On the Road
The ‘Granges’ were based throughout the former Great Western system, with the Newton Abbot division of the network having a particularly strong allocation. Newton Abbott’s responsibilities included the provision of locomotives to ‘pilot‘ heavily loaded trains over a 25-mile stretch of line characterised by tortuous gradients. Known as ‘The South Devon Banks’, the section included Dainton Bank (around 1 in 40), Rattery (around 1 in 50) and Hemerdon (1 in 42). Before the days of widespread car ownership, this section would see dozens of holiday excursions trains each day during the summer months. These trains were often loaded to 12 coaches and more, and typically weighed in excess of 500 tons. South Devon represented a severe challenge to footplate crews and their locomotives and it became customary to use a ‘pilot’ locomotive to assist the train locomotive with the task. The ‘Granges’ were free steaming, powerful and free running and ideally suited to the task. Typically the 85½ miles from Newton Abbot to Truro (non-stop) could be accomplished at an average speed over 40mph, despite the gradients. ‘Granges’ became a familiar sight at the head of the Great Western’s most prestigious train the ‘Cornish Riviera Express‘ attacking the South Devon banks, either relieving or piloting the train locomotive.
The Granges were used widely on fitted freight trains across the Western Region of British Railways being allocated to such sheds as Shrewsbury, Oxley, Oxford, Pontypool Road, St. Phillips Marsh and Southall. They wer also used on cross country passenger trains and relief train in summer, becoming the true mixed traffic engines that they were designed to be.