Urie S15s on the GWR

Did you Know our S15 No 499 though a stalwart of the Southern Railway spent time on the Great Western Railway? This article from the Urie Society Newsletter back in the Autumn 1990 tells all.

One event of note in No. 499’s past was the loan of Nos 496-499 to the GWR during the war, and while it is well known that these engines went there, what did they actually do? A good start towards finding out, as in many such cases, is by reference to the Railway Observers of the time, in this case 1942 and early 1943. These record a number of observations of the four Urie S15s (and the other SR locos on loan to the GWR -six N15Xs and two 13s). Some of the observations are precisely dated, but for the others we must assume the date from the month it was reported. Not everything accords exactly with the late D.L. Bradley’s accounts (RCTS and Wild Swan), but this is what is recorded.

The January 1942 Railway Observer reports that a number of SR locos are on loan to the GWR, and mentions that 497 was seen on a goods to Oxley on 17th December 1941, and that 499 was on Reading (GWR) shed on 30th November 1941. The following month it is recorded that Nos 496 and 497 are among new arrivals on goods work in the London area.

As yet they have spent most of their time out of steam in Reading or Southall sheds, and No. 497 has already left Southall in a bad state for Old Oak Common repair shop.

January 1942 Railway Observer

After that we have:-

496 on up goods at Oxford

499 on down goods at Reading

September ’42
499 on down goods at Goring (or thereabouts) and 496 on shed at Southall

October ’42
498 among locos recorded at Wishford, on Salisbury – Westbury passenger workings

499 on up goods between Southall and Old Oak Common

March ’43
496 and 498 among locos observed in the Birmingham area “recently”

496 among locos on Reading (GWR) shed

497 and 498, ex loan to GWR, arrive back at Eastleigh for works attention. 499 in the works

496 and 498 among locos noted at Tyseley, 498 was in Eastleigh Works by this date

October ’43
All the S15s on loan have now been returned to Feltham

No.496 dates from the wartime period, with the engine looking unkempt in plain black, and with the plain cabside numerals used briefly before “sunshine” lettering was introduced.
(Courtesy, National Railway Museum, York)

The Railway Observer does not give a full allocation list for these loaned S15s, and for this information we have to turn to the official GWR allocation lists now at the Public Record Office, Kew. These show that Nos 496 and 497 went initially to Southall shed, and Nos 498 and 499 to Old Oak Common, and that they all stayed based at these sheds throughout their period of loan. Dates of arrival are not quoted, but appear to be around the start of December 1941. Dates of return to the Southern are given as:-

496 – 23 July 1943
497 – 21 May 1943
498 – 21 May 1943
499 – 03 April 1943

All the SR locomotives remaining on loan to the GWR were returned between 20th and 23rd July 1943; this included five N15Xs and both I3s, but only No. 496 among the S15s. The other three S15s were returned earlier, clearly needing works attention, as all three immediately entered Eastleigh Works for major overhauls. This suggests that they had been intensively used by the GWR, but their mileages on the record cards at these repairs are mostly fairly low. Possibly their mileages on loan weren’t properly recorded; how, otherwise, did the GWR apparently get these engines into quite such a mess, while hardly using them?

Thus ended a diverting episode in the lives of Nos. 496-499, during which their workings were probably reported more than at any other time.

If you would like to support the restoration of our Urie S15 499 and the continued servicing of S15 506 please consider becoming a member of the Urie society. Details available through this link

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