Barry scrapyard led the steam world – but what about coaches?

I was glad to read the story of the preservation of No. 43924. I recall, as a young member of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, spending a day scraping grease and dirt from the underside of the tender as it stood behind the shed in Haworth yard… and I have since ridden behind it.

It is salutary to consider how few former BR locomotives would exist now were it not for that yard at Barry, and presumably there would be fewer lines to run them on as well. In Holland all the steam locos went long before the preservation movement started and the lines have had to import locos from (mainly) Germany and carriages from (largely) Belgium and Austria.

But Belgian lines face the same issues. German museums have been able to import, firstly from East Germany, which retained some classes longer than in the Bundesrepublik, and also some from Poland or Romania. But in general the preservation movement got under way in most countries 10 years or so too late – it took that time before people realised what had gone – and so one ends up with an imbalance based purely and simply on what was still left when people began to search for something to buy and restore.

Midland 4F 0-6-0 No. 43924 heads away from Oakworth into the setting sun on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway on January 7. ROB BATTY

What were once large classes had largely vanished, and one ends up with an overbalance of, say, DR Class 52 2-10-0s but hardly any Class 55 0-8-0s or 57 0-10-0s and no 55.1 2-8-0s – types that all played a significantly greater part in German railway operations from the 1910s and 1920s. There are hardly any 93 Class 2-8-2Ts and these were once
so numerous.

In Britain there are several GWR prairies and I am glad that they were saved, but it is such a pity that no Fowler or Stanier 4MT 2-6-4Ts survived.

I suppose a spare ‘Jinty’ could be converted fairly easily into an MR 3F 0-6-0 with a new tender… now they were classic engines on the Worth Valley line. NER and GER tank locomotives are being built as replicas but where are
the appropriate coaches for them to work with?

At the time I was that youngster I recall buying my first copy of Push and Pull (the KWVR’s quarterly magazine) in
WH Smith in Broadway, Bradford (long gone) and reading an appeal to purchase an LMS compartment coach from those about to be withdrawn in Scotland. This brings me to the issue of what carriage stock survived the mass destructions of the 1960s. It is such a pity that more of these could not be saved before they were simply set on fire.

We must be very grateful that it is still possible on the Severn Valley to put together representative rakes of GW, LMS and LNER stock, and an LNER rake on the NYMR and, on the NNR, a rake of BR suburbans and the Quad-Art.

Many other individual vehicles survive elsewhere but not really a full-length rake even of Bulleid SR carriages… let alone Maunsell ones. There are hardly any LNER Thompson vehicles or LNER compartment stock. Not to mention the lack of full sets of diesel or electrical multiple units.

It would not be sensible to preserve half of an aircraft – say, the front of the fuselage and only one wing – or only the lower half of a double-decker bus, yet even national collections cannot
find the wherewithal to keep an entire
four-car characteristic EMU or DMU.

So we are left with Mk.1s, as old as me, used everywhere.

I like them, and the SVR has demonstrated how much work is needed to keep them going, and I am glad to see that more lines are erecting protective sheds, but they only ‘fit’ to BR-era locos. Thank goodness the Great Central Railway has a decent rake of the humble mineral wagons, which also vanished almost overnight, as did so many other once-common vans and wagons. These also need protecting from the elements.

The time is coming when someone will have to think: ‘Do we want to save an HST formed of one power car and two trailers? Or an entire set? Even though a longer shed would be needed?’

Rabbi Walter Rothschild,
Berlin, Germany

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