At the end of 1935 four A4s were in service, and had proved themselves mechanically sound. The Silver Jubilee was a commercial success, so much so that an extra coach had had to be added to the formation. The startling livery with its Silver theme also gave the publicity department plenty to shout about.
The four engines built for the Silver Jubilee were ordered late, and were squeezed into the 1935 building programme. You will have noticed that the Wks Nos do not run consecutively for these four engines, two Class V1 tank engines taking Wks Nos 1820 and 1822.
In 1935 the Government was offering financial aid to industry as a whole to enable them to replace obsolete equipment and machinery with new. Now this was a Heaven-sent opportunity for the railways, and the cash-strapped L.N.E.R. in particular, to scrap obsolete engines, that they would have been doing in any case, and use the Government loan to pay for the replacements. The Directors therefore issued E/O Nº340 for ten engines and E/O Nº341 for seven engines, of Class A4, all to be paid for by the Government loan, along with quite a few engines of other classes.
The 1936 building programme had already been finalised so the A4s had to take their turn in the queue, 14 Class V1 Tanks, 4 Streamlined Class P2s, and the first 5 Class V2s leaving the Works, before the next A4s, Wks Nos 1847 and 1848 left the Works four days apart on 22nd and 26th December respectively. (No long Christmas holidays in those days.)
They were then followed in reasonably quick succession by 1849 on 23rd January 1937, 1850 on 20th February 1937, and March saw 1851 leave on 13th and 1852 on 20th. The engines just described were considered to be "normal" express passenger engines and as such received the appropriate Apple Green livery with black and white lining and were to be given random blank running numbers in the 2XXX series. However this was changed and the engines were numbered 4482 to 4487 inclusive. These six engines received "Bird" names, the individual names representing birds that were --- "swift or strong of flight". It appears that only British Bird names were considered; if the net had been cast world wide we could have had Condor and even Vulture, but if we are talking British and Swift why did we not get Racing Pigeon? (Only kidding, but it would be interesting to know which Birds were deemed to qualify and who actually selected the names.)
A strange gap now occurs in the up to then monthly appearances of the new engines from the Works, the next engine appearing on 4th April and the Wks Nºwas out of sequence being 1854, plus it was despatched from the Works in grey undercoat, as Nº4489, and ran in traffic with this livery for the next two weeks.
So what happened to Wks Nº1853? The L.N.E.R. had announced that they were to introduce new "streamlined" trains to run between London and Edinburgh, to be named the Coronation, to mark the Coronation of King George V1, the service to start on 4th July 1937. With the publicity coup that had been achieved with the Silver livery, serious consideration was given to achieving a suitable "Royal" livery to compliment the train title and again make a big impression on the travelling public.
Wks Nº 1853 left the erecting shop, and headed to the paint shop destined to become Nº4488 and carrying the name Osprey. (The names of most of the engines will not be discussed fully until a later article, so if you think I am ignoring them, I am not, just watch this space, but later.) 1853 was the subject of trials to establish a suitable colour for the new livery, this is in contrast to the trials of the silver livery ,when the works shunting engine was painted in various shades of silver and grey to gauge the effect. It is believed that various shades of Blue were tried (does anyone know what these various shades were, and how many were tried?) with Garter Blue being finally selected, with the wheels to be painted in Coronation Red. At this stage I know someone is going to say I cannot find these colours on the Dulux shade card at my local B&Q D.I.Y. Centre, well don't despair, it took a lot of research to track them down to ensure that we had the correct colours when painting our engine in both the Garter Blue and B.R. Blue liveries. (Liveries again will be dealt with later along with the Names.) Wks Nº1853 finally emerged from the Works as 4488 on 29th June. 1854 was recalled to the Works to receive the new livery and re-emerged on 15th June, closely followed by engines Wks Nos 1856 on 22nd June and 1855 on 25th June, the later two also in the new livery, the running numbers being 4489, 4491 and 4490 respectively. Looking at the above dates and allowing for the paint experiments it still seems very strange that three engines that were built after 4488 emerged from the Works before it did. Engine Wks Nº1856 (4491) was the last engine of the batch on E/O Nº340.
Moving on to E/O 341 we find that the first engine of this batch, Wks Nº1857 (4492) also beat 4488 out of the Works, by two days, leaving on 27th June. The four engines at the end of E/O 340 and the first engine on E/O 341 all received names with an Imperial theme and were ostensibly allocated to work the Coronation train sets. The next three engines on E/O Nº341, Wks Nos. 1858, 1859 and 1860 left the Works in their correct numerical sequence as 4493 on 26th July, 4494 on 12th August, and 4495 on 30th August. These three engines reverted to the Green livery and carried Bird names.
Building on the success of the Silver Jubilee and the Coronation, the Wool Buyers based in Leeds and Bradford were next to be provided with a "streamlined" train service. This was to start operating on the 27th September 1937 and be named the West Riding Limited, the train set to have the same Blue livery as the Coronation sets. The next engine from the Works, Wks Nº1861 (as 4496 on 4th September) would be ready in time to meet the operating deadline, but the next following, Wks Nº1862, would not. Therefore engine Wks Nº1860 (4495) was recalled to the Works, repainted in the Blue livery, and renamed. Both 4495 and 4496 carried names appropriate to the Woollen Trade. One small point that shows up the error of relying solely on official records, and trusting implicitly in their accuracy, is shown by the fact that the official records show 4495 as renamed on 25th September, but two days previously it was posing with its new nameplates in Leeds Central Station, before the now obligatory Press run to publicise the West Riding Limited on 23rd September.
The next engine to leave Doncaster was Wks Nº1862 (4497) on 2nd October. Due to the now almost impossible task of rostering the correct liveried engine on to the appropriate stock, the decision was taken that from this engine on all A4s should have the Garter Blue livery. So 4497 became the first "Bird" engine to carry this livery from new.
The final engine to be built under E/O Nº341 would be the 100th Gresley Pacific locomotive to be built. The Directors seemed to be unaware of this fact, but luckily the message got through to them, and arrangements were made to mark this event by naming this engine SIR NIGEL GRESLEY. The Engine was Wks Nº1863 and left the Works with the Running Nº4498. An Official Naming Ceremony was held at Marylebone on 26th November 1937 and it commenced work from Kings Cross shed on 30th November 1937.
Back tracking slightly to November 1936, the Directors were looking at the building programme for 1938 and what if any spare capacity they still had in 1937. The decision was taken to increase E/O Nº341 to ten engines. As the original seven engines on this order were to be paid for with Government money, and the L.N.E.R. would have to pay for the extra three engines from their own pocket, a supplementary order E/O Nº341A was issued. The decision was also taken to increase the fleet of A4s to thirty five, so accordingly, and strictly following the rules, E/O Nº342 for ten engines and E/O Nº343 for ONE engine were issued.
The issuing of the above E/Os enabled the uninterrupted building of the A4s to proceed at Doncaster, and all the engines on E/O Nº341A were completed before the end of the year. Wks Nº1865 appeared on 27th November, thirteen days before its predecessor Wks Nº1864 which left the Works on 12th December, the final engine, Wks Nº1866, in this batch, leaving on 18th December. The running numbers for these engines did not follow on, as would be expected, from the engines built under E/O Nº341, but were allotted earlier vacant numbers in the 44XX series, with Wks Nº1864 becoming 4462, 1865 - 4463, and 1866 - 4464, and all taking names in the "Bird" series.
All the eleven engines on E/O Nos 342 and 343 left the works in the order in which they were built, having been allocated Wks Nos 1867 to 1877 inclusive. However the allocation of the running numbers was anything but simple. The first five engines took Running Nos which carried on from those allocated to the engines in E/O Nº341A as follows: Wks Nº1867 - 4465 ex Works 8th January 1937, 1868 - 4466 left on 26th January, 1869 - 4467 left on 19th February, 1870 - 4468 left on 3rd March, and 1871 - 4469 left on 30th March. Having now used up all the unfilled running numbers in that sequence the next two engines jumped up to the end of the running numbers used for E/O Nº341, 1872 taking 4499 leaving Works on 12th April, and 1873 taking 4500 and left on 26th April. Again there were no more vacant numbers in that series so the next gap in the series had to be found. So 1874 was allotted 4900 leaving Works on 17th May, 1875 - 4901 left on 8th June, 1876 - 4902 left on 28th June, and finally 1877 became 4903 and left on 1st July 1938. All these engines were given names in the "Bird" series, and four of the engines, Nos 4468, 4901, 4902, and 4903 differed mechanically from their contemporaries in being fitted with a Kylchap exhaust and double chimney.
Two days after the last A4 No 4903 left the Works, Nº4468 Mallard claimed the World Speed Record for Steam, on 3rd July 1938.
* destroyed in air raid on York 6/6/42
R/Nº1 = Original L.N.E.R. Running Number ~ R/Nº2 = L.N.E.R. Running Number, 1946 renumbering ~ R/Nº3 = British Railways Running Number
Researched and written by Mel Haigh,
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