S&MLR Locomotives in Military (WD) days

The War Department took over operational control of the S&MLR on the 1st June 1941 and also requisitioned 23 square miles of countryside in the vicinity of the line for ammunition storage and railway yards to be built by contractors Sir Alfred McAlpine & Son. War Department operational control only applied to the line from Shrewsbury to Llanymynech, the Criggion Branch remaining S&MLR responsibility.

After the war years military traffic declined rapidly from 150,000 to 350,000 tons per annum during the war to less than 40,000 tons in 1946 and yards began to be closed and tracks lifted. The WD decided to terminate the use of the railway and the last goods train ran on the 26th February 1960.

Throughout the WD period the line was served by a bewildering range of locomotives and Brian Janes, with help from the late Paul Teather of the Industrial Railway Society, has compiled the following lists. Any comments or suggested changes are very welcome


Original S&MLR Locomotives.

The WD hired existing S&MLR locomotives and continued this practice with the survivors into British Railways days. These were GAZELLE, HESPERUS, the last remaining Ilfracombe goods, and Ex LMS ‘Coal Engines’ 8108 (S&MLR 2 until overhaul at Crewe in June 1941) 8182, 8236 plus another LMS 28204 already on loan and retained. Gazelle continued in use as an inspection engine until Wickham railcars arrived and was last steamed on 7th April 1942. The S&MLR coal engines were thoroughly overhauled by the LMS at intervals during the War but as more locomotives became available at the end of the War were out of use from November 1946, July 1946, and July 1945 respectively. On 8th March 1949 they were taken 'dead' to Wolverhampton Works and thence to Swindon to be scrapped in the week ending 4th November 1950. 28204 was returned to the LMS on 12th July 1945.

There were also short term loans to cover for failures and overhauls of the S&MLR Coal engines. First came 28308 from May till 6th July1942 then 28256 from 3rd till 27th April 1944. Also borrowed on very short loans were the 0-6-2T coal tanks 7840 from 28th May till 5th June 1946 and 27640 between 19th and 26th June1946.

Wartime WD 'Main Line' Locomotives

To operate the main goods flows in and out of depots but usually excluding the daily 'civilian goods' the WD standardised on GW Dean Goods 0-6-0s supplemented with a pair of ex LNER J15 0-6-0s that they acquired from a film company London Film Productions Ltd which had been bought by them for use in the film “Knight without Armour” in September 1936. The Dean Goods had been bought as the standard WD locomotive and 29 of them were used on several UK sites. They tended to move between sites, particularly before 1944.

After mid-1944 all WD locomotives had 70000 added to their numbers although many did not carry the new number.

WD 212 Previously LNER J15 7835. Arrived on 11th July 1942 .On 26th July 1943 it was severely damaged in a collision and did not work again. It was eventually sent to LNER Stratford for scrapping late 1944/early 1945.

WD 221 Previously LNER J15 7541. Arrived 18th July1942. Still working in May 1944 though overdue for repairs. Left 31st October 1944 for Stratford for breaking up.

Ex GWR Dean Goods

*Locomotives recorded on 21st September 1948 as ‘broken up and

removed’, probably at Hookagate; last operating dates not known.

GWR Dean Goods 2462 was loaned from Shrewsbury shed, 27/4/1942 returned 6/7/1942.   

LNER J25 2059.One of many on loaned to the GWR, 2059 was loaned by GWR to S&MLR at an unknown date and returned 27/3/1942.

GWR Dean Goods 2444 on loan, 29/9/1942, returned 9/10/1942, on loan again, 17/11/1942. Returned 22/12/1942.



WD Wartime Shunting Locomotives

To build and operate the many storage sites served by the railway WD and their contractors required a number of small shunting engines. These often proved unsatisfactory and stayed only briefly

WD 234 also carried the number 'P237', VICTORY 0-4-0ST builder uncertain, probably Dick & Stevenson, arrived at Kinnerley between 22/12/1941 and 30/1/1942. It was immediately sent away to Peckett's at Bristol for repair and returned 9/10/1942, but left again on 11/11/1942 for Northfleet Deep Water Wharf, Kent, despite having ‘a cracked axle’.

LNER Y7 No 982 0-4-0T arrived 29/12/1941 on loan, returned 1 /1943.

WD 68 YEOVIL 0-6-0ST Hudswell Clark 1529/1924 arrived Kinnerley 30/1/1942 but required repairs and was sent way before returning by mid-year, but left in August.

WD 202 TARTAR 0-4-0ST Avonside 1407 /1899 Arrived at Kinnerley 26/2/1942. Left 21/1/1943

WD 73 0-6-0PT New from Bagnal 2643/1941 having been originally built for Turkey and therefore out of gauge for mainline use. To War Department, Sinfin Lane Depot, Derbyshire, 1/7/1944.

WD 92 0-6-0ST M Class Manning Wardle 654/1877 13/4/1942 to War Department, Sinfin Lane Depot, Derbyshire, 5/1945.

WD 1872 ASHFORD 0-6-0ST Avonside 1872 /1920 24/5/1942 to Abelson & Co (Engineers) Ltd, Birmingham, 3/1949.

LMS /LNWR Nos 3014 &3015 0-4-0WT arrived 4/7/1942.and evidently saw little use and left 1/7/1943 for A R Adams & Son, Newport.

WD 85 THIKA 0-6-0ST Bagnall 2197/1922 Arrived on the S&MR 15/4/1942. Departure date unknown

WD 69 STAINES 0-6-0ST HC 1513 /1924. Arrived 12/1/1942.left 24/1/1942

WD 70084 ex LNER J69 No 7388 arrived 4/3/1945, left after 15/5/1948

WD 70091 (91) ex LNER J69 7088.arrived 29/6/1943, left after 15/5/1948

Three American USA/TC S100 0-6-0Tshunting tanks, of the type styled by the Southern Railway 'USA', built by HK Porter were used on the SMR in 1943/44. They were unable to use Sharwardine Bridge so were probably only used as shunting tanks.


WD1395 arrived 23/1/1944 departed 4/11/1944,


WD 1399 by 25/9/1943 departed 29/11/1944


WD 1427 by 25/9/1943 departed 13/1/1945

WD diesel locos

WD 32 0-4-0DM 2159/1941 was a 153HP loco built by Vulcan Foundry. Ex works 22/7/1941 transferred to Chilwell Depot, Nottinghamshire, c/1942.*

WD 40 0-4-0DM AB 355/1940. New to S&MLR at latest by 2/2/1942. To War Department, Longmoor, by 12/1943*

WD 44 0-4-0DM AB 359 /1941. New at latest by 24th December 1941. To War Department, Queensferry, Flint, /1943.*

WD 45 0-4-0DM AB 360 1942 New at latest by 2/2/1942. To War Department, Queensferry, Flintshire, /1943.*

WD 48 0-4-0DM AB 363 1942 New. To War Department, Longmoor, Hampshire, 12/1943.*

*There is doubt about the departure dates of these allocations. It was noted that ‘The last 2 Diesels went to [WD] Thatcham [Berkshire] 17/7/1942’

70225 0-6-0DM HE 1724 1934 ex LMS 7054 May 1943. Departure date uncertain

72215 4wDM RH 224347 1945 new .To War Department, Longmoor, Hampshire, /1945.

8201 0-4-0DH NBQ 27422 1955 New.To War Department, Tidworth, Hampshire, 15/11/1955. (Note delivered to WD/S&M new for trials on 23/4/1955 and was recorded on site on 22/5/1955 and 16/8/1955)

Later Mainline Power

With the War coming to an end the WD had access to many of its standard 'Austerity' 0-6-0ST shunting tanks derived from Hunslet Locomotive company designs. However their use on the S&MLR was severely limited by the light axle loading imposed by Sharwardine bridge, something that had frustrated their earlier adopting for one of the prototype Hunslet engines WD 65-67 was trialled around 1st April 1942 but sent away. Also several Austerities were there briefly there in 1944 but soon left. After bridge strengthening in 1947 numbers of these locomotives operated the line and although some stayed others rotated between WD depots as repairs and locomotive requirements dictated. Known locomotives and first arrival and departure dates are shown below.

                    WD ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0STs

                * These dates are still open to further enquiry

Sentinel locomotive Wks No.7026 of 1927 belonging to the Ceiriog Granite Co Ltd which originally operated within the quarry sidings. It also worked traffic from the quarry along the branch from the 9th January 1942 as far as Melverley viaduct, where traffic was exchanged with the WD, After 7th May 1947 worked through to Kimberley until final closure of the branch on the 31st  December 1959. Melverley new bridge was constructed in the spring and summer of 1948 but with nationalisation the new owners were happy to continue this arrangement, possibly under a hire agreement.

Sentinel locomotives tested on the S&MR

Several locomotives built by the Sentinel Waggon Works (1920) Ltd and their successors Sentinel (Shrewsbury) Ltd were tested on the S&MR, both before and during the WD period, but these were trails and the locomotives never belonged to S&MLR or WD


Much uncertainty surrounds these pw trolleys which were used for personnel transport. Several Type 17A Wickham trolleys were used from early WD times. These were small flat roofed open sided vehicles. Also used at a later date were Type 18A Wickham trolleys. These were larger curved roofed vehicles. Both types co-existed by 1947 and Wickhams lasted to the end of operations.

Some Drewry Car railcars arrived from 18th January 1950, probably around four in number.

A further railcar existed, having come from WD Harlech in Wales on 20th October 1948, ‘awaiting disposal’ It had been converted from a Guy “Quad Ant” road vehicle with flanged wheels Numbered A14620 it lasted until at latest 23rd April 1951 but  appears to have been little used.

In addition the WD also took over an unidentified motorised permanent way trolley from the S&MR but that disappeared at an early date.

Brian Janes