Daily Archives: February 25th, 2012

CLAUD HAMILTON

The famous railway engine of the Great Eastern Railway

CLAUD, c 1950

CLAUD, c 1950

This was the East Anglian locomotive par excellence, and supreme on the Norfolk Coast Express (Liverpool Street non-stop to North Walsham) avoiding Thorpe (i.e. Norwich) Station by using the Wensum curve. I believe it would have gone right through to Cromer, but the coal  would have run out! This was the Great Eastern in Edwardian times, when the North East Norfolk coast was a highly fashionable place to be. From North Walsham you could take another train to Overstrand, right in the heart of Poppyland.

I cannot claim to remember seeing a CLAUD, although I must have done so. The last one was withdrawn and scrapped in 1960, when I was eleven years old and well acquainted with railways.  As this photo shows, someone in my family (it would have been my father or cousins) took a picture of a Claud Hamilton in the early days of Nationalisation. The Lion had not yet made an appearance on the crest of BR and just the words BRITISH RAILWAYS were painted in white on the tender side. The class had all been reboilered by then, using Gresley pattern ones. I am sorry the photo is’t better.

They were always a popular subject for artists and photographers. In their original shape with a smaller boiler and a pierced arrangement under the splashers they were even more beautiful. The drawing shown (below) gives you some idea of these features. You can also imagine the locomotive in the royal blue and scarlet Great Eastern livery with polished brass to get the full effect.

Claud HamiltonRETOUCHEDThe last of the Clauds had been withdrawn and was due to be scrapped, but it was offered for sale at scrap value of £1500 if anyone wanted it for preservation. Alan Bloom mentioned this at the AGM of the Norfolk Traction Engine Club, but only one other member was at all interested, although the club possessed the necessary funds. unfortunately Alan at the time did not. The members were apparently only interested in road engines and not railway locomotives, and all the Claud Hamiltons were scrapped. I would far rather have seen one preserved than 10 LBSC “TERRIER” tanks; surely 9 or even 8 would have been enough.

There is a plan to build a brand new Claud at Whitwell. Good lck to them, but I would be very surprised to Claud Hamilton rising from the ashes. As it is the nearest thing to a Claud that we have is the 4-6-0 locomotive 61572 preserved on the North Norfolk Railway. This was built on the lines of a Claud Hamilton, but with an extra pair of driving wheels.

Only the first locomotive of the class was named in 1903 after Lord Claud Hamilton, the Chairman of the Great Eastern Railway Company.

JOSEPH MASON

THE BLOG FOR THE HISTORY OF EAST ANGLIA

joemasonspage@gmail.com