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An A4 by Any Other Name

Part Five

With the decision to change the livery to Garter Blue, one is inclined to think that some semblance of "standardisation" would take place. Although the Garter Blue and Coronation Red became the basic colour scheme, the cabside and front end numbers, along with the company initials on the tender sides, were still applied in a variety of styles and colours.

Stepping back slightly Nos. 2509, 2510, 2511 and 2512 did not display a running number on the front buffer beam area when they first entered traffic. The reason for this appears to have been lack of space, due to the large recess in the casing to accommodate the drawhook. However when longer buffers and drawhooks were fitted there was no need of a recess and adequate space was available to apply the numbers. Nº2510 was the first to be converted, re-entering traffic on 11/7/1936, the numbers were 3½" high and are believed to have matched the colour of the existing numbers, being Silver Gilt with Blue shading. Nº2509 left Works on 26/7/1936, closely followed by Nº2511 on 31/7/1936. Another anomaly then occurred when Nº2512 was converted, as it then left Works on 2/10/1936 without a front number; this was rectified at the next General Overhaul when Nº2512 became the first Silver engine to receive the Garter Blue livery and cast nameplates, ‘L.N.E.R.’ and ‘2512’ being applied in 12" high Gold shaded Red transfers, the front number being increased in height to 4½", again in Gold shaded Red, leaving Works on 6/11/1937. The other three Silver engines received Garter Blue livery with the Gold shaded Red letters and numbers and the 4½" high front numbers, and most importantly their cast namplates, at their next General Overhauls, re-entering traffic as follows: Nº2509 – 6/12/1937 , Nº2510 – 28/5/1938 , and Nº2511 – 9/8/1938.

One point that has been drawn to my attention is that Nº2509 when new, and being posed for the works photographs, had an interim livery, in that the nameplate was removed and the name painted on the cladding panel, but the front paint scheme, with the narrow band following the curve of the streamlined casing was retained. A photo of the engine in this guise appears on page 161 of "Railway Liveries 1923 to 1947" by Brian Haresnape. Sorry for that digression, but it does show that there are still facts that are waiting to be uncovered and thank you to the three members who drew my attention to this point.

The "Green" engines, Nos. 4482 to 4487 inclusive, appeared with the smaller 3½" high Gold shaded Red numbers to the front end, whereas Nos. 4493, 4494 and 4495 got the 4½" high numbers. The cabs and tenders received the standard 12" high Gold shaded Red numbers and letters.

If one is being pedantic Nº 4495 can be said to be the first of the green engines to receive the Garter Blue livery, and in theory this is true. I like to think that because it was necessary for Nº4495 to be repainted to match up to the West Riding Limited stock, it highlighted the differing liveries of the engines and brought about the decision to paint all the A4s Garter Blue.

Nº4485 Kestrel was the first Green engine with the all black smokebox to receive the Garter Blue livery, with Gold shaded Red letters and numbers, 12" high on cabside and tender, 4½" high on the front, leaving the Works on 8/12/1937. Two engines, Nº4484 Falcon and Nº4486 Merlin, were next out of Works, both leaving on 18/12/1937. Nº4483 Kingfisher left works on 7/1/1938 followed by Nº4482 Golden Eagle on 29/1/1938 and Nº4487 Sea Eagle on 12/2/1938. There was a pause in the repainting and Nº4493 Woodcock was next out of works on 25/7/1938, three weeks after the last A4, Nº4903, was put into traffic. Nº4494 Osprey hung on to its Green livery until it left Works after its first General Overhaul on 20/10/1938.

Digressing slightly from the theme of these articles, examination of the record cards shows that in the month of December 1937, thirteen of the twenty one A4s then in service were in the Works for some repair or other, also two new A4s left the Works in that time. For the sake of completeness here is a list of engines, with the type of repair undertaken and the date they left Works :-

Nº2509 Silver Link General Overhaul 6/12/1937
Nº2510 Quicksilver Light Repair 10/12/1937
Nº2512 Silver Fox Light Repair 8/12/1937
Nº4483 Kingfisher Receiving General Overhaul throughout December
Nº4484 Falcon General Overhaul 18/12/1937
Nº4485 Kestrel General Overhaul 8/12/1937
Nº4486 Merlin General Overhaul 18/12/1937
Nº4487 Sea Eagle Light Repair 6/12/1937
Nº4488 Union of South Africa Light Repair 11/12/1937
Nº4489 Dominion of Canada Light Repair 6/12/1937
Nº4492 Dominion of New Zealand Light Repair 13/12/1937
Nº4495 Golden Fleece Light Repair 7/12/1937
Nº4496 Golden Shuttle Light Repair 10/12/1937

All the above engines shown as having a Light Repair may have had minor mechanical work done, but in all cases it was the tenders attached to each of these engines that received the most attention, having alterations carried out to increase the coal capacity.

The two new engines were Nº 4462 Great Snipe and Nº4464 Bittern which went into traffic on 10/12/1937 and 18/12/1937, respectively.

Getting back to the livery theme, between the two batches of "Green" engines came the "Coronation" engines, which established the Garter Blue and Coronation Red livery. The running numbers and company initials were applied to the cab and tender sides in 12" high Gill Sans cut out stainless steel letters and numerals. The front end number was also more prominently displayed, being applied in Silver / Aluminium paint, with an increase in height to 7½". The two engines earmarked for the West Riding Limited, Nos. 4495 and 4496, also received the cut out stainless steel letters and numerals, along with the larger Silver / Aluminium front number. The Coronation and West Riding engines and tenders all had the 2" wide stainless steel strip running along the bottom edge of the footplate valance and the tender.

The remaining engines all received Garter Blue and Coronation Red livery from new, with the 12" high Gold shaded Red numbers and letters to cab and tender sides, with the 4½" high numbers on the front. So by October 1938 all the 35 A4s were complete and all wearing Garter Blue and Coronation Red livery, albeit some more finely embellished than others.

One of the more embellished engines was Nº4489, in March 1938 it received a Canadian Pacific Railways Bell, this being fully operational, with a small steam reciprocating cylinder supplying the "swing" to the bell. Also at this time it received new nameplates, the letters and the border were made from Staybrite stainless steel and screwed to the backing plate.

One month earlier Nº4498 was repainted for an exhibition at Manchester, and lost its Silver, Blue shaded figures and letters, and reappeared with the standard Gold shaded Red. Then Nº 4498, in Works for a General Overhaul 30/11/1938 until 16/1/1939, had a further change, 12" high cut out stainless steel figures and letters were applied to the cab and tender sides, and the cast nameplate was replaced by a plate made up with screw fixed Staybrite stainless steel cut out letters and border. The 2" wide stainless steel band was also fixed along the valance and tender, and the 7½" high Silver / Aluminium front number was applied.

Next in line to receive the stainless steel treatment was Nº4469, renamed Sir Ralph Wedgwood (L.N.E.R. Chief General Manager) ex-works 1/3/1939. Followed by Nº4500 renamed Sir Ronald Matthews (L.N.E.R. Chairman) ex-works 11/3/1939. Again followed by Nº4499 renamed Sir Murrough Wilson (L.N.E.R. Deputy Chairman). All three engines received 12"cut out stainless steel figures and letters, the stainless steel band to valance and tender, and the 7½" high Silver / Aluminium front number. Was this an ego trip by the Directors of the Company, maybe a little jealous of the fact that the C.M.E. had had an engine named in his honour, and they needed their 15 mins of glory? I don’t think so, these men had given unstinting service to the L.N.E.R. from its inception and deserved this accolade. Three rare ducks Gadwall, Garganey, and Pochard respectively were "shot down" to accommodate the Directors.

With the outbreak of war in 1939 the streamlined trains were put into storage, heavy haulage became the norm. Although certain economies were forced upon the Company, the A4s continued to enjoy the Garter Blue livery for two years after the outbreak of the War. Was this due to Sir Nigel ensuring the status of his star engines was not diminished with a drab livery? But it all came to an end in mid November 1941, seven months after Sir Nigel’s death. Thompson had to make changes to mitigate the staff shortages, routine daily maintenance being his big problem, especially with the A4s due to the inaccessibility of the motion, hidden behind the valances.

Nº4462 Great Snipe was in works for a General Overhaul from 5/6/1941 to 23/7/1941 and during this period had the valances removed, not totally as the panel in front of the cylinders was left in place. It was however provided with a top-hinged door to give access to the grease points on the two to one levers, see Figure 5a. Also in works at this time was Nº4487 Sea Eagle receiving a Light Repair, this engine had all the valance removed, giving the outline that we see today, see Figure 5b.

Diagrams

Fig. 5a Fig. 5b

The latter scheme must have been the most acceptable, so Nº4487 was returned to traffic in this guise. Nº4462 was altered to suit, and was given the Garter Blue livery and most importantly gained the name William Whitelaw. It is not clear if the panel forward of the cylinders was removed before the engine left works, or if the modification was done at its home shed.

Seven more engines received the Garter Blue livery and had their valances removed, as follows:- Nº4482 (G.O. 26/7/1941), Nº4465 (G.O. 23/10/1941), Nº4469 (G.O. 25/10/1941), Nº4490 (H.R. 1/11/1941), Nº4463 (G.O. 6/11/1941), Nº4483 (G.O. 6/11/1941), Nº2510 (G.O. 7/11/1941). Dates given are as officially returned to traffic; G.O.= General Overhaul, H.R.= Heavy Repair.

Mid November saw the introduction of the unlined Black livery, offset by the retention of Gold shaded Red figures and full L.N.E.R. letters. Had the Garter Blue paint run out, or had a decision been made to take a more economical approach to the painting of locomotives? So between mid November 1941 and mid June 1942, twenty one A4s were given this new unlined Black livery, nineteen having their valances removed at the same time, as follows:-Nº4464 (G.O. 14/11/1941), Nº4492* (G.O. 21/11/1941), Nº2512 (G.O. 22/11/1941), Nº4484 (G.O. 30/11/1941), Nº2509 (6/12/1941), Nº4500* (G.O. 7/12/1941), Nº4495* (G.O. 20/12/1941), Nº4486 (G.O. 27/12/1941), Nº4485 (G.O. 18/1/1942), Nº4496* (G.O. 30/1/1942), Nº4499* (G.O. 7/2/1942), Nº4466 (G.O. 13/2/1942), Nº 4489* (G.O. 21/2/1942), Nº4498* (G.O. 21/2/1942), Nº4488* (G.O. 21/3/1942), Nº4467 (G.O. 11/4/1942), Nº4497 (G.O. 16/5/1942), Nº4902 (G.O. 27/5/1942), Nº4468 (G.O. 13/6/1942). * Denotes engines and tenders with cut out stainless steel figures and letters; it is believed that these were painted over with a Light Yellow/ Straw paint. The twentieth engine was Nº4487 which had had the valances removed in July 1941, but on completion of a General Overhaul left works on 22/11/1941 with the unlined Black livery.

The twenty first engine was Nº4469 having been in works from 11/9/1941 to 25/10/1941 having a General Overhaul, during which the valances were removed and it was given the Garter Blue livery. It was back in works for another General Overhaul four months later, 21/2/1942 to 17/4/1942, leaving with the unlined black livery. Twelve days later, doing running in turns, and laid up in York shed for the night, it was damaged beyond repair by a near direct hit from a German bomb. The engine and tender were recovered from the wreckage and towed to Doncaster Works, where it was officially condemned on 6/6/1942. The tender was stored out of use for some time but was eventually refurbished and used again with Class A2/1 Nº 3696 in December 1945. The stainless steel strip to the bottom edge of the tender was left in place and painted over, but the cut out letters had been removed. Recently it was rumoured that the "bent" right hand nameplate had been discovered in the garden shed of a deceased member of the recovery team.

As at July 1942, there were 20 engines in Black livery and minus valances, there were 7 engines with Garter Blue livery and minus valances, and there were 7 engines with Garter Blue livery still complete with valances. In late August 1942 a start was made to convert the remaining Garter Blue engines to the unlined Black livery, however from here on the company initials on the tender were abbreviated to N.E.. Engines with the cut out letters had the L and R painted over in Black, and the N.E. painted over in Light Yellow/Straw. The Garter Blue engines with and without valances came into the Works as and when necessary, so for the sake of clarity I will deal with the 7 engines still retaining their valances. Nº4494 Osprey was the first engine into Works, and was re-named Andrew K McCosh (Chairman of the Locomotive Committee) and left works on 21/8/1942. Next was Nº4901 Capercaillie emerging as Charles H. Newton on 22/8/1942, so two more birds had fallen prey to the Directors. Just sticking with Nº4901 for the moment, ten months later it was re-named again, becoming Sir Charles Newton to reflect the Knighthood bestowed upon its namesake. The remaining engines in this group were dealt with as follows:- Nº4900 (4/9/1942), Nº4493 (11/9/1942), Nº4491 (12/9/1943) and finally Nº2511 was the last engine to lose both its Garter Blue livery and its valances, leaving Works on 10/4/43.

The 7 engines still with Garter Blue livery but minus valances got the unlined Black livery as follows:- Nº4490 (22/10/1942), Nº4462 (31/10/1942), Nº4483 (4/2/43), Nº4465 (7/8/1943), Nº4463 (22/8/43), Nº4482 (10/9/1943), and finally Nº2510 (5/10/ 1943).

It’s an interesting quirk of fate that of the original engines Nº2511 was the last of the class to lose both its Garter Blue livery and its valances, and Nº2510 was the very last engine to lose the Garter Blue Livery.

Researched and written by Mel Haigh,
Education Officer, Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Trust Ltd.
First published in Chime 123, Spring 2002
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