Living Museum of the Great Western Railway

5322 A VENERABLE LOCOMOTIVE - by Peter Chatman

5322 was the first locomotive to be preserved by the Society from Woodham Bros. scrapyard at Barry, and only the second loco to be purchased from Woodhams. The Churchward 3500 gallon tender saved with it came from 7802, and is believed to be No.2128 (REF5).

5322, one of Churchward’s general purpose 43XX 2-6-0s first introduced in 1911, was completed at Swindon in August 1917 (Lot No.206, Diagram K, Works No. 2694), at a cost of £3783 for the loco and tender, with the loco only cost recorded as £3312. When new it was fitted with a Standard No.4 boiler No. 3809, and was rated as power class D with blue route availability (REF2). Released to traffic on 20/8/17, it was immediately shipped over to France for use by the Army R.O.D. during the 1st World War, and was recorded as officially on loan to the R.O.D. from 1/9/17 to 5/7/19 (REF2/6). Altogether 11 of the class were shipped to France, 5319 – 5330 except 5327, and they worked army supply trains in Northern France, generally from Calais to the railheads around Hazebrouck (REF7).

When 5322 returned from France at a date recorded as 19/5/19, it received a Heavy overhaul at Swindon between May and August 1919 at only 19531 miles, the shopping recorded as a result of an accident in France in April 1918. In all during its railways’ ownership, it received 25 works overhauls, mainly at Swindon but also at Stafford Road and Caerphilly. Once the class had been In traffic for a time, concerns were raised that excessive flange wear was occurring on the leading coupled wheels on lines with severe curvature and to combat this, a number of them were modified in 1928 to improve the guidance given by the pony truck. This was achieved by fitting a heavy casting behind the front buffer beam, thus redistributing weight to the front end. Some 65 locos were modified and renumbered in the 83XX series. 5322 was so modified at Swindon in January 1928, becoming 8322 (REF2). Originally fitted with brass cabside numberplates, when renumbered in the 83XX series the locos received cast iron numberplates.  The brass numberplates were apparently stored until the Second World War when they were melted down for the war effort (REF1/6). Subsequently when renumbered back to 5322, it received cast iron numberplates, although these had already been sold off before the loco was preserved. The additional weight reclassified 83XX locos into red route availability, thus reduced their usefulness somewhat and with an increasing shortage of blue route locos in the 1940s and with Granges and Manors also now available for general purpose work, the locos reverted back to 53XX type in 1944. 8322 was converted back at Swindon in June 1944, receiving its old number 5322.

Other items of interest from the official shopping records are the fitting of ATC equipment at Swindon in 1931 during a Heavy overhaul and new cylinders with outside steampipes fitted during a Heavy General overhaul at Swindon in 1949. Throughout its life, 5322 was always paired with 3500 gallon tenders of both Churchward and Collett design. Its final shopping took place at Stafford Road Works early in 1961 when it received a Heavy Intermediate overhaul, being released to traffic on 26/5/61(REF2). During this overhaul, it received its present boiler No. 6141, which had received a Category A overhaul at Stafford Road. This boiler had been built at Swindon as recently as September 1953 and had only been fitted to one other loco, 7218, between April 1954 and February 1961 (REF3). It also received Churchward 3500 gallon tender no. 1844 (REF2).

As can be expected over such a long life, 5322 was allocated to many sheds, initially to Wolverhampton in 1919, after its return from France. During the 1920s and 1930s, it was variously at Wolverhampton, Chester, Swindon, Bristol, Weymouth, and Cardiff. In July 1944, it was allocated to Didcot, before moving back and fore between Swindon and Andover during the period May 1945 to February 1953. For the rest of the 1950s, it roamed between Tyseley, Oxford, Didcot again from August 1956 to December 1958, Reading, Tyseley, Swindon and finally Pontypool Road in September 1959. It was recorded as placed in store at Pontypool Road in July 1963, and back into traffic in July 1963 before being condemned on 24/4/64. ts total mileage at 28/12/63 (after which records were no longer kept) was recorded as 1,355,622 so the railways had certainly got their monies worth (REF4).

During its period at Chester from 1919 to 1921, as well as working south to Shrewsbury, it probably worked into Manchester Exchange station, in which case it would have been serviced at Patricroft shed (LNWR) (REF6). In 1931, it was noted on Weymouth shed, and in 1944 at Eastleigh and Southampton (REF6). After the 2nd World War, during the period 1945 to 1953, it was frequently seen on trains on the MSWJ. In December 1952, Weymouth turntable was out of action and tender locos had to turn on the turntable at Dorchester, which could only accommodate shorter locos. Several 2-6-0s, including 5322, were loaned to Weymouth during this period (REF9). It was noted on Oxford shed on 15/4/53 (REF8), and Didcot shed on 5/5/58 (REF10). And while allocated to Reading Shed, 5322 was recorded working the 2.30pm Aberystwyth – Oswestry all stations on 8/8/59 (REF9). And while at Pontypool Road, it was noted on Aberystwyth shed on 21 August 1963 (REF10).

The last of the Class were finally withdrawn in November 1964, but two, 5322 and one of the Collett variety 9303/7325 would end up at Barry and be saved for preservation, with 9303 going to the Severn Valley Railway. 5322 was sold to Woodhams on 29/9/64 and interest to preserve it began to be shown in the later 1960s. David Rouse originally launched a fund to preserve it and subsequently a group including Peter Rich had thoughts of raising money for its purchase by selling locomotive drawings. However in the end, John Mynors who had already placed 7808 and some coaches in the Society’s care, agreed to purchase 5322 and Peter Lemar negotiated its sale with Woodhams, agreeing a price of £2000 in October 1968. At this time 5322 still had both its injectors and its safety valve. Final purchase took place on 8/1/69 which included the tender from 7802, after a boiler inspection by our insurance surveyor in November 1968. It was decided to place the loco at Caerphilly in the old Works area, which was now used by South Wales Switchgear, although still rail connected. There it would be restored by the South Wales Group, with a gang led by Peter Rich and Gary Davies (who are still active in the Society all these years later). The Caerphilly gang prepared 5322 for its journey from Barry to Caerphilly and it was duly hauled from Barry to Caerphilly by a 350hp diesel shunter on 8/3/69 (movement cost £100), the 3rd loco to leave Barry for preservation.

Work continued in the open air to put it back into steam, and its first steaming (static) took place on 20/12/70, first moving under its own power on 23/5/71. Restoration had included replacement of 38 small tubes in the boiler and refitting all the non ferrous fittings removed during its period at Barry, and it was finished in Great Western unlined green livery. 5322 would be the first of the Society’s ex Barry locos to be restored to steam. The first of several public Open Days was held at Caerphilly in October 1971, with 5322 and a Toad providing rides, and subsequently Collett coach No. 7362 was transferred from Didcot to Caerphilly for restoration and passenger use. It was steamed for the joint GWS/LCGB Churchward railtour visit on 11 March 1973. It was proposed to run a railtour, The Phoenix, from Swansea to Hereford on 28 May 1973, using 5322 between Newport and Hereford. This was cancelled officially due to lack of bookings, although it had become clear that considerable work would be needed to pass the necessary BR inspections. Regrettably serious ongoing problems with the running of the South Wales Group resulted in the Group being wound up, and so 5322 and 7362 were diesel hauled up to Didcot on 17/9/73. After some hurried boiler work, it was steamed the following week at the September Open Weekend, and even double headed on 8 Road with Flying Scotsman when the A3 visited Didcot with a special on 27/10/73.

5322 visited Marylebone with 5 of the Vintage train coaches on 08/08/74 for filming the Walt Disney feature, “One of our dinosaurs is missing”, the train being hauled dead by a diesel from Didcot the previous afternoon.  It continued in traffic until 1976 when it was stopped for a full overhaul, by which time it was mechanically rather tired. In September 1986, ownership of 5322 passed to the Society when the loco was purchased from the Mynors family. In the early 1990s the cab roof was damaged after a mishap with the lifting shop hoist and in 1995, it was removed and straightened. The cab sides and floor were suffering from corrosion so they received attention at the same time. The cab sides had new bottom sections welded in and a new floor was fitted.

In November 1995, 5322’s opportunity finally came when its boiler was lifted from the frames to enable a full inspection to take place, to be followed by an appeal launched in May 1996 for funds to overhaul the loco. The wheelsets were sent away in 1996 for tyres, journals and crankpins to be turned. The springs were also sent away for reconditioning.The intention was to return 5322 as far as possible to its 1917 as built condition. This would include fitting porthole windows to the front spectacle plate and Dean pattern front taper buffers, and removing the cab seats! And the chimney would be replaced with a parallel copper cap one, its cast iron taper chimney being donated to 3822 whose own one was life expired. 5322 had been derailed at some time before its withdrawal, which had smashed the ATC pickup shoe and pushed it into the drag box. The remains of the shoe were cut off and new parts of the drag box and running plate made. Although funding remained a problem, by the end of 1997, the axleboxes had been remetalled and machined, and the loco rewheeled. The brakegear had been rebushed and work started on a valve gear overhaul. By the end of 1998, the valve gear had been replaced. Work had included remetalling the eccentric straps and regrinding the expansion links and remetalling the die blocks.  The spring gear and brake gear was also now in place, and the axlebox lubricating pads had been reconditioned by the SVR.

Summer 1999 saw the tender tank lifted for repairs to start. Tender frame restoration would include wheelset turning, spring reconditioning and a brake overhaul.  The tank needed extensive replating including new baffles and toolboxes and was reunited with its frames in 2003, with final rivetting to be completed by the end of 2005. Boiler repairs were in progress with the replacement of the steel side stays and the crown stays, together with some specialist weld repairs with new copper sections let into the firebox backhead. Meanwhile the pony truck and leading wheelset had been removed to allow the replacement of the piston valve liners, completed by Spring 2004. By the end of 2004, valves and pistons had been reassembled to the cylinders, the remetalled crossheads, remetalled coupling and connecting rods refitted.  With the boiler repairs finally completed, including new small and flue tubes and hydraulically tested, a trial steaming out of frames on 14 June 2007 was successful, and the boiler was placed back in the frames on 17 June. The loco now sported a copper capped chimney, as first built, its cast iron chimney being donated to 3822. By mid July, cab fittings and lubricator piping had been reinstated, the boiler lagged and cladding primed. The end of 2007 saw the loco virtually complete and in undercoat ROD khaki colours, as it would have been when shipped out to France in 1917.  Work continued through the first half of 2008 with mechanical fettling and final painting in ROD livery, and it made a very appropriate return to public operations on Remembrance Day 2008, Sunday 9th November.

5322 settled down to regular use at Didcot open days. But in 2010, with various GW175 celebrations in place, it visited the Gloucester & Warwickshire Rly and the Swindon & Cricklade Rly in June followed by the South Devon Railway in July. It operated at Didcot regularly during 2011 and was given a quick repaint in black during October 2011 to take part in the November 2011 filming of Anna Karenina at Didcot, featuring Keira Knightly and Jude Law. With filming complete, a proper repaint in black livery with the second BR emblem on the tender, as it was when withdrawn from BR, was completed in Spring 2012. In regular operation at Didcot in 2012, it also visited the Mid Hants Railway for their gala on September 5-7th 2012. It continued to give sterling service at Didcot throughout 2013. There would be plenty of visits away from Didcot in 2013, starting with the West Somerset Rly Spring Gala on March 27-30th, followed by the Llangollen Railway Croes Newydd-84J Gala on April 4-6th. Arrangements were made for 5322 to spend Summer 2014 on the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway, but after working just half a day in passenger service, a crack next to a firebox washout plug was discovered and it was returned to Didcot for repair in mid July (REF5). 5322 has now been placed aside to await boiler repairs.

Source Documents

  • REF1 - RCTS Locos of the GWR
  • REF2 - GWR Engine History Sheet (Form 4857)
  • REF3 - GWR Boiler History Sheet (Form SDN 2554)
  • REF4 - GWR Shed Allocation Sheets
  • REF5 - GWS Records, Newsletters, Echos
  • REF6 - RCTS Railway Observer
  • REF7 - Railway Magazine
  • REF8 - British Loco Society Journal
  • REF 9 - Railway World
  • REF10 - Photographic evidence

PCC/ 08.10.14

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