The date is Sunday 23 March 1958 and railway enthusiasts visiting Crewe Locomotive Works
were in for a surprise for there in the Works Yard was 47994 the last British Railways Beyer
Garratt articulated steam locomotive.
Built by Beyer Peacock, Gorton, thirty-three of these 2-6-0+0-6-2 were ordered by the LMS.
The first three were completed during 1927, the remainder during 1930. They were designed
for hauling heavy coal trains from the Midlands Coalfield to London. Originally built with
fixed coal bunkers that resulted in firemen doing an awful lot of shoveling, all but two were
later equipped with revolving bunkers. This increased the weight of each Garratt from
148.75tons to 155.5tons. When this picture was taken, the 2-10-0 heavy freight engines then
under construction by BR came in at around 86.75tons apiece.
Withdrawals began during June 1955 with 47985 and 47990. Following the withdrawal of
47982 during December 1957 only 47994 remained.
When British Railways was formed, 47994 was allocated to Toton, hauling heavy coal trains
to Brent. During February 1951, the engine was reallocated to Wellingborough, remaining
there until December 1954, when it was back to Toton again until December 1956. 47994’s
final shed was Hasland, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
Her last run was from Toton to Hasland on Friday 28 February 1958. On Friday 14 March,
47994 departed Hasland at 7.30am to run light engine to Crewe Works. As this was not a
priority working, she was not expected to arrive at her final destination until some time on
Saturday 15 March. Though already condemned, 47994 was not officially withdrawn from
service until the week ending 29 March.
Work began on cutting up 47994 just two or three weeks after this photograph was taken.