I’ll be digging deeper into the history of the Great Western Metro tanks on the main site once that’s up and running, but for now, the first instalment of a two-part précis on the locomotives which single-handedly looked after all the passenger movements on the ‘Middle Circle’ services between 1869 and 1906, and also handled the goods services until members of the 633 class were drafted in to help.

The class as a whole fell into three sub-classes, based on the size of tanks, viz, small (740 – 800 gallons), medium (820 – 860 gallons) and large (1080 & 1100 gallons). Built to nine Lots between 1869 and 1899, only the first Lot of 20 locos had small tanks, and the final two Lots of 1899, another twenty locos, were built with large tanks. Therefore the overwhelming majority of the 140 locos were built with medium sized tanks, however, 33 medium Metros were rebuilt with large tanks between 1898 ans 1900.

No. 968 was built in 1874 and remained a Medium Metro until withdrawn in October 1906. The locos working the Metropolitan Lines wore condensing apparatus and retained open cabs, despite the long periods spent in tunnels on the system.

968 is a serious contender for Basilica Fields, using the Roxey kit as a basis, and this is a gorgeous photograph, full of detail. The photo can be dated fairly accurately due to the boiler type fitted 18 months or so before it was withdrawn, and is obviously shedded at Paddington indicated by the P on the toolbox.