Our locomotive

Class History

The Stanier Moguls were arguably the first design of locomotive by the LMS’s new Chief Mechanical Engineer, William Stanier. 13245 appeared on 21st October 1933, some four months after 6200 “The Princess Royal”, although the latter had been rushed through production as a ‘prestige’ engine. 13245 was followed by 39 sisters, 13246 – 13284, the latter delivered to traffic on 7th March 1934. From 1934, all were renumbered in the 2945 – 2984 range, with British Railways adding 40000 to their numbers from 1948. All were built as a single series to Lot No. 104. Originally they were given Power Class 4F, but this was soon altered to 5P4F, 5P5F, and, in BR Days, reached 6P5F, although 5MT was more realistic.

The class was based on George Hughes’ very successful ‘Horwich Crab’ 2-6-0s, but Stanier used a higher pressure, tapered boiler which allowed smaller cylinders to be mounted at a more usual height above the rails. They originally had the usual low-degree superheat from 14 elements, but in common with other Stanier classes, this was later increased to 21 elements. The original nine had square topped cylinders, and these plus the tenth had their safety valves mounted on the top feed, as with GWR practice. On the first twenty the boiler cladding sheets followed the contour of the barrel below, so that there was a parallel front section with all the taper concentrated to the rear. The next twenty had a continuous taper from smokebox to firebox, to which profile the others were eventually modified. The first thirty had a Midland-type “bell” whistle, but a Stanier Caledonian-type hooter was fitted to the final ten. They were all built before the introduction of Stanier’s curved-topped 4000 gallon tender, so were fitted with the then standard Fowler 3,500 gallon type, which they retained throughout their lives.

All were built at Crewe, but were allocated to Horwich for repair. This situation was changed from December 1963, when repairs were reallocated to, of all places, Swindon. They were always painted black, with red lining in LMS days and BR’s mixed traffic LNWR-derived red, cream and grey lining from 1948. Some war-time repaints were into plain black without lining.

As mixed traffic engines, the original Horwich Crabs had on introduction been used on fast, express passenger work but by 1933 had largely been supplanted on this traffic. The Moguls immediately took on the same work as the Crabs: secondary passenger and excursions; parcels; fast fitted freights and general goods work, the same traffic they were still working into the 1960s.

Originally, the Moguls were allocated to all four Divisions of the LMS, but within a few years had been concentrated on the Western Division. Their usual haunts were Willesden, Crewe (mostly South, but also North), Birmingham area, Birkenhead and Mold Jct., although many other sheds had an allocation for at least a few years.

Post war, they still managed to make frequent appearances on all parts of the LMS system south of Carlisle, with invasions of LNER and GWR territory being not infrequent. Although mixed traffic engines, their small wheels were more suited to the slower end of such work, like the Horwich Crabs, and they specialised in fast fitted goods, parcels, secondary passengers trains and excursions, all of which they worked turn and turn about with the later Black Fives. They were also commonly allocated to heavy freight working, where those small wheels gave them an advantage over the Black Fives, which were more at home with faster, express passenger work than the 2-6-0s. They lasted well into the run-down of BR steam, the first withdrawal being 42976 from 20th July 1963, the last being 42954 on 11th February 1967.

Our locomotive: 13268-2968-42968

13268 entered traffic on 24th January 1934 and was originally allocated to Willesden mpd. She was always a Western Division engine. 42968 was the penultimate class member in service lasting until 31st December 1966. Highlights of her career were use on the 8.40 Bournemouth – Bradford Exchange express via the Lickey Incline on 8th August 1959, working the train from Bath probably as far as Derby; on 31st December 1958 she took over from 46239 “City of Chester” when this engine failed at Carnforth with a hot big end, working the train forward as far as Crewe where a more appropriate 46220 “Coronation” relieved her.

She had covered 713,561 miles for the LMS and BR by the end of 1960, when records ceased. She carried six boilers throughout her life, the last one, No. 8412, being fitted during a Heavy General overhaul from 12th August to 26th September 1957. She took tender No. 4537 which she retained throughout her life, except for two occasional periods coupled to a Stanier 4000 gallon type during preservation. Her last recorded working was on 14th December 1966 when she was seen passing Preston on the 6:35pm parcels train ex-Liverpool Lime Street Station.

The Barry Years

On withdrawal from Wigan Springs Branch mpd on 31st December 1966, 42968 was towed in company with Nos. 46447 and 47298 to Woodham Bros’ scrapyard in Barry, South Wales for scrap. Dai Woodham did not immediately break up his purchases, however, and by 1969 over two hundred withdrawn steam locomotives were gathered at his premises. Enthusiasts began to form preservation societies to save as many of these engines as possible, almost all eventually being saved.

42968 was noticed in late 1969, by which time all her sisters had been scrapped. As the sole survivor of Stanier’s first design of locomotive, her historical importance was recognised and the Stanier Mogul Fund was founded to raise the money needed to purchase her and move her to the Severn Valley Railway where restoration to working order would begin.

The quoted purchases price was £3,250 but outside pressures to increase this came to bear. A rise in the price of scrap metal was imminent, as was the introduction of VAT. Fund raising was sufficiently successful to avoid the former but not the latter. On 31st August 1973, a cheque for £3,575 was handed over and the engine finally belonged to the Fund.

Working parties of Fund members regularly visited the engine and both kept her tidy by regular cleaning (she was considered to be the best kept engine in the yard), removing valuable copper and brass fitments which might otherwise be stolen, and checking and repairing any parts of her running gear which might otherwise run hot on the journey to the SVR.

It had been decided that the engine would be transported by rail on her own wheels, and since she was largely complete, she represented about ninety tons of dead weight which had to be moved in one piece. The movement took place overnight on 13/14th December 1973 – at the start of an ASLEF work to rule. She was drawn away from Barry loco shed, where final preparations for the movement were made, by Brush 4 No. 1909 (later 47 232), as far as Cardiff Canton, where 37 300 took over for the run to Kidderminster. Type 2 No. 7640 (later 25 290) then arrived and propelled the engine to Bewdley for onwards transmission to Bridgnorth, Bewdley at that time still being a BR operational station. The arrival at Bewdley, Severn Valley Railway, was about twelve hours late and in the nick of time; another half hour would have left her stranded at Kidderminster by the dispute. She had left Barry shed at 9:48 on the night of Thursday 13th December 1973 and arrived at Bewdley at 12:10 in the afternoon of Friday 14th December, a very long and cold fourteen hours for those who had manned her footplate throughout.


No. 42968 arrived at the Severn Valley Railway’s Bewdley site on 14/12/73 and was moved to the main engineering centre at Bridgnorth in July 1974.

Despite some very over-optimistic forecasts of both time and money required to return 42968 to running order, the engine moved for the first time under her own steam on 12/11/90, at a total cost of restoration in the region of six figures. Much of the costs were taken up in replacing the many copper and brass fittings that had been stolen during her stay at Barry scrapyard, while over £25,000 was required for the boiler overhaul alone.

Following running-in and completion of outstanding work over the following winter, she was used on a SMF special on Saturday 13th April 1991, and formally entered SVR traffic the following weekend on 20th April 1991 to become a useful and popular member of the SVR’s working fleet.

Severn Valley Railway Service

After restoration to working order in the second LMS livery, No. 2968 entered revenue earning service with the SVR on 20th April 1991 and immediately found favour with footplate crews as a strong, sure footed, powerful and free steaming engine, more than capable of handling any train the SVR was likely to put behind her.

A cause for concern had always been the condition of the engine’s tyres which were worn to their limit. It was known that new tyres would be required by the time of her next ten-yearly overhaul, but the left-hand trailing coupled wheel tyre’s working loose caused her withdrawal from service on 26th December 1993. New tyres were fitted at a cost of over £15,000 and the engine re-entered traffic on 17th December 1994. Her tender tank was also due for replacement and so the tender fitted was not her own Fowler type but a Stanier tender borrowed from ‘Black Five’ No. 45110. She is the only member of the class known to have run with a Stanier tender. She was withdrawn from service in 1998 due to deterioration of her firebox stays.

A full overhaul lasted until March 2003, when she re-entered traffic wearing the later BR livery of black, lined red, cream and grey.

In June 2010 it was discovered the tyres on the tender wheels, which had not been replaced at the same time as the engine’s in 1994, had developed bad flats. The tender was withdrawn and that from Black Five No. 45110 was again attached to allow 42968 to remain in service. The tender’s tyres were replaced and the tender given a full overhaul during 2011-12, the engine regaining her correct tender in March 2012.

The SVR installed a wheel drop in 2010, and 42968 was the first engine to make use of the new facility. In July that year, the trailing coupled wheelset was dropped out and repairs made to the white metal of the bearings. Following this, all other wheelsets were dropped in turn to allow any necessary repairs, along with repair to the ashpan and a small frame crack. These allowed the engine to remain in traffic for the full ten years of her boiler certificate, which expired in January 2013.

A major overhaul is nearing completion at the Severn Valley Railway’s Bridgnorth Works. The locomotive will return to steam in its original 1934 “as built” guise as No. 13268.

Return To The Main line

From its earliest days, the Fund had always hoped that one day 2968 would return to the main lines to haul heavy trains at high speeds. But main line running is a very expensive pursuit, and it was soon realised that the costs involved could not be justified, especially as there was no guarantee that customers could be persuaded to buy seats behind a member of a class which, it must be admitted, did not enjoy tremendous support from the average enthusiast in the ‘sixties. The hope was sadly abandoned.

Railtrack Registration Panel in cab of 2968. Bridgnorth mpd 07-09-06 Photo R Greaves
2968 Main Line Test Run Loco and support coach stand at Worcester Shrub Hill with the return run from Gloucester to Kidderminster SVR 31-08-96 Photo R Greaves

In 1996, however, the Severn Valley Railway with Past-Time Rail took the plunge, and the engine was prepared for its MT276 certification. This done, a main line test run was required, in this case to Gloucester and return, and using some of the route she had taken on her way from Barry nearly 23 years before.

But it was high summer and steam movements over the main line were banned owing to the risk of lineside fires. Twice the test run was cancelled at short notice, but a period of rain towards the end of August allowed a temporary easing of the restriction, so on 31st August 1996 No. 2968 and a single support coach set out to stretch her wheels.

In the fourteen months from 7th December 1996 to 31st January 1998, 2968 participated in fourteen main line runs, taking her to Carlisle in the North and Weymouth in the South; from Holyhead in the West to York in the East, covering many lines over which the class had never previously worked. Throughout this period there was not a single failure booked against her. She was involved in many ‘firsts’: opening new lines to preserved steam traction; working the first steam hauled train up the Lickey Incline (along with 7325); working the first eastbound steam over Copy Pit since 1968; and taking part in the first diverted steam special in preservation history. It was her performances during this period that drew enthusists’ attention to the merits of her class, and opened up the way for future visits to other preserved lines.

The Lickey Incline with GWR 7325, 1997

"The Pilgrim's Progress" with GWR 7325, 1997

The Settle-Carlisle line, 1996

Along Other Lines

Although most of 42968’s mileage has been run on the Severn Valley Railway’s tracks, she has been a popular visitor to many other preserved lines throughout the country, especially so after her return to traffic following heavy overhaul in 2003. This was partly in recompence for her withdrawal from main line running due to certification issues with RESCO.

In October 1995, 42968 moved from her SVR home for the first time since her arrival in 1973, taking a holiday on the Gloucestershire and Warwicksire Railway and returning in November.

Her next visit to another ‘railway’ was to her birthplace – Crewe Works – for the Great Gathering of September 2005, where she shared the spotlight with many other Crewe products, including pacifics painted red, green and blue.

Llan-PC 2008-04_17

42968 next visited the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in February 2006, and was again used on passenger and demonstration goods duties. She also made a very nice picture when piloted by Lancashire & Yorkshire A Class No 957 on one run, and storming up the bank out of Keighley.

42968 went to the Great Central Railway in February 2007, and found herself on double track for the first time since 1998. Once again she was very well received by railwaymen and visitors alike.

The next line to see 42968 was the West Somerset Railway, and certainly new ground not only for the engine but for the class also. She visited this beautiful line in October 2007.

42968 returned to North Wales in April 2008, her first visit since hauling the main line Ynys Mon express railtour, specifically to the Llangollen Railway. The weather was not always favourable, but she did some good and much appreciated work

In January 2011 42968 returned at short notice to the Great Central Railway, taking her place amongst a Britannia and Jubilee, as well as other guest engines, in that Line’s Winter Gala.

A couple of months later, in April 2011, 42968 returned to better weather at the Llangollen Railway. This was another short notice move as replacement for first one and then a second loco which became unavailable.

The Fund would like to thank all these lines which welcomed 42968 on to their tracks and looked after her so well. Fund members thoroughly enjoyed themselves seeing her in these different settings, and we believe that the engine enjoyed the change in scenery too! She proved her capabilities at each and every line visited, and would be warmly welcomed back to any of them.

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