Andrew Barclay Works No 1473 Sir Charles 0-4-0F

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This locomotive was built in 1916 by Andrew Barclay for Vickers Ltd to work at the National Filling Factory at Morecambe. It was a fireless locomotive which means that it had a steam accumulator rather than a boiler and was charged up with steam from a stationary boiler. It also meant that there was no chance of it starting a fire.

It was delivered in August 1916.

It had 15 inch x 18 inch outside cylinders and 3 feet diameter driving wheels.

It was one of three such locomotives supplied by Andrew Barclay to Vickers to work at Morecambe – Works Nos 1471-3 of which 1472 and 1473 have been preserved.

The Construction of the National Filling Station at Morecambe started following the passing of the 1915 Munitions of War Act which was passed in order to expand the production of munitions for the First World War beyond the three existing sites at Waltham Abbey, Enfield Lock and Woolwich.

Construction of the National Filling Factory at White Lund, Morecambe, began in November 1915 on a 400 acre site. The site needed to be so large because explosive safety was a key issue and the site used parallel production facilities in separate small, wooden huts to reduce the risk. The NFF filled a range of shells with Amatol, a mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate, but they also produced gas shells. Vickers produced filled shells for only 15 months before the site was almost entirely destroyed by fire and an explosion.

By September 1917 the plant at Morecambe employed 4,621 of which nearly 65% were women.

In October 1917 a fire started in an area which contained a large amount of explosive material (TNT). The lower floor of the unit the fire started in contained partly filled 12 inch shells which shortly exploded but the largest explosion of ammunition occurred four and a half hours after the fire had started. The blast from this killed four people, who were mainly firemen. Casualties were reduced as the employees were on a meal break at the time of the outbreak of the fire.

The force of the blast blew out windows in Morecambe and shrapnel was found several miles away.

Several acts of bravery were subsequently rewarded. Mary Agnes Wilkinson, a telephonist at the Exchange in Cable Street, Lancaster, was awarded the British Empire Medal. Four men were awarded the Edward Medal for their bravery including Thomas Kew, a train driver, and Abraham Graham, who shunted 49 ammunition trucks holding 250,000 live shells out of the danger zone to prevent further explosions.

It took three days to secure the site but the factory never re-opened. Workers were paid off and given a fortnight’s extra wages.

In 1922 the locomotive was purchased to work at Llandarcy at the National Oil Refineries. Here it acquired the name Sir Charles after Sir Charles Greenway, later Lord Greenway who was the Chairman of Anglo-Persian Oil Co. Ltd.

The Llandarcy Oil Refinery, also known as the National Oil Refinery and BP Llandarcy, was the United Kingdom’s first oil refinery, officially opened by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company from 1935 and the British Petroleum Company from 1954) on 29 June 1922, although operations had begun on 1 July 1921. Before this, the only oil refined in the UK came from Scottish shale.

Llndary was chosen as a site for a refinery because Neath Rural district Council was the only council in the country at that time which could guarantee the requisite daily volume of water required by the refinery. This was supplied from the recently constructed reservoir at Ystradfellte.

Construction began in February 1919 and included construction of a new railway line. The refinery cost £3 million. The refinery was formally opened by Stanley Baldwin, the President of the Board of Trade. It was named after William Knox D’Arcy, the founder of Anglo-Persian.

Llandarcy was the source of the fuel pipeline PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) which supplied fuel to the D-Day landings during the Second World War.

The site was damaged by Luftwaffe bombing in 1940. One 250kg bomb passed through the tank’s concrete base into the earth but failed to explode and had to be dug out before the fire brigade could attend to the fires.

When opened, it was producing around 150,000 gallons of petrol a day. By 1960, it was refining 8 million tons of crude oil a year and was the third biggest oil refinery in the UK after Fawley Refinery and Lindsey Oil Refinery.

The works was supplied with crude oil imported through the purpose-built Queen’s Dock at Swansea Docks. In 1961, BP constructed a jetty in Milford Haven and a pumping installation, known as Angle Bay Terminal in order to pump oil to Llandarcy.

The locomotive ceased to be employed at Llandarcy in 1956.

By 1963 the locomotive was at the Swansea Museum.

The locomotive at the Swansea Museum Collection Centre and is not on display to the public.

The site is as part of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks regeneration plan which it is aimed to complete in 2022.

A survey of the locomotive was started just before the Covid-19 pandemic but this work is currently on hold.

1473 at Swansea Museum – October 1969
1473 at the Swansea Museum Collection Centre at Landore – September 2019

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