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An A4 by Any Other Name

Part Six

Backtracking once more I hope that I can clear up the question of the Stainless Steel Strip affixed to the bottom edge of the valances and the tender. The first engines to receive this embellishment were the ones nominally allotted to the CORONATION Train, receiving this decoration from new. The Engine Nos. are as follows with the Tender Nos. in brackets: 4488 (5325), 4489 (5326), 4490 (5328), 4491 (5646), 4492 (5647). The tenders with 4488, 4489 and 4490 were modified 1928 Corridor Tenders taken from A3s; 4489 & 4490 then also exchanged tenders about six months after entering service. The tenders with 4491 and 4492 were both new builds, tender (5646) staying with 4491 throughout its life, and tender (5647) stayed with 4492 into B.R. days, being replaced by a non-corridor tender (5670) in January 1951, but was reunited with 4492 [now 60013] in April 1955, and then remained with the engine to the end.

The next engines to get the Strip treatment were the pair for the WEST RIDING LIMITED Train, 4495 with tender (5650) and 4496 with tender (5651). 4495 kept its tender until February 1945, 4496 did better keeping its original tender until April 1957.

The above applications were all in keeping with the Livery of the Train sets they were to work and were applied to the engines and tenders from new.

Next came 4498 along with tender (5329), another Modified 1928 Corridor Tender, this tender staying with the engine until August 1943. In this case the strip was applied to the valences and tender from new (not as I stated in Part 5). The cut out numbers and initials were applied to the engine after it had been in service for approximately a year, along with the nameplate with the screwed on Staybrite letters and border. The tender (5329) was transferred to 4485 in August 1943 and lost its stainless steel strip at this date, but kept the cut out L.N.E.R. Meanwhile 4498 acquired tender Nº5324 in this exchange (again another Modified 1928 Corridor Tender) with transfer letters, the engine retaining the cut out numbers on the cabside. Both engines at that time were in the first black livery. Tender Nº5324 is still with 4498 [60007] to this day.

Three more engines were to receive the stainless steel strip, in March and April 1939, when they were renamed to honour the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and Chief General Manager. No unveiling ceremonies were performed, and the Plant took no regard of position in the Company hierarchy, the Chief General Manager emerging from works before his superiors, Nº4469 with tender (5672) leaving works on 1 March 1939, the Chairman emerging next, Nº4500 with tender (5674) leaving works on 11 March 1939. The Deputy Chairman, Nº4499 with tender (5673) was the last of the trio to leave on 8 April 1939. The tenders with 4499 & 4500 remained with those engines throughout their working lives.

Unfortunately Nº4469 was destroyed in the air raid on York in April 1942; the tender (5672) was damaged, but was refurbished and re-used.

As can be seen from the above the engines and tenders to which the Stainless Steel strips were applied remained paired together in most cases up to the end of the engine’s working life. The strips on the engines were removed with the Valences in the early years of the War; in general the tenders lost the strip at the same time, or if they remained on the tender they were painted over. It is difficult to be more precise with the dates for the removal of the strip from the tenders. Tender Nº5672 is a case in point; after its recovery from York, it lay in Doncaster Works until it was refurbished and paired with A2/1 Nº3696 HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN in December 1945, the Strip remaining in place, being painted over on completion of the refurbishment. It is more than likely that the strip remained on the tender until withdrawal in November 1960; it was certainly still in place in the late 1950s.

In all the above I have stated that the Stainless Steel Strip was 2" wide. I have recently seen a figure of 2½" quoted and that the Strip on Nº4488 was 35/8"wide. I am inclined to believe the 2½" dimension. The angle supporting the cab floor plate is shown as 3"x 3" and close examination of the "Livery" drawing Nº Q-110-1 shows a small gap between the top edge of the Stainless Steel Strip and the underside of the Cab Floor Plate. Unfortunately this drawing is un-dimensioned, and "scaling" looks to give 2" , but likewise "scaling" the angle under the cab floor gives 2½". Moral of the story is do not scale dimensions from 49 year old dyeline prints; the Footplate and Valence drawing although fully dimensioned does not show any details for the Stainless Steel Strip.

The Name from Nº4469 was transferred to Nº4466 approximately 18 months after Nº4469 was withdrawn. I am not sure if two new nameplates were cast, or if one was re-used along with a single new plate, but certainly one of the original nameplates was badly bent and was probably considered unusable. There are rumours that this bent plate was acquired by one of the salvage gang, and has recently been found by relatives clearing out his garden shed after he passed on. As it was the height of the war effort Nº4466 did not receive any embellishment when it was renamed.

Three further engines were re-named after other Directors of the Company, but again, due to the War, they also did not receive any special treatment. No 4462 was renamed WILLIAM WHITELAW in July 1941, this could be seen as a step up, as the name had been carried by A1 Nº2563 from new in August 1924. As previously stated, although the valances were removed at this time the engine retained its Garter Blue Livery. Next to be renamed was Nº4901 as CHARLES H NEWTON, this engine did seem to get a slightly better Black paint job than some of the others. It would be interesting to see a Works Photo of Nº4494 renamed ANDREW K. McCOSH to compare the paint finish, on it leaving the Works two days after Nº4901. Eight months later Nº4901 was back in Works to be renamed once more, its namesake having received a knighthood, so it became SIR CHARLES NEWTON. No other engines were renamed during the period of the war, apart from Nº4466 receiving the name SIR RALPH WEDGWOOD in January 1944.

With regard to the other embellishments carried by the engines, the Coats of Arms on the Coronation Engines are generally ascribed as being carried by the engines throughout their working lives, despite the changes in livery and ownership. I have always doubted these statements, as I could not see that there was sufficient spare skilled labour available during the War to refurbish these plaques. I have checked with John Crawley (Author of the recently published book The London Northeastern Railway in Focus) and he tells me that as the engines came in for overhaul and had the All Black Livery applied, the plaques were removed and thrown in the scrap bin, and were only renewed at the end of the war, when the engines were restored to Garter Blue Livery. Nº4489, by then re-numbered as B.R. Nº60010, lost its plaques during a General Overhaul in April 1949. Three of the other Coronation engines, Nº4490 (60011), Nº4491 (60012), and Nº 4492 (60013) carried their plaques to the end of their working lives. However Nº4488 (60009) lost its plaques during its last General Overhaul at Doncaster in November 1963, and unfortunately, also had the dubious distinction of being the last steam engine to be overhauled at Doncaster.

Having got things a little out of sequence by following through with the Coats of Arms, let’s get back on track (sorry) with the main livery changes. The Black Livery had three variations :-

Scheme 1/. Unlined Black with L.N.E.R. on the Tender. Applied from November 1941.

Scheme 2/. Unlined Black but only N.E. on the Tender. Applied from August 1942.

Scheme 3/. Unlined Black but with L.N.E.R. again displayed on the Tender. Applied during the period April to August 1946.

The Engines in batch 3/. above seem to have been somewhat unfortunate as the Garter Blue Livery had been applied to Nº4496 in September 1945, when it was renamed DWIGHT D EISENHOWER, and to No 2509 SILVER LINK in June 1946.

All the Engines received variation 2/. Black livery, the embellished engines however had their L.N.E.R. Stainless Steel letters painted over in full with Light Yellow / Straw Paint.

Six Engines had the indignity of carrying all three Black liveries:-

Nº2512 1/. 22/11/41 2/. 5/8/43 and 3/. 3/5/46
Nº4484 1/. 30/11/41 2/. 21/7/43 and 3/. 4/5/46
Nº4485 1/. 18/1/42 2/. 12/9/43 and 3/. 18/4/46
Nº4489 1/. 21/2/42 2/. 27/11/43 and 3/. 10/5/46
Nº4497 1/. 16/5/42 2/. 5/12/42 and 3/. 30/5/46
Nº4903 1/. 27/5/42 2/. 24/9/43 and 3/. 11/5/46

In 1946 interspersed with the above livery fluctuations, between Black and Garter Blue, a renumbering scheme was introduced by Thompson which gave the A4s numbers between 580 and 613 inclusive, and would be applied in the sequence they had been built. That is No 2509 would take Nº580 and so on, and finally Nº4903 would take Nº 613.

If this renumbering had been fully implemented Nº4498 would have been given Nº600. As it was only four engines received their allotted numbers from this scheme:-

Nº4466 was the first, receiving Nº605 on 26/1/46

Nº4483 became Nº585 30/3/46.

Nº4486 became Nº588 31/3/46

Nº4485 became Nº587 18/4/46

Nº4484 was allotted Nº586 and is recorded as being renumbered on 31/3/46, but was never seen in that guise, as the engine was in works for a General Overhaul from 25/3/46 until 4/5/46, by which date a second renumbering scheme was operative, so it became Nº25, see later details.

In early May 1946 Thompson was persuaded to revise the renumbering scheme (or was he forced?) and the A4s were allotted numbers 1 to 34 inclusive. However the numbers were not to follow the building sequence. The Directors and Personalities would come first, followed by the Commonwealth engines, followed by the Silver engines, followed by the Birds. Having decided upon this renumbering , you would have thought that it would have been applied almost immediately, not so, it took eight months to renumber all the A4s, from 5/4/46 until 12/1/47. Also some strange dates have been recorded as to when the new numbers were applied, as will be seen. Obviously engines in the works for overhaul would be renumbered as a matter of course, the others were done presumably at their home shed as and when it was convenient, as can be seen in the case of Haymarket Shed renumbering its fist engine on 5/5/46 and eventually renumbering its last A4 on 12/1/47. The following list gives in date order which engines were renumbered, the place the work was carried out, and the livery the engine was carrying, or had been given at that time.

4484 to 25 4/5/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul Black Scheme 3
    Here is an interesting anomaly, in that Nº2512 is recorded as having left the works on 3/5/46 but still carried its old number, as they say "What a difference a Day makes".
4483 to 24 5/5/46 Haymarket Shed In Black Scheme 2
4486 to 27 5/5/46 Haymarket Shed In Black Scheme 2
4489 to 10 10/5/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul Black Scheme 3 *
4467 to 21 25/5/46 Kings Cross Shed In Black Scheme 2
4485 to 26 26/5/46 Kings Cross Shed In Black Scheme 3 **
4493 to 29 26/5/46 Kings Cross Shed In Black Scheme 2
4466 to 6 27/5/46 Kings Cross Shed In Black Scheme 2
4497 to 31 30/5/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul Black Scheme 3
2509 to 14 14/6/46 Ex-Doncaster Works –Light Repair Garter Blue Livery
    Was fitted with Cut Out Stainless Steel 14 & L.N.E.R. at this Repair

All subsequent Engines receiving Garter Blue Livery also got Cut Out Numbers & Initials.

4901 to 5 3/8/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul Black Scheme 3
4464 to 19 16/8/46 Gateshead Shed In Black Scheme 2
4492 to 13 17/8/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul Garter Blue Livery
4462 to 4 25/8/46 Haymarket Shed In Black Scheme 2
4494 to 3 11/9/46 Kings Cross Shed In Black Scheme 2
2510 to 15 12/9/46 Grantham Shed In Black Scheme 3
4463 to 18 15/9/46 Gateshead Shed In Black Scheme 2
4465 to 20 15/9/46 Gateshead Shed In Black Scheme 2
2512 to 17 27/9/46 Kings Cross Shed In Black Scheme 3
4468 to 22 29/9/46 Grantham Shed In Black Scheme 2
4499 to 2 11/10/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul Garter Blue Livery
4902 to 33 31/10/46 Grantham Shed In Black Scheme 3
4903 to 34 3/11/46 Grantham Shed In Black Scheme 2
4500 to 1 16/11/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul Garter Blue Livery
2511 to 16 17/11/46 Gateshead Shed In Black Scheme 3
4487 to 28 20/11/46 Grantham Shed In Black Scheme 2
4482 to 23 22/11/46 Doncaster Works –Non Classified Repair Engine In
      *** Garter Blue Livery Ex Doncaster Works General Overhaul 28/9/46
4490 to 11 23/11/46 Ex Doncaster Works from General Overhaul 30/11/46
4495 to 30 23/11/46 Ex Doncaster Works from General Overhaul 7/12/46
      *** with Garter Blue Livery
4496 to 8 23/11/46 Ex-Doncaster Works – General Overhaul
      ***** with Garter Blue Livery retained.
4900 to 32 26/11/46 Grantham Shed In Black Scheme 2
4488 to 9 12/1/47 Haymarket Shed In Black Scheme 2 *
4491 to 12 12/1/46 Haymarket Shed In Black Scheme 3 *
4498 to 7 12/1/46 Doncaster Works 12/1/47 to 6/3/47 for General Overhaul
      *** Ex-Works with Garter Blue Livery

In the above I have highlighted several points :-

(*) Presumably these engines had Standard Transfer Gold Shaded Red Numbers applied to the cabside , or maybe a plain stencilled number to match up with the painted over cut out letters on the tender sides.

(**) No 4485 had exchanged tender with 4498 on 8/8/43, and on being renumbered did have the Gold Shaded Red numbers applied to the cabside, with the cut out letters on the tender painted over.

(***) Here is a strange one, Nº4482 was in works for a General Overhaul from 15/8/46 to 28/9/46 and left works in Garter Blue Livery, presumably carrying its old number. It was then called back to the Works on 22/11/46 for the day to be given its new number.

(****) These Engines seem to have been clerically renumbered whilst still in the works for Overhaul. Nº 4490 General Overhaul 26/10/46 to 30/11/46, Nº4495 General Overhaul 5/11/46 to 7/12/46. But in the case of Nº4498 it was theoretically renumbered on the day it entered Works for a General Overhaul on 12/1/47, and not when leaving the works on 6/3/47.

(*****) Nº4496 had frequently hauled the H.Q. Train of General Eisenhower during the War, so to commemorate this, and honour the man himself, the engine was renamed DWIGHT D EISENHOWER on completion of a General Overhaul at Doncaster Works 25/9/45. It still retained its Stainless Steel Cut Out Letters and Numbers and to further reflect the status of the engine it was given the Garter Blue Livery. The engine was re-numbered 8 (with a cut out number) at its next General Overhaul 16/10/46 to 23/11/46.

An unveiling ceremony was laid on at Marylebone Station, at which Eisenhower would probably have done the unveiling, unfortunately he could not be present, so the event went ahead without him. (All the references I have seen make the point that Eisenhower was absent, but never state who actually did unveil the nameplate. Can anyone answer this, Please ??? )

From here on I will use the new 1946 Numbers, as these along with later British Railways numbers are possibly more familiar to the readers of these articles.

Editor's Note:~ All dates quoted above are given in the British format of Day/Month/Year
Researched and written by Mel Haigh,
Education Officer, Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Trust Ltd.
First published in Chime 124, Summer 2002
Continue to Part Seven
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