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My Favourite Class - Coronation Class Locomotive

James Hickman

JAMES HICKMAN tells us about his favourite locomotive.

Duchess of Hamilton

When I was younger, like many kids, I received my first Hornby train set, the now discontinued R1016 'The Caledonian Local' - a standard starter set comprising of a little 0-4-0 locomotive and three little blue 4-Wheel coaches. The set, although not modelled on an exact prototype, started me off on the hobby to last a lifetime. It was then that I started a little research; where did the Caledonian Railway run? What locomotives did they have? What happened to the Caledonian Railway company?

Well, in brief; Formed in July 1845 the Caledonian Railway at its height ran from Aberdeen to Portpatrick and from Oban to Carlisle. Never the biggest of the Scottish railways, the CR had the biggest range of locomotives of all the pre-grouping Scottish fleets. In one of the most varied locomotive designs the CR production, with the most iconic being the 4-2-2 Drummond Single, one of the few pre-grouping locomotives to work until the end of steam in Scotland. The Caledonian Railway was amalgamated into the London Midland Scottish Railway in 1923.

Drummond Single

A Hornby Model of the Caledonian 4-2-2 123 Drummond Single.

So where does that leave us with my favourite class? After the research into the Caledonian Railway I obviously started looking into its successor; the LMS. It was here that I found my favourite class, and no, it's not the Royal Scot Class. My favourite class is the Coronation Class.

Coronation Class

My Favourite Class: The Coronation Class Locomotive

Many of you will be familiar with this class of locomotive, but not with the name. This class was known by three main names, and a few others by the drivers. The three main names were:

  • LMS Princess Coronation Class
  • LMS Coronation Class
  • LMS Duchess Class

Although all referring to the same locomotive class the names referred to the different stages it went through. The first name the class was given was the Coronation Class. These locomotives were built to William Stannier's design - with the additional streamlining being designed by Derby Chief Draughtsman Tom Coleman, as Stannier was absent from the LMS workforce during this period. The first five of the class were built at Crewe Locomotive Works and were completed in 1937. These locomotives were painted in Caledonian Railway Blue with silver lining to match the rakes of coaches they were destined to pull. The first locomotive was 46220 Coronation, named in honour of the Coronation of King George IV.

Some people refer to these locomotives as the Princess Coronation Class as the design was an enlarged version of the Princess Royal Class, also produced by the LMS. The name also became more well used for the first five locomotives as, excluding Coronation, the locomotives were named after Queens or Princesses.

The Following five locomotives in this class were again built with the streamlined casing, although these were painted in the more traditional maroon and gold of the LMS fleet. They were designed to match the rest of the fleet and blend with the new articulated coaches of the new Coronation train. These were all named after duchesses, thus the third name of the Duchess class was born.

Although named as such, over time the use of the Duchess name has faded for these locomotives. The reason for this lies in the next run of this class. The third run of locomotives were built in 1938 and were built without streamlined casings, and were later modified to have smoke deflectors as a form of semi-streamlining. This semi-streamlined proportion of the class is now mostly known as the Duchess Class.

Duchess of Hamilton

46229 Duchess of Hamilton with Semi-streamlining at Tyseley 2006

Locomotive Technical Specifications:

- Configuration: 4-6-2

- Power Class: 7P/8P

- Withdrawn: 1962-1964.

- Length: 73ft

- Weight: Loco - 105-108 tons (Unloaded) Tender - 56 tons (Unloaded)

- Driving Wheel: 6' 9"

- Cylinders: Four Valve Gear: Walschaerts (piston valves) - 16" x 28"

- Tractive Effort: 40.000 lb

Three of this class remain in preservation, the remainder of the class were scrapped. None of the original five remain, however two of the second batch (6229 Duchess or Hamilton and 6233 Duchess of Sutherland) and one of the third batch (6235 City of Birmingham) exist in preservation.

If you have made it this far, you are probably still wondering why is it my favourite class? I like the underdogs, and the LMS certainly were out of the big four. You had the GWR taking all the London passengers down to the west country for the holidays, the SR running trips to the beach, and the LNER taking the world records for faster and faster, and ultimately fastest, steam locomotives, although the LMS did keep reclaiming them. I guess from those very first days of modelling and research I liked the duality of the design; the sleek streamlined version for the publicity versus the traditional hard working look of the later models. Then again it could just be because they were painted the same colour as James the Red Engine.

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