8P 46220 – 46257 4-6-2 LMS Stanier Princess Coronation or Duchess

Duchess 1.jpg

Duchess 2

Power Classification 7P reclassified 8P in 1951
Introduced 1937 – 1948
Designer Stanier
Company LMS
Weight – Loco 105t 5cwt
               Tender 56t 7cwt
Driving Wheels 6ft 9ins
Boiler Pressure 250psi superheated
Cylinders Four –    16½in x 28in
Tractive Effort 40,000lbf
Valve Gear Outside Walschaert with rocking shafts (piston valves)


Following the success of the Princess Royal (46200) class, Stanier developed an improved design of pacific for working the newly inaugurated high speed service between London and Glasgow. They are regarded as the largest and most powerful express passenger steam engines to be built for service in Great Britain. These were known as the Coronation class, also known as Princess Coronation class and Duchess class although enginemen often referred to them as Big Lizzies.

These locomotives had a considerably larger heating surface than the Princess class but weighed only one ton more. A comparison of the heating areas of the two classes is shown below.


Heating surface – square feet



Small tubes



Superheater elements













Both classes of locomotive had a boiler pressure of 250psi and the tractive effort of the Princess at 40,300 lbf was marginally greater than the Duchess at 40,000lbf. The saving in weight of the Duchess was achieved by using nickel steel rather than mild steel. By using 2 % nickel steel almost two tons was saved on the weight of the boiler.

In order to meet the challenge of Gresley’s streamlined pacifics on the LNER these engines were also streamlined. At high speed streamlining did actually serve a useful purpose by reducing air-resistance and releasing more useful horsepower at the tender drawbar to pull the train. Technically speaking the LMS type 4-6-2 streamlining was more efficient in this regard than that of the LNER A4.

 A4 A4 pacific introduced by Gresley on LNER in 1935.
 coronation Princess Coronation class introduced by Stanier on LMS in 1937.

Stanier was absent from the LMS during the period in which the design was developed, and the chief draughtsman at Derby, Tom Coleman, was responsible for most of the detailed design. It was Coleman who designed the streamlined casing. Although impressive engines they were aesthetically very ugly with a bulbous appearance. Scale models had been tested in the LMS scientific research laboratory at Derby. This showed that a model made to Coleman’s design disturbed the air less than the A4 design but the exhaust gases and smoke would be more likely to drift into the drivers line of vision.

An unusual feature of Coronation Class tenders was that they were fitted with a steam-operated coal pusher to bring the coal down to the firing plate. The mechanical coal pusher was fitted as there had sometimes been problems bringing coal forward on long runs on the Princess class engines. When the mechanical pusher was in operation a plume of steam could be seen rising from the rear face of the coal bunker backwall. This equipment greatly helped the locomotives fireman to meet the high demands for power during the non-stop run of 299 miles between London Euston and Carlisle Citadel, when operating the Royal Scot train to and from Glasgow Central. The six-wheeled tender held 4,000 gallons of water, replenished from water troughs between the tracks without the need to stop, and 10 tons of coal – sufficient to fire the boiler for the whole 401½ mile journey from London to Glasgow. 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.

6220-6224 appeared at first in Caledonian Railway blue livery with horizontal white bands matching the coaches on the new service. These were all allocated to Camden shed.  6225-6229 followed them and painted in standard LMS maroon. The next batch to be built was 6230-6234 and these engines were not streamlined and were extremely handsome locomotives. The unstreamlined engines were known known as the Duchess class. 6235-6248 appeared next with full streamlining and then between 1944 and 1948 the final batch 6249-6257 appeared without streamlining.

In June 1937 6220 was tried out on a special train between Euston and Crewe and attained a maximum speed of 114mph just south of Crewe, thus breaking the then speed record of 112½ mph which was held by the LNER. The run was essentially a demonstration run before the introduction of the streamlined Coronation Scot service. The speed record was broken on the gentle descent from Whitmore to Crewe and it is well known that Riddles who was on the footplate of the locomotive delayed the breaking for the Crewe stop in order to achieve the speed record.


The 114mph was taken from the locomotive’s speed indicator although some experts recorded the speed at 113mph. On the return trip from Crewe to Euston the journey was completed in 119 minutes at an average speed of 79.7mph. The train arrived in Euston 16 minutes early and the LMS immediately claimed the fastest start-to-stop runs over 100 and 150 miles.

In January 1939 6229 Duchess of Hamilton was sent on exhibition to New York World’s Fair. It exchanged identities with 6220 Coronation for the trip and it made an extended tour over the USA railways. Due to the outbreak of the Second World War it was stranded in the States. It eventually returned in 1942 when it reverted back to its original identity.

The Engine History Cards for 6220 and 6229 chronicle the exchange and re-exchange of the identities of these two locomotives.  6229 had to be provided with a headlight and bell in order to conform with US requirements as it was to tour parts of the country under its own steam.  The temporary exchange of identities is tabulated below.

6220 Coronation 6229 Duchess of Hamilton
Date new 1/6/1937 7/9/1938
Livery Blue/silver Crimson/gold
Renumbered (1) To 6229 17/12/1938 To 6220 (20/1/1939)
Sent to USA 20/1/1939
Returned to traffic 18/3/1942
Renumbered (2) To 6220 9/5/1943 To 6229 20/4/1943
In Crewe Works* 16/4 – 15/5/1943 (HG) 12/3 – 20/4/1943 (LO)

* Note both were in Crewe Works 16-20/4/1943

From 1946 onwards the streamlining was removed as it was found that it was of little value at speeds below 90mph and it was a nuisance to the maintenance staff.

The whole class was fitted with double chimneys from 1938 onwards. They were also fitted with smoke deflectors, unlike the Princess Royal class which never had smoke deflectors.

One of the first non-streamlined batch, 6234 Duchess of Abercorn, in early 1939 underwent trials with its original single chimney, and then with a new double exhaust arrangement. As a result it developed a transitory maximum drawbar horsepower of 2511, which remained a British record to the end of the steam era, (although possibly since eclipsed by 6229 and BR 71000 Duke of Gloucester in preservation).

They proved themselves to be magnificent engines, not only working at high speed, but also managing the heaviest expresses over the West Coast route. They were the most powerful passenger steam locomotives ever to be built for the British railway network, estimated at 3300 horsepower and making them far more powerful than the diesel engines that replaced them. They were displaced by diesels on the main line in 1960-61 and they performed relief and standby duties for the next two or three years. Eventually an account decision decreed that the last twenty engines must be taken out of stock by 31st December 1964 even though some of them had only recently been outshopped and were still in very good condition.

Only three engines retained their streamlined casing at the beginning of 1948 and they were all rebuilt by 1949.

The engines which had been de-streamlined from 1946 onwards could at first be recognised by a sloping top to the smokebox. This was later removed as the smokebox was replaced.

The final two locomotives were constructed to the modified design of George Ivatt who succeeded both Stanier (following his retirement) and Stanier’s immediate successor Charles Fairburn (who unexpectedly died in office). They were fitted with roller bearings throughout, altered rear ends and cabs, and had various other detail alterations. The first, 46256 built in 1947, was the last of the class to be built before nationalisation and it was named in honour of its original designer Sir William A. Stanier, F.R.S.. The unveiling of the nameplate was performed by Stanier himself. The final member of the class 46257 City of Salford was built in 1948 as a British Railways engine in 1948 at a cost of £21,411.

BR Blue was carried by 27 of the 38 locomotives, the first two being painted in this livery in May 1949. One locomotive is known to have carried the blue livery until June 1954.

BR Green was introduced in November 1951 with 46232 Duchess of Montrose. Between October 1955 and December 1957, all 38 locomotives carried it concurrently, the only livery the entire class carried. Locomotives allocated to the Scottish Region remained green until withdrawal.

BR Red was carried on 16 locomotives from the late 1950s: Nos. 46225-6, 46228-9, 46236, 46238, 46240, 46243-48, 46251, 46254, 46256 allocated to the London Midland Region. 46245 was the first, in December 1957; a further fifteen examples followed between May and November 1958. The style of lining varied: the first six repaints into crimson (including 46245) were lined out in the LMS style; the last ten received the BR style of lining as used on the standard green livery; 46247, originally lined in the LMS style, was given the BR style in July 1959; and by November 1961 those with the BR lining were repainted to match 46245.

The last of the class in service was 46256 Sir William Stanier FRS was the last of the class in action with the last seventeen of the class having been withdrawn as scheduled a few weeks before 46256 hauled an enthusiast special on 26th September 1964. This last train was from Crewe to Carlisle and back again with 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley taking the leg from Carlisle over the Waverley route after which it was replaced by 60009 Union of South Africa for the run back to Carlisle via Glasgow. 46256 was cut up at Cashmmore’s at Great bridge in December 1964.

Number in Service.

duchess table.jpg

  • Of the final 22 withdrawn in 1964 19 were withdrawn in September of that year. The other 3 were withdrawn earlier in 1964.
  • The locomotives not preserved were scrapped very soon after withdrawal – only 4 survived the cutting torch until 1965.

Allocation of locomotives in service as at 1st of January.


1955 1960 1961 1962 1963




14   8   7   4


Carlisle Kingmoor




Carlisle Upperby


  4 11 11   6   7


Crewe North


  9 12 12   7   7


Edge Hill


  1   4   4




  9   7   7   9





38 38 38 38 35


  • Camden depot closed September 1963
  • 46257 City of Salford was allocated to Old Oak common briefly in early 1956
  • Five locomotives allocated to Polmadie were based their throughout BR days – 46222 Queen Mary, 46223 Princess Alice, 46230 Duchess of Buccleuch, 46231 Duchess of Atholl and 46232 Duchess of Montrose. 46235 City of Birmingham spent its BR days based at Camden.

Accidents and Incidents

  • On 21 July 1945, locomotive 6231 Duchess of Atholl was hauling an express passenger train which overran signals and collided with a freight train that was being shunted at Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire. Two people were killed and 3 were injured.
  • On the 21 July 1947, locomotive 6244 King George V1 was derailed near Polesworth Station in Warwickshire whilst hauling a Euston to Liverpool express which was a 14 coach train of 671 tons. Five people were killed and 64 injured including 19 who had serious injuries. The derailment was due to defective track.
    • The 8.30 a.m. an express passenger train from Euston to Liverpool was travelling on the down fast line at 65-70 m.p.h. near Polesworth Station when the engine and 14 coaches became derailed to the outside of a left-handed curve. All four lines were blocked, but an up express was stopped well clear by the Polesworth signalman who was becoming anxious after the usual section time for the Liverpool express had elapsed. A freight train already in the section on the Down Slow was also stopped clear of the obstruction by the prompt action of a fireman who was travelling in the last coach.
    • 6244 King George V1 was overturned to the right just before it came to rest approximately 400 yards beyond the point of derailment; it received only superficial damage, but the two leading coaches, which were also overturned on their right-hand sides, were wrecked. The ends of the following six coaches were crushed together, though not telescoped, but otherwise they were not very seriously damaged and the last eight came to rest with their bodies almost intact.
    • The train was crowded with about 800 passengers of whom some 130 were standing.
    • The driver and fireman were uninjured, and the former went forward at once to protect the opposing lines.
  • On 17 April 1948, locomotive 6251 City of Nottingham was hauling a mail train which was in a rear-end collision with a passenger train at Winsford, Cheshire. In the first major accident for the newly formed British Railways, 24 people were killed.
  • The 17:40 Glasgow to London Euston train was stopped after the communication cord was pulled by a passenger (a soldier on leave who presumably lived near Winsford and was seen to leave the train after it had stopped). The stopped train was then run into by a following postal express hauled by 6251 City of Nottingham. The collision happened at between 40 and 45 mph and was so severe that only five of the ten passenger coaches could be pulled away on their wheels and only the rear eight of the 13 Postal coaches could be pulled back. 24 passengers were killed. The signalman at Winsford had, in error, reported the passenger train clear of the section and accepted the postal train. The person who pulled the emergency cord was a railway employee who worked as a signalbox lad in Winsford Junction, but was currently serving in the army having been called up. He thought that the train would be perfectly safe because he knew how the signalling equipment of the time in that area worked; but he did not know that the train had stopped short of the track circuit, which would have reminded the signalman of its presence. He attended the enquiry to confess, and was still a signalman in Winsford Junction until he retired in the 1990s.
  • On 25 April 1949, locomotive 46230 Duchess of Buccleugh was hauling a passenger train that overran a signal and was derailed at Douglas Park Signal Box, Motherwell, Lanarkshire. The signalman was suspected of having deliberately moved points under the train.
  • On 8 October 1952, locomotive 46242 City of Glasgow was hauling an express passenger train when it overran signals and crashed into a local passenger train at Harrow and Wealdstone, Middlesex. Another express passenger train ran into the wreckage.
    • The Harrow and Wealdstone rail crash was a three-train collision at Harrow and Wealdstone station in London during the morning rush hour of 8 October 1952. 112 people were killed and 340 injured (88 of these being detained in hospital); as of July 2015 it is the worst peacetime rail crash in the United Kingdom.
    • The accident accelerated the introduction of Automatic Warning System – by the time the report had been published British Railways had agreed to a five-year plan to install the system that warned drivers that they had passed an adverse signal.
    • The collisions involved three trains;
      • The 7:31 am Tring to Euston local passenger train – 9 carriages hauled by a steam locomotive (LMS Fowler 2-6-4 tank engine running bunker first 42389) – on the up fast line
      • The 8:15 pm Perth to Euston night express – 11 carriages carrying approximately 85 passengers hauled by a single steam locomotive (4-6-2 City of Glasgow which was repaired) – on the up fast line – this train was running about 80 minutes late because of fog.
      •  The 8:00 am express from Euston to Liverpool and Manchester – 15 carriages carrying approximately 200 passengers, double headed by two steam locomotives  Jubilee (45637 Windward Islands  and Princess Royal  46202 Princess Anne both of which had to be withdrawn)- on the down fast line
    • Sequence of events
      • At around 8:17 am, on 8 October 1952 the local train had stopped at platform 4 at Harrow and Wealdstone station, approximately seven minutes late because of fog. Carrying about 800 passengers; it was busier than usual because the next Tring -Euston service had been cancelled. As scheduled, it had travelled from Tring on the slow line, switching to the up fast line just before Harrow and Wealdstone to keep the slow lines to the south of the station clear for empty stock movements. At 8:19 am, just as the guard was walking back to his brake van after checking doors on the last two carriages, the Perth express crashed into the rear at a speed of 50–60 miles per hour. It had passed a colour light signal at caution, two semaphore signals at danger, and had burst through the trailing points of the crossover from the slow lines. The collision completely destroyed the rear three coaches of the local train (where most of the casualties occurred) telescoping them into the length of one coach, and drove the entire train forward 20 yards. The leading two vans and three coaches of the Perth train piled up behind and above the locomotive.The wreckage from the first collision was spread across the adjacent down fast line. A few seconds after the first collision, the northbound express to Liverpool Lime Street passed through the station on this line in the opposite direction at approximately 60 miles per hour. The leading locomotive of this train struck the derailed locomotive of the Perth train and derailed. The two locomotives from the Liverpool train were diverted left, mounting the platform, which they ploughed across diagonally before landing on their side on the adjacent DC electric line, one line of which was short circuited by the wreckage; the other line had its electric current quickly switched off by the signalman, thus preventing any further collisions. The leading seven coaches, plus a kitchen car from the Liverpool train were carried forward by momentum, overriding the existing wreckage and piling up above and around it. Several of these coaches struck the underside of the station footbridge, tearing away a steel girder.Sixteen vehicles, including thirteen coaches, two bogie vans and a kitchen car were destroyed or severely damaged in the collisions. Thirteen of these were compressed into a compact heap of wreckage 45 yards long, 18 yards wide and 18 feet high. The Perth locomotive was completely buried under the pile of wreckage.Casualties

        There were 112 fatalities, including the driver and fireman of the Perth express and the driver of the lead engine of the Liverpool express. 102 passengers and staff died at the scene, with a further 10 dying later in hospital from their injuries. Of the 108 passenger fatalities, at least 64 occurred in the local train, 23 in the Perth train, and 7 in the Liverpool train. The remaining 14 were unclear, but some of the fatalities may have been standing on the platform and hit by the derailed locomotives of the Liverpool train. A total of 340 people reported injury: 183 people were given treatment for shock and minor injury at the station and 157 were taken to hospital, of whom 88 were detained.

  • On 3 February 1954, locomotive 46250 City of Lichfield was hauling a passenger train that was derailed inside Watford Tunnel, Hertfordshire due to a broken rail. The rear three carriages became divided from the train at Watford Junction station, with one of them ending up on the platform. Fifteen people were injured.
  • On 3rd December 2016 46233 Duchess of Sutherland was hauling a twelve coach empty stock working from Southall to Kings Cross when the train divided at Mitre Bridge.


Three members of the class have been preserved. Of these two (46229 Duchess of Hamilton and 46233 Duchess of Sutherland) were saved from the scrap yard as a result of Sir Billy Butlin’s efforts to place these locomotives as children’s playground exhibits at his holiday camps. The third preserved member of the class 6235 City of Birmingham was donated by British Railways to Birmingham City Council for preservation within the Birmingham Industrial Museum.

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