45379 (LMS 5379 & BR 45379)

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5379 was built in 1937 by Armstrong Whitworth of Newcastle-on-Tyne It became 45379 following the establishment of British Railways in 1948. Initially the locomotive was allocated to Crewe.

BR motive power depot allocations since 1948.

Date ArrivedDepot
January 1948Rugby
November 1948Northampton
March 1949Rugby
May 1956Crewe North
April 1961Bletchley
December 1962Crewe North
March 1964Willesden

Edited version of “THE LAST RUN OF 45379” by John Gilberthorpe.

“It was Monday 12th July 1965 when I managed to leave work early to catch the 4.38 Marylebone – Nottingham Victoria to go on a few days holiday. Marylebone always held a special charm of past stories, and now lay virtually deserted. I once asked for a single to Sheffield Victoria from here. The booking clerk was horrified, and said I should change stations in Nottingham, whereupon I was issued with a Marylebone – Sheffield ticket via Beighton Junction (on the old GCR main line). This station had closed in 1953, and it was now 1965!

Back to 12th July 1965. Five coaches of LMS origin stood in the platform, and I noted the weight as 167 tons tare, about 175 tons gross. It was unusual as no engine had by that time backed onto the train. One could expect anything from an LMS Class 5 to a Britannia at that date.

Eventually at about 4.45 a Black 5 tender appeared out of Lords Tunnel, and with the engines safety valves lifting furiously she backed down and coupled up. It was 45379. The safety valves continued to roar at frequent intervals. I wondered what had delayed 45379’s arrival on our train in Marylebone from Willesden Shed.

The train was only lightly filled. At 4.51 and a half, 13 and a half minutes late and billowing black smoke, we pulled out into Lords Tunnel, whereupon the safety valves snapped shut. That lovely sulphur smell filled the corridors and I hoped for a good run as the GC line timings were quite sharp for these three semi-fasts per day – all that was left of a once fine passenger service – and given the late start also. It is an uphill slog out of the terminus, through the tunnels, and we plodded on through Saint John’s Wood tunnel, briefly in daylight when we crossed the LNWR main, and plunged into Hampstead Tunnel. There was a definite lack of sparkle in the start, but then I thought the crew were perhaps saving their energy for the long grind through the Chilterns, the other side of Harrow.

We surfaced at Canfield Place, beside Finchley Road underground station, and from here the Bakerloo and Metropolitan streaks of misery parallel the old GC. 45379 was definitely not crackling at the chimney like a Class 5 should and we only painstakingly overhauled the LT trains and succeeded in blocking their motormen’s view with clouds of thick white steam and black smoke.

Willesden Green was passed in 8 and a half minutes, a full 1 and a half minutes slower than my run with 44762 one month earlier – and she had six bogies of 201 tons tare, 215 gross. By Wembley Park the gap had widened to 3 minutes. The steamers usually streaked past the underground trains, but for 45379 it was an effort to overtake them. We certainly attracted attention from waiting LT passengers at their various stations, and residents in houses and blocks of lineside flats, but our progress was poor and I now had grave doubts about 45379’s steaming. Smoke continued to pother and we drew to a halt in Harrow-on-the-Hill station in 18 minutes for the 9.2 miles from Marylebone, a loss of one minute on schedule, with no checks. 44762 had done it in 13 and a half minutes on 11th June.

The blower was hard on and away we blasted, and this time my hopes began to rise a little. Pinner passed, 45379’s beat quickened and the train accelerated. We were now beginning that long but beautiful attack on the drag uphill to Dutchlands Summit, north of Amersham, in the Chilterns. Northwood, four and a half miles from Harrow, was passed in seven and a quarter minutes, although still 15 seconds slower than 44762 with her heavier load, but from here the heavy work really began to tell. The sparkle disappeared as 45379 slogged on with billowing clouds of smoke through the beautiful wooded countryside, took 17 and a quarter minutes to pass Rickmansworth, eight miles from Harrow, against an excellent ten and a half minutes from 44762. We did not even have to slow much for the 25 mph speed restriction through Rickmansworth’s curved platforms, whereas 44762 had had to brake hard.

Now on double track, occupying the LT electrified section too, we went slower and slower through the steeply graded, thickly wooded cuttings, grinding painfully through Chorley Wood, with her exhaust getting weaker and weaker with black smoke blotting out everything. We finally expired in Chalfont and Latimer station, with the blower obviously full on but much weakened, a smoke screen and a clang of fire irons. We had taken 29 minutes for the 12.4 miles from Harrow, whereas 44762 had passed this point in 18 minutes.

Eventually Standard ‘4’ 2-6-0 number 76037 appeared, coasting downhill with a short ‘pick up’ goods. A 1A shed-mate of 45379, she coupled on tender first as pilot, but was also in a very run down state. We restarted 31 and three quarter minutes after we had stalled. The double exhaust beats of the two engines echoed from the heavily wooded cutting sides, but were almost drowned by bad steam blows roaring from 76037. Through Amersham we struggled, the two miles from Chalfont taking no less than seven minutes, then down to Great Missenden and finally breasting Dutchlands Summit, 9.6 miles from Chalfont, in 21 minutes from the restart. The roarings and syncopated exhausts of the two engines ceased as their regulators were closed, and we thankfully coasted downhill through Wendover and Stoke Mandeville to arrive in Aylesbury Town in 30 and a half minutes for 16.2 miles from Chalfont. The time was now 6/40 and a half, and we should have arrived at 5/36.

With utter horror I saw D5084 idling away on the other platform, and our two unfortunate engines were exchanged for that apparition. I was now beginning to wonder if I could make my connection across Nottingham for Sheffield, and in the bargain it was the only time I was unfortunate enough to suffer diesel haulage on the GC. We arrived in Nottingham Victoria at 8/47, with the thing being driven flat out the whole way (schedule 8/3), and it restarted from Aylesbury at 6/54 instead of the scheduled 5/38; so I did just make the Sheffield connection by the skin of my teeth.

As we passed the two tired steamers simmering alongside the line as we pulled away, their crews were both watching our departure, looking as sad as I felt. I knew that at that late date a failure in traffic virtually meant the end for any steamer, and so it proved for 45379. She was taken to Willesden and withdrawn. It was obviously due to the shameful lack of maintenance that steam was being subjected to in their last days”.

45379 was withdrawn from service in July 1965 and sold to Woodham Brothers for scrap it arrived in October of that year and remained at Barry until May 1974.

In 1974 it was bought for restoration and taken to the Avon Valley Railway, later to The Great Central Railway. It was bought from there by Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society and moved to Alresford on the Mid Hants Railway (MHR) in 2002.

The restoration work was completed in September 2010 and 45379 is now fully fledged member of the MHR fleet with a boiler certificate which will expire in 2018.

In July the locomotive was taken out of service for its annual examination. As a result of discovering that it had a cracked frame 45379 was out of service until October 2017.

It returned to traffic but will be taken out of service when the ten year boiler certificate expires in September 2018. The boiler certificate was valid from 2008 when the hydraulic tests were undertaken despite this being two years before it was operational.

The boiler certificate expired in September 2018 and the locomotive was taken out of service.

The locomotive was moved to the Locomotive Storage Ltd facility at Margate in November 2018 so that it could be stored under cover.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Mid Hants RailwayAwaiting overhaulMid Hants Railway Preservation Society
45379 at Blunham heading an excursion – June 1963
45379 in Annesley shed – July 1965
45379 in Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry – November 1968
45379 undergoing restoration at Bitton on the Avon Valley Railway – Circa 1976
45379 at Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre at Ruddington – 1999
45379 at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway – June 2012
45379 on the Mid Hants Railway – May 2013
45379 at Irwell Vale on the East Lancashire Railway – February 2014
45379 crosses the River Roch as it heads towards Bury from Heywood on the East Lancashire Railway -February 2014
45379 at Burrs Country Park on the East Lancashire Railway – February 2014
45379 on the shed at Ropley along with 60019 Bittern & 34007 Wadebridge – October 2015
45379 on the Mid Hants Railway – March 2017
45379 on the Mid Hants Railway – March 2017

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