Locomotive Building in Wolverhampton

The Final Years

After George's departure the works ran much as normal under W. H. Webster, the works manager. In the autumn of 1897 he was called to Swindon to fill the position of Locomotive Running Superintendent, and was succeeded at Wolverhampton by James Armstrong Robinson, who was formerly the District Locomotive Superintendent at Bristol. His younger brother was J. C. Robinson who was Chief Mechanical Engineer at the Great Central Railway. At Swindon William Dean had a new assistant, G. J. Churchward, who began to make his presence felt at Wolverhampton. The saddle tanks that were currently being built here, were modified to take a standard domeless Swindon Belpaire boiler. When Churchward succeeded Dean in 1902 Wolverhampton finally lost its independence from Swindon. The order for the 160 saddle tanks was completed in 1905, and the works received an order to build 10 Churchward 2-6-2 tank engines of the 3101 class. These engines were longer and heavier than anything built here so far. The erecting shop was not long enough and so great difficulties were experienced in their construction.  A final order was received for 20 more of these engines, but these were the last locomotives to be built here. Building these locomotives had highlighted the works inability to cope with the larger engines of the day, and so no more new engines were built here. Over the years 880 new locomotives had been built at Stafford Road, and 575 locomotives were rebuilt. The last locomotive to be built here was Churchward 2-6-2 tank, number 2180. It was completed in April 1908.

In 1900 the railway finally managed to acquire more of Dunstall Hill, which was duly excavated and flattened in readiness for new building. A plan was drawn up to expand the works but was rejected by the Board due to the cost. There was a slump in traffic at the time. The works stagnated for nearly 30 years, the plant becoming worn out and obsolete. New building work finally started in 1930 on the west side of the Victoria Basin line. It contained an erecting shop, a machine shop, and a wheel turning shop. Building work was completed in 1932. The new erecting shop measured 450ft x 196ft and consisted of three bays, two forming the erecting shop, and the third forming the machine and wheel shop. The works continued repairing and rebuilding large numbers of locomotives until its closure in June 1964.

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