The Severn Valley Railway’s autumn steam gala, due to be held from 17 to 20 September, is scheduled to see the reappearance in service of ‘Royal Scot’ class 4-6-0 No 46100 Royal Scot after its overhaul.
When the LMS was initially established in 1923, it perpetuated the policy previously adopted by the Midland Railway of constructing relatively small locomotives. As a result, therefore by the mid-1920s it had no locomotives capable of handling the heavy expresses on the West Coast main line without double-heading. Whilst the operational department was satisfied with the status quo, the LMS’s CME, Henry Fowler, began to examine the possibility of producing a more powerful locomotive for the route. Initially he looked at the possibility of producing a Pacific design, presumably being conscious of the work that Nigel Gresley was doing on the LNER with 4-6-2 locomotives, but, following the experimental use of a GWR ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0, No 5000 Launceston Castle, over the line from Euston to Carlisle, the decision was made to go for a 4-6-0.
An order was placed with the Glasgow-based North British Locomotive Co Ltd and the first of the class, No 6100, was delivered in July 1927, only eight months after the decision to place the order and all 50 examples built by North British — Nos 6100-49 — were in service by December of the same year. The success of the design led to a further 20 — Nos 6150-69 — were built at Derby Works between June and October 1930. A 71st member of the class was added in 1935 when No 6399 Fury, the experimental high-pressure locomotive of December 1929, was rebuilt as a ‘Royal Scot’ No 6170 British Legion.
In 1933 the LMS was invited to send a locomotive to the Century of Progress International Exhibition; this was to be held at Chicago and the railway decided to send one of the ‘Royal Scot’ class. One of the type, No 6152 The King’s Dragoon Guardsman, which was undergoing overhaul was selected and modified prior to shipment. The locomotive also swopped identities with No 6100 Royal Scot and, following the locomotive’s return from the USA, the original identities were not resumed. Thus the preserved No 46100 was built at Derby in June 1930 rather than at Glasgow in 1927.
From the early 1930s, experiments were undertaken to improve the driver’s forward visibility, which had been impaired by the drifting smoke and steam. Thus ultimately resulted in the use of straight-sided smoke deflectors.
Although the earlier locomotives in the class were named after regiments, Nos 6125-49 were originally named after older LNWR locomotives — such as No 6131 Planet, and the original nameplates included representations of the earlier locomotives. All were renamed after regiments during 1935 and 1936 with the exception of No 6138 Fury, which was renamed The London Irish Rifleman in October 1929 when it was decided to use the name Fury on the experimental high-pressure locomotive No 6399.
In 1936 the GPO Film Unit produced one of the great documentary films of the inter-war years. Featuring the poetry of W. H. Auden and the music of Benjamin Britten, Night Mail portrayed the operation of the postal special postal train heading northwards from Euston ‘carrying the cheque and the postal order’. The locomotive featured in the film was ‘Royal Scot’ No 6115 Scots Guardsman with its parallel boiler and straight-sided smoke deflectors.
The original locomotives had been built with parallel boilers and with a firebox design based upon that adopted for the Southern Railway’s ‘Lord Nelson’ class of 4-6-0s. In the early 1940s, the LMS’s then CME, William Stanier, decided to undertake the rebuilding of the ‘Royal Scot’ class with new, tapered, boilers, frames and cylinders with the resulting locomotives looking very similar to No 6170 following its 1935 rebuild. The process of rebuilding started with No 6103 Royal Scots Fusilier in June 1943 and continued through to March 1955 when the last, No 46137 The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (South Lancashire), was completed.
Just the end of the war, No 6157 The Royal Artilleryman was involved in a serious accident when, on 30 September 1945, the express it was hauling derailed at Bourne End, in Hertfordshire, killing 43 and injuring 64. The cause of the accident was deemed to the result of passing through a set of points at excessive speed.
At Nationalisation in 1948, British Railways (London Midland Region) inherited all 71 of the ‘Royal Scot’ class, renumbering them 46100-70; of the 70 original locomotives, 39 had, by this date, been rebuilt and 31 were in original condition although a number of the latter were already were imminently to be rebuilt; No 6162 Queen’s Westminster Rifleman, for example, emerging in rebuilt condition in January 1948.
The class remained intact through the 1950s but, with the modernisation of the West Coast main line, withdrawals commenced in October 1962. Amongst the casualties at this stage were No 46100 and the last to be rebuilt No 46137, which has lasted barely seven years in rebuilt form. By the end of 1964 the class had been reduced to only five examples with the last — No 46115 Scots Guardsman — being withdrawn in December 1965.
On withdrawal No 46100 was preserved by Billy Butlin for static display at Skegness, where it arrived after cosmetic restoration at Crewe into non-authentic LMS crimson lake — only one rebuilt ‘Royal Scot’ No 6170 ever operated in that livery. In 1971 the locomotive was transferred to the Bressingham Steam Museum, where it was returned to steam the following year. After six years of operation, it reverted to static status in 1978. Ownership passed from Butlins to the museum in 1989. It was sold to the Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust 20 years later and, following work, was returned to steam
The Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust is a charitable trust established by Jeremy Hosking in 2009 initially to take over the ownership of and fund the restoration of the ‘Royal Scot.’ The now owns six other main line locomotives in addition to the ‘Royal’ Scot. These are ‘King’ class No 6024 King Edward I, which is currently undergoing an overhaul on the West Somerset Railway, ‘A2’ Pacific No 60532 Blue Peter, the trust’s most recent acquisition which is now at the Crewe Heritage Centre prior to a major overhaul, BR Standard No 70000 Britannia, which is operational with a main line certificate and based at Southall, and two ‘Merchant Navy’ Pacifics that are in non-operational condition at Riley & Son in Bury — Nos 35022 Holland-America Line and 35027 Port Line.
The trust is linked to Locomotives Services Ltd, which is a company dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of main line steam locomotives. Apart from the trust’s locomotives, Locomotive Services Ltd also looks after other main line locomotives owned personally by Jeremy Hosking. These include ‘West Country’ No 34046 Braunton, ‘A4’ Pacific No 4464 Bittern and ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 No 5029 Nunney Castle. Based at Southall, the company also operates from Bristol Barton Road and, from 2015, Crewe. In 2013 Locomotive Services Ltd acquired LNWR Heritage from Pete Waterman.
No 46100 is one of the two of the class to survive in preservation: No 46155 Scots Guardsman is now owned by David Smith and is currently certified for main line operation through to 2018.