Sometimes, it just has to be done. Back in 1951, British Railways unveiled its brand new steam locomotive, at the same time as the Festival of Britain was showcasing the country’s capabilities, and the author also appeared! This class of steam locomotive broke many of the traditional design and building rules of the old ‘Big Four’ companies, and these were especially noticeable in its appearance.
Gone were the days of hiding the workings away from public gaze – and the dificulties faced by crew and maintenance fitters in day to day oiling and repairs. These were intended to be the most efficient, modernising locomotives, and brught together the best aspects of railway engineering that the UK could muster. At least that was the plan.
“The object of the designer has been to make these standard engines easy to build, easy to maintain, and easy to repair. Many of the parts and fittings are interchangeable between the six types being built in 1951 so that spares tall be kept to a minimum.”
As a classic design, the BR Standard Britannia pacific was the pinnacle of steam locomotive development in Britain. At least, that argument could be held true for the mixed traffic design. Clearly, in other more specialist categories – express passenger, freight, etc. – the argument may be much more tenuous. Quite apart from statements from the Railway Executive in 1951, the new standard range of locomotives for British Railways embodied many of the most up to date characteristics of 20th century British locomotive design. In truth, it also sought to include some rather more international features, especially some aspects that were derived from Continental European and North American practices.
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Some useful & interesting links
http://www.royalscot.org.uk – preserved locomotive 70000 “Britannia”