Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era
1934 – Class 5
London Midland & Scottish Railway
One of the most successful designs ever built, these engines have been firm favourites with the operating staff ever since William Stanier first introduced them in 1934. A general purpose mixed traffic locomotive which can be used on almost any duty, reliable and easy on maintenance, is bound to establish itself quickly, and the class multiplied rapidly in consequence, replacing many older and some not-so-old types over all the wide ramifications of the LMS from Wick to Bournemouth.
Nos.5000-5471 were built between 1934 and 1938, and after a hiatus owing to early war conditions the class was resumed in 1943 with 5472-99, 4800-99, then working backwards in batches until the complete series of 842 engines ran under BR numbers from 44658-45499, the final lot coming out in 1950. There are several varieties found in the class, consisting to a great extent of variations in the boiler mountings, and a few have double blast pipes and chimneys. No.44767 is unique in being fitted with Stephenson’s outside link motion instead of the usual Walschaert gear. The main variation occurs with engines 44738-57 which have Caprotti valve gear and with somewhat lower running plates and small splashers (absent in the standard design) present a noticeably different appearance, as do Nos.44686 and 44687, which have no running plates at all, to the great detriment of their looks.
All of the class were still in service in 1959, and as far as could be seen there was no immediate likelihood of any withdrawals taking place in spite of the general widespread scrapping proceeding at an ever increasing rate in consequence of dieselisation and electrification. It seems reasonably certain that these useful engines may well be amongst the last to remain for as many more years as steam propulsion continues to find a place in the British Railways system, and they will undoubtedly have earned themselves the right to take their place amongst the ranks of the historic locomotive designs.