The Story of the Royal Scot, London Midland and Scottish Railway, 1933. [ebook]


Booklet, thin card covers, cord bound, 8”x 6.5”, pp.32, 20 B&W photgravure photographs, including “Ego Massaging” portrait of Sir Josiah Stamp.

This booklet has unusually high production standards for an LMS publication of the period, despite carrying the imprimatur of the cost cutting “ERO” – Executive Research Office. This extravagance was justified by the booklet being intended for distribution to guests visiting “The Royal Scot” locomotive and train at events connected with the “Century of Progress Exposition” held at Chicago in 1933. Having said that, there are design oddities. The piper on the cover is improperly dressed in that his kilt is two inches too short, and then, there is that huge flattering portrait of “The Leader” -the first thing one sees on opening the booklet; not the train, nor the locomotive. It eerily echoes events on the continent, a cult of the personality, giving the publication faintly totalitarian air. One cannot imagine Walker of the Southern, Pole of the Western or Wedgwood of the LNE, indulging in such a blatant piece of self-aggrandizement. It is of interest to note that Stamp was a prominent member of the Anglo-German Fellowship, an organisation which existed from 1935 to 1939, and which aimed to build up friendship between the Britain and Germany. It was widely perceived as being allied to Nazism. Previous groups in Britain with the same aims had been wound up when Hitler came to power.

It is fitting that the booklet begins with a heavily airbrushed picture, because the history of the “Royal Scot” locomotive, as depicted herein, has itself been subjected to considerable manipulation.

It was desired that the exhibition train should be an example of the finest LMS technology and engineering. Unfortunately, the locomotive “Royal Scot” itself, had not been built by the LMS, but in 1927 by an outside contractor, the North British Locomotive Company. It was necessary therefore to field a “ringer”, and the choice fell upon the more recently built “King’s Dragoon Guardsman” which left the LMS works at Derby in 1930. The two locomotive exchanged identities permanently, swopping nameplates and numbers.

The origin of the “Royal Scot” class of locomotives is hardly edifying. In 1926, the LMS traffic departments suddenly woke up to the fact that they were short of around 40 high powered locomotives to operate the peak summer timetable for the following year This was because of bad planning, bad management, internal rivalries and a locomotive drawing office which went its own way, perpetuating design features 30 or 40 years old “because it has always been done that way”.Beames at Crewe had been prevented from carryng out improvements to the "Claughtons" which he had started, and the work which Horwich had begun on sorting out the disappointing Hughes 4-cylinder cylinder 4-6-0S was quietly dropped by Fowler. (Cmpare with the re-building and improvement of types like the GER B12s and "Claudes" by Gresley) Derby continued to turn out "Crimson Ramblers", a basically pre Great War design, which could not keep time on the heaviest trains, and needed double-heading to tackle Shap and Beatock. 
The elaborate “American” management structure of the LMS allowed “Vice-presidents” to take decisions over the heads of departmental Chief Officers, without informing them, let alone consulting them. Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS, Sir Henry Fowler, apparently did not consider it a slur on his reputation, that Sir Josiah Stamp asked the Great Western Railway would build forty “Castle Class” locomotives and sell them to the LMS. Stamp may have been a brilliant economist, but in this and other things he displayed woeful ignorance of railway matters. Such a transaction would have been illegal, following a court ruling in 1875 that it was ultra vires for a railway to build locomotives for another company. Also Stamp should have realised that having been built to run within a more generous structure gauge than that of the LMS, the “Castles” would have required extensive alterations and it may well have been this consideration which caused the The GWR to refuse even a set of drawings.

How it came about that a set of “Lord Nelson” class 4-6-0 drawings came to be provided by the Southern Railway is not clear. The approach may have been via banking circles.Both Stamp and Southern Chairman, the Hon. Everard Baring were also directors of banks. It is just possible that the water might have been tested at a much lower level. Herbert Chambers, chief locomotive draughtsman at the LMS Derby Works, may have started the ball rolling with an informal approach to his opposite number at the Southern’s Ashford Works James Clayton who had been assistant locomotive draughtsman at Derby, before moving south.

Chambers worked with a team of North British draughtsmen to get out working drawings, incorporating many “Traditional” Midland features most of which tended to spoil the locomotive, and had to be replaced when the class were rebuilt with taper boilers by Stanier. The driving axle boxes – traditional Midland dimensions – were too small and had a tendency to run hot. It is significant that “King’s Dragoon Guardsman” was fitted with a more robust set of GWR pattern boxes before going to the USA, and a bogie, also of Swindon origin.

Given that the “Nelson was a four cylinder lcomotive, and the “Scots” had three, and there were other radical differences, the first new locomotives were delivered in September and October 1927, and were able to go straight into traffic without extensive trials- a remarkable achievement. The “Royal Scots” were the first real success in Public Relations terms which he LMS had, after a rather poor showing at the British Empire Exhibition, being over shaddowed by the LNER Railway Centenary celebrations, and the publicity garnered by Gresley’s locomotives.

Apart from this work, distributed only in the USA and Canada various otherpublications were issued :-