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I have two old photographs of Dean singles on the GCR, both copies alas, and not brilliant, but fascinating all the same, and I am putting them up in the Mystery Photos section because the name of one of them is unknown.

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The date is 15th April 1911 and in a scene at Ashby Magna, the 10.23am York-Bournemouth is passing, headed by GWR Dean single No 3073 Princess Royal, with Leicester pilot Class 11B, No 1037. How far the single had worked earlier is unknown but my guess is between Oxford-Leicester. A GCR loco would have brought the train from York to Leicester. Photo: author's collection.

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This is a tiny print showing a Dean single at Leicester, date unknown, probably similar to the picture above. At least one Parker carriage can be seen with a 6w strengthener behind the tender. It looks like a GWR one and its addition to a cross-country express beggars belief. All I can do is quote a GWR authority at Pendon who states blithely that the GWR did not rate the cross-country services very highly and thus supplied poorer carriages than the GCR. I once spoke to somebody who travelled on these trains and he recalled that there were definite differences between the carriages provided by the two companies and it helped to seek out the better ones. It looks as if the northbound train had been over-crowded and needing to add a strengthener to a gangwayed express with catering, the GWR had added an old banger - in which the passengers would not be able to reach the catering. It's possible that the GWR, given its provision of motive power in the shape of a single, wouldn't have wanted to add too much weight.

A general question arises about the GWR's choice of motive power for this service bearing in mind the preceding picture with around eight carriages and an 11B 4-4-0 placed in front of the GWR single. The Leicester station picture shows part of the tender of a GCR loco as well. It's possible that assistance was provided where the train left GWR metals for the GCR, ie. at Banbury. The GCR's ruling gradient was 1:176 but the Banbury Branch had some 1:100 where trains leaving Banbury are known to have stalled and my feeling is that GWR singles would not have been up to the task and had to be assisted by a GCR loco, which could have provided by Woodford. Photo: Author's collection.

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An enlargement of the Dean single's name and number plate. Can anybody work out what they are? A list of all 80 names can be found on the GWR Archive and on slightly easier to read Wikipedia:


Well, I'm impressed - in no time at all John Suckling, Neil Parkhouse and Frank Routledge have come up with 3056 Wilkinson, which I had discounted, but is clearly correct: thank you chaps!

I have also corrected the location of the top photograph by checking OS 25" maps, showing not for the first time that info on the back of prints can be wonky.

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