LNER Peppercorn Class A2
60535 Hornets Beauty at Gainsborough Central railway station
The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Peppercorn Class A2 is a class of steam locomotive designed for express passenger work by Arthur Peppercorn, the chief designer of the LNER after Edward Thompson. All save the first of the 15 built were constructed under British Railways after nationalisation in 1948.
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The first of the Peppercorn A2s No.525 A.H.Peppercorn was outshopped from Doncaster in December 1947 on the eve of nationalisation, and named after the designer of the class, Arthur Peppercorn. The modernity of the design was immediately apparent. The first two of the class were turned out in LNER apple green livery and this colour was also applied to the next 13 engines delivered between January and August 1948. Repainting in British Railways Brunswick green began the following year.
|LNER 1946 Nos||BR Nos||Year|
The design was a move towards modernity, with features such as a self-cleaning smoke-box and electric lighting. Initially the Self Cleaning apparatus caused steaming troubles when combined with a single chimney, but changes to the draughting, notably the inclusion of Double Kylchap Blastpipe brought about the free steaming capability along with the convenience of less frequent smoke-box cleaning. Some A2's retained their single chimneys, though the Double Blastpipe did bring about notable free running on the A2's to which it was fitted, as well as an improvement in fuel economy.
The 50 sq ft grate of the A2's, a nod to the P2 lineage of both the Thompson and Peppercorn boilers, meant the A2's were capable of high power and endurance, however, with the exception of the Aberdeen road, there was little need for this large grate firebox in the postwar era, and as a result, on comparable duties the A2's were heavier on fuel than the Gresley machines which pre-dated them, but for outright power and haulage capability, they were the logical successor to the P2 class, and finally provided the answer the Edinburgh-Aberdeen route required. As a result, they were amongst the last multi-cylindered express steam locomotive classes to remain in service in the UK.
Only No. 525 was technically built during LNER ownership, but 526-31 received LNER 1946 numbers. From 60532 onwards, the A2s received BR numbers from new, BR numbers being the LNER 1946 numbers with the addition of 60000. With the exception of no. 525, named after the last Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNER, they were named after racehorses.
|LNER No.||BR No.||Name||Entered Service||Withdrawn|
|525||60525||A. H. Peppercorn||December 1947||March 1963|
|526||60526||Sugar Palm||January 1948||November 1962|
|527||60527||Sun Chariot||January 1948||April 1965|
|528||60528||Tudor Minstrel||February 1948||June 1966|
|529||60529||Pearl Diver||February 1948||December 1962|
|530||60530||Sayajirao||March 1948||November 1966|
|531||60531||Bahram||March 1948||December 1962|
||Blue Peter||March 1948||December 1966|
|—||60533||Happy Knight||April 1948||June 1963|
|—||60534||Irish Elegance||April 1948||December 1962|
|—||60535||Hornets Beauty||May 1948||June 1965|
|—||60536||Trimbush||May 1948||December 1962|
|—||60537||Bachelors Button||June 1948||December 1962|
|—||60538||Velocity||June 1948||November 1962|
|—||60539||Bronzino||August 1948||November 1962|
Initially the A2s were based at depots the length of the East Coast Main Line, ranging from New England (Peterborough) in the south to Edinburgh's Haymarket. In 1949 five were put to work on the Edinburgh-Dundee-Aberdeen route and proved the ideal engines for its stiff gradients and sharp curvature. The A2s also worked to Perth, Glasgow, Carlisle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and occasionally more southerly outposts. In 1963 Nos.60525, 60530 and 60535 surprisingly crossed the LNER-LMSR divide and were allocated to a Glasgow depot, Polmadie. They replaced ex-LMS Coronation Class over the ex-Caledonian Railway route to Carlisle.
The swansong of the A2 came in eastern Scotland with many memorable performances over the Aberdeen road during the early 1960s. In 1961 on Stoke bank in Lincolnshire, the location of Mallard's 1938 world speed record, No.60526 Sugar Palm achieved 101 mph (163 km/h). Withdrawal of this fine class of locomotive began in the following year. Neither 60526 nor No.60525 A. H. Peppercorn, named after the third and last Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and North Eastern Railway, were preserved.
Withdrawal occurred between 1962 and 1966. The last three 60528 Tudor Minstrel, 60530 Sayajirao and 60532 Blue Peter were retired in June 1966.
start of year
One Peppercorn A2, 60532 Blue Peter, has survived.
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- Boddy, M. G.; Neve, E.; Yeadon, W. B. (April 1973). Fry, E. V., ed. Locomotives of the L.N.E.R., Part 2A: Tender Engines—Classes A1 to A10. Kenilworth: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-25-8.
- Yeadon, W. B. (1991). Yeadon's Register of LNER Locomotives, Volume 3: Raven, Thompson & Peppercorn Pacifics. Irwell Press.