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British Railway History Item


BR Class Riddles British Railways Standard Class 6 Clan 4-6-2

Built 1951-52. Designed by Robert A. Riddles.

Total Number Built 10.

Introduced 1952. Designed at Derby. Classification 6P5F.

Number Series 72000-72009.

Built at British Railway's Crewe Works.

No Lot Nos. yet available.

After the original design for a Class 5 'Pacific' fell short of requirements, a Class 6 design was produced and accepted. There is no doubt that the surprise success of Bulleid's 'West Country' Class No 34004 Yeovil during the BR Interchange Trials of 1948 influenced the design of the eventual 'Clans', the comparison in specification and performance being similar. It is worth noting that the rebuilt Bulleids look very 'Standard' in appearance and detail, something which was not lost on steam enthusiasts when the R.Jarvis designed rebuilds appeared.

The ten locos in the class were split between two sheds. 72000-72004 were allocated to Polmadie (Glasgow) Shed, while 72005-72009 were allocated to Carlisle Kingmoor Shed.

There were originally to be 45 Clan class locos but politics overtook the building programme with the demise of steam.

The need for the type came about due to the operating departments requirements for a more powerful locomotive than the 5MT types then in use, needing a 6MT with higher route availability than a class 7, and ability to cope with inferior quality fuel necessitating a wide firebox.

The choice of locomotive names came from E.S.Cox desire to replicate the near extinct Ex Highland Railway 4-6-0 'Clans' (the last of which was withdrawn in 1951) in the new scheme of things.

The class arrived at their allotted homes either piloting passenger trains or on scheduled freights, none escaping the eagle eyes of the waiting observers.

The first of the class. No. 72000 'Clan Buchanan'. was treated to a special ceremony at Glasgow Central Station on 15th January 1952 whereby the Lord Provost unveiled its nameplates.

The engines performed on Glasgow-Crewe/Manchester/Liverpool, Edinburgh-Leeds, Carlisle-Bradford and the Stranraer Boat Train workings, although as more crews got used to them they started to turn up very far from home in Aberdeen, Inverness, Port Talbot, Newcastle, Bristol and visited London occasionally.

No 72001 remains the only Pacific type to have worked over the West Highland Line and No 72009 was tried out for a month on the Eastern Region (Stratford) working from Liverpool St to Clacton/Norwich (part of a trial to eventually transfer 5 'Clans' to ER, 5 Britannia's to LMR (Holbeck) and 5 Royal Scots to LMR (Carlisle Kingmoor).

They were also extensively used on freight workings during their short careers. A lot was made of the fact that they never took up the duties on the Highland routes they were originally intended for, but it should be pointed out that a brand new batch of Stanier 'Black 5's' had recently been allocated to these routes so the 'Clans' were diverted away. The Midland region was always short of top-link motive power; new class 6 locomotives were very welcome.

The Clans were the Cinderella's of the BR Standards and like the other 989 BR Standards built were withdrawn after very short careers.

When handled properly they showed what they could do; not many class 6 locomotives could ascend Shap successfully with 14 on without a banker and since most of their journeys took them over Shap/Beattock or via the Settle and Carlisle route, neither the easiest of lines, much credit should be given to them.

Some members of the class moved depots, Haymarket and St.Margarets playing host between 1958 and 1960, and Heaton stabled them when working services to and from Newcastle.

The visit of No 72001 to the West Highland Line was the result of a successful trial held in early 1956 to ascertain whether a 'Pacific' type could traverse the steeply graded switchback line. Having passed that test, a tribute to the versatility of the class, Clan Cameron was allowed to work special trains for the 'Clan Cameron' gathering that took place in the June of that year.

For maintenance Crewe Works (LMR) initially held responsibility but this was transferred to Cowlairs Works (Scottish Region) in the spring of 1958. More varied work was allocated to them as their versatility improved, including working portions of the 'Thames Clyde Express' and 'Queen of Scots Pullman' and deputising for the many failed diesels that plagued the network at the time. In August 1958 No 72009 was transferred to the Eastern Region for service on Liverpool St. to Norwich/Clacton/Harwich duties.

This was for the experiment as mentioned earlier but the locomotive received a 'thumbs down' being seen as 'no better than a good B1'. There was more to it than that, ER crews being in no mood to lose their beloved Britannia's. Could a good B1 ascend Shap with 14 on without a banker? The class played their part in the end of steam railtours, the following being worked: - 72006 - Home Counties Railtour - Paddington to Swindon, 8th December 1963 72007 - Derbyshire Railway Society - Leeds to Crewe via Tyseley and Wolverhampton, double heading with Hawksworth 'Modified' Hall No 7929 Wyke Hall. 72008 - RCTS Ribble-Lune 'Solway Ranger' Railtour from Blackburn-Hellifield via Lancaster Old Goods yard. When class 7 and 8 locomotives came north in 1961 after dieselisation started in earnest, the 'Clans' were downgraded to secondary work.

The Kingmoor quintet survived intact until 1965, working over their deceased classmates routes, visiting Polmadie regularly, then as they came up for overhaul were withdrawn. Some of their final workings involved troop trains on the 'Port Road' between Carlisle and Stranraer, incidentally the last trains to run on that line before it was closed.

Overall, the 'Clans' left some differing memories with BR crews, shed foreman and observers alike. Their being only ten, confined mostly to the North West of the network and only occasionally working on top-link services they spent most of their short careers out of the limelight and became quite camera shy. Those who used them most liked them and got good work out of them. Others especially at 'foreign' MPD's found them difficult to handle and this gave them a bad reputation. Something that has to be realised is the way the class was seen by the shed staff and crews who worked them, even railway observers of the day who seeing a 'pacific' were expecting greyhound performances.

At first they were mistakenly allocated class 7 duties which although capable, could not keep their allotted timings. As a result they suffered from complaints ranging from bad steaming to a lack of pulling power; however indifferent handling and firing techniques made the situation worse. Word got about and the class were labelled as a problem, and not something a crew wanted to see rostered against their name on a dark winters morning!

E.S.Cox was quoted in discerning a distinct 'wooliness' in their steaming, and although they missed their date on the Rugby Testing Station due to late completion, some modifications were carried out, most notably to the diameter of the blastpipe, resulting in better steaming and increased power. Indeed enough information was gathered to allow a 'Mark 2' version to be planned with modifications included to build a better locomotive. This became known by its Crewe Works Order No, Lot 242.

Most Scottish and Midland region crews that used them regularly took to them readily finding that if they used them properly running times were kept with ease. These crews rated them the most surefooted of any 'Pacifics' that they had worked with, others claimed they were prone to slipping, as were most 'Pacifics' if not handled properly, the recent Blue Peter high speed wheelslip incident at Durham being a case in point. Despite this the stigma of failure stayed with them throughout their working lives despite their overall performances being just short of their designer's aims. The aim of all the BR Standards was to be hard working, of easy maintenance, have low running costs, high availability, and be able to carry out any duty assigned to it. In all these respects all classes especially the 'Clans' succeeded.

The real reason behind their lack of form is almost certainly the same as 71000 'Duke of Gloucester'; being built incorrectly. The symptoms were the same although not as acute as 71000.

The order to build the second batch of 'Clans' was known by its Crewe Works Order No, Lot 242. This authorised the construction of a batch of Fifteen 'Clans' to be built including the modifications to improve on the originals. Doubtless the improvements would have been passed on to the first 10 given time. Originally scheduled for 1952, due to acute steel shortages it was put back to 1954 then 1955/6. The publication of the infamous BR Modernisation Plan ("The Future of British Railways") finally killed the project off.

Enthusiasts who asked the question were told by staff at Crewe that the new 'Clans' would be out late 1955 early 56. Their intended working area is a matter for conjecture. The name allocation would seem to suggest the Kent coast trains, heading up the 'Golden Arrow 'and other expresses. However there were strong rumours that the Somerset & Dorset would get them, the SR issuing instructions as to potential class 6 route availability. The choice remains; Stewarts Lane or Bath Green Park ?? As with all names on BR locomotives they were chosen by the Names Committee headed by E.S.Cox. The chosen names, numbers and allotted regions were:

Southern Region.

72010 Hengist
72011 Horsa
72012 Canute
72013 Wildfire
72014 Firebrand

Scottish Region.

72015 Clan Colquhoun
72016 Clan Graham
72017 Clan Macdougall
72018 Clan Maclean
72019 Clan Douglas
72020 Clan Gordon
72021 Clan Hamilton
72022 Clan Kennedy
72023 Clan Lindsay
72024 Clan Scott

Four of the five names of the Southern Region locomotives might seem a little obscure, Canute being the second Danish King of England (failing to turn back the sea etc.) but the first two are quite well known in 5th Century English history. Hengist and Horsa were 'barbarian' brothers who brought their people (Jutes) over to work as mercenaries for the British King Vortigan, but eventually seeing the 'worthlessness of the Britons' chose to settle and conquered Kent. Horsa died in the fighting, Hengist taking Kent as his kingdom. As a measure of his effect on history his coat of arms is proudly incorporated in the official crest of the county of Kent.

Recent diggings at the NRM have revealed that BR's original intention was to build another 184 BR Standard locomotives including a new 2-8-0; the total number of 'Clans' in existence would have been 45, the North East region being the probable home for the next 20.

What a fine gallery of names BR's Naming Committee could have come up with for these locomotives.

The first locomotives withdrawn were the Polmadie locos 72000-72004 en masse in December 1962, after being moved first to Glasgow Parkhead (65C) and stored, they were eventually moved to Darlington for scrapping in 1964.

Of the Kingmoor locos, 72005 was withdrawn in April 1965, 72009 in August 1965, 72007 in December 1965, 72008 in April 1966 and the final loco 72006 in May 1966. When No 72006 'Clan Mackenzie' fell to the cutters torch in August 1966 it rendered the class extinct. This locomotive served BR for only 14 years 3 months, the longest serving 'Clan'.

The first five locos 72000-72004 were withdrawn on 29 December 1962 from Polmadie shed.
The last loco withdrawn was 72006 on 21 May 1966 from Carlisle Kingmoor shed.

None are preserved, but a new Clan locomitive is to be built by:

'The 72010 Locomotive Group', whos objective is to build new steam locomotives, beginning with No. 72010 HENGIST.

Motive Power Details
Weight: Loco 86 tons 19 cwt
Tend 49 tons 3 cwt BR1 4,200 gallons, 7 tons coal
Driving Wheel: 6' 2"
Boil Press: 225lb/sq in Su
Cylinders: Two 19?" x 28" (outside)
Valve Gear: Walschaerts (piston valves)
TE: 27,520 lb
Number Series

Class Total: 10


Allocation and Withdrawal Details

Last Updated : Monday 5th May 2003 11:12

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