The LMS ‘Duchess’ Pacifics were Stanier’s masterpiece – and remain among Hornby’s most popular models. The latest releases in ‘defrocked’ condition are reviewed by Nigel Burkin.
A total of 38 ‘Princess Coronation’ (aka ‘Duchess’) Pacifics were constructed over an 11-year period between 1937 and 1948 at Crewe Works for use on heavy express passenger duties, with locomotives being completed both with streamlining and in conventional form.
They were subject to numerous livery variations, and the long period of construction saw some detail differences and the use of several different tender types.
Those locomotives built between 1944 and 1948 were built without streamlining panels, and the casings were removed from earlier locomotives at about the same time – a process that the fitters called ‘defrocking’. This decision was based on evidence demonstrating that the cost of maintaining streamlined locomotives was greater than the savings in coal consumption despite the positive impressions that streamlining made on the travelling public.
Some evidence of that streamlining remained on ‘defrocked’ locomotives, including the distinctive taper to the top of the smokebox, shaped to clear the curved front casings, which is kept on the two new models from Hornby.
The ‘Duchesses’ were taken out of service with almost indecent haste between 1962 and 1964, most of them being withdrawn en bloc in October 1964 as the rapid modernisation of the West Coast Main Line progressed. Dieselisation of long-distance passenger trains and early electrification to Crewe saw them made redundant in a matter of a few months.
In 1964, the purchase of two locomotives by Butlins for display at the Ayr and Minehead holiday camps was instrumental in their long-term survival, in addition to No. 46235 City of Birmingham, which was prepared for preservation by BR immediately after withdrawal.
No. 6229 Duchess of Hamilton was fitted with streamlining following overhaul in 2009, and this locomotive is now based at York, while No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland is owned by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust and based on the Midland Railway Butterley, where it is maintained in operational condition.
No. 6235 City of Birmingham is located at the ‘Think Tank’ Birmingham Science Museum as a static display.
For the full article and to view more images, see the February 2019 edition of Modelling – available now!
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