Duchess of Hamilton

Resource Type: Image | Posted on 28th November 2011 by Liam Physick

This is LMS No. 46229 Duchess of Hamilton, part of the Coronation Class. The Coronation Class was designed by Sir William Stanier and was an enlarged version of his Princess Royal Class. Built in response to the development of the LNER’s A4 Class locomotives, they were the most powerful steam locomotives ever to be built in Britain, estimated at 3300 horsepower: far more powerful than the diesels which replaced them. They had larger driving wheels and boilers. The first five of these Pacifics, Nos. 6220-6224, were built at Crewe in 1937 in order to pull the Coronation Scot, an express train on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Glasgow Central, built for the coronation of King George VI (a riposte to the LNER’s Silver Jubilee train). In order to match the coaches, the first five Coronation locomotives were painted blue with silver horizontal lines, the colours of the Caledonian Railway. They were also streamlined, like the A4s: Stanier believed that the additional weight and difficulty in maintenance that this entailed outweighed the benefits of increased speed, but he was overruled by the PR team, aware of the importance of matching the image as well as the performance of their rivals. Stanier is alleged to have commented, “I have decided it is better to please a fool than tease him; they can have their bloody streamliners if they want them but we will build five proper ones as well.” Just before the introduction of the Coronation Scot, No. 6220 pulled a special train in a speed trial: just south of Crewe, it reached 114 miles per hour, narrowly breaking the previous record for a steam locomotive, held by the LNER: however, the driver had left insufficient braking distance before entering a series of points at Crewe, and though the train did not derail, the crockery in the dining car was smashed. As a consequence, the LMS and the LNER decided to cease dangerous record-breaking runs. The next batch of Coronation locomotives, Nos. 6225-6229 (including No. 6229 Duchess of Hamilton, built in September 1938) were streamlined, like their predecessors (despite Stanier’s “five proper ones” comment), but were painted in the LMS’s more customary maroon livery with gilt horizontal lining. The remaining 28 locomotives were built without streamlining: the last was launched in 1948, after nationalisation, and numbered 46257, in common with BR’s practice of adding 40000 to the numbers of former LMS locomotives. In 1939, the Duchess of Hamilton swapped identities with No. 6220 Coronation and was sent to the United States in order to pull a specially-built Coronation Scot train at the New York World’s Fair that year: it was chosen because at the time it was the latest locomotive to come out of Crewe. Before the Fair, it toured the country, winning the hearts of the American public. For most of the tour it was driven by R A Riddles, later chief mechanical enginner for British Rail, as the assigned driver was ill. It returned to Britain in 1942 (though the coaches did not) and it and the Coronation regained their original identities. In November 1944, the Duchess of Hamilton was painted in wartime black livery. Between 1946 and 1949, the first 10 locomotives were de-streamlined: the streamlining was of little use to a locomotive travelling at under 90 miles per hour, and made the job of maintenance staff harder. The Duchess of Hamilton’s de-streamlining took place in December 1947: it was then given the black livery adopted by the LMS in 1946. In April 1950, it was painted blue, but became Brunswick green on 26th April 1952, maroon in September 1957 and was given LMS lining in October 1959: it has remained in that condition ever since. The tenders of the Coronation Class locomotives were fitted with a steam-operated coal pusher to bring the coal down to the firing plate: this led to a plume of steam rising from the rear face of the coal bunker backwall, and was of great help to the fireman when pulling the Royal Scot service, which demanded that the locomotive travel 299 miles non-stop between Euston and Carlisle Citadel en route to Glasgow Central. The Coronations were withdrawn from service between 1962 and 1964: the Duchess of Hamilton was retired in February 1964, but along with No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland (which had been based at Edge Hill depot before withdrawal) was rescued from the scrapyard by Sir Billy Butlin, who wished to use the locomotives as children’s climbing frames and activity areas in his holiday camps. The Duchess of Hamilton was displayed at Minehead Holiday Camp in Somerset, and was steamed on the main line by Friends of the National Railway Museum. In 1976, the Museum took possession of the Duchess on a 20 year loan from Butlin’s, and bought it in 1987. It ran as the Museum’s flagship locomotive between 1980 and 1985, after which it was overhauled. Returning to steam in 1989, it ran on the main line until 1996, when its boiler ticket expired. After this, it was on static display at the National Railway Museum, standing next to Mallard. From 2005 to 2009, following a fund-raising appeal from Steam Railway magazine, the locomotive was re-streamlined and reverted to its LMS number at Tyseley Locomotive Works. It returned to the NRM on 18th May 2009 and featured in a new exhibition: “Duchess of Hamilton: Streamlining - Styling an Era”. It is one of three preserved Coronation locomotives - the other two are the Duchess of Sutherland, now being overhauled on the Midland Railway - Butterley following the expiry of its boiler ticket; and No. 46235 City of Birmingham, on static display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Birmingham (unlike the other two, it has never been steamed in preservation)

Duchess of Hamilton

Tagged under: steam locomotives, edge hill station, rocket 150, tender locomotives, british rail, diesel locomotives, grand cavalcade, heritage railways, london midland and scottish railway, second world war

Categorised under: Landmarks, Landscapes & Locomotives

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By Frank williams on 15th July 2016

My Brother-in-Law was a fireman on the Dutchess of Hamilton
his name is Leslie Virgo, anyone remember him?

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