No. 6254 City of Stoke-on-Trent: 75th Anniversary
75 years ago, the locomotive City of Stoke-on-Trent was officially named at a ceremony at Stoke-on-Trent Station. It was a Princess Coronation Class built by the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) at Crewe. This class of steam locomotive was one of the most powerful ever used on the railway network.
Following the naming ceremony the driver, Henry Brindley, and acting fireman, Clive Robinson, were formally presented to the Lord Mayor and Brindley was also given a Shelly china tea set. The party then retired to the North Stafford Hotel for lunch.
“May she run smoothly, swiftly and safely and may she never be late. I look forward to the time when I see her heading a train for London, to do the journey at the rate of a mile a minute”
– Percy Williams, Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, at the naming ceremony, 1946
Newspapers reports also made mention of Tom Francis Coleman and Henry George Ivatt, both of whom had once been based in Stoke. Coleman had undertaken the detailed design work of the ‘Coronation’ Class Pacifics. Ivatt had overseen the building of five examples of this class at Crewe, including City of Stoke-on-Trent in his role as Chief Mechanical Engineer at The London, Midland and Scottlish Railway (LMS).
Following the nationalisation of the railways, City of Stoke-on-Trent was renumbered with the prefix ‘4’ to become 46254. But informally many continued to use the older identifier.
“At Crewe these engines, I soon learnt from my new work-mates, were habitually referred to as either ‘Big ‘Uns’ or ‘Class Eights’. I never heard them discussed in any other terms, and we never used the initial 4 in referring to their numbers, just 6254 or whatever”
– Allan Baker, then an apprentice fitter at Crewe North.
Members of the North Staffordshire Railways Study Group have kindly provided images of City of Stoke-on-Trent during its years in service. City of Stoke-on-Trent spent most of its life on the West Coast Main Line.
Following British Rail’s 1955 Modernisation Plan, steam locomotives were gradually phased out in favour of diesel and electric. City of Stoke-on-Trent was withdrawn and scrapped in 1964. The locomotive had completed more than one million miles.
We thank the Staffordshire Film Archive and members of the North Staffordshire Railway Study Group for their knowledge and assistance in marking this anniversary. The profile of the locomotive by Allan C. Baker and Mike G. Fell OBE in Back Track, Vol. 35, No.4, April 2021 was also invaluable.