This is the second instalment seeking to précis the Great Western Railway’s Metropolitan tanks on Middle Circle services. The first part dealt with a little history and the Medium-sized Metros, and here I’ll deal with the large-tank series.

In January 1899 the first of twenty new Metros was released to traffic with large 1100 gallon tanks. Volute springs replaced the leaf springs over the leading axleboxes due to space considerations, and following on from the previous Lot of Medium Metros in 1894, the new locos were all built with the dome on the back ring of the boiler. One month after the introduction of the larger tanks the first of thirty condensing Medium Metros was sent to Swindon to be given larger 1080 gallon tanks, and by the end of the year there was a total of fifty large condensing Metros in service for Inner London traffic.

The final decade of the 19th Century and the first six years of the 20th were the busiest for the condensing members of the class in the City; single-handedly they dealt with through services from the main line to Aldgate, the Middle Circle services from Mansion House via Earls Court, Addison Road, and Bishops Road to Aldgate, half the trains on the Hammersmith & City service to Aldgate via Bishops Road, and most trains on the Aldgate to Richmond via Bishops Road, Grove Road Junction and Gunnersbury, and of course the Extended Widened Lines Services to Basilica Fields.

From 1900 the Middle Circle service was cut back from Mansion House to Earls Court, and in 1905 trimmed again to Addison Road. Electrification of both the Circle and the Hammersmith & City in 1906 prompted the first withdrawals of the class, and stripped all bar six of their condensing apparatus. Limited services continued on the Extended Circle to Basilica Fields until 1913 when that line was electrified alongside the East London Railway.

No.1407 was released to traffic in June 1878 as a medium Metro to Lot 47. In June 1898 it was reboilered, given large tanks and volute springs, and is seen here sometime between 1898 and early 1906 stationed at Paddington. The loco is heavily stained and weathered from working in the Metropolitan tunnels, and shows that even the proud Great Western in the pre-Grouping era wasn’t as shiny and sparkly as many modellers presume.

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