Written by: TrainSim-James
The Bespoke BR Standard Class 6, from Partner Programme developer Just Trains, is coming soon to Steam!
Following the nationalisation of Britain’s Railways, it was decided that a significant number of future locomotives would be built to a standardised design; easing and reducing the cost of repairs by sharing common parts between a wide range of locomotive types that would serve nation-wide.
Almost all the BR Standards were built for mixed-traffic working, and the 4-6-2 Pacific configuration was chosen for express fleets. One locomotive in particular, the BR Standard Class 6, emerged from Crewe Works in 1951 as a lighter variation of the previous Class 7. A reduction in weight gave the Class 6 an increased route availability, granting access to their Scottish homeland (being based at Carlisle & Glasgow), albeit with a reduction of power to 6MT. The Class 6 was named the Clan Class, carrying names of the various Clans of Scotland.
In total, 10 BR Standard Class 6 locomotives were outshopped with the last entering service in March 1952. More were planned, another 15 in fact, however steel shortages delayed construction, and the publication of the 1955 Modernisation Plan saw the order cancelled. This left the Class 6 as one of the smallest classes in the BR Standard range, and adequate training was proven challenging as a result.
While those that had spent time on the footplate had learned the intricacies of stoking and steaming the Class 6, the many crews that weren’t so familiar with the fleet struggled to get the most out of their potential, and their reception was mixed at best. Perhaps the biggest blow to the Class 6 was when trials took place to test motive power in different regions.
Throughout August 1958, 72009 Clan Stewart spent her days working out of Stratford MPD of the Eastern Region. The issue was, the Class 6 was so similar to the Class 7 that there was early confusion, and the former would often be sent out on Class 7 duties. Credit where it’s due, the Class 6 managed to haul with heavier loads with little issue, but could not keep to the timetable. Sadly, the Class 6 was rejected by the Eastern Region, and despite being the only Pacific suitable for the West Highland Line, the Class was deemed a failure by British Railways.
The Class 6 survived until the end of steam, and like many BR Standard locomotives, were withdrawn long before their usefulness was spent. With such low numbers in service from the get-go, no Clan managed to make it into preservation. The only hope for the Class returning to the rails falls with the Standard Steam Locomotive Company, who are currently in progress of building what would’ve been the 11th Class 6 in the fleet, 72010 Hengist.
Those that had a knack for the Clans really took to the class, regardless of their rushed development issues and poor reputation. Coming soon to Steam, from Partner Programme developer Just Trains, will be the chance to experience what it was like to operate this ill-fated iron horse in its heyday! ■