Monday, 13 June 2011

Avonside Engines come to the Royal Arsenal

This piece is the third of six parts delving into the history of the narrow gauge railway at the Royal Arsenal.  Subscribe by email to this blog (on the right of this page) to read the further installments. 

In 1915 the Ministry of Munitions placed an order with Avonside Engine Company for sixteen locomotives of the Charlton Class (O-4-OT). These were to be the final class of narrow gauge steam locomotive to be used on the Royal Arsenal Railway.

The first six, BRISTOL, GLASGOW, LIVERPOOL, NEWCASTLE, DERBY and WOOLWICH were oil-fired and allocated to work in what were classified as “Danger Buildings” such as the Magazine and Filling Factories. The remaining ten coal fired locos were allocated to duties in Non-Danger areas such as coal and passenger haulage.

All of this class were fitted with Conical Spark Arrestors but there were other subtle physical differences. Initially, rear sandboxes were fitted below the footplate then moved to the tank tops; on MANCHESTER and ENFIELD, the front sandboxes were fitted on tank tops although these look ungainly. The first four units had small water tank cut outs; on later units this was made longer. On SHEFFIELD, CHARLTON and DERBY a wooden toolbox was mounted on the left tank top, which may have been an in-house modification.

Text (c) by Robin Parkinson and Mark Smithers.

1 comment:

  1. The ancestry of the RAR Avonsides is interesting. Earlier examples of Avonside 0-4-0T locomotives for gauges of 2ft. and 2ft.6in. had outside cylinders with inside link motion and specimens of 2ft. gauge survive today in South Africa and Australia. A 2ft. gauge variant with outside valve gear and 4ft.6in. coupled wheelbase was constructed contemporaneously with the Woolwich locos for the Sezela Estates in South Africa and today all six members of this class survive in their adoptive country and in the UK.