The website has received the following reply to Dave Thompson's appeal above.

High speed trials of coal trains between Toton and Brent were undertaken during late 1951 and continued until 1955 using motive power not normally associated with such work.

A brace of Royal Scot 4-6-0s Nos. 46117 Welsh Guardsman and 46154 The Hussar were appropriated as were Stanier Class 5s Nos. 44667 and 45342. BR Standard Class 5MT Nos. 73000 and 73001, and 73030 and 73031 were also used often in pairs as were "Britannia" Pacifics No. 70043 and 70044 ex Longsight (9A) both running devoid of smoke deflectors, unnamed, and fitted with Westinghouse Brake equipment. A couple of ex-LNER "L1s" Nos. 67729 and 67737 on loan from Stratford (30A) also carried out static braking tests in 1953 on the Erewash Valley between Trowell Junction and Ilkeston South Junction on No.2 down goods line.

The photograph depicted has "Britannia" Pacifics Nos. 70023 Venus and 70020 Mercury, location ?.

Toton driver William (Bill) Webb worked a series of these trials and gave me the special traffic notice he was issued with appertaining to the run on 20th January 1952. The Flying Collier with 70020 ‘Mercury’ and 70023 ‘Venus’ borrowed from Old Oak Common (81A) were the engines involved, hauling 70 x -16ton loaded wagons with a dynamometer car and on arrival at Brent was featured in the 1952 March edition of Coal magazine. Bill with his fireman Eric Sims had charge of the train engine, "Britannia" Pacific No. 70020 ‘Mercury’ with Stan Woods on the leading locomotive No. 70023 ‘Venus’.

What rankled Bill, was that Stan Woods, the junior driver on the leading engine ‘Mercury’ was interviewed and photographed whilst he didn't even get a mention. Other high speed trials of coal trains to Brent were not without incident, Bill recalled on another of his turns, also with a brace of Britannias, that by the time Wellingborough was reached, there were no fewer than nine hot axle boxes on the train which had to be detached, which was time consuming as the train was fully wired up throughout and included a dynamometer car. Bill was involved later that year when another fully-fitted, on that occasion hauling 52 x -16ton empty wagons ran from Toton to Bedford and return with a BR Standard Class ‘5’ locomotive. He also participated in the Westinghouse braking tests between Trowell Junction and Ilkeston South Junction.


R H Fowkes
Yard Supervisor Toton 1971-1974
Traction Arranger (Running Foreman) Toton 1974-1978


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