March 1961 and promptly bought a new and better camera. I photographed the 2.10pm Plymouth to Tavistock South and its return working the 4.30pm off Tavistock several times that summer but each time it was auto-fitted 5572 that was operating the train.
My path would cross 6400's for the first time on 21 October 1961 when I photographed the loco crossing Walkham Viaduct with two auto coaches in tow – the photo can be seen in Devon Galleries. In the next three months I would photograph the 2.10pm seven times all in different places and each time the auto coaches were being hauled out to Tavistock by 6400. The last occasion was on 16 January 1962. The loco then disappeared completely for seven months until the 18 August 1962 when it was photographed on the 12.14pm Plymouth to Launceston which was a most unusual occurrence to work a Launceston train and to proceed beyond Tavistock as well. The loco worked out to Tavistock regularly for the last few months of the passenger service on the line including the last day on 29 December 1962. The 2.10pm was also regularly worked by class mate 6430 during these last few months. 6430 was a stable mate at Pontypool Road Shed at the time of nationalisation.
Regular viewers may recall a series on this website during December 2022 titled “End of 1962” which dealt with the last two weeks of 1962 in the Plymouth area. In this new series the other fifty weeks of 1962 will be covered in similar fashion but covering a much larger area. At the start of the year there was still plenty of steam around but it was still in decline with dieselisation and line closures. Some of these photographs already appear in the Devon, Cornwall and Elsewhere Galleries, but the scans in this series are all new and will have enhanced captions with more detail.
MLR / 1 February 2023
Totnes & Plymouth
I have attached a few photos which were taken at Totnes and Plymouth today.
1. GWR 43094 + 43172 at Totnes working 5M98 1318 Laira T&RSMD to St Philips Marsh HST Depot.
2. XC 43304 + 43357 at Totnes working 1V46 0710 Leeds to Plymouth - Running 118 late.
3. 5 minutes later XC 43184 + 43303 working 1V50 0606 Edinburgh to Plymouth, which I got on to Plymouth.
4. XC 43184 at Plymouth after working 1V50 0606 Edinburgh to Plymouth.
5. 43303 on the other end which would then form 1E63 1527 Plymouth to Leeds.
6. Having looked on RTT I noticed the clay was running early so managed to capture that as well - 66007 at Plymouth working 6C53 1511 St Blazey Ss to Exeter Riverside N.Y. - Running 55 early.