8P Duchess Class
Class: 8P Duchess Class
Designer: Sir William Stanier
Weight: 161 tons (including tender)
Purpose: Heavy Express Passenger
Information: Introduced by the LMS in 1937, the Coronation / Duchess Class remains the most powerful steam locomotives built in Britain. Early locomotives in the class were built with streamlined casings that were later removed; while later built locomotives never received the distinctive casings.
Details: Ever increasing train sizes, speed, and a very public race for prestige passenger traffic to the North were all factors leading to the highly distinctive streamlined Coronations developed for the Coronation Scot service. The named service from London to Glasgow commenced with the highly distinctive blue and silver matched locomotive and coaching stock was inaugurated in 1937.
Sir William Stanier took over as Chief Mechanical Engineer with the LMS in 1932 and is credited with the success of only Pacific locomotive designs built by the LMS. The LMS was the largest constituent of the four grouped railway companies. Prior to the Princess Class being introduced in 1933, the LMS had relied on venerable 4-6-0 Royal Scot’s and Patriot classes, plus a multitude of dated 4-4-0 designs having to be double headed in order to haul their respective services.
The first batch consisted of five locomotives being built at Crewe and entering service during 1937. Five more streamlined locomotives were turned-out between 1937 and 1940. In total 24-streamlined locomotives were eventually built as construction continued during World War 2. An additional 14-examples were turned-out with-out streamlined casings, prior to the final locomotive entering service in 1948. The last two locomotives were built under the direction of H.G. Ivatt and featured differences in design such as roller bearings and larger super-heated grating surfaces.
Locomotives fitted with streamlined casings were stripped between 1946 and 1949. The casings had little benefit and seen as a hindrance to maintenance servicing. However, the distinctive appearance of the locomotives with their matched train sets was magnificent.
A number of liveries were carried by class members, some being repainted on numerous occasions. Original streamlined locomotives were painted in Caledonian Blue with silver speed whiskers and horizontal lining. The second batch was painted in similar fashion; but in maroon and gold. During the war most were repainted utility black. After the war ended and British Railways was formed most members were repainted in the Express Blue with white lining favoured for express passenger locomotives of the period. By 1951 class members were being repainted in BR lined “Brunswick Green”. Eventually all 38-members were repainted in this livery. After 1957, a total of 16 class members all based south of the Scottish Region border were repainted in lined BR maroon livery.
The first three locomotives were with-drawn in December 1962. By October 1964 the entire class had been removed from service. Three members have survived into preservation. In May 2009 No. 6229 Duchess of Hamilton re-entered active steam preservation status re-built with the streamlined casing.