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Next to the SMR, the railways of J and A Brown were the next most extensive coalfields system in Newcastle. Based at Hexham, the system almost outlived the SMR, in spite of having no locomotives of its own left to work the system, and having to borrow 10 class from the SMR to run the line. Alas, the last vestige closed in the late 70s.
The system was notable for having some of the ex Railways Operating Division locomotives built for the 1914-18 war, and hence were the target for many British rail enthusiasts. In 1967, the decision was made to stop major boiler work on the ROD locomotives and as these locos were withdrawn, they were supplemented by 10 class from the SMR. Fortunately, some of the RODs have been preserved, and you can read all about them in the ROD section.
The Hunslet Locomotive Co in England was requested at the time to evaluate the cost in reboilering both classes of locomotives. They decided 10 class to be a better proposition than the ROD. If it had been the other way, ROD locomotives would have worked SMR from 1970's onwards. Hunslet provided 6 sets of boiler pressings to allow the withdrawn 10 class to be returned to service for both railway systems. (thanks to Brian Andrews for some of this information.)
Owen Brison writes:
A point about the rather nice 1973 shot 9-2 of one of the J&A Brown Kitson tanks. You mention being unable to identify it. I would say with fair certainty that it is No 10, "Richmond Main". The reason is that the shot clearly shows a lamp-iron on top of the smokebox. According to shots I took in Aug. 72, (see below), No 10 had the top lamp-iron while No 9 did not. The chances of anyone having gone to the trouble of adding a top lamp-iron to No. 9 between 1972 and 1973 must be very slim indeed.
I once had a letter published in the Bulletin of the ARHS drawing attention to the possibility that the J&AB Kitson tanks might have been a 2-8-2 tank version of the contemporary GCR Robinson 0-8-0 tender loco (of which the ROD 2-8-0 was a natural enlargement). Can't give you the reference to the Bulletin as I don't seem to have it in Lisbon, but it was probably late 70's, after an article on the Kitson tanks in the Bulletin by Brian Andrews. Many of the crucial dimensions of the Kitson tanks, such as coupled wheel spacing and boiler-tube/firebox heating surfaces, are identical with those of the GCR design. Kitson's had previously built a batch of the 0-8-0s for the GCR. I think that AE Durrant put the same idea in a book of his on Aus. steam.
So it looks like my following 3 photos of no.9 are in fact of no.10! Thanks to Owen for clearing up this mystery after 30 years!
I wrote originally that I thought that one or two of these classic locos had been returned to the UK, asking for details from readers, and received the following informative replies:
Graeme Geraghty writes:
One of these locos (63601) survives in England and only returned to steam on the 25th of January 2000. Two more of the class survive at Dorrigo Steam Museum. There were 591 of these locos built in England in between the years 1911-1914.
Jeffrey Mullier (Archive Officer, Richmond Vale Railway Museum) subsequently wrote saying:
BR No 63601 which has been returned to service on the preserved GCR is actually a GCR 8K loco ie a 'pre war ROD' built in 1912, having a copper firebox & boiler tubes and steam vacuum brakes the ROD's proper had steel fireboxes and boiler tubes and Westinghouse air brakes.
There were 521 RODs built of which 311 actually saw service in France during WW1. John Brown bought 13 as surplus between 1925 & 1927.
The 2 RODs at Dorrigo were originally sold in 1973 to English preservation groups No.20 to the Southport Locomotive & Transport Museum and No.24 to the ROD Group of the King Preservation Society. Due to troubles in raising the money for transport etc they were later resold to the Hunter Valley Steam Railway & Museum.
Coal & Allied kept No.23 for official preservation as No.21 and was stored at Hexham until 1978 when it was placed in a fenced off enclosure in a park at Freeman's Waterhole. In 1986 it was moved to Richmond Main Colliery for preservation by the Richmond Vale Railway Museum. The boiler has been lifted from the frames and fully detubed allowing a full assessment of the boiler's condition (it is the original 1918 GCR boiler) . A full set of 220 drawings have also been purchased from the National Railway Museum at York. But at this stage no further work has been carried out.
A good source of information on the J & A Brown RODs is the article by Brian Andrews in the March and April 1979 ARHS Bulletins, he also did a article in the February 1977 Bulletin on the Kitsons.
As for the sixty preserved non airs we have the sixty from Hexham plus another 15 at Richmond Main. We occasionally run 15 of them on a demonstration train. I also have a few photos of some of the 60 in 1989 while they were still stored at Hexham, if you are interested.
Steve Zoneff writes:
I have included 2 pictures of that old hopper that I found about 2 thirds of the way along the Hexham to Stocky line. The first one is looking toward Stockrington and the other is looking back towards Hexham.] (Steve apologises for the `bad quality' of the second, but such historical pictures are always worthwhile!)
The photos where taken on 21st October 1997 (almost 10 years to the day of its closure). I have recently watched two good videos about the RVR (Hearts Of Fire and The Richmond Vale Railway) that were produced by NBN television about ten years ago and they state that "some 60 hoppers were saved". I think that I may have only actually seen about ten of them at various museums, etc., over the years.
I am indebted to Steve for the kind use of his photographs.
For more pictures of the Hexham to Stockrington line, see also South Maitland Railways, as the SMR 10 class were used on the line when the RODs were withdrawn.
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