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Coronation Class Locomotive

Image of JAMES HICKMANJAMES HICKMAN tells us about his favourite locomotive.


When I was younger, like many kids, I received my first Hornby train set, the now discontinued R1016 The Caledonian Local - a standard starter set comprising of a little 0-4-0 locomotive and three little blue 4-Wheel coaches. The set, although not modelled on an exact prototype, started me off on the hobby to last a lifetime. It was then that I started a little research; where did the Caledonian Railway run? What locomotives did they have? What happened to the Caledonian Railway company?

Coronation Locomotive image 01.

46229 Duchess of Hamilton

Well, in brief, formed in July 1845, the Caledonian Railway, at its height, ran from Aberdeen to Portpatrick and from Oban to Carlisle. Never the biggest of the Scottish railways, the CR had the biggest range of locomotives of all the pre-grouping Scottish fleets. In one of the most varied locomotive designs the CR production, with the most iconic being the 4-2-2 Drummond Single, one of the few pre-grouping locomotives to work until the end of steam in Scotland. The Caledonian Railway was amalgamated into the London Midland Scottish Railway in 1923.

Coronation Locomotive image 04.

A Hornby Model of the Caledonian 4-2-2 123 Drummond Single

So, where does that leave us with my favourite class? After the research into the Caledonian Railway I obviously started looking into its successor; the LMS. It was here that I found my favourite class, and no, it's not the Royal Scot Class. My favourite class is the Coronation Class.

Coronation Locomotive image 02.

My Favourite Class: The Coronation Class Locomotive

Many of you will be familiar with this class of locomotive, but not with the name. This class was known by three main names, and a few others by the drivers. The three main names were:

  • LMS Princess Coronation Class
  • LMS Coronation Class
  • LMS Duchess Class

Although all referring to the same locomotive class the names referred to the different stages it went through. The first name the class was given was the Coronation Class. These locomotives were built to William Stannier's design - with the additional streamlining being designed by Derby Chief Draughtsman Tom Coleman, as Stannier was absent from the LMS workforce during this period. The first five of the class were built at Crewe Locomotive Works and were completed in 1937. These locomotives were painted in Caledonian Railway Blue with silver lining to match the rakes of coaches they were destined to pull. The first locomotive was 46220 Coronation, named in honour of the Coronation of King George VI.

Some people refer to these locomotives as the Princess Coronation Class as the design was an enlarged version of the Princess Royal Class, also produced by the LMS. The name also became more well used for the first five locomotives as, excluding Coronation, the locomotives were named after Queens or Princesses.

Coronation Locomotive image R3677.

Hornby 6229 "Duchess of Hamilton" in LMS crimson lake - as preserved

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The next five locomotives built in this class, which were again built with the streamlined casing, were painted in the more traditional maroon and gold of the LMS fleet; not blue and silver. They were designed to match the rest of the fleet and blend with the new articulated coaches of the new Coronation train. These were all named after duchesses, thus the third name of the Duchess class was born.

Coronation Locomotive image 03.

6229 Duchess of Hamilton with Semi-streamlining at Tyseley 2006

Locomotive Technical Specifications:

  • Length: 73'
  • Driving Wheel: 6'9"
  • Power Class: 7P/8P
  • Configuration: 4-6-2
  • Withdrawn: 1962-1964
  • Tractive Effort: 40.000 lb
  • Cylinders: Four Valve Gear: Walschaerts (piston valves) - 16" x 28"
  • Weight: Loco - 105-108 tons (Unloaded) Tender - 56 tons (Unloaded)

Coronation Locomotive image 06.

6233 Duchess of Sutherland - Credit: RailView

Three of this class remain in preservation the remainder of the class were scrapped. None of the original five remain, however two of the second batch (6229 Duchess or Hamilton and 6233 Duchess of Sutherland) and one of the third batch (6235 City of Birmingham) exist in preservation.

If you have made it this far, you are probably still wondering why is it my favourite class? I like the underdogs, and the LMS certainly were out of the big four. You had the GWR taking all the London passengers down to the west country for the holidays, the SR running trips to the beach, and the LNER taking the world records for faster and faster, and ultimately fastest, steam locomotives, although the LMS did keep reclaiming them. I guess from those very first days of modelling and research I liked the duality of the design; the sleek streamlined version for the publicity versus the traditional hard working look of the later models. Then again it could just be because they were painted the same colour as James the Red Engine.

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