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Trying to detail every locomotive class that the LMS had in service between 1923 and 1947 would be extremely time consuming, and I am not going to attempt it; I will concentrate mainly on those classes which have representatives in preservation, or those where I can obtain photographs to use on this site. At the grouping the LMS inherited over 400 classes of locomotives; the standardisation of the next twenty years would reduce the figure to just over 120, somewhat more manageable.
What I have decided to do initially is to start with a list of classes as of 1944, which I have done on the Locomotive Roster page. To this I have managed to add the contributions of Henry Ivatt, and I hope to add the contributions of Charles Fairburn at some point. (I don't intend to provide full write-ups for all classes as that would make for a very large site). I do intend to detail some of the more interesting examples (probably depending on whether I can source photographs or not) though and I hope to be able to show examples of all the Chief Mechanical Engineers' work. Statistics will probably be in imperial units, as this is what the locomotives would been designed in originally. At the moment, the statistics for locomotives on this site have not been standardised due to the varying degrees of statistical information provided by my current reference sources.
It is interesting to note though that of the classes listed, the majority are locomotives inherited from the pre-grouping companies; in fact one example was almost a century old in 1944. This suggests that either these locomotives were built to last, or that it was a case of "make do and mend". It was the aim of the LMS to replace older locomotives with more modern machines, but the outbreak of World War II meant that locomotives designed for scrapping were kept in service to meet the increase demand in traffic.
Note : after Nationalisation in 1948, LMS locomotives had 40,000 added to their identification numbers carried as of 31st December, 1947. In most of the information regarding locomotives I will refer to them with the LMS numbers, although this itself can be confusing as some locomotives were renumbered during the period that the LMS operated.
The principle problem that the LMS had in the early years was underpowered locomotives, especially those inherited from the Midland Railway. Expresses on the former Midland lines were often double-headed and the dominance of the MR in the early years, meant that the former London and North Western Railway expresses were forced to be unnecessarily double-headed as well, a demoralising effect on former LNWR railwaymen. No wonder there was internal strife in the early years.
The problem was rooted in the MR's "Small Engine" policy, which had resulted due to the MR's civil engineering which meant that larger locomotives were out of the question. However, the MR had to operate heavy mineral trains, which resulted in a lot of double-heading. This may have been acceptable for the MR routes but for the express route from Euston to Glasgow, built by the LNWR whose civil engineering was more accommodating, lighter engines were just not up to the job of competing for traffic to Scotland, certainly not with the better standard of locomotives on the LNER East Coast Main Line. With Midland personnel in most top jobs, most notably James Anderson as Superintendent of Motive Power, Midland policy spread throughout the LMS. However, it should also be pointed out that although MR designs were small, they were also rugged and easy to maintain; a practice that the Derby works had pretty well perfected.
Although Hughes and Fowler attempted to get to grips with the problem, their previous loyalties and Midland policies appear to have stymied them at just about every turn. By the end of the 1920's, Fowler was starting to get to grips with the problem, but was often hampered by the fact that the Motive Power department refused to sanction the larger turntables needed for his improved designs. It must have been extremely demoralising for Fowler, when, after having his "Pacific" design rejected by the operations department, he was asked by Josiah Stamp to solve the problem with underpowered locomotives. However, after a locomotive exchange with the Great Western Railway, and with the subsequent co-operation of the Southern Railway, Fowler was able to produce the "Royal Scot" and "Patriot" classes, a step in the right direction.
It took the arrival of a GWR man, William Stanier, to finally end the locomotive problems. With no ties to any of the LMS's component companies, and the power struggle between the locomotive department and the motive power department now favouring the former (Anderson retiring shortly after Stanier's appointment), Stanier revolutionised LMS locomotive design, although it should be noted that Hughes and Fowler had done some of his groundwork. His masterpieces included the "Princess Royal", "Princess Coronation" and "Black Five" classes and a few of his subordinates (most notably Charles Fairburn, Henry G. Ivatt and Robert Arthur Riddles) went onto great things of their own.
Unfortunately, the glory days of the LMS ended on the 3rd September 1939 with the outbreak of World War II. Design shifted onto locomotives for the war effort and although there were some initial drawings for new locomotives to build after hostilities ended (including a "Super-Coronation"), these never left the drawing board. Charles Fairburn took over as CME, effectively from 1942, but officially from 1944, and thoughts began to turn towards diesel locomotion.
With the secession of hostilities in 1945, the railways in a battered state, and nationalisation imminent, the design department mainly tasked themselves with modifying existing designs. Ivatt, now CME with the sudden death of Fairburn, produced three light-to-medium power designs of steam locomotive, and just before nationalisation, the LMS produced the first mainline diesel locomotives.
The four principle workshops of the LMS were located at:
St Rollox (Glasgow)
Dating from 1843, Crewe works, built by the LNWR, became the keystone of LMS construction work, with the other works taking on more secondary roles (not always to their liking). The early years of the LMS saw Crewe works undergo a reorganisation to improve efficiency of construction and overhaul work.
Although for the most part the LMS was self-sufficient with their design, construction and repair work, it was not uncommon for work to be subcontracted. Several of the more numerous classes emerging in this period had some locomotives built by outside contractors.