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Original A1s

Have you ever wondered why one of the original Peppercorn class A1s is named after a geological period and another after an insurance company? Have you ever seen a Marmion or met Will Brook? Is Bongrace French for good manners and was W P Allen related to Cecil J? Here to help you answer those tricky, name-related questions is this not very handy guide, telling you all you ever wanted to know about A1 names and far, far more.

The Peppercorn class A1s had one of the most eclectic set of names of any British locomotive class. There were seven different categories in all, the largest being the thirteen that followed the noble LNER tradition of using the names of racehorses. Thankfully, this selection, each of which won at least one of the Derby, the St Leger or the Doncaster Cup, does not contain names that are ludicrous (such as Pretty Polly or Captain Cuttle) or unpronounceable (the infamous Sayajirao).  There are six A1s named after birds, the last four, all birds of prey, having been previously attached to A4s; the names that is, not the birds. Six are named after locomotive engineers, three each from the Great Northern and North Eastern Railways, while four have the names of constituent companies of the LNER (the name of the fifth major constituent, Great Northern, having already appeared on Gresley’s first pacific, rebuilt by Edward Thompson as the prototype A1/1). To keep folk north of the border happy, ten had names drawn from the life and works of Sir Walter Scott while nine were given names associated with buildings, cities and areas of Scotland, though one of the latter also has Scott connections. Most of these nineteen names had already appeared on North British Railway locomotives. And last, or rather first, one was named after a local hero.

We have an extensive archive of historical photographs of A1s in service (such as those by Peter Townend used in the individual locomotive histories) as well as a great many other LNER subjects, many of which have never been published. Contact for details.

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