The preservation of steam locomotives in Britain has been very significantly affected by the story of the Woodham Brothers Ltd scrapyard at Barry in South Wales. This was one of a number of scrapyards in South Wales. This one had been established in 1892 as Woodham & Sons. The elder brother (Albert) retired from the business in 1947. When the younger brother (Dai) was demobbed from the Army in 1953 he renamed the business and split it into four different companies. Woodham Brothers Ltd became the company which became known for scrapping steam locomotives.
The impact of the scrapyard can be seen from the table below.
|Total BR locomotives into Preservation||Saved from Woodham Brothers Scrapyard||
Percentage of Total Saved From Barry
- Although 213 locomotives are identified as having been saved from scrapping at Barry this should not be taken as meaning that all of these have subsequently been restored. Some have been cannibalised for part for other locomotives (including new build projects) and others still remain in a scrapyard condition. See Saved From Barry for details.
- It is worth noting that of the 388 locomotives 39 were part of the National Railway Museum collection. The 39 includes one locomotive (35029 Ellerman Lines which has been sectioned) which had been sold for scrap at Barry. Also included in the 39 is one (46235 City of Birmingham) which was donated by BR to the Science Museum for display at Birmingham.
Until 1959 all steam locomotives were cut up within British Railways facilities. In March 1959 the first locomotives were sold to private scrapyards for disposal. The first to yard to accept these steam locomotives was Woodham Brothers at Barry in South Wales. The result was that four GWR locomotives (5312, 5360, 5392 and 5397) were cut up at the yard.
Although the number of locomotives bought by Woodham’s was comparatively small at this stage, the size of the deliveries increased and between November 1960 and April 1961 alone, 40 locomotives were acquired from Swindon. Most but not all of these engines were scrapped soon after their arrival, but as the number of deliveries increased, additional storage was found at the low-level sidings adjacent to the oil terminal and also on sidings built on the site of the former West Pond which had been filled in as part of a land reclamation scheme. These additional sites were required for the number of Southern Region engines that Woodhams began to purchase from mid-1964.
During 1965, 65 locomotives arrived at the Barry scrapyard, however, in the first six-month period 28 engines were dismantled but cutting virtually ceased from that autumn onwards as work was concentrated on breaking up freight wagons and brake vans.
This was done as the supply of wagons at this stage was seemingly endless. It was felt that once the wagon fleet had been reduced to a certain level, disposal would ease off and effort would be switched to cutting up steam locomotives. Many tenders from steam locomotives were stripped down to their frames and sold to steelworks to transport ingots.
At this time there was a big shift in traffic from rail to road and the type of containers required for rail transportation was changing. The supply of wagons and brake vans for cutting up therefore continued.
Woodham Brothers continued to purchase further locomotives until the end of steam in 1968.The last locomotives to arrive were 48151, 48305, 76077, 76079, 76084 and 92212 along with 61264 which was the only LNER engine to be taken into the yard.
Altogether from 1959 until 1968, 297 locomotives were bought by Woodhams, however by August 1968, 217 remained at the Barry scrapyard. The mass scrapping of steam locomotives had ceased after 1965.
Around this time enthusiasts became interested in the possibility of acquiring steam locomotives from the yard for preservation.
The contract between British Railways and Woodham Brothers required the locomotive to be cut up for scrap and the subsequent buyers had to negotiate with British Railways to overcome this contractual requirement placed on Woodham Brothers. British Railways were also against any insignia appearing on the locomotive which implied it was a BR engine and this had also to be discussed with BR. The first group to overcome this hurdle were the Midland 4F Society who purchased 43924 which left the yard in September 1968. The outcome of the discussions with BR became a basis for subsequent preservation projects. As part of this agreement British Railways received 50% of the difference between the price Woodhams paid for the locomotive and the price that it was sold to the preservation group.
In 1979 the introduction of VAT on the sale of steam locomotives from the scrapyard served to increase the price by 15%.
Following a meeting of interested parties on 10 February 1979 the Barry Steam Locomotive Action Group (BSLAG) was formed with the aim of putting potential purchasers and Woodham Brothers together, as well as funders and financial contributors. BSLAG undertook basic surveys of the remaining locomotives, listing types and conditions and acting as a media liaison point.
During the summer of 1980 BR were unable to offer any quantity of redundant wagons to Woodham’s for scrap. Rather than lay off staff, Dai Woodham authorised the scrapping of two steam locomotives, BR Standard Class 9F 92085, and GWR 5101 class 4156. By August, more former steel coal wagons had been delivered to the yard, making these two the last locomotives to be broken up at Barry. A further 96 locomotives survived after 1980.
In 1980 the Environmental Health Department issued a statement that no locomotive could leave the yard without having had the blue asbestos lagging around the boiler professionally removed or sealed in a plastic bubble when it was removed from the yard.
As the locomotives were stored in the open air at Barry by this time they were in a rusty condition. Many parts had been removed as spares or replacement parts from those remaining for earlier preservation projects and much non-ferrous metal had been removed.
Ten locomotives remained unsold at The Woodham Brothers Ltd scrapyard when it closed. These have come to be called the Barry Ten. They were taken over by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and continued to be stored for the next twenty years.
Firstly the engines were moved to Bute Road station Cardiff Bay then to a warehouse in Barry then finally to the old Barry Diesel Depot site.
They are identified below
|2861||2800 2-8-0 GWR Churchward||Nov-63||May-13|
|4115||5101 2-6-2T GWR Churchward & Collett||Aug-65||Jan-90|
|5227||5205 2-8-0T GWR Collett||Nov-63||Feb-90|
|5539||4575 2-6-2T GWR Modified 4500||Sep-62||Feb-90|
|6686||5600 0-6-2T GWR Collett||Aug-64||Feb-90|
|7927||6959 4-6-0 GWR Hawksworth Modified Hall||Feb-66||Feb-90|
|44901||5MT 4-6-0 LMS Stanier Black Five||Jan-66||Feb-90|
|48518||8F 2-8-0 LMS & War Department Stanier||Oct-65||Feb-90|
|80150||4MT 2-6-4T BR Standard Class 4 Tank||Jan-66||Feb-90|
|92245||9F 2-10-0 BR Standard Class 9||Mar-65||Feb-90|
A full list of locomotives not scrapped at Barry is given at – Saved From Barry – current Status. This page also provides an analysis of the current position and links to all of the locomotive pages.