Lickey Incline Locomotives
The Lickey Incline is crested with ease by modern locomotives such as the Virgin Voyager/ Pendalino or Class 33 High Speed Trains. Steam locomotives did not cope so well and successful passage was only assured by the use of banking locomotives or double-heading.
In the 19th century, the line was worked by American built Norris 4-2-0 locomotives, English manufacturers having declined to supply because of the incline. At the time, Norris Locomotive Works was a dominant American locomotive manufacturer. Based in Philidelphia, their 4-2-0 arrangement was popular with European railways. The railway acquired 26 of them, of which the last nine were built in England, three by Benjamin Hick and Sons and six by Nasmyth, Gaskell and Company The last Norris 4-2-0 was withdrawn in 1856.
Around 1845 a large 0-6-0ST, the Great Britain was built in Bromsgrove Works. 1377 Class 1Fs, and later 2441 Class 0-6-0Ts were used on the route.
In 1919, the Midland Railway built a special banking engine nicknamed Big Bertha, a massive 0-10-0 No 2290 to complement the existing 0-6-0s. Big Bertha, designed by James Clayton and built by Derby Works generated a tractive effort of some 43,300lbf and weighed 107 tons with wheels 1.4m in diameter.
In 1956, Big Bertha (now numbered 58100) was superceded by BR standard class 9F No. 92079, which acquired Big Bertha's electric headlight. The 9F was the last steam locomotive design built by British Railways (BR). Nevertheless, the 9F is considered to be among the greatest steam locomotive designs. In the 1980's this was proven when a 9F, (92203, Black Prince) set a record as the heaviest train hauled by a steam locomotive by pulling a train in excess of 2100 tons.
The BR Standard 9F's were joined by a fleet of Midland 0-6-0 "Jinty" tank engines. Subsequently when the line passed to the Western Region, pannier tanks engines including ones from the 9400 class were used. These were all stationed at the engine shed by the side of the line at Bromsgrove. 92079 was replaced by classmate 92230, which did not acquire the headlight. A short lived visitor was an ex-Great Western Railway 2-8-0 tank engine.
For a brief period, the ex-LNER Beyer-Garratt locomotive No.69999 came to Bromsgrove shed for a trial but failed to make an impact and reputedly, the engine crews hated it.
The most successful locomotives used, aside from Big Bertha were the Riddles designed Standard 2-10-0 9Fs. But this lasted only a short time before diesels took over from steam. Now railway passengers could be forgiven for not realising they are going up the Lickeys as the diesel train effortlessly speeds toward Birmingham.
But who can forget the sight and sound of up to four pannier tank engines blasting a Birmingham bound train headed by a Jubilee or Stanier Class 5 up to Blackwell? The web master grew up in the 1950s and. He remembers hanging out of the railway coach window on a school railway club "shed bashing" trip to Birmingham and listening to those panniers whistling to each other and the train engine as they prepared to push yet another train up towards Birmingham. One of Peter Handford's original long playing records of train sounds was incidentally of Lickey Incline trains.
Note: the content of these pages is drawn from various secondary sources including books, magazines and the web
For more detailed information see:
The Lickey Incline, H.C.Casserley, The Oakwood Press, 1976. History of the incline.
Over The Lickey! Donald J.M.Smith and Derek Harrison, Peter Watts Publishing Limited, 1990, ISBN 0 906025 71 0. Historical information with useful appendices.
The Railway History of Bromsgrove and the Lickey Incline, Roger Davies, Bromsgrove Steam Enthusiasts Club.
Photo Credits: 58100 21C at Bromsgrove Station 15/5/1949, 7301 21C, 58100 21C Bromsgrove Incline 24/7/49 Courtesy of DJ Norton Photo's by DJ Norton Reproduced with thanks.
More about Lickey Incline locomotives and operating practices at: Lickey Blog