Cast locomotive nameplates
This nameplate belongs to Chasewater Railway and was carried by the LBSCR loco No. 110/1877, which worked at The Cannock and Rugeley Colliery, Cannock Wood from1927, when it was purchased from the Southern Railway until the mid 1960s. It was preserved by the Railway Preservation Society (West Midland District) firstly at Hednesford and for a short while at Chasewater. It was later sold members of the East Somerset Railway.
Locomotives have often been adorned with names from the earliest days. Sometimes these have been painted on the engine’s sides, but the more common method was to fix cast-metal nameplates. The raised lettering, frequently surrounded by a raised border, was usually finished in burnished brass, with a black or red painted background.
The plates were usually curved to fit on or over the locomotive’s driving wheel splasher, but for tank engines and some larger main line locomotives, straight plates were fitted elsewhere on the superstructure. The Great Central Railway (GCR) provided most of its large passenger locomotives with combined straight-topped splashers covering all the driving wheels. The GCR’s straight nameplates had shaped ends to fit into the splashers’ decorative beading.
Both the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) and the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway adopted a similar pattern of plate, with curved or straight sides. Either way, the plates had projecting lugs at the ends to accommodate fixing holes.
Another Chasewater Railway-owned nameplate, from a Hunslet 0-6-0ST loco 1685/1931. Bought from Mowlem in 1948 and worked at Walsall Wood, Coppice Colliery and Chasetown.
New type of nameplate
The Southern Railway (SR) adopted the LSWR style of nameplate for most of its named engines, but often with a smaller panel beneath giving the class of the engine. For its series of steamlined light Pacifics built during and after World War II – the Battle of Britain, West Country and Merchant Navy classes, the SR adopted a completely new type of nameplate which included a crest or badge.
The London, Midland & Scottish Railway used fairly modest curved plates for its non-streamlined classes, whilst its prestigious streamliners had straight plated fitted to the centre line of the boiler. When streamlining went out of fashion in the late 1940s, the streamlined casings were removed and the plates were refitted in the same location.
This plate is one of the Eric Tonks Collection, on loan from the Industrial Railway Society, and is from an 0-6-0ST Hunslet, 1496/1926. New at the Oxfordshire Ironstone Co.Ltd., Banbury.
The streamliners of the London & North Eastern Railway’s Class A4 carried their nameplates high up at the front end of the boiler sides. Ordinary locomotives were fitted with curved splasher top plates, though these were larger and heavier than those of the other companies.
The standard express classes built by British Railways mainly in the 1950s bore straight plates fitted near the top of the smoke deflectors. Some of the mixed-traffic locomotives designed for use on the Southern Region were given names previously carried by members of the SR’s King Arthur class, itself a legacy of the SR’s predecessor, the LSWR.
Although most Great Western nameplates were made from steel and brass, a small number were cast in brass. These were oval and gave the engine’s name and number, as well as its date of manufacture.
Another plate from the Eric Tonks Collection, ‘Ironstone’ was an 0-4-0ST Peckett with outside cylinders, No. 1050/1907. Supplied new to Market Overton Ironstone Quarries, Rutland.
Many of the smaller independent railway companies fixed nameplates to their locomotives. Since most of them were tank engines, the plates had straight sides. Many industrial locomotives also had nameplates. These sometimes included the name and address of the works or the names of the firm’s directors and members of their families.
Carol Ann No.5 0-6-0ST Hunslet 1821/1936. Bought new. Still at Holly Bank 1957 – since scrapped.
Robert Nelson No.4 and Carol Ann No.5 (Hunslet 0-6-0ST 1800 and 1821 respectively, built 1936) were named after the Colliery Manager’s two children.
On transfer to Littleton Colliery in NCB days – November 1959 – Carol Ann was renumbered ‘1’ by grinding the ‘5’ off the nameplate and screwing in a ‘1’. This was because Littleton already had a loco ‘Littleton No.5