Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST No.5 ‘Littleton’

  • Pre TOPS number: 5
  • Construction year: 1922
  • Builder/Number: Manning Wardle (2018)
  • Stored out of service

Two locos to this design were constructed for Littleton Collieries Ltd., just to the North of Cannock. They were massive locos and were amongst the first locos designed purely for Industrial use to employ 18ins diameter cylinders.

One loco was named “Littleton No 4” and the other “Littleton No 5”. The latter unique locomotive spent its working life with the National Coal Board (NCB) at Staffordshire’s Cannock Chase coal field, hauling heavy 500-ton trains up the steeply-graded 4-mile branch line from Littleton Colliery to the mainline exchange sidings at Penkridge.

Ownership of loco transferred to NCB after nationalisation in 1947. The locomotive was taken out of use after 50 years’ service in 1972, having outlived steam engines on British Railways and become the only remaining example of its type. The colliery closed on 10 December 1993.

The locomotive was purchased by a Mr. R. Hibbert and moved to the Foxfield railway (near Stoke on Trent) in October 1972. It then moved to the Great Central Railway at Loughborough and worked there from 1973. Its last steaming on the GCR was March 1980 and it’s next 10 yearly overhaul was due in 1981.

The Littleton’s Owner Group purchased the locomotive from Mr. Hibbert in October 1980. It was loaded at Quorn on a snowy Saturday in December 1980 having been pushed to a loading ramp by diesel no. 3 (The winch provided to load the loco was not up to the job evidently). It spent an overnight stay in Birmingham before arriving at Bitton at lunchtime the next day (Sunday) and was displaying in the up platform over the Santa special period. It came with steam heat and vacuum brake equipment already fitted.

During the Summer of 1981 preparations were made for its 10 yearly boiler lift and re-tube (168 tubes). The boiler was lifted on 19/6/81. All the tubes were removed by the Winter of 1981. 184 X 1.7/8″ tubes arrived on 4/11/82 and work continued preparing the loco for testing between 1982 and 1984. In November 1984 it passes its hydraulic test and in Spring 1985 the boiler was craned back into place.

A fire was first lit in August 1985 and on 15/8/85 the boiler pressure was taken to 100 psi. It passed its full steam test on 11/9/85. This was the first occasion that a full re-tube of a loco undertaken at Bitton. It first worked at Bitton on 15/9/85 during the transport rally where it ran all day without problems.

It then continued to provide regular service at Bitton. The DoT inspected the new line to Oldland on 4/2/91 and the loco worked crew training trips from 24/2/91. On 6/3/91 it worked the 11.30 first train to Oldland hauling 5 coaches exactly 25 years to the day since passenger services were withdrawn. Its first public steaming to Oldland was on Good Friday 29/3/91 carrying the headboard ‘Midland Phoenix’ and it ran out of steam approaching Meadow Court Crossing!!.

By 1993 it was beginning to show signs of wear as it neared its next 10 yearly exam due in June 1994. The last run was to Oldland on 6/6/94 with Driver Dave Burton at the helm. Unfortunately, by the turn of the century, Littleton’s age had caught up with it, and it was side-lined for expensive repairs which its owners could not afford.
In 2019 the Owner’s Group kindly donated the locomotive to the Avon Valley Railway Heritage Trust, who are currently actively engaged in moving forward with its restoration.

Any Donations towards The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2019 For The Littleton 5 Project Will Be Gratefully Received And DOUBLED! This runs from Midday on Tuesday 3rd December To Tuesday 10th December. If you would like to make a donation, please visit Donate to the Big Give Campaign for Littleton No 5.


Reproduced by kind permission of the RCTS Image Archive

Reproduced by kind permission of the RCTS Image Archive

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