62663 Prince Albert is a member of the Locoyard fleet that is quite different to the others in the collection, in that it is the only one with Great Central Railway origins. If it wasn’t for the unfortunate demise of Modelzone, where 62663 was sold for a good price in one store’s last hour of opening; Prince Albert probably wouldn’t haven’t have been purchased. But it has more than proven it’s worth, being a beautiful model that performs better than any other 4-4-0 I’ve yet to test (click here for the model review). Today we look at the locomotive’s history.
Originally numbered 508; Prince Albert was the third member of its’ class to be built and emerged from Gorton Works in March 1920. The Great Central Railway originally designated the class 11F (D11/1 was the LNER and subsequent BR classification for the type). Based on the 11E “Director” (D10) class; the 11F “Improved Director” is widely acknowledged as Chief Mechanical Engineer John G. Robinson’s most successful express passenger design. So much so that at Grouping in 1923, Gresley ordered another batch to be built for use in Scotland – these were built by the North British Company and designated D11/2. The D11/2 had a few differences to the D11/1 but were largely the same machine. Another measure of the class’ success was that it did not require any major rebuilding in it’s lifetime, with the only modification coming from Gresley fitting long travel valves that reduced coal consumption by around 5%.
After construction, Prince Albert would have been allocated to Neasden to haul top-link passenger services on the faster GCR lines south of Nottingham. At Grouping, Prince Albert became an LNER machine and was renumbered 5508. The class were later split between Gorton and Neasden sheds and towards the end of the 1920’s were hauling prestigious Pullman services such as the southern stretch of the Edinburgh Pullman (south of Harrogate to London). During the 1930’s more modern LNER types were introduced and the Improved Director class were displaced and became more widespread.
As with the whole railway network in the UK, the D11/1 class were worked hard during the Second World War and took on the role of hauling heavy workmen’s trains. As part of Thompson’s short-lived renumbering of LNER locomotives, Prince Albert became 2663 in 1946.
At nationalisation in 1948, British Railways added a six to the number and Prince Albert became 62663 as modeled here. At the time, 62663 was allocated north west of Grimsby at Immingham. Unfortunately, 62663 did not survive beyond it’s withdrawal in 1960 when it was cut up and scrapped. Fortunately it’s slightly older classmate, Improved Director prototype 506 Butler Henderson was saved for the National Collection.
Don’t forget the history of many other locomotive prototypes of the locoyard model fleet can be found by clicking on the “Prototype Info” links on the Loco Models page (click here for more). Thanks for reading 🙂