46233 (as 6233) was outshopped in July 1938 from Crewe Works and was part of the third batch of its class. These were unstreamlined, painted in LMS standard crimson lake livery and had a single chimney and no smoke deflectors and an estimated cost of £13,800 each.
The locomotive burns up to 1 ton of coal every 40 miles of running, evaporates about 45 gallons of water per mile. As much as two tons of coal will be burning at once when the locomotive is working hard on a heavy train.
6233 was initially allocated to Camden, London. It acquired a double chimney in March 1941 and because of drifting smoke acquired smoke deflectors in September 1945 before being painted in postwar LMS black livery in September 1946. With the creation of British Railways on 1 January 1948 it was allocated to Crewe North depot. BR renumbered the locomotive to 46233 in October 1948 and repainted it in BR Brunswick green livery early in the 1950s.
Along with other members of the class 6233 as well as working on daytime expresses they worked overnight sleeping car trains from Perth to London Euston. During the Second World War the driver of 6233 on one such run, Percy Wilson, observed that the speed indicator had reached 110 m.p.h whilst descending Shap with its 600 ton train.
In May, 1944 No. 6233 was re-allocated to the Crewe North depot. In August, 1946 it was fitted with smoke deflectors, designed to carry the exhaust from the chimney clear of the driver’s cab, having been fitted with a double chimney three years earlier.
As 46233 it was repainted in a blue livery in 1950 and in a green livery in 1952. Briefly re-allocated to Carlisle in 1958 and Camden depot in London in 1960, she moved to Liverpool’s Edge Hill depot that September, and now began working such named trains as the ‘Merseyside Express’ and ‘The Red Rose’ to London Euston, as well as ‘The Irish Mail’ from Holyhead and other expresses from Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Manchester. Often now doing much less prestigious work, she was put into store on 14th October, 1963 being finally withdrawn for scrap in early February, 1964.
During its 26 years in service Duchess of Sutherland ran 1,650,000 miles – the second highest mileage by any member of the class. This distance equates roughly to it travelling 170 miles per day for every day between being completed in July 1938 and withdrawn in February 1964.
Following withdrawal from service 46233 was acquired by Butlins Heads-of-Ayr holiday camp, Scotland, in October 1964. 1971 when following a change in Butlins’ policy, the several locomotives that they owned and were on display at various holiday camps throughout the United Kingdom, were moved to museums where they could be cared for and housed in accommodation befitting their importance. No 6233 was moved to Bressingham Steam Museum where she was used on the one third of a mile line at Bressingham for footplate rides during the next three years, until being taken out of service due to firebox problems.
In 1996 6233 was acquired by The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust arriving at the PRCLT’s west shed at Swanick Junction on the Midland Railway at Butterley in February 1996.
Over the subsequent years 1998-2001 the locomotive has been restored to full working order with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Grant totalling £352,508. It was steamed in 2001 after a 900 day restoration project in which over 25,000 man hours were worked on it, 15,000 of these by volunteers. To allow it to run on the mainline in preservation 6233 was fitted with Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) and on-train monitoring recorder (OTMR) equipment, alongside the BR fitted Automatic Warning System (AWS).
In March 2010, 6233 was rolled out in LMS lined black livery, which was retained during 2010, before a major overhaul, taking 6233 out of service for the 2011 season.
In March 2012, now renumbered 46233 returned to steam at Butterley following a major overhaul and was painted in authentic Brunswick green livery, as used by British Railways during the early 1950.
It is planned that the locomotive will remain in its BR Green livery until early/mid 2017 when it is planned to repaint it in the more recognized livery of LMS Crimson Lake. The timescale is subject to change according to work commitments.
Due to access issues which resulted in a minor derailment, 46233 was unable to join the mainline for the positioning move from the Midland Railway – Butterley to Bristol on the 1st October. The locomotive was re-railed but as a result a number of safety inspections was carried out on the locomotive. 46233 was able to return to the main line at the end of October.
After suffering a cracked flue tube in November 2017 the locomotive was taken out of service and it was thought that it would be unlikely to operate again until 2018 when it would be in crimson lake livery.
Upon further examination it was discovered that 21 of the 40 flue tubes were cracked. As a result the owners decided to bring the ten year overhaul forward by four years. During the overhaul as well as replacing the flue tubes, the superheater elements and most of the small tubes will be replaced. The overhaul commenced in January 2018 and the hope is that the locomotive will be back in service in the summer of 2018.
In early July 2018 the locomotive passed its steam test and it returned to steam by September.
The locomotive will be withdrawn from service again at the end of 2018 for the fitting of new tyres.
The Duchess of Sutherland returned to the main line in October 2021 after a gap of 20 months when it undertook a test run from Butterly to Sheffield and then on to Tyseley.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Midland Railway Centre – Butterley||Operational||The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust|
- 46229 Duchess of Hamilton (LMS 6229, LMS 6220 & BR 46229)
- 46235 City of Birmingham (LMS 6235 & BR 46235)