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Foxcote Manor - 

Conception to Withdrawal and Rescue

"Foxcote Manor" is a 78xx, 4-6-0, Manor class locomotive, designed by Charles Collett, CME of the Great Western Railway and built by British Railways at Swindon Works in 1950. "Foxcote" is one of the second batch of Manors, which consisted of ten to add to the original batch of twenty built in 1938-9.

 

The Manor Class was designed as a 5MT (Western region D) class locomotive with a  4-6-0 configuration and a total weight of 107 tonnes in working condition. This gave a relatively light axle loading of 17 tonnes which was a requirement on the GWR as trusted types like the Dean Goods and Dukedogs couldn't go on forever. This light axle loading gave them a versatile route availability (blue) and gave the GWR a light, powerful option for hauling trains. Some say the Manors looked "over-cylindered" but that grunt was needed over inclines like Talerddig.

 

The Manor is the smallest of the GWR 4-6-0's, smaller than Saints, Halls, Castles, Kings and Granges. The similarities are there for all to see with the standard appearance of GWR locos adhered to, a steam era corporate brand if ever there was one. The Manors have their very own design of boiler, the Swindon No.14, there were 33 boilers for the 30 members of the Manor class. It was designed to slot into the tight frames of a Manor, a short loco with a leading bogie and 6 driving wheels shoehorned in. Foxcote Manor has withdrawn with the boiler numbered 6419 (A 1938-9 example) though it was common that boilers were swapped as locomotives were taken for repairs and the boilers were taken in to be improved. 

 

In the early days of the Manor class, the performance was underwhelming and the enginemen of the Western region didn't hold them in the same regard as the 28XX "Original Heavy Freights", 49XX "Original Halls" and 68XX "Granges". The Manors were renowned for being poor steamers and it wasn't until after the nationalisation of the big four that any investigation work was undertaken. In 1952 (after the second batch had been built) trials took place using 7818 "Granville Manor" to find out where the problems lay. It turned out that the poorly draughted engine could only produce 10,000 lbs of steam per hour, less than half of the amount a Hall could make.

The testing resulted in a complete transformation in the capabilities of a Manor, the chimney and blastpipe diameter was reduced and the space between the firebars slightly increased. The result was a better fed combustion chamber and a sharper exhaust, and the steam production more than doubled  to over 20,000 lbs per hour. There is an  eye witness account in one of the steam magazines of 7822 plodding with 10 coaches over Tallerddig in 1963, this was no mean feat seeing as that was deemed to be well over the limit for a single Manor. I am constantly told that the feat never happened but why would someone make it up? I'll let you make up your own mind. 7822 also had a turn of speed and is the fasted recorded of all the Manors in steam days, clocking up 81 miles per hour near Cosford in 1955.

7822 was entered into traffic in December 1950 at Oswestry, a large railway hub of the time, and the former HQ of the Cambrian Railway. From there the Manors would have hauled passenger and freight trains to places such as Ellesmere and on to Whitchurch (milepost 0 of the Cambrian), Welshpool, Aberystwyth, Pwllheli and Barmouth on local and express work.

 

In 1954, 7822 moved on to Chester Western shed but came back for a second stint at Oswestry in 1958. From there she moved on to Machynlleth for just over a year before spending the last months of her mainline service at Shrewsbury throughout 1965. Had it not been for this final allocation her fate could have been completely different as the cutters torch beckoned for any locomotive deemed surplus to requirements.  The modernisation and reshaping of British Railways brought on withdrawal in November 1965.

 

Foxcote Manor was then towed to Dai Woodhams scrapyard in Barry in the summer of 1966 where she was scheduled to be cut up with her sisters. Perhaps she would have been cut up had she been nearer the front of the queue. She is one of nine preserved Manors, a great proportion compared to classes such as the Granges where out of 80, none survived.

7822 hauled a variety of services in her 15 year mainline career, from double headed Manors workings to the coast or the glamour of the Cambrian Coast Express. 7822 frequently worked the local with 2 or 3 coaches and a goods or milk wagons attached to the rear around Salop in the latter days of steam on the western. She did of course haul the royal train on 10th August 1963 and some of the railway preservation special trains.

In the next section we will look at the conception of the Foxcote Manor Society, 7822's overhaul and timely return to steam.​​

Foxcote Allocations and Sightings

31/12/1950 - 89A - Allocated Oswestry 

04/11/1951 - 89A - Oswestry

10/09/1952 - 89A - Seen at Aberystwyth Shed

04/05/1953 - Went to Stafford Road for a Heavy Intermediate overhaul.

09/08/1953 - 89A - Seen at Aberystwyth Shed

24/04/1954 - 84K - Allocated Chester West

23/10/1955 - 84K - Chester West

24/10/1955 - Moved to Swindon for a Heavy General overhaul.

08/07/1956 - 84K - Chester West

22/07/1956 - 84K - Seen at Aberystwyth Shed.

07/08/1957 - Went to Chester Shops for an Unclassified repair.

02/09/1957 - Went to Chester Shops for an Unclassified Repair.

08/09/1957 - 84K - Chester West

05/10/1957 - Sent to Swindon for a Heavy Intermediate overhaul.

13/12/1957 - Sent back to Chester.

02/05/1958 - Went to Stafford Road Factory for an Unclassified repair.

13/07/1958 - 84K - Seen at Aberystwyth Shed

06/09/1958 - 89A - Allocated Oswestry

18/08/1959 - Unclassified repair at Oswestry

03/03/1959 - Back into service at Oswestry.

21/05/1960 - Sent for Heavy General at Swindon.

01/07/1960 - Returned to Oswestry.

27/08/1960 - 89A - 09.45 - Whitchurch - Aber

09/09/1960 - 89A - 10.50 - Oswestry - Pwllheli

09/10/1960 - 89A - Oswestry

27/08/1961 - 89D - Oswestry

13/05/1962 - 89D - Seen at Aberystwyth Shed

11/11/1962 - 89D - Oswestry

29/01/1963 - Swindon Factory for Intermediate.

21/03/1963 - Back to Oswestry.

15/04/1963 - Stopped at Oswestry.

01/04/1963 - 89D - Seen at Banbury (rods off)

29/04/1963 - Sent to Swindon for Heavy Intermediate.

26/05/1963 - 89D - Oswestry

10/08/1963 - 89D - Royal Train

28/09/1963 - 89D - Talyllyn AGM Special 

28/12/1963 - 6F    - Allocated Machynlleth

20/09/1964 - 6F    - Machynlleth

23/01/1965 - 6D   - Allocated Shrewsbury

09/05/1965 - 6D   - K Ballast Shrewsbury

08/06/1965 - 6D   - 18.05 - Aber- Salop

11/07/1965 - 6D   - Seen at Worcester Works

06/08/1965 - 6D   - 09.45 - Aber - Padd

03/10/1965 - 6D   - Seen at Worcester Shed

06/11/1965 - 6D   - Withdrawn Shrewsbury

20/02/1966 - 6D   - Stood at Shrewsbury