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.
It was not long before people began speculating about whether the Duchess might be returned to working order. One man in particular cherished this ambition, David Jenkinson who was the NRM’s Education Officer and a noted author and expert on matters relating to the LMS. The main problem, as is so often the case when contemplating the overhaul of a locomotive, was money, or in the NRM’s case lack of it for such a costly project. This is how the FNRM entered the story. Established in 1977 the Friends now accepted the responsibility to finance the return of 46229 to working order. At the heart of the Friends fundraising effort was the commissioning of a painting by the well known artist Terence Cuneo which depicted a train being hauled by the Duchess climbing Shap. A limited edition of prints of the painting was made available, the sales of which would make a significant contribution to the required fund raising.
The work on the overhaul of 46229 was under the direction of the Museum’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, John Bellwood. The target for completion was that the engine would take part in the celebrations planned for 1980 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. This was a tall order as other Museum locomotives and rolling stock had to be prepared for participation in the L&M celebrations. As a result local enthusiasts, members of the FNRM and the York Railway Circle, joined by others from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, became involved with the overhaul of 46229. Amongst those so recruited was the then shedmaster at Grosmont on the NYMR, Kim Mallyon, who was to play a key role in the Duchess story over the next decade. The need to complete a successful return to steam was the more important, as those who had contributed to the costs by supporting the FNRM’s fundraising had been told that they would have priority on the first public train hauled by a Duchess since September 1964. This is why that test run to South Milford on 1 May was so important as 10 May was earmarked for the Duchess’s public return. This was to involve two runs around what became known as the York Circle taking the train to Leeds and then via Harrogate and Knaresborough back to York. In order to highlight the importance of the money raised by the sale of the Cuneo prints the train was to be named The Limited Edition.
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