On 1 May 1980, LMS Pacific 46229 Duchess of Hamilton, hauling just one Mk 1 brake coach, ventured out from the NRM site on a test run to South Milford and back. This was the first time a Duchess had operated on the British Rail network since the farewell run of 46256 Sir William A Stanier FRS on 26 September 1964. Many might wonder what this event has to do with the FNRM. In fact 1 May 2020 marked the first of some significant anniversaries involving 46229 and The Friends.
It is perhaps now forgotten by many that when Duchess of Hamilton arrived in York for display at the Museum on 21 May 1976 it did not belong to the National Collection. The engine had been one of a number saved from scrapping by the Butlin’s Holiday Camp organization and had spent ten years on display at its Minehead Camp. Although now cosmetically restored at Swindon Works it remained in Butlin’s ownership when it arrived in York, an arrival celebrated at a dinner in the Museum on 26 May 1976, the centenary of Sir William Stanier’s birth.
Duchess of Hamilton on Shap - painting by Terence Cuneo