Published: 13-03-2009 photo #6345 1 comments 0 votes
Photographed passing the Engine House at Highley northbound on 8 March 2009 during the Severn Valley Railway Steam Gala.
Designed at British Railways' Derby Works, this class was constructed at British Railways' Crewe Works between 1951 and 1954. The initial order was for 25 locomotives, but such was the demand for the Britannias on the Eastern Region that more were rushed through construction before the teething problems had been ironed out on the prototypes. In total, 55 members of the class were constructed over three batches at Crewe Works, where each was given improvements to improve reliability and efficiency, and to overcome flaws with the original design.
Problems with the class were experienced immediately, with the first 25 locomotives being withdrawn in October 1951 after several complaints were received from crews regarding the driving wheels shifting on their axles. They were subsequently modified, and released back into revenue-earning service. Initially, the return cranks on the main driving wheels were of LNER block-type, as seen on the LNER Peppercorn Classes A1 and A2, but this was changed to the simpler LMS four-stud fitting. This was due to a problem of overheating bearings within the cranks, and difficulty in removing the LNER-type casings.
The first locomotive, number 70007 Coer-de-Lion, was withdrawn from service in 1965, and the entire class was transferred to Carlisle Kingmoor and Glasgow Polmadie depots as steam was displaced by the dieselisation of British Railways. A succession of bulk withdrawals began in 1967, and the last, of this engine, 70013 Oliver Cromwell, took place at the very end of steam operation in Britain, in 1968. Subsequently, this locomotive was selected to represent the class in the National Collection.