Streamlined Duchess to go main line – to see the A4s!
By: Robin Jones
Re-streamlined LMS Princess Coronation Pacific No. 6229 Duchess of Hamilton is to run over the main line in the next few weeks – so it can visit the newly-repatriated A4s at the Locomotion Museum in Shildon.
The Duchess, which had its award-winning new streamlined casing applied at Tyseley Locomotive Works in 2009, will be towed by a Class 55 Deltic from its home at the National Railway Museum in York to Shildon, NRM director Steve Davies has confirmed.
The route is being measured up to ensure that the locomotive fits within the loading gauge.
At Shildon, it will be positioned alongside one-time arch rivals A4s No. 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower and No. 60010 Dominion of Canada, until they enter the workshops for repainting.
No. 6229 is likely to stay at Shildon for at least nine months.
It will be the first heritage era meeting of the two streamlined types which epitomised the zenith of the steam age in the Thirties.
The Princess Coronations were William Stanier's response on the West Coast Main Line to Nigel Gresley's A4s on the East Coast Main Line, as the LMS competed fast and furiously with the LNER to see who could get from London to Scotland in the fastest time.
While Mallard holds the world steam speed record, the Coronation class comprised the most powerful passenger steam locomotives ever to be built for the British railway network, estimated at 3300 horsepower and making them far more powerful than the diesel engines that replaced them.
The first five locomotives, Nos. 6220-6224, were built in 1937 at Crewe. They were streamlined and painted Caledonian Railway blue with silver horizontal lines to match the 'Coronation Scot' train they were built to haul.
The chief draughtsman at Derby, Tom Coleman, designed the streamlined casing.
Before the introduction of the Coronation service, No. 6220 Coronation underwent speed trials with a special train in 1937.
Just south of Crewe, the train achieved a speed of 114mph, beating the previous record for a steam train (held by the LNER) by a slim margin. Insufficient braking distance had been left before entering a series of crossover points at Crewe, and although the train held the rails, much crockery in the dining car was smashed. After this incident, the LMS and LNER agreed to stop dangerous record-breaking runs.
The second five locomotives of the class, Nos. 6225-6229, were also streamlined, but were painted in the more traditional crimson lake, with gilt horizontal lining. This was to match the standard LMS stock and a planned brand new 'Coronation' train made up of articulated coaches. Although a prototype for this was built and exhibited in America it was never put into service due to the outbreak of the Second World War.
The streamlining was removed from the fitted locomotives from 1946 onwards. It had been found to be of little value at speeds below 90mph and was unpopular with running shed employees as it caused difficulty of access to maintenance staff. Only three locos were still streamlined at the end of the LMS period and they had been stripped by the end of 1949. Only No. 46243 City of Lancaster carried its British Railways number while streamlined.
The big transatlantic link between Duchess of Hamilton and the A4s was that it made the trip in the opposite direction to the repatriated A4s.
No. 6229 took on the identity of No. 6220 for the 1939 visit to the New York World's Fair, while Coronation became No. 6229 for the duration of the visit, extended by several years because of the outbreak of the Second World War. It was accompanied by a rake of 'Coronation' coaches.
Future British Railways locomotive supremo Robert Riddles drove Duchess of Hamilton for most of its North American tour due to the illness of the assigned driver. The locomotive with its carriages was shipped back from the States in 1942.
The identities of the locomotives were exchanged again in 1943.
No. 6229 was painted wartime black livery in November 1944. Its streamlined casing was removed for maintenance-efficiency reasons in December 1947 and it was then given the LMS 1946 black livery.
Three Duchesses have been preserved, the others being No. 46233 Duchess of Sutherland and No. 46235 City of Birmingham.
It is anticipated that the move to Shildon could be made by the end of October.
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