Locomotive names, naming & numbering systems

see also nicknames

R.A.S. Hennessey (Backtrack, 2005, 19, 208-15) introduces the topic of locomotive names and includes citations to much of the material which form the basis for this web-page. Hennessey introduces the problems of classifying locomotive names, although he skirts any in-depth analysis by making use of T.R. Pearce's magisterial study of the naming strategy of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. As noted far away and long ago KPJ recorded the difficulties of classifying anything whther it is the "natural world" or the mess which man tends to make of it. Classification is a useful tool, but only a fool expects to find perfection in such systems, especially where man is invoved.

Before considering Hennessey and some of the other literature it is worth querying how the Great Western Railway named 5987 Brocket Hall when that mighty country house is within earshot of the Great Northern mainline, and if a west wind is blowing the Midland mainline. Furthermore, when the locomotive was named in 1939 the owner of the author was suspected of being a fascist. Even stranger is 6926 Holkham Hall (not named until after WW2) which almost duplicates 2801 Holkham of the LNER Sandringham class and was far removed from the GWR. Some of the LNER Shire class 4-4-0s appear to have represented areas on the extreme periphery of the Company's activities. Eton was just across the river from the Southern's Windsor station, but Rugby?  

Another matter not addressed by Hennessey is that of gender: the Stanier Princesses and Duchesses clearly agreed with the gender normally associated with the steam locomotive. Mallard and the rest of Gresley's gaggle might have been female, but they might not: that flash of blue is far more evident on the drake. The Britannia class began on a female note, but the majority were clearly masculine. On services to Norwich, Dame Edith Cavell and St Julian might have been appropriate candidates, and St Ethelraeda for those routed via Ely. And how about Anne Hathaway rather than William Shakespeare. At least two of the Great Western Saints were female (Cecilia and Catherine), but the majority were not. Lady of the Lake was a popular name on several railways. Roedeen was missing from the schools (and was more appropriate for the Southern than Rugby). Presumably Cheltenham was not the Ladies' College. And what was St Vincent (LMS 5686): Pike fails to indicate that this was the Battle, not the Colony, and certainly not the Saint

Jones is interesting for incorporating the locomotive engineer's viewpoint on naming.

Pike, Jim. Locomotive names: an illustrated dictionary. Stroud: Sutton, 2000. 199pp.
The primary arrangement is what the author considered to be "alphabetical", but which sometimes fails to be helpful: is anyone likely to look for A.H. Peppercorn at A? Furthermore, its collocates are A.H. Mills and A. Harold Bibby. Similarly there are many entries under "The". On the other hand the Squadrons of the Battle of Britain class are brought together at "Squadron".; and it is useful to have Holkham (B17) and Holkham Hall (49XX) brought together. Appendix 1 Class Notes attempts to draw some things together, but there is no clue given as to how to find members of the Atbara class. Later impressions had 222pp and contained additional material. New edition got fulsome review by DWM in Backtrack, 2010, 24, 382....

Illustrated interviews: No. 40. — Mr. Herbert Edward Jones, Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Superintendent, Cambrian Railways. Rly Mag., 1901, 8, 289-99.
Jones claimed that locomotive names could lead to confusion and were difficult to pronounce!.

Specific railways

Great Western Railway
The RCTS history considers names with individual classes rather than in the Preliminary survey. As the majority of broad gauge locomotives did not have numbers this is probably appropriate.

London and North Eastern Railway
The RCTS history considers names both in the Preliminary Survey and in specific volumes

London and North Western Railway
There is a specific RCTS volume on LNWR locomotive names

London Midland and Scottish Railway
There is a specific RCTS volume on LMS locomotive names