There is no doubt about it that every rail enthusiast out there has a favourite locomotive of some form, whether it be Steam, Diesel or even Electric. But one thing that is certain is that Steam locomotives have a lot more character to them than a Diesel, a Steam locomotive is more like a living breathing thing that responds to you if you talk to it (so to speak).
Yes i do think the heritage Diesel locomotives have more character than the modern ones because they do but they are not like living breathing creatures like a Steam loco, that isn't to say i hate Diesels though because i like both Steam, Diesel and Electric
So which Steam locomotives are my favourites? Okay well if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook you already know what they are...... but you don't know why the locos that are my favourites are my favourites (if that makes any sense) so to find out what makes these engines my faves scroll down the page to find out
10. GWR 5700 Pannier Tanks
Of all GWR Tank Engines in preservation the 5700s are some of the more unique, look at those water tanks at either side of the locos boiler and the sound the inside valve gear makes, can't get enough of that, now there are other Panniers that have a similar design to the 5700s so you may be thinking why favor the 5700s out of the rest of them.
This isn't to say i don't like the other Panniers, its just that there is something about the 5700s that gives them more charm and character, its worth mentioning as well that a few 5700s have become TV and Film stars the most notable being 5775 that starred in my all time favourite film The Railway Children film from 1970 which is one of the reasons why i love them so much so i also own the Bachmann limited edition Railway Children Train Pack.
5775 also appeared in an episode of Last of The Summer Wine in LT Maroon livery and 5764 appeared in The Signal Man television adaptation and we cannot forget the fictional character from a certain Kids show that was based on this engine.
Plus as a kid i also got to go into the cab of one of these and i didn't remember this til years later looking back on family tapes of this, also two of these are allowed to run on the mainline with the exception of 9400 Pannier 9466, these are the only tank engines of any sort that can run on the national network work. I've also hitched a ride behind these locomotives (not on the mainline) on heritage lines as well. The 5700s are not my all time favourite but they are a favourite of mine and they always will be on my list of top 10
These locomotives are magnificent, no other word for them, of all the BR Standards i find these the most interesting not to say all other BR Standards are disinteresting but i just find these more interesting because for a start the middle drive wheels are flangeless so they can go round tighter corners and then theres the gap between the running plate and the chassis, i don't know why but i find that interesting.
Also knowing these engines were built for speed and seeing how strong and powerful they are it makes them all the more awesome, now at this point some are probably shouting other locomotives at the screen that are probably just as or more strong than these the WD 2-8-0s and the LNER P2s to name a few but the WDs were withdrawn in 1967 a year before the 9Fs and the LNER P2s when in service with the LNER never pulled goods trains because they were express passenger locos, yes they were considered the most powerful locomotive probably the most powerful passenger loco for that matter but when Edward Thompson came along and had them rebuilt they became significantly a lot less weaker than they were so they were no longer as strong as they were. I have always considered the 9Fs as the most powerful steam loco (British) and seeing them do what they were built for in person and seeing archive footage and pictures i can see that and the sight of seeing one of these in person has always brought a smile to my face
The 9Fs are therefor my choice of the BR Standards, they always have been and they always will be
8. LMS Duchess Coronations
These locomotives are handsome, everything to say about the Duchesses are all compliments, these are like beautiful women, they are good looking, they are attractive, they're gorgeous and i will admit these engines are also sexy. The Duchesses are basically the female equivalent of the steam locos just like the Princesses.
and these locos are much better off without the streamlined casing, i have nothing against William Stanier but these engines look so much better without the casing, it was considered as a publicity stunt especially since the streamlining never made the Duchesses go any more faster than they already could and because it got in the way of maintenance it was removed. Streamlining a Duchess is like putting a body kit on a Lamborghini in the sense of if you do so it ruins the look of it.
As they are some of the finest express passenger locos out there even if back in they day they were neglected from cleaning like other steamers they are a firm fave of mine, i have yet to see someone who doesn't like these.
7. LNER A4 Pacifics
Now this is one loco which the streamlined casing is suited to even though if the casing is removed then the engine looks odd to say the least, and i have seen a few pics of them without it and it does look weird but the streamlining is what makes them not only unique but also iconic.
Lets not forget three have set world records, 4464 Bittern at 90 mph (the preservation speed record) 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley at 110 mph and of course 4468 Mallard with the world speed record for steam locos at 126 mph that to this very day is still unbeatable and is still the worlds fastest steam locomotive.
not to mention i haven't seen or come across anyone who has a dislike towards the A4s, its a locomotive that everyone loves and it isn't hard to see why. Yes the streamlined casing ws used on other locos such as the P2s, the experimental W1 and bizarrely the LNER B17s but with the B17s it by far doesn't suit them, with the P2s it doesn't look right and as for the W1.... well i preferred it when it wasn't rebuilt and i don't think it was ever successful either, with the A4s its a very different matter entirely. I think the question of who doesn't love an A4 is non existent as its a well loved loco and its definitely one of Gresely's finest. For me i wish i could see them in real life more often but that could change in the future but when i have seen them i have always been impressed. There is no other loco around quite like them.
6. City of Truro
I am sure you're thinking why favor City of Truro of all GWR City Class locos, well it simple, its the only one left of its kind. So why do i favor this loco?
Firstly its subject of chicken and egg debate of which went 100 mph first, Flying Scotsman or City of Truro, its debatable and it still remains unknown let alone a debate but whilst there is evidence of Scotsman;s behalf especially since it was the first to officially do so but even though Truro's was unofficial and that there is no evidence that doesn't mean she didn't go 100 because as the old saying goes truth can be stranger than fiction!
That isn't exclusively why i favor her though, she is a unique loco and very Victorian style esque like the Dukedog, not many locos like this in preservation. I have also had the pleasure numerous times to see her when she was in steam. She isn't anymore and whilst it seems a shame at least she is still with us and also we can stand to one side as enjoy her as a static exhibit and remember all the fun memories of when Truro was in steam but you never know what the future will bring
5. S&D 7Fs
Only recently have the 7Fs appeared on my list of top 10, so what makes them a favourite of mine? Well they are unique, firstly they ran on the famous Somerset & Dorset Railway (S&D) which is where they were built to run but also just look at the running board how it bends up and over the slopped cylinders (slopped so it can go through platforms) that is a feature not seen on many locos
I have also had the chance to see both of these at the same place and at the same time this year at the West Somerset's S&D Closure 50th Anniversary event especially since i got to see a memorable double header of the two double heading in BR Black livery and thats the reason why they are favourites of mine
4. Flying Scotsman
In this day and age with the amount of negativity surrounding both the NRM and this loco i am sure a lot of you are questioning why this loco is on my top 10, firstly i'll use this time to thank both Ian Riley and the NRM for restoring Flying Scotsman back into steam, otherwise she would still be in thousands of bits on the floor and i thank the man Alan Pegler who made it all happen, what would you have Scotsman in steam and in preservation or not at all? I know what i would pick because preservation for steam locos wouldn't be the same without her, it would be like a jam roll without the jam, its nothing.
To those who have its all very well bashing the NRM and the loco but this is the peoples engine, it belongs to everyone whether your an enthusiast or not. Lets not forget it could have been scrapped if Pegler didn't buy her in the first place but i am not going to keep drowning on and on as there are too many silly and childish debates and arguments out there that i am not going to go into, onto what makes Scotsman a fave of mine.
I have always been fascinated by Flying Scotsman since i was a small boy, this is afterall the world famous locomotive as everyone knows about this locomotive and i haven't come across anyone who hasn't heard of it and if i did i would be totally shocked.
Flying Scotsman was the first Steam loco i saw on the mainline when in 1998 my Dad took me to Wolverhampton to witness this fine locomotive pass through the station, it was a truly magical and magnificent sight that i still remember to this very day, seeing this loco for the very first time is something you cannot forget, i even have footage of this on tape that i uploaded on my YouTube channel as an 800 subscriber special
and to see it three times this year is something rather special, i think its overhaul was totally worth it and if you don't then thats tough
3. GWR 1400s
Whenever it comes to personal favourites nearly everyone seems to have a place in their heart of favor the GWR 1400s, there are a couple of reasons why they are one of my favourites.
Firstly two of them appeared in The Titfield Thnderbolt and that is one of the reasons why i love them, Titfield Thunderbolt isn't my all time favourite film but it is one of my favourites so in a way it makes sense to favor them.
Like the 5700s these are some of the more unique GWR Tank Engines perhaps more unique than the 5700s, of all the GWR locos in preservation these are not identical to any other GWR loco or has a loco in preservation based on this design, least not in preservation as this loco was based on a previous design of GWR loco but in preservation no other locos are identical or look similar to them which is what makes them different.
But one of the main reasons is that what sets them apart from other Tank Engines in preservation is that they have the Auto fitted equipment so that they can run on Auto trains which allows the driver to control the engine from the coach, yes the 6400s and some of the small prairies have been Auto fitted too but the small prairies were not designed for this duty to begin with and the 6400s were built after the 1400s, plus the 6400s didn't just pull Auto trains, they also handled other passenger duties and the occasional goods train where as the 1400s were built strictly for Auto trains, in preservation they have on occasion handled other passenger trains and been in a few double headers but they have mostly and more regularly been used on Auto trains and in their heyday they were used on Auto trains and weren't used on anything else as far as i am aware unless i am wrong.
I think we can all agree these are cracking little machines and the sight of one sandwiched between two Auto coaches is always a thrilling and interesting sight to see.
2. LMS Princesses
Just like the Duchesses these are the female equivalents of Steam locomotives, you cannot deny how stunning these locomotives are they are simply marvelous and magnificent, you could argue its a shame two are preserved with only one in steam but it doesn't bother me as i am thankful two were even preserved. All compliments in fact are the same as said earlier with the Duchesses.
There isn't much else for me to say so i'll let the photo do all the talking
1. Bulleid Pacifics
You all knew this was coming, anyone who knows me well knows that the Bulleid Pacifics are my all time favourite Steam locomotive especially since i have regularly stated that they are my favourite but what makes the Bullieds my all time favourite?
Firstly there is the chuffing sound which isn't like any other sound of a Steam loco and a whistle that you cannot beat, okay thats debatable but thats just my own opinion but you also have the Firth Brown or box pock wheels which were used on the locos to save weight, these design of wheels isn't featured on any other British Steam loco that isn't designed by Oliver Bulleid, although being American influenced as the wheel design was used on American locos only Oliver Bulleid took on the idea for British locomotives.
Also these locos have been seen in two forms, the air streamed/air smoothed version known as the Spam cans and of course the rebuilt version, this is what makes them unique as this doesn't or hasn't happened with any other locomotive that has been preserved and i love the design of the air smoothed casing.With all Merchant Navies they were all rebuilt, with the West Countries and Battle of Britains it wasn't the case due to lack of time but i am glad they all weren't rebuilt because again it is what makes them unique and it offers variety.
Also when i was a small boy (forget the age i was) i got to stand on the footplate on one of these namely 34027 Taw Valley on the Severn Valley which at the time was in the guise of Westward Ho, the year was in 2005, speaking of the footplate in 2013 i got to drive and fire one of these locos in the form of Sir Keith Park on the Severn Valley during a Footplate Experience course which was a matter of luck due to issues with the other locos and the certificate i got is framed and proudly hanging on my bedroom wall. I've always loved the Bulleid Pacifics, there is nothing quite like them anywhere else in steam preservation or back in the days of Steam.
and that is the reason why i love the Bulleid Pacifics so much and why they are my favourite
Other favourites/Honorable mentions
Heres a list of other favourites that aren't in or made it into my top 10
The versatile go anywhere machines with the exception of one or two places but i digress.
Black Fives are not everyones cup of tea, and they are not on everyones list of personal favourites and they certainly aren't on mine. But that isn't to say i dislike them because in my list of other favourites they are there, its just that they are not a personal favourite of mine nor one of my choice for my top 10 but these locos are not bad.
That isn't to say many enthusiasts don't admire them because in some way i reckon they do regardless even if they aren't there favourite, yes this isn't the most handsome looking machine produced by Stanier that is both the Princesses and Duchesses but the Black Fives in there own way are quite good looking machines, some might find them a tad boring because they only wear Black liveries though one in preservation has ran in BR Brunswick Green but maybe that makes these more unique as such, yes there are other machines out there that have only been seen in Black liveries as well but lets be honest Green Five or likewise doesn't have the same ring to it as Black Five does it?
I like them for what they are, and they are certainly a good mixed traffic machine, possibly one of the best
LNER B12 8572
Okay i'll be honest this loco was originally in my top 10 but Flying Scotsman knocked it out the list because of my childhood memory of seeing it for the first time, Scotsman is a loco i have seen where as this particular loco i haven't yet seen for myself in preservation.
So why is it in my list of other favourites then? Well this locomotive is very significant, its the only one of the B12s in preservation but isn't exclusively the reason for it being what it is, its how it came to be preserved and the restoration it went through to bring it back into steam which in its own right tells a story, you can read all about it here
Yes Scotsman has been through more overhauls than the B12 and in many respects it has been through a lot more than 8572, but what the B12 went through is something that cannot simply be ignored or turned away.
When it comes to 4-6-0s at least LNER 4-6-0s this is the best looking of them all, not the best looking of all 4-6-0s in the world but definitely the best LNER 4-6-0 out there and its a loco i really do hope to see in the future, a visit to the Midlands is in order i think, Great Central and Severn Valley take note.
Considering the 8Fs were built primarily as freight locos although on occasion in the Steam days they would pull Passenger trains and in preservation they regularly pull Passenger trans these engines in their own way are handsome machines, just because it was originally a freight loco doesn't mean it cannot be attractive in some way, yes like with the Black Fives they aren't the most handsome but regardless with the 8Fs in their own way they certainly are attractive.
and when it comes to 2-8-0s these are probably the best looking if not one of the best looking, some might say otherwise but still, this is afterall my list. But one thing that drew me into liking these was my first visit to the GCR allowing me to film my first 8F, round that time 48624 was running round in BR Crimson Lake livery which it carried til recently when painted into BR Black.
The Crimson livery for this class is fictitious because the 8Fs never wore it when they were in service, i have bumped into people who didn't like the livery but i personally did, in my books fictitious liveries like this do suit locomotives really well and just because one or few don't like them doesn't mean others don't. Don't ask me why it was a livery like this that drew me into them because i don't know why, its not to say i didn't like them before its just that there was just something about it that drew my attention.
If you were to ask me what is my personal choice of GWR 4-6-0 it is the GWR Castles
Okay some might say Kings, others may say the Manors or choose any of the other 4-6-0s but out of all the GWR 4-6-0s out there or even in general the Castles are the more exciting ones out there, not to say i don't like the other 4-6-0s because that isn't the case.
I mean who doesn't love a GWR Castle? They are elegant and majestic machines, they have always been my choice of 4-6-0 and lets not forget Pendennis Castle has been to Australia which is where it spent most of its preserved life before coming back to the UK and Pendennis Castle also took part in the 1925 exchange trials with LNER Gresley A1 4474 Victor Wild, Pendennis Castle went to the LNER with Victor Wild going to the GWR and the Castle proved competition to the A1/A3s and you might even say that they were and still are better than the LNER competition.
Taking one look at these and people may think that these are basically just Black Fives, whilst there are both similar looking there are differences between the two that makes the Jubs different to the Fives but i won't be talking about those in this blog post, i'll leave you all to research that on Google.
But my reason for liking them is because they are beautiful locomotives, still not the most beautiful but still a beauty in its own right. Yes when they first came out it took them ages for them to become what they are today but that shouldn't and doesn't stop anyone from liking or favoring them and it doesn't make them bad either because they aren't.
SR Maunsell U classes
Another Southern locomotive has got to be included and what better choice than the Maunsell U classes, better known to you and I as the U Boats.
For a Tender Engine the U's may be small but they are an example to show that great things come in small packages, what i find interesting about them is that some of these started of as the K Class Tank Engines which were not stable in service and after the crash at Seven oaks with one of these it lead to them being rebuilt into the tender engines they are today all though technically 31806 is the only K Class rebuilt example there is the others have always been Tender Engines as after the K rebuilds further U's were built from fresh.
How many Tender Engines started out life as Tank Engines and were rebuilt into Tender Engines? there isn't anything like the U's anywhere else and that is what makes them unique and that is one reason why i like them.
But also take a good look at these locomotives, the proportions and looks of this engine are certainly smashing, in which case the photo does all the talking as a photo is worth 1000 words.
So that rounds up my top 10 list and the list of my other favourites, do you have any favourites? Feel free to drop by a comment on here or on Facebook and Twitter
Until next time i'll see you all soon