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William Stanier

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William A. Stanier
Born(1876-05-27)27 May 1876
Died27 September 1965(1965-09-27) (aged 89)
SpouseElla Elizabeth Morse

Sir William Arthur Stanier, FRS[1] (27 May 1876 – 27 September 1965) was a British railway engineer, and was chief mechanical engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.[2]


Sir William Stanier was born in Swindon, where his father worked for the Great Western Railway (GWR) as William Dean's Chief Clerk, and educated at Swindon High School and also, for a single year, at Wycliffe College.

In 1891 he followed his father into a career with the GWR, initially as an office boy and then for five years as an apprentice in the workshops. Between 1897 and 1900 he worked in the Drawing Office as a draughtsman, before becoming Inspector of Materials in 1900. In 1904, George Jackson Churchward appointed him as Assistant to the Divisional Locomotive Superintendent in London. In 1912 he returned to Swindon to become the Assistant Works Manager and in 1920 was promoted to the post of Works Manager.

In late 1931, he was "headhunted" by Sir Josiah Stamp, chairman of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), to become the Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of that railway from 1 January 1932. He was charged with introducing modern and more powerful locomotive designs, using his knowledge gained with the GWR at Swindon.[3] Stanier built many successful designs for the LMS, particularly the "Black 5" mixed traffic 4-6-0 and the 8F 2-8-0 freight locomotive. His Princess Coronation Class 4-6-2 No.6220 Coronation set a new British record of 114 mph, beating the previous record set by a Gresley A4.

During WWII, Stanier worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Supply, and retired in 1944. He was knighted on 9 February 1943 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society[1][4] on his retirement, only the third locomotive engineer after Edward Bury and Robert Stephenson to receive that honour. He was also president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for 1944, and was a vice president of the Stephenson Locomotive Society for a number of years until his death in 1965.

He died in Rickmansworth in 1965. In 1906, he had married Ella Elizabeth, daughter of Levi L Morse.[5] They had a son and a daughter.[6]

Locomotive Designs[edit]

LMS Stanier 5P5F 4-6-0 'Black Five' class locomotive number 5305
LMS Coronation Class 4-6-2 No 6233 Duchess of Sutherland

William Stanier, with the backing of Sir Josiah Stamp, chairman of the company, reversed the small engine policy, which the LMS had inherited from the Midland Railway, with beneficial results.

Locomotive designs introduced by Stanier include:


Stanier's designs were a strong influence on the later British Railways standard classes of steam locomotives designed by R A Riddles, who adopted LMS design principles in preference to those of the other "Big Four" railway companies.

There is a secondary school in Crewe called Sir William Stanier School.


  1. ^ a b Hartley, H. (1966). "William Arthur Stanier. 1876-1965". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 12: 488–502. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1966.0024.
  2. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36240. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Nock, 1982, pp.10-11
  4. ^ "Lists of Royal Society Fellows 1660-2007". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  5. ^ UK Census 1881
  6. ^ "Sir William Arthur Stanier". Who's Who in Art. Retrieved 16 July 2010.


Further reading[edit]

  • Chacksfield, John E. (2001). Sir William Stanier: A New Biography. The Oakwood Library of Railway History. Usk: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-576-4. OL114.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway
Succeeded by
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Succeeded by