At a time when locomotive moves between railways are as common as the fickleness of Premier League footballer on long contracts in demanding transfers, the fact that No 30072 has been based on the K&WVR for more than 50 years is remarkable.
The Southern Railway’s ‘USA’ class was formed by 15 United States Army Transportation Corps ‘S100’ class locomotives. The ‘S100’ was designed by Howard G. Hill in 1942 and 382 were built by US manufacturers during World War 2 for shunting operations in Europe and North Africa. Shipped to Britain prior to D-Day, the locomotives saw extensive service during the latter stages of the war and, in the immediate post-war years, a number were to see service with the railways of Austria, China, France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Palestine and Yugoslavia as well as with the Southern Railway in Britain.
With their short 10ft 0in wheelbase, the ‘USA’ tanks were ideal for shunting operation in constrained environments, and the Southern acquired the type to replace the ageing ex-LSWR ‘B4’ tanks for shunting in and around the docks at Southampton. Although 15 were bought on the recommendation of Oliver Bulleid, only 14 entered service with the 15th being used for spares. The first 13 were numbered 61-73 by the Southern — respectively ex-USATC Nos 1264/277/284/959/968/279/282/971/952/960/966/973/974 — with the 14th — USATC No 4326 — retaining its USTAC number until being renumbered 30074 by British Railways. Of the 14 the 14, all were built by the Vulcan Ironworks of Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania with the exception of No 30061, which was built by H. K. Porter of Pittsburgh. Following Nationalisation, the original 13 were renumbered 30061-73. The 15th locomotive was ex-USATC No 1261; this survived at Eastleigh Works until September 1954 and was never renumbered by the Southern.
Following purchase by the Southern the locomotives underwent modification work. This included the addition of steam heating, vacuum ejectors, sliding cab windows and additional lamp brackets. In the light of operational experience with the first of the class to enter service, further modifications were made. These included the addition of large roof-top ventilators, British-style regulators, extended coal bunkers and separate vacuum and steam brake control. As a result of these modifications, it was not until late 1947 that the last of the class finally entered service. The locomotives were to prove a useful addition to the Southern’s motive power fleet although their austerity design resulted in problems. In particular, the class’s steel firebox rusted quickly and, in 1951, a number of the class had to have replacement fireboxes fitted.
The class was to have an operational career at Southampton of more than a decade, before being supplanted by the new 14-strong Class 07 diesel shunters in 1963. The first withdrawals occurred in 1962 and six were transferred to Departmental use and renumbered: No DS233 (ex-30061) was based at Redbridge Sleeper Works; No DS234 (ex-30062) at Meldon Quarry; Nos DS235/236 (ex-Nos 3066/74 respectively) at Lancing Carriage Works; and Nos DS237/38 (ex-Nos 30065/70 respectively) at Ashford Works. Of the remaining eight locomotives, all were withdrawn by the end of July 1967. Those in department use survived until: No DS233 in March 1967; No DS234 in August 1966; Nos DS235/36 in July 1965; and, Nos DS237/38 in July 1967.
Of the locomotives purchased by the Southern Railway, four survive in preservation. Apart from No 30072, which is destined to head to the Ribble Steam Railway prior to being overhauled on the East Lancashire Railway, No 30064 is based on the Bluebell Railway where it is awaiting overhaul and Nos 30065 and 30070 are both based on the Kent & East Sussex. The former is operational whilst the latter is undergoing a major overhaul.
In all, some 100 of this type of locomotive are believed still to be in existence worldwide, with preserved examples in a number of European countries, in the USA and worldwide. More than 60 years after their original design, a handful remain in industrial use in the Balkans (where Yugoslav railways built a further 90 of the type under licence between 1952 and 1961). Tow of the Yugoslav examples — No 62-521 of 1954 and No 62-669 of 1960 — have been brought to Britain for preservation in the guise of Nos 30075/76 respectively, initially both on the Mid-Hants Railway. The former is currently undergoing a boiler overhaul and repair on the Great Central Railway at Loughborough whilst the latter is based in unrestored condition at Barrow Hill.
Whilst No 30072 may have departed from the K&WVR for the present, it is hoped that once the overhaul is completed that the locomotive will return to West Yorkshire in 2018 in order to recreate the opening day services from 1968 in company with Ivatt 2-6-2T No 41241.
Britain of the early 1930s was a depressing place; the economy had deteriorated since the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and many of the traditional staple industries were struggling to survive. Railways were not immune from this but there were glimmers of hope — most notably in the development of high-profile streamlined services, most notably in Germany.
Nigel Gresley had experienced the success of the new ‘Flying Hamburger’ services in Germany during a visit in 1933 and he believed that there was potential to introduce high-speed railway travel to Britain. Whilst the ‘Flying Hamburger’ was diesel powered, to Gresley steam remained more likely to succeed. There were a number of reasons for this, but the most pertinent was the fact that Britain was an island built on coal whilst the oil required to produce diesel had to be imported — and imported fuel was something that the British economy could ill afford. There were also issues over capacity and the provision of non-standard equipment.
As a result Gresley experimented with one of his earlier ‘A3’ Pacifics, No 2750 Papyrus, which achieved a speed of 108mph and was able to do the journey between London King’s Cross and Newcastle in four hours. As a result, the then general manager of the LNER, Ralph Wedgwood, authorised the construction of the first four of the new ‘A4’ class for the launch of the new ‘Silver Jubilee’ express, which was named in honour of the silver jubilee of King George V that was celebrated in 1935. The first four locomotives — Nos 2509-12 — were all delivered between September and December 1935 at the rate of one a month. Named Silver Link, Quicksilver, Silver King and Silver Fox respectively, the names were all redolent of the new ‘Silver Jubilee’ service. The success of the new service resulted in authorisation for the construction of further locomotives and the introduction of new high-speed services such as the ‘Coronation’ (from London to Edinburgh) in July 1937 and the ‘West Riding Limited’ (from London to Leeds and Bradford) in November the same year. The first of the next batch of ‘A4s’, No 4482 Golden Eagle was delivered in December 1936 with the last, No 4903 Peregrine entering service in July 1938. In all, 35 locomotives were built: Nos 2509-12, 4462-69, 4482-500 and 4900-03.
The new locomotives received names. A number received names of birds — such as No 4468 Mallard — whilst five were named after constituent parts of the British Empire for the ‘Coronation’ service. Two — Nos 4495/96 — received names relevant to the woollen industry, of which Bradford was at the time the world’s centre of the trade, being called Golden Fleece and Golden Shuttle. No 4498, being the 100th Gresley Pacific constructed, was named in honour of the class’s designer. This led to a number of other locomotives in the class being renamed after those involved with the LNER or other famous individuals; thus, for example. No 4469 Gadwall was renamed Sir Ralph Wedgwood in March 1939. This was a process that continued through to the postwar years, with No 4496 Golden Shuttle being renamed Dwight D. Eisenhower in September 1945 in honour of the American supreme commander that oversaw the successful D-Day invasion of June 1944 and the liberation of France and the Low Countries.
When built the locomotives were fully streamlined with side valancing; this was designed by Oliver Bulleid (who was Gresley’s assistant before moving to the Southern Railway. The valancing was removed during World War 2 to improve access to the valve gear during maintenance and never restored. The first locomotives were also constructed with single chimneys; in March 1938 No 4468 Mallard was delivered with a Kylchap double chimney as an experiment. This was to prove a considerable success with the final three locomotives — Nos 4901-03 — being fitted with Kylchap double chimneys from new. The remaining 30 members of the class were retrofitted with double chimneys during the 1950s under British Railways.
It was on 3 July 1938 that No 4468 Mallard achieved its world record of a speed of 126mph for a steam locomotive, thus beating the record of 124.5mph held by the Germans. Whilst the circumstances of the two records runs were different — level track as opposed to a downhill gradient; different weights of train; a PWS for No 4468 just before the record run, etc — those involved with the ‘A4s’ believed that No 4468 would have been capable of hitting a higher speed if circumstances had permitted. Unfortunately, a further attempt at the record was thwarted as a result of World War 2.
Just as the war prevented Gresley from attempting a further record run, the conflict was also to see the destruction of one of the class when, on 29 April 1942 No 4469 Sir Ralph Wedgwood was destroyed in York station during a raid by the Luftwaffe. As part of the LNER’s renumbering scheme, the 34 surviving locomotives were renumber 1-34 and thus became Nos 60001-34 at Nationalisation in 1948.
During the 1950s, the class continued to ply its trade on the traditional East Coast main line routes to the West Riding of Yorkshire, to the north-east of England and to Scotland but, as the decade wore on and as British Railways’ policy was for dieselisation, the class’s future became less secure. The main line services from King’s Cross were destined to be dieselised relatively early, with the arrival of the ‘Deltic’ class diesel-electrics and the first withdrawals occurred in December 1962 when five of the class — Nos 6003/14/28/30/33 — were taken out of service. However, there was to be an Indian Summer for a number of the class; a number were based in Scotland where they operated fast services between Glasgow and Aberdeen. The last six to remain in service, all based in Scotland, were Nos 60004/07/09/19/24/34 with the last two — Nos 60019 Bittern and 60024 Kingfisher — finally being withdrawn in September 1966.
In all six of the class survive in preservation. There are two in North America — No 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower that is on static display at the National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, Wisconsin and No 60010 Dominion of Canada, which is on static display at the Canadian Railway Museum — and four in the UK. No 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley is currently based on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. No 60009 Union of South Africa is owned by John Cameron and is based in Scotland. No 60019 Bittern, owned by Jeremy Hosking, is currently in LNER garter blue livery on the Mid-Hants Railway, Lastly, No 60022 Mallard, perhaps the most famous of all, is now on static display at the National Railway Museum. Nos 60007 and 60009 and currently approved for main line use.
Nearly 40 years on from Sir Peter’s comments, there is little doubt that the position of the railway industry has radically altered. When he was appointed in 1976, the railways could be considered still as an industry in decline; years of closure and lack of investment had resulted in a business that seemed doomed to a cycle of decline. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s now possible to recognise that the late 1970s and early 1980s witnessed the gradual transformation of the business. The introduction of the High-Speed Train, for example, and the more passenger focused nature of the railway saw the years of decline halted and slowly reversed. There were still existential threats to the industry, most notably through the Serpell Report of 1982 and by the proposals that routes could be converted into busways, but gradually passenger levels increased as did investment.
Today the railways are in a very different position to that which Sir Peter found in 1976; passenger levels over the much reduced network are now at a level not seen for more than 90 years, and forward projections see these levels continuing to rise as the population grows and road congestion becomes more severe. Over the past 20 years, there has also been a massive investment in new infrastructure and rolling stock to cater for this demand and, even with the recently announced temporary delay to several major schemes (such as electrification of the Midland main line north of Bedford), Network Rail is still expected to invest more than £30 billion in its current investment Control Period through to 2019. With improvements to Thameslink, the opening of Crossrail, the promotion of High Speed 2 and the introduction of new rolling stock — such as the Hitachi-built Classes 800/801 — these are exciting times for the railway industry.
But is all in the garden rosy?
Ultimately, the railways are there to serve the industry’s passengers and freight customers. It only justifies its existence and the massive investment that it receives by the service that it offers but for many that standard of service is by no means as good as it ought to be.
For many, there is no real alternative to rail travel; commuters, for example, into the country’s main towns and cities are, for the most part, a captive audience as travel alternatives are virtually nil. Capacity on many of these services is already at overstretch and severe overcrowding is common. The industry recognises that overcrowding is an issue; indeed TOCs have statistics that demonstrate the level of overcrowding on trains and most of these suggest that, whilst a problem, most overcrowding is within accepted levels. The reality for the passenger runs counter to this, however, as they stand in vestibules and in carriage aisles. The phrase, lies, damned lies and inaccurate figures on overcrowding comes to mind as it must be virtually impossible for train crews to accurately calculate passenger levels when it’s almost impractical for them to make their way through the trains.
Historically, the railway industry always maintained some additional rolling stock that could be used to supplement services where overcrowding was an issue; that remains in part the case today with trains strengthened for peak hours. But overcrowding now extends beyond the peak hours and beyond simple commuter services.
Take Arriva Trains Wales’ services from Manchester to Cardiff, for example; these are normally formed by either two- or three- car Class 175 units and can be often be formed of the former during peak-hour departures from Manchester. The result is severe overcrowding between Manchester and Crewe and beyond; ATW might argue, with some justification, that many travellers are only going a relatively short journey and so a standing passenger will only have to do so for a short period. But that’s not always the case. ATW has no additional stock available in the Manchester area to supplement the service if necessary; indeed, all the available Class 175 stock is pretty much fully allocated as it stands. In theory, of course, the TOC could seek additional stock but, given the fact that ATW’s franchise expires in 2018, what is the incentive for the operator to invest more and incur more operational costs when there’s no guarantee that it will retain the franchise.
Overcrowding leads to another significant problem: that of delays to trains at stations as passengers seek both to exit and enter the train. After a period when punctuality seemed to be improving pretty much across the network, the experience of many passengers is that delays are becoming more common. There are circumstances where delays are outside the control of the TOCs — such as the failure of signalling equipment, the impact of vandalism and the sad increase in the number of suicides and other incidents — but an additional minute spent loading and unloading passengers at each intermediate station must have an impact as well.
Another factor in the delay to services is from the failure of other services, most notably freight trains, where the industry no longer seems effectively capable of the efficient handling of the logjam. Again, historically, there were probably more goods loops on lines into which crippled trains could be shunted in order to clear the main line. There was also probably a suitable locomotive close by that might be able to rescue the broken down train but this is patently no longer the case. Whilst it’s probably not the case, to the railway passenger there seems to be a lack of an overarching control; that the fragmentation of the industry has reduced its effectiveness in dealing with problems and that the companies that operate the railway — both passenger and freight — are driven more by profit than by the needs of the passengers.
If the ‘crumbing edge’ is affecting services, it’s also impacting on many stations. Whilst there is again massive investment in many stations — both rebuilding and restoring the old and constructing new ones — a number of the network’s stations look and feel ‘tired’. Undoubtedly the work undertaken at stations like Birmingham New Street and Manchester Victoria is impressive and will mean a vastly improved passenger experience once completed — and it’s remarkable how effectively these stations have been result whilst remaining operational (in stark contrast to, say, the rebuilding of New Street in the early 1960s) — but too many others suffer. When a new franchisee takes over there’s the inevitable burst of enthusiasm as stations are bedecked in the new TOC’s house colours, but this enthusiasm soon seems to wane, particularly again as a franchise draws to a close.
For the past 25 years, the railway industry has been a success story; indeed many of the problems highlighted above are a result of that success, but it’s not a wholly good position. It’s all very well to trumpet the high-profile schemes — like Crossrail and Birmingham New Street — but, for many passengers, much more important is the level of comfort they experience on a service, say, from Huddersfield to Leeds on a day-by-day basis. Focusing on the macro has seen the railways lose focus on the micro and for most it’s the small scale that counts.
Few locomotives have had as adventurous a career as Flying Scotsman has had over the past 90 years; certainly operating on three continents is unusual as is the locomotive’s claim to two world records. Moreover, few locomotives can claim to have generated as much controversy as it has over the past 50 years in preservation.
Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, Flying Scotsman was originally built by the Great Northern Railway at Doncaster as one of the first Class A1 Pacifics to be completed. Appearing initially as GNR No 1472, as the newly established LNER had not finalised its numbering scheme, the locomotives was soon to be renumbered with the number with which it is perhaps best associated — 4472 — and its world-famous name.
As the pride of the LNER No 4472 was exhibited at the Wembley Empire exhibitions of 1924 and 1925, but sister locomotive No 4474 was to be pitted in 1925 against the star of the Great Western Railway — No 4079 Pendennis Castle — in a series of trials that demonstrated that the GWR design performed better. This resulted in Gresley undertaking some modification work to the designs of the class’s valve gear.
In 1928 No 4472 was — appropriately — one of the LNER locomotives selected to haul the new ‘Flying Scotsman’ non-stop express service from King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. To enable the locomotives to operate over the 392 miles, they were fitted with corridor tenders to permit a crew change en route. Six years later, on 30 November 1934, No 4472 became the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at travelling at more than 100mph; this was the first of the two world records claimed by the locomotive.
In 1945 the original ‘A1’ No 4470 Great Northern was selected by Edward Thompson, Gresley’s successor, to be the first locomotive to be converted into the prototype of the new ‘A1’ class; the remaining members of the original ‘A1’ class that had not been rebuilt previously as Class A3 (in a programme stretching back to 1927) were reclassified as Class A10 pending their rebuilding as the Class A3; this included No 4472. It has been suggested that Thompson’s antipathy towards his predecessor was one factor in his choice of Gresley’s pioneering locomotive as the prototype for the new locomotives.
In January 1946, as part of Edward Thompson’s renumbering of the LNER’s locomotives, No 4472 was renumbered 502. It operated in this guise briefly, being renumbered 103 in May 1946 as an amendment to the original scheme.
No 103 Flying Scotsman emerged from Doncaster Works on 4 January 1947 as an ‘A3’; it had gained the banjo-shaped dome that it carried for the rest of its career. Nationalisation came in January 1948 and a further renumbering followed in December that year when Flying Scotsman acquired its final main-line number — 60103.
Although associated primarily with services over the East Coast main line, Flying Scotsman spent some time — between June 1950 and July 1954 and between December 1954 and September 1957 — operating on the Great Central main line between London Marylebone and Nottingham Victoria whilst allocated to Leicester Central shed.
Under BR ownership, the ‘A3’ class was to undergo two major alterations. The first of these was the introduction of the double Kylchap chimney. This was a method of improving the efficiency of steam exhaust patented by the French engineer André Chapelon that used a second-stage nozzle designed by the Finnish engineer Kyösti Kylälä. Whilst undoubtedly improving the efficiency of the locomotive, the new chimneys resulted smoke drifting in such a way as to obscure the driver’s vision. The result of this was to see BR undertake the final modification to the class through the introduction of German-style smoke deflectors with which No 61013 and the rest of the class operated through until withdrawal.
Withdrawal of the 78 ‘A3’ Pacifics commenced in 1961 and all bar three had been withdrawn by the end of 1964. The last survivor, No 60052 Prince Palatine, was withdrawn in January 1966. No 60103 was withdrawn in January 1963 and, initially, it looked as though the locomotive would join the rest of the class in making a one-way journey to the scrapyard. However, there was a campaign to try and save it and, spurred on by the sale of a family business, the late Alan Pegler bought it personally for preservation. Restored to its near 1930s condition, with single chimney, in LNER livery No 4472 was a regular performer on the main line, with Pegler having a contract that permitted steam operation even after the official end of BR steam in August 1968.
However, in 1969, with the backing of the then government, Pegler took the fateful decision to take Flying Scotsman across the pond to the USA. However, the change of government in Britain in 1970 saw the financial support withdrawn and, by the end of that year, Pegler was massively in debt and there was a real possibility that the unpaid creditors might seize the locomotive with scrapping as a final resort. (Anybody who has studied the history of steam preservation in the USA will realise how many great locomotives have been cut up over the past few decades as funds have disappeared; British sentiment would have counted for nothing if the creditors had been able to seize the locomotive.)
Fortunately, through the prompting of the late Alan Bloom, William McAlpine stepped in and bought the locomotive, returning it to Britain in 1973 and to Derby Works were it was again overhauled. It returned to the main line, operating a number of specials thereafter.
The next phase in the locomotive’s career saw it travel to Australia in 1988 where it was to achieve the second of its world records — travelling 422 miles from Parkes to Broken Hill, the longest non-stop journey ever undertaken by a steam locomotive. The locomotive returned to Britain in 1990 and continued to operate on the main line until 1993 and the end of its main line certificate. There was then a brief period where Flying Scotsman operated on preserved railways to raise funds for its next overhaul.
By the mid 1990s and now owned by a consortium that included William McAlpine and Pete Waterman, Flying Scotsman was in bits at the Southall Railway Centre but a further salvation was in store when, in 1996, Dr Tony Marchington acquired the locomotive and undertook a three-year restoration project that cost £1 million. However, Marchington’s ambitious plans for the commercial exploitation of the locomotive failed and, following his personal bankruptcy and the collapse of Flying Scotsman plc, there was again a very real threat to the future of the locomotive.
Following a national campaign, in April 2004 the future of the locomotive was secured when it was acquired by the National Railway Museum as part of the National Collection. In January 2006 the locomotive entered the workshops at the start of what was expected to be a four-year overhaul; however, additional problems, resulting in further costs, saw the programme slip. In 2013 the locomotive was transferred to the Bury workshops of Riley & Sons (E) Ltd where work is now scheduled to be completed in late 2015.
Given the modifications that the locomotive underwent during its operational career, any final restoration is unlikely to satisfy all purists. Indeed the history of the locomotive in preservation has been full of debates about what represents its ‘ideal’ state and the locomotives has appeared in a number of guises — including World War 2 black as No 502 with German-style smoke deflectors — that have offended the purists. The NRM has been pragmatic in deciding that the locomotive will be restored as No 60103 with double chimney and smoke deflectors painted in BR green; the museum believes that this late version represents the most historically accurate possible.
The weekend of Friday 3 to Sunday 5 July saw the Talyllyn Railway celebrate the 150th anniversary of the company receiving the Royal Assent to construct the line. It was on 5 July 1865 that this auspicious event occurred.
The recent award made to the Class 379 Independently Powered Multiple Unit recalls an earlier experiment by British Railways in the use of battery power.
Continuing the theme of these features of looking at elements within the first DVD to be issued by unseen shortly, the section on the Southern Region’s branches in the 1960s also looks at those lines that operated to the east of Exeter.
The announcement by the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, on Thursday 24 June 2015 that a significant part of the proposed £38.5 billion investment in Britain’s railway infrastructure marks a significant shift in policy.
The popular branch line that once used to operate from Guildford southwards through Cranleigh to Christ’s Hospital, one of the features on our first DVD covers.