Commemorating 50 years since the last ‘Patriot’ was withdrawn

A rebuilt ‘Patriot’ runs through Crewe Station on an Up Special. This is a scene taken in June 1959 when steelwork was already erected for the main-line electrification to Manchester the following year. The ‘Patriot’ is No 45527 Southport whilst on the left is Stanier ‘Black 5’ No 45282.
Published Mon, 2015-12-14 11:45

Sunday 13 December marked the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of the last of the ex-LMS ‘Patriot’ class 4-6-0s still in service. Of the 52 members of the class, only three survived into 1965: No 45512 Bunsen, which succumbed in March, No 45531 Sir Frederick Harrison, which was withdrawn in November that year, and No 45330 Sir Frank Ree, which soldiered on to mid-December.


A rebuilt ‘Patriot’ runs through Crewe Station on an Up Special, 1959 © Ben Brooksbank - Creative Commons License

In the late 1920s, the then CME of the LMS, Henry Fowler, was looking to improve the performance of the ex-LNWR ‘Claughton’ class of 4-6-0. This work included, in 1928, the fitting of larger boilers but none of the improvements made enhanced the class’s performance adequately, As a result, in 1930, the decision was made to rebuild two of the class — Nos 5902 Sir Frank Ree (not the same locomotive that survived until 1965) and 5971 Croxteth.  Fitted with three cylinders and Walschaert valve gear along with the 1928 design of enlarged boiler, there was little of the original locomotives other than the driving wheels. The conversion work was undertaken at Derby works and the two ‘new’ locomotives emerged in November 1930.
The success of the rebuilt locomotives led to the decision to construct 55 of the class. Of these, 40 were notionally rebuilds of older ‘Claughton’ class 4-6-0s — in a period of economic austerity, the rebuilding of locomotives could be set against the revenue account whereas new build was a capital charge — with the remainder being wholly new locomotives. The first to emerge was No 5959 in July 1932 from Crewe Works. Between July 1932 and February 1933, Crewe Works produced 18 of the class; the first example from Derby, other than the original two, emerged in February 1933 with the completion of No 5954. In all, by the time that production finished in May 1934, Derby had completed nine of the 50 and Crewe 41.
In 1934, the original two locomotives were renumbered 5500 (ex-5971) and 5501 (ex-5902) with the remainder of those rebuilt renumbered 5502-41. The 10 wholly new locomotives, which were originally allocated the numbers 6030-39, were completed between March and May 1934 and entered service bearing their new numbers (Nos 5542-51). The final five locomotives, allocated originally Nos 6040-44, became Nos 5552-56 but, under the orders of Fowler’s successor Sir William Stanier, were completed with tapered boilers as the first of the new ‘Jubilee’ class.
When new, the locomotives were unofficially known as ‘Baby Scots, due to the family resemblance to the ‘Royal Scot’ class, but the type became known as the ‘Patriot’ class in 1937 when No 5500 was officially named Patriot. The majority of the class had not been named when new but from 1937 onwards many received names. The original Sir Frank Ree was renamed St Dunstans in 1937 with the name being transferred to another of the notional rebuilds, No 5530, which had been completed in April 19333. The naming of No 5501 was unusual in that, in place of the usual nameboards, the locomotive carried a replica badge of the saint. The naming of the locomotives continued through until 1951 when No 45509 was officially named The Derbyshire Yeomanry and 1959 when No 45528 became REME. A number of the class — Nos 5508/10/13/17/42/44/47/49-51 — never received names.
In 1942, the LMS rebuilt two of the ‘Jubilee’ class 4-6-0s; the success of this led Ivatt to undertake the rebuilding of 18 of the ‘Patriot’ class between 1946 and 1949 with large taper boilers and new cylinders. The rebuilt locomotives were Nos 5512/14/21-23/25-32/34-36/40/45. The original locomotives had been classified as ‘6P5F’ whilst the 18 rebuilt examples became classified as ‘7P’. When originally rebuilt, these locomotives lacked ‘Royal Scot’ style some deflectors, but these were fitted from 1948 onwards.
At nationalisation in 1948 the class became No 45500-52 and, during the period of BR’s experimentation with liveries, No 45531 Sir Frederick Harrison was painted in LNER apple green for a short period. In 1955 the 52 members of the class  were allocated to no fewer than eight sheds — Camden, Carlisle, Crewe North, Derby, Edge Hill, Longsight, Preston and Willesden — demonstrating their importance primarily on services over the West Coast main line. There was one final modification undertaken to the class: in 1956 the unnamed and unrebuilt No 45508 was fitted with a stovepipe chimney.
Withdrawal of the class began in 1960 with the loss of unrebuilt No 45502 Royal Naval Division in September and No 45508 the following November. The last of the unrebuilt locomotives were withdrawn by the end of 1962. Of the 18 rebuilt locomotives, the first to succumb was No 45514 Holyhead, which was withdrawn in June 1961. A total of 16 of the rebuilt locomotives were still in service at 31 December 1962; however, by the end of 1963 a further five had been withdrawn with another eight succumbing during 1964 to leave the last three survivors to soldier on through 1965.
Following withdrawal all of the locomotives were scrapped and this might have been the end of the story. However, following an article in Steam Railway in 2007, the project to construct a replica locomotive was launched. The locomotive, to recreate the last of the class — the unnamed No 45551 — will see the replica locomotive named, following a public poll, it was announced that the new locomotive will be named The Unknown Warrior after the tomb in Westminster Abbey.
Construction of the replica is being undertaken at the Llangollen Railway with a considerable amount of work already completed. The frames were cut by a company based in Cradley Heath in 2009; the first of the 6ft 9in driving wheels was cast in 2010 (based upon patterns made from a wheel from ‘Jubilee’ No 45699 Galatea as the classes had same size wheels); the three cylinders have been cast and were fitted to the frames in early 2015; the leading bogie has been manufactured at Tyseley; the smokebox firebox and boiler are being built by LNWR Heritage at Crewe (the smokebox was fitted to the locomotive in July 2013 and the complete boiler and firebox are schedule for completion by the end of 2016). Work on the tender is also underway. The completed locomotive will incorporate a genuine whistle along with the surviving chimney from No 45539 E. C. Trench which was withdrawn in September 1961 — perhaps, given the provenance of the original locomotives, given the presence of these original parts, the locomotive could be described as a rebuild rather than a replica! If all goes according to plan, it is hoped that the construction on the new No 45551 will be completed by the autumn of 2017 with a formal dedication the following year — the centenary of the end of World War 1.