The Fourth Edition

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This edition includes articles on Wolverhampton's first station, 'King' Class locomotives, a '2021' class saddle tank, railway reminiscences - 'Sins of Our Fathers', H.C. Casserley's visit to Wolverhampton, and engine workings in the Stourbridge area.

'Wolverhampton's first station' is a description of Wednesfield Heath station on the Grand Junction Railway. 'King Class locomotives' describes some of the excellent performances of Stafford Road engines and 'A Visit to Wolverhampton' is an account of H.C. Casserley's visit to Stafford Road Works. It is well illustrated with a number of photographs of the engines that were there at the time.

The cover picture shows a Grand Junction Railway mixed train passing through Penkridge.

Oxley Locomotive Sheds 1907 - 1967

In the Victorian period the running sheds at Stafford Road had served for the maintenance of all Wolverhampton based G.W.R. locomotives. In 1905 the directors of the company authorised the building of a separate shed for goods engines across the viaduct at Oxley sidings. The building contract was approved in March 1906 and the operations were put in charge of the company’s newly appointed works engineer, Mr. Walter Armstrong, the resident engineer being Mr. W.E. Hart. The building contractors were the local firm of H. Lovatts.

Oxley prior to opening.

The shed was situated on the down side of the line adjacent to the already long established goods sidings. The design of the shed building followed the standard Swindon pattern, except that space dictated the placing of the interior turntables one behind the other. The design allowed for the installation of at least a further two turntables at a future date.

In the event such an enlargement was never required. The turntables were each 65 feet in length, with under support girders. Both were encircled by 28 inspection pits, varying from 41 to 100 feet in length. On the left of the main shed building was the engine lifting shop, with the foreman’s and administration clerk's offices on the right. At the northern side were the enginemen, mechanics and cleaners room (with kitchen) and the lavatories. A standard sand furnace was also provided. The gloom within the shed was partly dispelled by the large nine burner gas lamps, suspended from the roof. 

Oxley interior.

Oxley lifting bay when new. The hoist is seen here in its manual days, being later electrified. It had a 35 ton capacity with a clear lift of 19 feet. To this was fitted a 6 ton swinging jib crane for lighter loadings. The service tools were also kept here, the place being spotlessly clean in G.W.R. days.
Whilst a number of tall gas lamp standards provided for the shed yard. The sheds and yard were provided with electricity in the 1950's.

Although Oxley was primarily built as a goods and shunting engine depot, various mixed traffic locomotives were shedded there from the mid 1930s onwards. When Stafford Road closed in 1963 its allocation of express engines was transferred to Oxley. The shed code ‘OXY’ became ‘84B’ on Nationalisation and was recoded to ‘2B’ in September 1963.

In the 1960s the ex G.W.R. locomotives were disappearing rapidly, being replaced by increasingly grimy and run-down ex L.M.S. or B.R. standard classes.

The yard at the rear of the shed became a dumping ground for derelict engines of all sorts, which were promptly vandalised by souvenir hunters. The shed interior too was a far cry from the halcyon days of the past. The regular weekend cleaning of walls, floors and fittings had long since ceased. The huge smoke chutes that carried the engine smog away to the outside world had rotted away, and in some cases collapsed to the ground. The smoke then took to hanging about in the roof, turning all it touched to a sooty black.

The floors were thick with dangerous black grease. The shed formally closed in March 1967, though steam engines found their way there until the late summer, receiving minor running repairs. The place gradually became derelict, and was dismantled for its Randley red bricks, which were considered too useful to throw away.

Oxley, 1910. Armstrong goods 0-6-0. numbers 406 and 1015 are in the foreground.

The unwanted remains were bulldozed beyond the rear of the old shed, forming a bed for the new carriage cleaning depot, soon to be built on the site. The rubble is still there, including some of the green enamelled light shades that once hung inside the main building. The approach roads that once formed the shed running yard now serve the carriage cleaning depot, which stands on the site of the former shed.

OXLEY principal dimensions

Lifting shop   84'0" x 58'6" Stores (including office)   72'0" x 56'6"
Mess rooms   146'6" x 15'6" Lavatories   30'0" x 15'6"
Sand furnace   50'0" x 25'6" Coal stage   52'0" x 59'6"
Tank capacity   145,000 gallons  
Total area of buildings    98,960 square feet  

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