I'm sure you're familiar with this beauty:
Yes, she's famous. But it's no reason for her exclusion from our streamline line-up.
The Princess Coronation Class, or as more commonly known Duchess class (or 'Big Lizzies'), is considered to be Sir William Stanier’s ‘Opus Magnum’ for the former London Midland and Scottish Railway. Built in both Streamlined and un-streamlined versions they were designed to compete with Gresley’s Class A3’s and A4’s on the LNER’s East Coast route for the lucrative business between London and Scotland.
London, Midland and Scottish Railway Coronation Pacific class steam locomotive No 6220 Coronation climbing toward Shap Summit with a streamlined express. At 1036 feet (316 metres) Shap Summit is the highest point on the London to Carlisle line (National Railway Museum)
These massive and imposing locomotives were the most powerful express passenger steam locomotives to operate in the UK and monopolized top-link express train operation on the West Coast mainline out of the London Euston terminus for 25 years.
A total of 38 members of the class were constructed and named after Royal personages, ladies of the British aristocracy and cities in the United Kingdom. The penultimate member of the class was named most appropriately – Sir William A Stanier FRS.
Via paul.malon @ Flickr
London Midland and Scottish Railway Stanier 7P 4-6-2 'Coronation' class locomotive number 6222 Queen Mary pauses at Lancaster Castle station with an up express (Photo: Ingy the Wingy @ Flickr)
LMS 4-6-2 Streamlined Princess Coronation class No 6220 Coronation passes over Newbold Troughs whilst at the head of the down 'Coronation Scot' express service to Glasgow in Aug 1937 (Warwickshire Railways)
Prior to the introduction of the Coronation service, No. 6220 underwent speed trials with a special train in 1937. Just south of Crewe, the train achieved a speed of 114 miles per hour (183 km/h), beating the previous British record for a steam train (held by the LNER) by a slim margin. Insufficient braking distance had been left before entering a series of crossover points at Crewe, and although the train held the rails, much crockery in the dining car was smashed.
A rare sight of two great rivals together. By Brian de Gineau, 1938 (via Ric James @ Flickr)
After this incident, the LMS and LNER agreed to stop dangerous record-breaking runs which were in effect publicity stunts. To serve a pleasant reminder, I must add that the record was broken by the LNER A4 Mallard.
The first five of the Coronation class locos from 1937 were streamlined and painted Caledonian Railway blue with silver horizontal lines. The next 5 were painted red with gold lines. The last of 'streamline ten', No. 6229 Duchess of Hamilton, was sent across the ocean, posing as the record-breaking No. 6220 Coronation, to represent Great Britain at the New York World's Fair.
Here we see her stateside with Baltimore & Ohio Royal Blue. Note the dimensions: the US locomotive is significantly larger than its British running mate.
'Coronation Scot' of LMS, prepared for USA tour in 1939
The remaining 28 weren't streamlined as it was considered the slight benefits for speed was outweighed by the increased weight and more difficult maintenance. After WWII the streamlining was removed from the first ten.
No. 46299 Duchess of Hamilton in 1983 (Photo by Ingy the Wingy @ Flickr)
Duchess of Sutherland was recently resurrected from its rural seclusion and overhauled for full main line service by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust at their Midland Railway Centre base in Derbyshire.
Duchess of Sutherland in 2012, wearing post-war British Railways livery (Photo by Ingy the Wingy @ Flickr)
The restored Duchess of Sutherland also achieved the unique distinction of being considered so reliable that she could safely be entrusted with the working of the Royal Train in June 2002. This was Her Majesty The Queen's Golden Jubilee year and 6233 Duchess of Sutherland performed her duty with considerable distinction.
Duchess of Sutherland in 2002 (Photo by yorkiebrian @ Flickr)
It is indeed fortunate that three members of the Princess Coronation Class survive. No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland continues to thrill railway enthusiasts with regular outings on the mainline.
No. 46299 Duchess of Hamilton in 2006 (Photo by Optimist on the run @ Wikimedia Commons)
Presently out of service is No 46229 Duchess of Hamilton, which is on display alongside her former rivals, the LNER A4 Mallard and A3 Flying Scotsman, at the National Railway Museum, York. Here is a few photographs of re-streamlined Duchess and her streamline neighbor, the Chrysler Airflow taken by our own Mark (also known as FrMark @ Flickr):
Also preserved, but unlikely to be restored to working condition, is non-streamlined No 46235 City of Birmingham, which can be seen at the Birmingham Museum of Science and Discovery in Warwickshire, UK.
No 46235 City of Birmingham in 2011 (Photo by steam60163 @ Flickr)
Headline photo: by Ingy The Wingy @ Flickr