ICI Insulated Goods from Billingham to Birmingham

Cover Image for ICI Insulated Goods from Billingham to Birmingham

As part of my apparently never-ending research for a PPT presentation under the headline "Grandfather's Signal Box" (Actually Norton-on-Tees) I made application for digital copies of historic railway images which appear (Protected / spoilt by watermarks) on the 'Picture Stockton' web site, maintained by the local library service.

I attach two images which I hope you'll find interesting as it's a very unusual movement ... of ICI's "Drikold" (Solid carbon dioxide) in insulated containers by train from Billingham to Birmingham. In the early years this was hauled by an expressed / mixed traffic loco' provided by York shed. In later years Saltley shed (Birmingham) provided the motive power, often a 9F (In spotters' jargon, a "Space Ship") like 92151 (t10104) but in the other image (t10133), "Black Five" 44920.

t10133 Billingham Station
Image courtesy of Picture Stockton archive

The train ran under a Class C headcode (The goods equivalent to Express Passenger) which would have been fully fitted with vacuuum brake and hence able to run as speed of up to 50 mph (Fast in those days ... especially for freight trains) This is understandable ... time was very much of the essence ... in this case 'perishable' meant liable to evaporate!

There is further interest in the picture taken as Black Five 44920 passed through Billingham Station.

Behind is a 'Down' goods train, presumably made up of 'Empties' returning to IC Billingham. Visible are Sulphuric Acid tankers (Unfitted and with wooden underframes !!!) which would have been painted in ICI's distinctive dark blue livery with white lettering and towards the front of the train (Under the signal gantry) some empty 'Drikold' container wagons.

In 44920's train, the first four wagons are loaded with the insulated containers provided specifically for Drikold traffic, however the next two wagons carry the distinctive white-painted containers intended for the conveyance of frozen foods, which were sometimes pressed into service.

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Mike Pinder