Locomotives of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway

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The London, Midland and Scottish Railway had the largest stock of steam locomotives of any of the 'Big Four' pre-Nationalisation railway companies. Despite early troubles arising from factions within the new company, the LMS went on to build some very successful designs; many lasted until the end of steam traction on British Railways in 1968. For an explanation of numbering and classification, see British Locomotive and Multiple Unit Numbering and Classification.

Various locomotives were inherited from pre-grouping companies. Those from the smaller railways, and hence non-standard, were withdrawn quite early, while ex-Midland, LNWR and L&YR types persisted.

The Midland had long had a 'small engine policy', i.e. that it preferred small engines hauling frequent, fairly short trains, and employing a second locomotive (double-heading) where necessary. Unfortunately this practice, while emininently suitable for the route from Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham to London was not at all suited to the route from Euston to Glasgow via Crewe, Preston and Carlisle (the 'West Coast Main Line') and it took several years to convince the senior staff responsible for such matters that this was the case.

The first sign of the change was the Royal Scot class 4-6-0s of 1927, officially designed by Fowler, but actually designed by the North British Locomotive Company with approval from Fowler. Even so, the majority of designs continued to be very much Midland in character.

This changed when Stanier arrived. His large, streamlined 'Princess Coronation' class engines were iconic and flew the flag for the LMS against the competing Class A4 of the London and North Eastern Railway.

Locomotives acquired from constituent companies

See LMS locomotive numbering and classification for an explanation of the numbers allocated to inherited locomotives and the power classification system used below.

Ex-Midland Railway

The Midland shaped the subsequent LMS locomotive policy until 1933. Its locomotives (which it always referred to as engines) followed its small engine policy, with numerous class 2F, 3F and 4F 0-6-0s for goods work, 2P and 4P 4-4-0s for passenger work, 0-4-4T and 0-6-0T tank engines. The only exception to this was its 0-10-0 banking engine for the Lickey Incline.

Ex-London and North Western Railway

Ex-Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway

Ex-North Staffordshire Railway

Ex-Caledonian Railway

The class number used for Caledonian Railway engines was the stock number of the first member of the class to reach traffic. Hence earlier numbered classes could well have appeared later in time.

Ex-Furness Railway

The Furness was a small company with a correspondingly small locomotive stock. It is known best for the Baltic tanks (which seemed to be a little more successful than the L & Y examples of the same arrangement).

The Baltics did not survive for long.

The only class that survived as far as nationalisation were some moderate sized 0-6-0 tender engines classified '3F' by the LMS. Six were still in traffic as of 31st August 1948.

Ex-Glasgow and South Western Railway

Ex-Highland Railway

Despite their small numbers quite a few Highland Railway classes survived.

Classification of Highland Railway Locomotives is a little messy. A systematic class identification system was in use at one point but just when is not documented. The system has it's problems in that some classes with early codes appeared after classes with later codes, classes E and F are a case in point.

Additionally, although the classification seems mainly to have been applied to the products of the David Jones years, not all of his designs seem to have been coded.

Visually there are three periods - the first covers the period up to and including the introduction of the Castles (basically everything before Peter Drummond although the Castle's design was started by Jones and finished by Drummond). The second period is the Drummond years, and the third is the Smith/Cumming years.

There are exceptions - the Yankee tanks don't fit, but then they were an opportunistic purchase of a design that did not originate on the HR. Also the Drummond 0-4-4 tanks are not typical Drummond products stylistically.

Hughes (1923–1925)

George Hughes, formerly of the L&YR became the first Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the LMS. However, he retired just two years later in 1925. His one new design was a class of mixed traffic moguls known as "crabs".

He also built small numbers of slightly modified versions of pre-grouping designs including the Caledonian Railway 60 Class.

Fowler (1925–1931)

Sir Henry Fowler, deputy CME under Hughes, was formerly CME of the Midland Railway. He was largely responsible for the adoption of the Midland's small engines as LMS standards. This led to a crisis as these were underpowered. However, some moves towards larger engines were made, Royal Scots and Garratts. At the end of Fowler's reign, Ernest Lemon briefly took over as CME but was quickly promoted to make room for William Stanier.

Stock taken in from the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway

The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway was jointly owned by the LMS and the Southern with the LMS responsible for locomotive affairs. However, its locomotives were kept separate until 1928 when they were taken into LMS stock. These mostly consisted of standard Midland types constructed by the Midland and the LMS. The S&DJR 7F 2-8-0 however was specific to the line.

Stanier (1932–1944)

William Stanier arrived in 1932 from the Great Western Railway and with the backing of Josiah Stamp, reversed the small engine policy and saved the LMS.

Fairburn (1944–1945)

Fairburn was somewhat restricted by the rules applied to the railway companies by the war situation (not to mention the fact that Stanier had left things in a state that required little or no new design). He was responsible for the construction of a number of locomotives to Stanier designs (mainly the 8F 2-8-0 and 5MT 4-6-0) and some detailed design variations on the latter.

Ivatt (1945–1947)

George Ivatt, son of the former GNR CME Henry Ivatt became CME in 1946. He continued building some Stanier types, but introduced some low-powered class 2 engines and a medium-powered class 4 mixed traffic design. A pair of main line diesels were also produced.

Modern Traction

The LMS experimented with various forms of non-steam locomotives, and pioneered the use of diesel locomotives in Great Britain.


LMS locomotive design did not end in 1948 at Nationalisation, but had enormous influence over the design of British Rail's 'Standard' steam locomotives by former LMS man R.A. Riddles. Some of the designs were little changed from the comparable designs by Ivatt.

Riddles built quite a few examples of designs from the 'Big Four', including most of the Fairburn/Ivatt tankers. These were distributed around the system, with quite a few of the 2-6-2 designs going to the Southern Region.


Pre-grouping types were withdrawn early for being non-standard, and locomotives were routinely withdrawn after their lives expired.

Withdrawal of locomotives generally did not take place until the great locomotive cull of British Railways in the period 1962-1966. A pair of "Black Fives" were the last steam locomotives to be run on British Railways in 1968, although since then there have been almost weekly charter runs for the enthusiast and tourist markets and the occasional timetabled service (for instance at Dawlish and Stratford-upon-Avon).


A significant number of LMS locomotives have been preserved:


  • David Jenkinson and Bob Essery An Illustrated History of L.M.S. Locomotives Vol. 1: General Review and Locomotive Liveries. 1981
  • David Jenkinson and Bob Essery An Illustrated History of L.M.S. Locomotives Vol. 2: Absorbed Pre-group Classes Western and Central Divisions. OPC 1985
  • David Jenkinson and Bob Essery An Illustrated History of L.M.S. Locomotives Vol. 3: Absorbed Pre-group Classes Northern Division
  • David Jenkinson and Bob Essery An Illustrated History of L.M.S. Locomotives Vol. 4: Absorbed Pre-Group Classes, Midland Division.
  • David Jenkinson and Bob Essery An Illustrated History of L.M.S. Locomotives Vol. 5: Volume Five: The Post-Grouping Standard Designs