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LNER Route: Leicester to Marylebone

Catesby Tunnel: gcct4

An unidentified ex-LNER 4-6-2 class A3 locomotive enters Catesby Tunnel at speed with a down Manchester express

An unidentified ex-LNER 4-6-2 class A3 locomotive enters Catesby Tunnel at speed with a down Manchester express on 14th May 1949. The rear of the photograph states it is No 60035 'Windsor Lad' however subsequent debate agrees this caption is incorrect. Apparently No 60035 'Windsor Lad' was involved in an accident at Penmansheil Tunnel in June 1949 just a couple of weeks after this photograph was taken. Martin Beckett writes 'I discovered your website via the National Preservation site. The very first picture I looked at really staggered me - I could hardly believe my eyes! It was the close up view of an A3 heading into Catesby Tunnel on the GC main line and the engine is said to be Windsor Lad. Now, talk about 'prize cops' - well, Windsor Lad on the southern part of the GC main line would deserve to be rated as one of the biggest prize cops of all time! This A3 Pacific was allocated to Scottish area sheds for the whole of its life. It hardly visited the south even on the East Coast main line, let alone the GC section. It might have come south on extremely rare occasions on a running in turn after overhaul at Doncaster, but as your picture shows the engine is certainly nowhere near in ex-works condition - in fact the very opposite.' I lived at the southern end of the Kings Cross main line from the mid 1940s until regular steam workings finished in 1963. Appearances of Scottish A3s in the south were like gold dust, and during my years in the area I had only 2 definite sightings - and one of those was at Peterborough.

Kester Eddy writes, 'The note by Martin above that 'Windsor Lad' was a Scottish locomotive all its life and would have been the "cop of cops" in the history of the world to be seen in London got me sleuthing, or at least, organising a sleuthation (He! He! Like that word?) I wondered about the train itself - from the lighting I would say the sun is high and likely to be around 12.30 - 13.00, meaning the train would have depart Marylebone at 11.15-11.45 ish. Several people came forward with possibly useful info, including the fact that May 14 was a Saturday that year. Another person said that by blowing up the photo, the nameplate is a double name, but the two words are of roughly equal length. BUT, the clincher was a chappie called Owen, who wrote as follows: "It seems to me that the loco in the photo can't be Windsor Lad. The loco in the photo is right-hand-drive because the exhaust from the vacuum ejector to the smokebox is not visible on this side. Windsor lad was built new as an A3 and as such was built as left-hand-drive. The loco in the photo would have been one of those originally built as an A1 and later re-built to A3; most (all?) of these latter remained right-hand drive on re-building although they were all left-hand drive by withdrawal'. So, it wasn't Windsor Lad, that's nailed that one - but what was it? My suspicion is that it is No 60052 'Prince Palatine', which was Right Hand Drive and built by the Great Central if I remember correctly'.

Peter C Scott writes, A3's came in many guises. The RCTS 'green book', Locomotives of the LNER, Part 2A, is the definitive reference – and has been used for this essay.

The locomotives were of two basic types, those built as A1’s with right hand drive [Great Northern to Sir Hugo; 1922 to 1924], and those built as A3's with left hand drive [Felstead to Brown Jack; 1928 to 1935]. By 1949, all the A1’s had been upgraded to A3's, except Great Northern – which had been converted to A1/1. But the switch to left hand drive was not undertaken until the period August 1952 to July 1954. The tenders were more complicated. There were four types. As a “rule of thumb”, A1’s were originally paired with Great Northern [GN] tenders, with coal rails. And A3's mostly had New Type [NT] curved top tenders. But Corridor [C] and Streamlined [S] tenders were also paired with A1’s and A3's from time to time!

So what have we here in the photograph? A right hand drive engine is hauling a new type tender. It is fairly grubby, and appears to still have its wartime metal sheet, instead of its leading cab window glass. From the book mentioned above, as at Sat 14th May 1949, the locomotive in the photograph can only be one of the nine engines listed in the table below, complete with their allocation and 'ranking' of probability: -

Rank Number Name Allocation
1 60111 Enterprise Neasden
2 60048 Doncaster Leicester
3 60053 Sansovino Leicester
4 60060 The Tetrarch Gateshead
5 60070 Gladiateur Darlington
6 60044 Melton Grantham
7 60072 Sunstar Heaton
8 60064 Tagalie Haymarket
9 60067 Ladas Haymarket

For information, the two previous suspects can be eliminated from the enquiry. 60035 Windsor Lad was built as an A3, so is left hand drive. But it did trail a New Type tender throughout its working life. And 60052 Prince Palatine, which although a right hand drive engine at the time, was always paired with a Great Northern coal-railed tender - right up to being the last of the class to be withdrawn in January 1966.

Peter C Scott writes, I wrote above that the identity of the locomotive in the photograph was reduced to just nine possibilities, with assistance of the RCTS' 'green book', Locomotives of the LNER, Part 2A. Previous examination of the image had revealed the probability of a two worded name. Phill Taylor then looked again at the image, and confirmed that the fourth ranked name, 'The Tetrarch', fitted the spacing on the nameplate very well. So we can now confirm that the locomotive's identity is No 60060.

Now we must look at the timetable of trains on the Great Central Main Line, and the locomotive workings to identify what service the locomotive was working. And for this we turn to 'The District Controller’s View – No 3 – Marylebone & Rugby by Xpress Publishing'. This book gives Line Positions at hourly intervals, based on the 1950 Timetable. It also gives details of locomotive and train workings of the period. There were five daytime expresses each way on the route, from just after the War until the beginning of 1960. In 1950, all the expresses were diagrammed for A3 Pacifics; and in 1949 would have been no different. The first three northbound from Marylebone, all went to Manchester London Road. The 10:00am and 3:20pm travelled via Aylesbury, and the 12:15pm went by High Wycombe. The table below shows the time they were expected at Catesby Tunnel, and the time relative to the Sun's Meridian; BST, one hour ahead of GMT, was in force – as the date was Sat 14th May 1949. The Tunnel lies just a few degrees west of due north-south.

Marylebone Dep Catesby Pass Sun’s Meridian
10.00am 11:45am 1 hr. 15 m. Later
12:15pm 2:00pm 1 hr. Earlier
3:20pm 5:10pm 4 hr. 10 m. Earlier

The train is clearly the 12:15 from Marylebone. For the engine [not the train], this is the return working off the 7:40 Sheffield Victoria to Marylebone – a fairly quick turn round for the loco. So the whole thing rests on what was on Sheffield Darnall Shed, at six o’ clock that morning. And that day, Gateshead’s 60060 was 'nearest the Shed door'! Gateshead was not renowned for clean engines; the livery is actually LNER Green, with BR number and BRITISH RAILWAYS in Gill Sans capitals. And the clerestory first carriage – well, that’s another story!