By the 1920s, Turbines had revolutionised ships, power stations and reciprocating steam engines. With greater efficiency, constant torque and no reciprocating masses (hammer-blow) it had naturally been all too tempting to try and construct a turbine-driven locomotive.
Many attempts were made, none successful, Belluzzo & The Italian Turbines, The Swiss Zoelly Turbine, The Reid-Ramsey Turbo-Electric, The Reid-McLeod Turbine Loco, The Beyer-Ljungstrom, and The Swedish-Argentine Turbine, all proving to be either inefficient, unreliable or too expensive to progress.
However, in 1936 the London Midland and Scottish Railway decided to experiment and built a pacific locomotive, fairly conventional in looks, with a steam turbine drive system ahead of the coupled driving wheels. Using a dog-clutch, it was capable of reversing via a separate system and it had, unusual amongst most turbomotives, no condenser.
It had a 250lb boiler, 2,400hp at 7060rpm - about 62mph, and used a conventional blast pipe for draught, eliminating the need for a draught fan, that, with previous turbomotives, had been nothing short of disastrous.
It was quite a success, very efficient, and served over 300,000 miles in its first decade. It’s clean, uncluttered lines were popular with passengers and enthusiasts alike, and the unusually clean locomotive made for happy crew members. By 1949 it had reached the end of the turbine’s life, and the LMS chose not to renew it - the reason, no doubt, being simple standardisation.
The locomotive was rebuilt into a conventional ‘Princess Royal’ pacific and was eventually written off in the 1952 Harrow and Wealdstone Rail disaster.
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