The Fifth Edition

Edition 5 contains the following articles: 'Great Western Gallery', part 2 of 'Sins of The Fathers', a note on the L.N.W.R. yard at Dudley, an article on GWR 2-4-0, "Barnums", 'Driver Smith and G.W.R. locomotive number 30', Two Temporary Stations, 'Kings for Repair', Working the 5.40a.m. to Kidderminster and the re-opening of the Great Western public house.

'Great Western Gallery' consists of photographs and a description of some noteable G.W.R. locomotives, 'Barnum' is a description of the G.W.R. 2-4-0 locomotives of that name which were repaired at Stafford Road. 'Two temporary stations' is a description of early S&B stations in Wolverhampton.

The cover photograph is of the oldest driver and stableman at Wednesfield Road Goods Depot. 

Early Grand Junction Locomotives

The first official train to pass through Wolverhampton was drawn by the locomotive 'Wildfire' on the opening of the railway in July 1837. There were other engines at work along the line before this date however, a recorded example being the trial Works of the American built Norris locomotives of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, prior to the opening of the line for regular use.

'Wildfire' was one of a series of somewhat similar 2-2-2 locomotives built over the period 1837 to 1840 by various manufacturers, being numbered 8 on the company list. We are fortunate in that a period model of the locomotive still exists, as does an early drawing, though this shows detail differences compared to the model. These early engines suffered from constant failures of the inside cranks and motion, and were converted to outside cylinder Crewe types as circumstances permitted. 'Wildfire' was possibly so rebuilt in October 1844, but was sold to the Liverpool, Crosby and Southport Railway in 1855. The exact nature of these rebuilds is still a subject for discussion. Exactly how much, or how little, of the original engines remained after such a radical alteration is open to question.

A contemporary model of G.J.R. number 8 'Wildfire', which drew the first train through Wolverhampton station. 'Wildfire' covered a total of 118,000 miles before withdrawal, the greatest mileage of any engine in the class. 
As 'Wildfire' is credited with working the first train through Wolverhampton from Birmingham, so 2-2-2 No. 3 is credited elsewhere as drawing the ‘first train’, presumably from north to south. ‘Shark’ was of the same standard design as 'Wildfire', both being built by the Robert Stephenson Co. with 5ft driving wheels, 3ft 6in. leading and trailing wheels, cylinders 12.5in x 18 in. and boiler 3 ft 3 in. x 8 ft. Between 8th July and 30th September 1837, 'Shark' ran a recorded distance of 10,018 miles, and was still in good order. ‘Shark’ was rebuilt, (replaced?) as a Crewe type outside cylinder locomotive in January 1845.

Driving wheels were now 5ft. 6in., cylinders 13 x 20 in. The engine was withdrawn from the L.N.W.R. in 1854 and purchased for contracting use by Isaac Boulton Engineering of Ashton-Under-Lyne. It was recorded there as having an ornamental chimney (probably Webb type) and sloping cylinders. As these ornamental caps were not introduced until 1857, and the engine was withdrawn from the L.N.W.R. in 1854, this observation is rather suspicious.

'Shark' was worn out by the 1860s, and after several more jobs, was broken up. The motion and connecting rods, all of the Trevithick pattern, were stamped 'Shark' and lay around Boulton's shops for years afterwards. The name-plates were mounted on the walls in the works with other obsolete locomotives memorabilia, though no record remains of what was once preserved there. The only known illustration of 'Shark' was that engraved into each of a pair of matching flint-lock pistols presented to W. Boulton senior on the occasion of his becoming a G.J.R. stationmaster at the opening of the line. These have also vanished into history.

The period drawing shows another engine of the same series as 'Wildfire'.

As we saw in our last issue, all trains stopped at Wolverhampton to receive coke and water, and to have their wheels and motion greased, examples of engines so recorded are 'Eagle', 'Oberon', 'Medea', 'Basilisk', 'Shark', 'Lynx', and 'Prospero'. The locomotives 'Lynx' and 'Prospero' for instance, working from Birmingham to Wolverhampton, 'Lynx' and 'Eagle' from Wolverhampton to Whitmore and 'Lynx' only to Warrington.

Reading through the catalogue of locomotive names originating on the Grand Junction Railway, and later inherited and perpetuated by the L.N.W.R., one can only be struck with admiration at such imagination and originality: 'Sunbeam', 'Vampire', 'Talisman', 'Oberon', 'Harlequin', 'Medusa', 'Lucifer', 'Columbine', these were the heralds of a new age. If such titles now seem out of place, set upon such diminutive machines, it is surely that our senses are dimmed by all that has happened since. In their day such machines enabled men and women to travel three times faster than at any time in previous history, even Concorde can claim no such ratio of acceleration.

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