Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Of regiments and racehorses

Posted in Great Britain, Other general stuff about railways, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 1 December 2011

I had considered writing something about yesterday’s – can we call it a “general strike”? (probably better not) – public sector strike, which saw NI Railways, Tyne & Wear Metro and Glasgow Subway all come to a complete halt. But then I thought “bollocks to that”; why should I give yet more publicity to the militant union barons, whose only possible redeeming feature is that even they can’t go on forever. So instead I’ve decided to write about East Coast’s ongoing project to give its Class 91s new names. Today saw the first run of the fourth locomotive to be given its name, City of York, which has followed Flying Scotsman, Sir Bobby Robson and West Riding Limited. A diverse set of names I’m sure you’ll agree. But what else could be used? Well, all manner of things certainly. Captain Deltic tweeted to me that he would like to see the name John Dowling applied to one – John Dowling was the Chief Mechanical Engineer at English Electric and its successors and was the man who designed the Class 91. Indeed, I sent this idea to East Coast via Twitter and got the following reply:

Thanks for the suggestion. Great idea. Will certainly put that forward.

But my thought is that, in this 50th anniversary year of the entry into service of the iconic Class 55, why not replicate the naming of those locomotives with at least some of their successors? The naming of the Class 55s was split into three groups

  • Locomotives based at Finsbury Park depot were named for famous racehorses
  • Locomotives based at Gateshead depot were named for British Army regiments from the north-east of England
  • Locomotives based at Haymarket depot were named for British Army regiments from Scotland

I would not suggest using the same names as those applied to the Deltics, as, for one things, virtually none of those British regiments exist anymore. Also, I’d probably not want to name the rest of the Class 91 fleet so, as there are no doubt many other groups and individuals worthy of the honour of having their name on a locomotive. So what about the equilivent Class 91s of the six preserved Class 55s? There are a total of six preserved Class 55s, with two racehorses and four regiments.

  • 55002 – King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • 55009 – Alycidon
  • 55015 – Tulyar
  • 55016 – Gordon Highlander
  • 55019 – Royal Highland Fusilier
  • 55022 – Royal Scots Grey

(Before anyone starts, yes I know that some of them have their original numbers and not their TOPS numbers, but I’ve used all the TOPS numbers to avoid confusion for the layman. Or woman)

Of the Class 91 fleet, 91109 has already received the name Sir Bobby Robson. So, we could select another one – there are two Class 55s that have had a cab preserved, 55008 Green Howards and 55021 Argyll and Sutherland Highlander. But lets choose a racehorse at random, 55007 Pinza. So, here’s my idea for six Class 91s named in honour of their illustrious predecessors:

I’ve tried my best here to match names of regiments to something close to what they were – the modern descendent of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry is in fact The Rifles, but the Yorkshire Regiment is the only one that recruits wholly from the north-east now. The Royal Regiment of Scotland is the descendent of both the Gordon Highlanders and the Royal Highland Fusiliers, hence why I’ve chosen the Queen’s Own Yeomanry, which has two Scottish sub-units and one from the north-east. Finally, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards is the direct descendent of the Royal Scots Greys. Finally, rather than going for obvious choices of racehorse (Red Rum, Aldaniti, Shergar, Desert Orchid), I’ve chosen the winners of the Grand National and the Derby from 1989, the year that the Class 91 first entered service. I thought that was appropriate. So there’s my choices. I open the floor to alternative suggestions. Hell, they don’t even have to be regiments and racehorses.

Class 55 and Class 91 - East Coast are continuing with their naming policy of their Class 91s. How about giving some of them names that echo their illustrious Deltic predecessors?

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