Darstaed A4 Pacific Class Ex LNER and BR Locomotives
There are very few British locomotives that are as instantly recognisable or as photographed as the legendary and iconic looking LNER A4 Pacific class. Their attractive lines and distinctive streamlined body casing ensured the locomotive became a symbol of 1930s luxury travel. The A4 was also forever to be associated with the travelling public’s fascination with speed – the A4 still holding the world speed record for a steam locomotive at 126 mph. The period from 1890 to the 1930s was termed as the ‘age of modern wonders’ where science and technology transformed the world beyond recognition. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto published in 1908 was a celebration of speed – “The world’s splendour has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed”. It was into this cultural environment the streamlined A4s were born.
The LNER had developed a bank of powerful mainline express locomotives based on the successful A1 and A3 Pacifics. Gresley was able to modify these successful three cylinder designs increasing the A4’s boiler pressure to 250psi. The A4 was developed in a comparatively short period of time with the characteristic streamlining inspired by the Bugatti railcar – the streamlining style also transferred to carriage construction. The first four ‘Silver Jubilee’ inspired A4 locomotives (running numbers 2510 to 2512) were delivered from September 1935 in an initial livery of three contrasting shades of grey together with matching coaches. The LNER board in 1936 sanctioned the building of a further 17 A4s with running numbers 4482 to 4498. Only eight were painted in the standard Apple Green livery with the remaining nine painted in Garter Blue to match the launch of the streamlined Coronation train service in 1937. A last batch of A4s were built between 1937 and 1938 bringing the class total to 35 locomotives. Before WW2 all A4s were eventually painted in Garter Blue. The A4s proved to be a hit with drivers and fireman. The footplate was smooth running so that non-stop journeys were never too onerous for crews. A4s were built with a reserve of power that ensured post-war running of train services with rakes of up to 13 coaches at near pre-war speeds became common practice.
The combined investment in fast, efficient and reliable steam locomotives combined with quality and comfortable new rolling stock ensured the Big Four railway companies were in a position to combat increased competition from road and air travel. The LNER with its long and fast route between England and Scotland was in an enviable position to capitalise on a 1930s renaissance in railway travel. Britain’s first inter-city network of fast train services had been born with the A4 becoming synonymous with many of Britain’s great named trains using ECML. Such was the style and modernity of the A4’s image, the locomotive was featured in a wide range of marketing material produced by LNER and later BR. Interestingly, the image of the A4 was also used on the luggage labels of the ‘Flying Scotsman’, the ‘Queen of Scots’ and the ‘West Riding’ services that were normally hauled by A1 and/or A3 classes.
The A4’s association with famous named trains began on 30 September 1935 with the launch of the prestigious ‘Silver Jubilee’ non-stop streamlined train running from London King’s Cross to Newcastle (Central). Hauled by four new appropriately named A4 Pacifics – Silver Fox, Silver King, Quicksilver and Silver Link – the service was named to commemorate the 25th year of King George V’s reign. The 268 mile journey (achieved with an average speed of 67mph) commenced at Newcastle leaving at 10am and returning from King’s Cross at 5.30pm. The silver liveried train had an initial capacity for 198 passengers – its seven coaches created new standards for non-Pullman train travel. The ‘Silver Jubilee’ consist was made up of two pairs of articulated coaches followed by a triplet set which included a restaurant car. It was a success from the beginning suppling the public with exactly what they desired – a fast, reliable service between two major cities. Because of its popularity an additional third-class coach was added to create a third-class triplet making the train an eight vehicle rake.
The first of the new streamlined services between London and Scotland was introduced some two years later on 5 July 1937. The ‘Coronation’ hauled by new A4s ran between King’s Cross and Edinburgh (Waverley) in just under six hours (stopping only at York and Newcastle) with an average speed of almost 72mph. Five of the A4s named after British Empire countries were allocated specifically to this service sporting their sparkling new Garter Blue LNER livery. Leaving King’s Cross at 4pm or Waverley at 4.30, the ‘Coronation’ was a heavier train of nine newly constructed carriages together with two kitchen cars finished in a stylish two-tone blue colour scheme. The rake make up was four twin articulated coaches together with the definitive looking lines of the ‘beaver tail’ end observation coach. The two beaver-tails were only used in the summer months as in the winter runs were made largely in the dark. The last coach would normally sport a single-worded ‘Coronation’ tailboard with two asymmetrically positioned tail lamps at other times. It was a luxury service providing fine dining facilities and very popular with travellers as the fast service to the two capital cities could be completed in a leisurely manner before the end of the day. Meals were served at customers’ seats in spacious open plan stainless steel constructed coaches that incorporated the latest air conditioning and sound proofing.
Before WW2 A4s were used from time to time on the non-stop Anglo-Scottish ‘Flying Scotsman’ service particularly for summer runs during the last three years of the 1930s. However, A4s were more evident on the ‘Scarborough Flyer’ summer service (introduced by LNER on 11 July 1927) which linked King’s Cross to Scarborough with an additional through coach service to Whitby following a change of engines at York. A less familiar route trodden by the A4s before WW2 was to the east of the country. A4s could be seen on the ‘East Anglian’ a service on the Liverpool Street to Norwich route.
In BR days A4s (as the construction of the class had been completed) were the principal motive power behind a raft of new named train services. The ‘Capitals Limited’ launched on 23 May 1949 was a summer service but took over the mantle of the former Flying Scotsman non-stop train between King’s Cross and Edinburgh. A4s had been allocated to the ‘Flying Scotsman’ for the summer months of 1937 to 1939 and had reduced the duration of the journey to seven hours. Post-war A4s continued on the ‘Flying Scotsman’ but this was now relegated to a stopping service. By 1952 the ‘Capitals’ train thanks to corridor tenders allowing crew members to change without stopping was almost as fast as the pre-war ‘Flying Scotsman’. The ‘Capitals Limited’ though, was a heavy train made up of 13 carriages including a kitchen car, buffet car, two restaurant cars, a ladies rest room but unusually limited first class seating. In 1953 the ‘Capitals Limited’ was renamed the ‘Elizabethan’ in honour of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and with it came new Mk1 coaches. The King’s Cross to Edinburgh ‘Elizabethan’ became a 13 coach service weighing in at around 420 tons and regarded by many drivers as the most demanding job the A4s had to perform. A4s formed part of the motive power for a new early afternoon stopping service called the ‘Heart of Midlothian’ on the main King’s Cross to Edinburgh (Waverley) route. Being part of the 1951 Festival of Britain celebration this service too received a rake of 12 brand new all steel Mk1 stock. Another A4 service was the ‘Talisman’ launched on 17 September 1956. This was a luxury King’s Cross to Edinburgh service and initially launched as a daily train using some of the former articulated coaches from the pre-war Coronation service. It was such a success however, that an additional ‘Morning Talisman’ service had to be introduced in each direction the following year. This route was also then extended in 1957 beyond Edinburgh to Perth for a period of time – the morning service rebranded as the ‘Fair Maid’.
Continuing the luxury train theme the ‘Tees-Tyne Pullman’ between King’s Cross and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne launched on 27 September 1948 was the post-war successor to the ‘Silver Jubilee’. Invariably headed by A4s the ‘Tees Tyne Pullman’ was not as fast as its predecessor but popular as meals and refreshments were served at every seat but with the new innovation of the Hadrian Bar car. Another pre-war luxury service that used the streamline stock and therefore charged a premium was from the previous 1937-39 ‘West Riding Limited’ and then relaunched in 1949 as the ‘West Riding’ providing an upmarket service for Yorkshire businessmen linking London with Leeds (Central) and Bradford (Exchange). Frequently headed by A4s as far as Leeds the remainder of the leg would be performed by a couple of ex-LNER N2 0-6-2 tank locomotives. The north east ‘Northumbrian’ service known for its Table d’Hote menu in a triple articulated dining set from the ‘Silver Jubilee’ was launched on 26 September 1949. It acted as a relief train to the overcrowded 1pm lunch time service to Edinburgh. The King’s Cross to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne ‘Northumbrian’ left slightly earlier at 12.20pm but was often headed by A4s providing a limited stopping service to York, Darlington and Durham before reaching Newcastle three hours and 20 minutes later. The ‘Norseman’ boat train reintroduced in 1950 linked London with Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Commission Quay was again predominantly hauled by A4s as far as Newcastle Central where a local tank locomotive would take over the short trip to the quayside for the Norway bound steamers.
With railway modernisation gathering pace with the introduction on ECML of the Deltics, a batch of A4s in 1962 were transferred for Scottish operation: No: 60009 Union of South Africa, no: 60031 Golden Plover and no: 60016 Silver King regularly hauled a series of three hour expresses between Glasgow and Aberdeen via Perth and Forfar. This route on the former Caledonian line had four luxurious restaurant car trains that were introduced as long ago as 1906 but continued into LMS and BR times. The named expresses were unusual in so far as each title was used in one direction only. In later times the ‘Grampian’ left Glasgow (Buchanan Street) at 8.25am and the ‘Saint Mungo’ commenced its journey from Glasgow to Aberdeen at 5.30pm whilst the ‘Bon Accord’ would leave Aberdeen at 7.10am and the ‘Granite City’ would leave for Glasgow at 5.15pm. The ‘Grampian Corridor’ services (as they were affectionately known) lost their names for a while after WW1 but they were reinstated by LMS in 1933 and again by BR in 1949. Between the wars they maintained their stature as luxury named trains running with a batch of refurbished former Caledonian Railway Pullman cars until 1939.
By the time the A4s came along three of the former luxury restaurant trains were a shadow of their previous selves as BR reduced facilities to a mini buffet car service – the ‘Saint Mungo’ (the patron saint of Glasgow) being the only service to run with a restaurant car. Each of the A4 hauled expresses on the 153 mile route ensured a fast and convenient link between the west and north east coasts of Scotland. Perhaps the most unusual service A4s were used for was known as the ‘Anglo-Scottish Car Carrier’ introduced in 1960 linking London (Holloway) with Newcastle, Edinburgh and Perth. A4s were also used on the Scottish leg to and from Carlisle of the ex LMS/LNER ‘Waverley’ which linked London St Pancras to Edinburgh Waverley via the third Anglo-Scottish route over the Midland Railway’s Settle and Carlisle line. The A4s were exemplary performers in Scotland until their eventual demise. The A4’s swansong ended in Scotland on 3 September 1966 when diesel traction took over.
The A4 is an all metal cast body and fabricated construction. The length of the locomotive will be to scale measuring buffer to buffer 52cm or 20.5”. Its weight is approximately 3.4kg or 7.5lbs and its extremely powerful 20V DC custom made Mabuchi motor capable of pulling a substantial rake of mainline carriages. The tender will incorporate standard drop link couplings although provision will be made for this to be replaced with UK Buck Eye or US Kadee style couplings. A super detail kit will also be available on application.
The A4 will be available in nine separate livery styles in a semi-gloss satin finish with nickle handrails. In addition, a high rail version where handrails are the same colour as the boiler casing will be available except for Garter Blue with valences, Silver Grey and LNER Apple Green. Individual locomotive name boards with either red or black backgrounds for Garter Blue, Brunswick Green, Thompson Blue and War-time Black liveried models where possible. AC options incorporating the old lever system will be available on request. A digital conversion kit is planned for the A4 – Shamrock Trains will be pleased to carry out this specialist work. Please enquire for further information. The two rail A4 version shown above incorporates detailed parts for fine scale requirements.