With Gresley’s A4 Pacific’s hogging the limelight for the past few weeks, it seems only fair to look an example of their great competitor – Stanier’s LMS Princess Coronation class. As is the tradition of this series of blog posts, we look at the history of the prototype, illustrated with pictures of the Hornby model (click here for the model review).
The first members of this class were built in 1937, when the first locomotive of the class narrowly captured and briefly held the world speed record for steam traction at 114mph. The class was the most powerful passenger steam locomotives ever built in Great Britain. At first the class were built streamlined, despite Stanier insisting that this lead to extra weight and difficulties in maintenance for a slight advantage at high speed. 6235 City of Birmingham was built in 1939 at Crewe and was the first to be given a double chimney. 6235 emerged in full streamlined condition, painted in maroon and gold, as we see represented by this model. During the second world war, this was replaced by unlined black livery.
Although 6235 always carried it’s “City of Birmingham” nameplates, it wasn’t officially named until 1945 at a ceremony at Birmingham New Street. 6235 was the first of it’s class to be destreamlined and given smoke deflectors in 1946.
After nationalisation in 1948 (when the locomotive was renumbered 46235); City of Birmingham was repainted express blue from 1950 to 1953 when it then was painted in BR Brunswick Green. In 1952, the slopping smokebox inherited from it’s streamlined days was replaced with the now more familiar round-type.
Withdrawn in 1964; City of Birmingham was earmarked for preservation and after storage at Nuneaton Shed ended in the now defunct Birmingham Science Museum and then on to the Thinktank Science Museum in 1997.
46235 City of Birmingham is centre of one of the biggest debates in preservation. The locomotive has never run since withdrawal in 1964 and is unlikely to ever do so. A locomotive of this size and power is not suitable or economical for use on preserved railways. A possible career on the mainline would require adaptations and modifications to fit on Network Rail’s loading gauge, something that has been done in the past to surviving classmates 6229 Duchess of Hamilton and 6233 Duchess of Sutherland. It would also require replacement of “original” parts. The current owners feel that the locomotive would no longer be the original locomotive that it is today if this were to be done. They also point to the two classmates that have run in preservation and therefore question the need for another. Although there is logic in their arguments, my personal view is that the best way the current generations can experience steam traction is to see it in operation, even if that means that many parts are eventually replaced. Nothing lasts forever after all, but memories can live on through new experiences created by the running of the machines. After all, what is likely to inspire an interest in our heritage; a set of lumps of original metal or a living, breathing machine doing what it was designed to do? But as I say, that is my just opinion!
To read more about the Locoyard Model Fleet, go to the fleet web page by clicking here. Thanks for reading folks 🙂