|Designer||Riddles, designed at Derby|
|Weight – Loco||101t 5cwt|
|Driving Wheels||6ft 2ins|
|Boiler Pressure||250psi superheated|
|Cylinders||Three – 18in x 28in|
This locomotive was authorised as a replacement for LMSR pacific 46202 which was damaged beyond repair in the Harrow crash of 1952.
Riddles had sought to develop an enlarged version of the Standard class 7 Britannia engines as the design still used two-cylinders but in order to achieve the 8P power classification required the size of the cylinders would cause the locomotive to be outside the British loading gauge limit. There was a reluctance to use three-cylinders due to the experience with the Gresley pacifics whose conjugated valve gear was difficult to maintain due to the location of the middle cylinder between the frames. The solution to this issue was to use three-cylinders with a modified Caprotti valve gear, the novel rotary cam-driven British Caprotti valve gear developed by Heenan & Froude with poppet valves. This was based on Italian locomotive practice and allowed precise control of steam admission to the cylinders while improving exhaust flow and boiler draughting characteristics when compared to the more conventional Walschaerts and Stephenson valve gear.
Caprotti rotary valve gear was much improved by Associated Locomotive Equipment Ltd (Caprott Valve Gears Ltd was a subsidiary of Heenan and Froude which was acquired by Associated Locomotive Equipment Ltd in 1945). The last two LMS black fives to be built (44686 and 44687) were completed in 1951 were fitted with Caprotti valve gear. They were both withdrawn from service in 1966.
|LMS black five with Caprotti valve gear.|
Riddles himself said, some years later, that the opportunity to build a one-off with Caprotti valve gear, eliminating or overcoming all the faults of reciprocating valve gear, giving constant valve openings at all times coupled with free exhaust, was too good a chance to miss.
On paper this created a free-steaming, hard-working locomotive capable of hauling heavy loads over long distances but, in practice, fundamental design errors and undetected deviations from the drawings made during construction combined to prevent the locomotive from achieving its expected performance during British Railways ownership.
The main problem was known even when the locomotive was under construction, as the representative of the British Caprotti company, recommended the use of the Kylchap blastpipe, which could have coped with the fierce exhaust blasts experienced with the Caprotti system. A standard double chimney of the Swindon type had already been fabricated in order to cut costs and it had been installed in the smokebox supposedly before Riddles could do anything about it. As a result, the locomotive suffered due to the choke area of both chimney and blastpipe being much too small for the pressure created by the exhaust, leading to poor draughting. Further problems regarding the firebox of the locomotive were only discovered during restoration, including a poorly dimensioned ashpan and dampers that were again too small, strangling the fire of air when operating at speed.
As a result of these problems the engine was regarded as a failure by locomotive crews due to its poor steaming characteristics and its heavy fuel consumption. Trials undertaken by British Railways also returned negative feedback, reporting problems with the poor draughting of the locomotive which resulted in difficulty adhering to the timetables.
Following experience of occasional cracks appearing near the spring brackets of the Britannia and Clan class locomotives, a substantial rearrangement took place in this area that resulted in the locomotive riding on three cast steel sub-frames carrying the ten front-most spring brackets and lengthened spring brackets behind the rear driven axle. These were not integrated into a cast combined sub-frame/pony truck pivot stretcher, the pony truck pivot stretcher being a fabrication.
71000 was built at Crewe in May 1954 during which time the ashpan was incorrectly fabricated – impeding the airflow through the firebox and giving the locomotive an unwarranted reputation as a coal guzzler in its working life. Despite this, the new pacific was soon despatched to Willesden depot, London where it was exhibited at a Conference of the International Railway Congress (Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer or UIC) at Willesden. The Honorary President of the Congress at the time was the Duke of Gloucester and 71000 was named in his honour.
Had further locomotives been constructed, they would have belonged to the Duke class, standing alongside the express locomotives of the Britannia and Clan classes. Since then, the locomotive has colloquially been referred to by steam enthusiasts and crews as the Duke.
A report formally known as Modernisation and Re-Equipment of the British Railways, more commonly the Modernisation Plan was published in December 1954 although it is generally referred to as the 1955 plan. It was intended to bring the railway system up to date. The aim was to increase speed, reliability, safety and line capacity, through a series of measures which would make services more attractive to passengers and freight operators, thus recovering traffic that was being lost to the roads. This effectively resulted in the change from steam to diesel and electric traction with the last steam engine (92220 Evening Star at Swindon) being built in October 1958.
As a result of all of the above 71000 remained the sole member of the class and most of the problems were never ironed out before its withdrawal.
71000 attained the sad distinction of being the last new express engine to be built in Britain until the A1 pacific Tornado was built as part of the preservation movement in 2008 some 46 years after 71000 was withdrawn from service in November 1962.
The locomotive was fitted with a BR1E 4,725 gallon tender and was based on the West Coast main line. In November 1957 it was fitted with a new BR1J 4,325 gallon tender.
Apart from a period at Swindon Testing Plant from October 1954 until May 1955 71000 spent all of its life under BR ownership based at Crewe North depot. From Crewe it was used to haul the boat trains on the undemanding North Wales Coast Line between Crewe and Holyhead. The Duke was highly unpopular with crews, who regarded it as something of a liability due to its poor steam production.
The reputation of the locomotive amongst its crews as being a poor steamer was eventually to disappear – but only after it was rescued from the scrapyard in 1974.
After withdrawal in November 1962, the Duke was initially selected for the National Collection, though six years later it was decided that only the cylinder arrangement was of interest.
The right hand cylinder was removed at Crewe Works and used as a trial for the final sectioning of the left hand cylinder which was later exhibited at the Science Museum, South Kensington, London until 1998 when it was put into store. This sectioned cylinder together with its valve gear currently resides at the Heritage Centre, Crewe. Shorn of its outside cylinders and other fittings the remainder of the locomotive was then sold for scrap in 1967. Initially towed to Cashmore’s, Gwent for cutting up it was only by pure chance that a former BR fireman, Maurice Sheppard, on visiting Cashmore’s yard in connection with his work, noticed that the destination label on the Duke read Woodham’s, Barry. He realised that the remains had been taken to the wrong destination and was instrumental in ensuring that the remains of the Duke were towed to their correct purchaser – Dai Woodham of Barry where it arrived in October 1967.
Like many other locomotives at Barry the Duke had many parts removed whilst it was at Barry and its tender was sold off to a South Wales steelworks where its chassis was used for the transportation of steel.
The Duke eventually left the Barry scrapyard in April 1974 to go to Loughborough following the formation of the 71000 Preservation Society in 1973. The price paid for 71000 was £4,950 and a 9F tender. In 1977 the 71000 Preservation Society gave way to two newly registered bodies – 71000 Steam Locomotive Ltd and The 71000 (Duke of Gloucester) Steam Locomotive Trust, a registered charity. The former of these two new entities became the registered owner of the Duke, the intention being that interested parties could buy shares in the new Company. The owning Company, by way of a Deed of Trust, passed responsibility for the upkeep, maintenance and running of the Duke over to the newly registered Trust for a period of Fifty Years.
The Science Museum gave a grant of £6,000 towards the cost of new cylinders, but the rest of the finance had to be raised independently. The scale and complexity of the manufacturing work meant appealing to industry around the whole of the country. Significant help was given by British Steel, GEC and The Metalbox Company and was supplemented by a multitude of smaller companies, with work being carried out free or at greatly reduced prices. It is difficult to estimate the true commercial cost of restoration by the prevailing prices of the time, but it probably would have been in the region of one million pounds. Instead, the work was done on a shoestring budget with tremendous voluntary effort and without sacrificing quality.
Twenty years later The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the latter a grant of £233,800 towards a programme of no less than seven major developments and a heavy general overhaul.
When the restoration of 71000 was first proposed at a meeting in 1973 it was considered to be too big a task to undertake. This was in part due to the fact that two of the cylinders and the valve gear had been removed in addition to the normal effects of being stored in a scrap yard for seven years.
A small team of engineers persisted with the idea and as a result the 71000 Preservation Society was formed. To say that they were regarded as hopeless optimists chasing an impossible dream would be an understatement. A chance meeting with Hugh Phillips enabled the group to make significant progress as Hugh was a Caprotti enthusiast and had access to photographs of every drawing of the poppet valve gear. At that time the drawings were kept by Froude Engineering of Worcester who had manufactured the original equipment. Perhaps even more importantly, he had an introduction to Tom Daniels who, at the time of the Duke’s construction, was the Chief Design Engineer of the Associated Locomotive Equipment Company which supplied all the original Caprotti valve gear. His wealth of knowledge and experience was to prove invaluable.
Initial fund raising by the group proved almost impossible given the widespread scepticism on the part of enthusiasts generally, and the Association of Railway Preservation Societies in particular. At the end of six months the princely sum of £124 had been raised. It was therefore proposed that Society members put their own money into the scheme in blocks of £100 and, to facilitate this, a limited company was formed. More than thirty members accepted the offer of shares in the company and, within three months, the sum of £4,950 had been paid to Woodham’s for the locomotive plus a tender from a standard class 9F locomotive (92134). The hulk was given a cosmetic coat of green paint plus smoke deflectors and double chimney, also from a 9F. On the 24th April 1974 the Duke, looking smarter than for many years, left Barry for its new home at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough, Leicestershire, so be followed seven months later by its new tender.
Of course, the restoration of the locomotive needed a base and many preserved railways at the time saw the task as equally impossible and were not prepared to accommodate it. It was not until the Main Line Steam Trust had the foresight and ambition and offered a place on the Great Central Railway (GCR) that the future of the locomotive was secure.
Having arrived at Quorn & Woodhouse in April, 1974 the locomotive was taken immediately to Loughborough. It was housed in the new locomotive shed at Loughborough which was still being built around it. The long process of restoration then began with the boiler first steamed out of the frames in September 1985.
Two significant construction errors were discovered during restoration:
- The chimney was too small compared with other locomotives of similar size, resulting in poor boiler draughting at times of high steam demand.
- The firebed (grate) air inlet dampers had not been built to the drawings; they were too small, resulting in poor air supply and inefficient combustion.
As part of the restoration the two missing cylinders were cast, machined and fitted, the poppet valve gear re-built and the opportunity taken to incorporate some other improvements, including the previously recommended Kylchap exhaust system, which has finally unlocked the locomotive’s true potential as a powerful express passenger locomotive.
Other modifications were made to the ash pan that corrected some to the design’s previous deficiencies. One of the very few compromises made was replacing the previous steel cylinders with spheroidal graphite iron.
On 25th May, 1986 the locomotive successfully hauled a two coach train for members of the locomotive’s support group without its rear coupling rods making it a 4-4-2-2. These were later fitted in July the following year.
71000 first ran in public service on the GCR in November 1986 and formal re-commissioning of the locomotive was undertaken by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester at Rothley station on the 11th November 1986.
After completing its last run on the GCR in May 1987 it left the line in June in preparation for the Crewe Works Open Day on 4th July.
In recognition of the achievement of returning the engine to steam the project was given the 1986 award for achievement from The Association of Railway Preservation Societies. It was presented by John Bellwood, then Chief Engineer of The National Railway Museum who said “You have rewritten history”. The Museum showed its own appreciation of the achievement by inviting the locomotive to be “Guest of Honour” at the re-opening of the Great Hall in 1992 – the only privately owned engine to be present.
The locomotive was brought up to main line running standards at Crewe and Didcot. In March 1990 a British Railways test run from Derby to Sheffield proved that the engine had been transformed into a Supersteamer, but this still had to be proved to the rest of the world.
The Duke ran again on main lines for seven years and establishing a reputation for high speed running and feats of heavy haulage, with steam to spare and power in reserve. From the beginning it became a favourite on the famous Settle and Carlisle line, setting new standards of performance. 1995 saw it cover routes previously barred to steam traction for almost three decades including those from London Euston and Kings Cross.
In October 1995 71000 climbed the notorious Shap bank on the West Coast main line and topped the summit at the highest speed ever attained with a heavy load. Weather conditions on the day were so atrocious the engine could not be fully opened out, for fear of wheelslip.
A former Crewe Fireman (Ray Hatton) stated that in the old days if he was rostered to fire the Duke he would rather go sick than endure the ordeal of trying to raise steam with the engine. Having gained experience as a driver of the locomotive in 1990 he was astonished at the transformation in the performance of the Duke and in 1995 he insisted on being allocated to work the engine over Shap in 1995.
With these modifications, the Duke is now one of the most powerful steam locomotives ever to run on Britain’s railways, past or present (the LMS Coronation class pacifics held that title under British Railways auspices). The three-cylinder Duke has never actually achieved the 3000 horse power figure that was recorded by the four cylinder Princess Coronation class. The Duke is however now more powerful than the English Electric Type 4 diesel locomotives which replaced it in service.
In the late 1990s the Duke was withdrawn from service and remained out of action until an overhaul was completed in 2004.
For many years the Duke was based at Bury on the East Lancs Railway and from there it visited other heritage railways and hauled main line tours.
In preservation, the Duke had held an impeccable operational record for reliability until in June 2007 whilst hauling a railtour from Carnforth to Carlisle the engine was stopped at Penrith with leaking tubes in the firebox and removed from the train. The engine was then withdrawn for overhaul before a return to service in January 2008.
Whilst on the East Lancs Railway it was involved in two accidents.
- In October 2004 whilst operating on the East Lancs Railway the Duke was running round the train at Rawtenstall but it hit the carriages when attempting to back onto the front end of the train. Fourteen people on the train were injured – mostly as a result of falling over due to the impact. The Duke was replaced at the front of the train and taken out of service after being hauled back to Bury.
- In February 2012 there was a low-speed collision in the yard at Bury involving 71000 and black five 45231. 71000 sustained damage to its front end which included the buffer plank being bent and both inner and outer right hand support gussets being damaged beyond repair. The buffer plank was straightened out again in Riley’s hydraulic press.
71000 Duke of Gloucester has spent its entire life in preservation, painted in two pack acrylic spray paint. The first time this was done in the late 80s, the finish was very durable and looked superb. A repaint in 2004 was not such a success with the locomotive starting to look rather tatty, so it was decided on a partial repaint to see it through to the end of the engine’s boiler certificate. In 2012 it was being brush painted like it was in BR service and the Duke looked superb when it used again in January on the East Lancs Railway.
In August 2012 71000 was hauling a train from Poole to Oxford when it failed at Eastleigh and was removed from the train. The locomotive was later moved into the railway works at Eastleigh where a preliminary examination identified problems with the Caprotti mechanism as well as other areas where remedial work was required including the remetalling of crossheads The Trustees of the Duke stated at that time that whilst they had a long term commitment to maintaining close connections and an operating base on the East Lancashire Railway that it was considering whether the outstanding repairs would be carried out at Eastleigh or an alternative site.
Although the boiler certificate was valid until December 2013 it was decided that the locomotive should be withdrawn from service. There were however no funds available to undertake the work. As the 71000 (Duke of Gloucester) Steam Locomotive Trust had been experiencing difficulties in both the financing and the management of the Trust due to its board’s inability to act in a cohesive and united manner. In addition a gulf had been allowed to open between the Trust and the locomotive’s owning Company.
In order to overcome these issues the responsibility for looking after the Duke was passed to the BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust.
Subsequently the BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust appointed North-Western Heritage Ltd (LNWR) of Crewe as its contractor for the overhaul and ongoing maintenance of the locomotive. In June 71000 was moved from Eastleigh to Crewe to undertake the overhaul which was to include-
- The firebox copper tubeplates needed replacement as will the smaal tubes and flue tubes. The state of the superheater elements and ashpan were unknown.
- The Caprotti valve gear problem which caused the locomotive to be withdrawn needs to be addressed. The frame will be lifted off the wheels and a thorough examination of all areas undertaken.
- Checks will be made for wear to the water tank and the chassis examined.
In September 2015 LNWR stated that the organisation wanted to concentrate on in-house work and that they did not wish to compromise looking after the fleet of locomotives based at Crewe by undertaking too much third party work. As a result the BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust were informed that as the overhaul on the Duke would not be performed at Crewe.
It was the arranged that the overhaul would be undertaken at Tyseley so in October 2015 71000 left Crewe for Tyseley.
In April 2016 the work at Tyseley had progressed to a stage where the boiler could be lifted from the frames of the locomotive which would allow the overhaul of the boiler to commence.
The non-destructive testing work carried out on the boiler showed that the boiler was in good order and it was suggested that for a small spend the boiler would be good for a couple of retubes without the need to remove it from the frames again.
After removal of the Caprotti camboxes the early indications were that some of the cams would need replacing due to wear. It was a cambox problem in August 2012 at Eastleigh that resulted in the engine being failed.
By the Autumn of 2016 worked had progressed to a state where dismantling of the locomotive was almost complete and reassembly was expected to start in 2017. The goal is to have 71000 back on the main line in late 2018.
When 71000 returns to steam it will operate with original design Caprotti cams instead of the modified ones fitted during preservation.
As part of the overhaul at Tyseley the two external slide bars were fixed to the rear of the cylinders as per LNER practice. Previously they were fixed to the chassis by a central bracket as with the rebuilt Merchant Navy and West Country locomotives. The change was designed to reduce piston ring wear.
It had been hoped that the locomotive would undergo its first steam tests at the end of 2017 but in early 2018 it was expected that the locomotive would be back in steam in 2019.
It was also announced in early 2018 that the locomotive would be based at Tyseley and its main line runs would be with the Vintage Trains Ltd. It is anticipated that in future it will only visit heritage railways that have main line connections.
In July 2018 it was announced that an extra £100,000 (previously thought to total £500,000) would be needed to complete the overhaul of the locomotive. As well as costing more the work required means that the overhead will not be completed until late in 2020.
In December 2018 it was reported that a new set of Caprotti inlet and exhaust cams are to be produced for the locomotive to the 1954 original design to reverse a modification made at its previous overhaul.