Duchess of Buccleuch (Geoff Dowden)




A 3½”g. 4 cyl. Pacific - LMS 6230 Duchess of Buccleuch
and Club loco of the Rochdale SMEE

The 4 cylinder Duchess of Buccleuch was built by David Woolfenden, work beginning in the 1940’s, continuing during the early 1950’s with the Duchess being completed in time for the opening of the Springfield Park track in 1960. During the 1960’s the locomotive held the club record for several years for the ‘most hours pulling passengers’, when during this time, the former Rochdale MP, Cyril Smith, featured as one of David’s many passengers.

LMSR ‘Coronation’ No. 6230 Duchess of Buccleuch, the Class designed in 1937
 and built to haul the heavy London – Scottish expresses over Shap and Beattock

      David’s niece, Margaret Sutcliffe, inherited the locomotive in the early 1970’s when her sons, Michael and Andrew, expressed an interest in the hobby. They were taught to drive by John Whitworth, who had spent many hours in David Woolfenden’s workshop but further experience was curtailed when the family moved away from the area. After trying in vain for many years to find anyone who would agree to carry out repair work, the family decided to donate the Duchess of Buccleuch to her home society, the Rochdale Society of Model and Experimental Engineers, where it was hoped that the locomotive would be restored and returned to a steaming condition. In June 2001, Andrew Sutcliffe took the locomotive back to the Rochdale track where the appropriate donation arrangements took place after which it took more than a year of work by club
member David Kinsella, to return the Duchess to steaming condition and who had also spent many hours as a youth in David Woolfenden’s workshop.

Unknown to the rest of his family, Andrew joined the Rochdale SMEE and learned to drive locomotives. In September of 2002 he then surprised his parents by taking them back to the track after a long absence, due to moving to Surrey in 1975, with only ‘flying’ visits to Springfield Park in the meantime. They enjoyed the ride around the new, (to them), track extension in lovely warm September sunshine and were thrilled and thankful to the Rochdale society members who had enabled them to see the Duchess restored, in steam and hoping that the locomotive would remain so for many years to come.

Andrew poses with the Duchess at the Springfield Park track on his surprise return in 2002

      Unfortunately, the Duchess was later forced into another period of inactivity when during the required periodic Northern Association of Model Engineering Societies public liability insurance testing procedure, the locomotive’s boiler failed to meet the necessary standards for the Certificate of Annual Examination and Steam Test to be issued. From that moment, the Duchess was therefore unable to carry out any further public passenger hauling duties at the Springfield Park track.

The society now faced something of a dilemma. What was to become of a splendid example of one of Sir William Stanier’s magnificent pacific locomotives? Was it to become a museum piece, should it be offered for sale as seen, would the members agree to the necessary purchase of a new boiler and if so, would any member take on the task of carrying out a major rebuild for the second time? The matter became the subject of much debate at society meetings, ultimately resulting in a decision to commission a new boiler, which would be built be a fellow club member, David Barlow, following which, Dave Kinsella would again take up the challenge to dismantle the Duchess in order for a duplicate boiler to be constructed and then when received, rebuild 6230 in readiness for the required boiler certification process.

Subsequently, the necessary work was completed and during the preparation procedure being carried out by David Kinsella for the required steam test, the Duchess decided to blow out the bobbin of one of her four safety valves, the component being ejected skywards at full boiler pressure, never to be seen again!

No-one could blame David for deciding that ‘enough was enough’ and as no other member was at that stage willing to take the loco on board as a personal project, it was decided to place the Duchess in safe storage at a member’s  works premises until such time that perhaps more favourable circumstances would prevail..

One of William Stanier’s ‘Princess Coronation’ Pacifics  No.6230 ‘Duchess of Buccleuch’ tears along the
West Coast main line approaching Rugeley, Staffordshire with a London Euston – Glasgow express not long after the engine was built at Crewe in 1938. No.6230 was one of the batch of non-streamlined members of this class which were considered by many observers to be the ultimate in British steam power. In later years this engine, along with the rest of the class, was fitted with smoke deflectors. She was withdrawn from service by British Railways in November 1963.

The above photograph and caption are reproduced with the personal approval of the artist
at www.philipdhawkins.co.uk and his publisher www.quicksilverpublishing.co.uk

       For any reader who may be interested to learn of the circumstances surrounding the inclusion of the
       three images of no.6230 within this article, the details are related as Appendix1 at the end of the text.

In the summer of 2011, Kieran Yarker, the society’s youngest senior member and regular driver on a Sunday afternoon of another of David Woolfenden’s locomotives in the society’s ownership, a 5”g 2.6.0 Horwich ‘Crab’, expressed an interest in putting the Duchess back in running order, providing that other members would agree to assist him with guidance and technical expertise when this was required. Early tasks required repairs to the regulator assembly, replacement of the missing safety valve by a commercial fitting and at the request of the boiler inspector; locknuts would need to be fitted to all four of the loco’s safety valves. Attention was also needed to rectify a loose top water gauge fitting on the backhead together with provision of a new gauge glass.

On the 3rd September the loco was presented for the mandatory hydraulic examination but unfortunately, the Duchess failed to meet the requirements as leakage from the dome and backhead water gauge fittings prevented boiler pressure being satisfactorily maintained. Subsequently, further examination revealed a missing actuating stud for the left hand inside cylinder, which, in order for a replacement to be fitted, unfortunately meant detachment of the boiler from the frames. A select group of members, with aspirations to see the Duchess back ‘on the road’ and assist Kieran with his objective, took responsibility for the work required, additionally manufacturing a new regulator rod and a new gasket for the recalcitrant dome bush.

In due course, with the presently identified repairs completed, the boiler was returned to the frames, running plates and cab replaced and the loco placed on the list for the next boiler inspectorate’s monthly examination. Consequently, after being carefully prepared for its hydraulic test on the 4th December, it appeared that the Duchess was doing her very best to frustrate her new band of followers, as the locomotive again succumbed to the previous problem of leakage at the water gauge glass. However, following a period of concentrated attention and substitution of the glass tube with a short length of solid bar, a later attempt to satisfy the examiners proved to be successful.  Unfortunately, by this time it was too late to fire up the locomotive and prepare for the mandatory steam test which was therefore postponed and rescheduled for the next programmed boiler inspectorate session in the 2012 New Year.

Normally, the first Sunday in the month is scheduled for boiler inspections, but as this year, the date co-incided with the programmed New Year’s Day Steam-Up, the boiler inspection date was deferred until the 5th February. However, due to the vagaries of the English winter weather and a heavy snowfall on the 4th, the inspection was further delayed until the following week. In the meantime, whilst completing the 4th December hydraulic test paperwork for the Duchess, the boiler inspectors discovered that the locomotive would have to be re-tested as the original examination had been carried out to 80psi whilst in actual fact, the test should have been appropriate to the Duchess’s  higher boiler working pressure of 90psi.
Consequently, on Sunday the 12th, February the only candidate that required the attention of the boiler inspectorate was the Duchess, which following the work carried out by the new band of enthusiasts, satisfied the inspectorate and successfully passed its hydraulic boiler test examination for the second time. The date for the mandatory steam test was left to be arranged following the appearance of the Duchess on  the Rochdale society’s display stand at the Northern Modelling Exhibition  held at EventCity, Manchester on the 2nd to 4th March.

In wintry weather conditions, the Duchess of Buccleuch stands resplendent
  on the steaming bay following the successful hydraulic test

Following the appearance of the Duchess at the NME and the return of the locomotive to the home shed, a fine day on Sunday the 11th March presented the ideal opportunity for Kieran to fire up 6230 in readiness for the examination by the inspectors. Evidence of boiler pressure was soon in evidence as the loco’s safety valves lifted but unfortunately the eruption could not be subdued by adjustment of the valve bobbins. Much to the disappointment of the support group, it was no surprise that the inspectors had to postpone the steam test pending the appropriate attention being given to the valves. It was therefore hoped that the necessary adjustment work could be completed and the valves re-fitted before the date of the next Boiler Inspection date of the 1stApril.

Springfield Park – 11th March 2012    Evidence of plenty of steam but not in the right place!

With appropriate works to the safety valves completed, the Duchess was again the subject of the inspector’s scrutiny on the 1st April. Although the pressure gauge had previously passed the ‘off the locomotive pressure comparison test’ against the standard and her safety valves had been adjusted, unfortunately the locomotive failed again, the pressure gauge failing to lift off the pin indicating a steam delivery pipe blockage or failure of the gauge itself.  Accordingly, at the meeting of the society on the 6th April it was agreed to purchase a new ¾” diameter pressure gauge and thus remove any doubt with regard to the reliability of the original gauge.


1st April 2012   The society’s LMS pair simmer on the steaming bays.
The 2.6.0 Crab has just passed its steam test but the Duchess would have to try again!

With the new gauge fitted to the backhead the Duchess was steamed again in preparation for the next test opportunity in May, but this time, poor steaming was experienced and which if not remedied, would possibly jeopardise the locomotive’s appearance on the Inspector’s next list for examination. Subsequent inspection in an attempt to identify the cause of the unsatisfactory steaming revealed a hole in the base of the smoke box which was probably a perfectly sound enough reason for the locomotive’s inability to satisfactorily maintain steam pressure.

      Subsequently, members of the support group carried out appropriate repair work in time for the Duchess to be presented for another steam test on the 3rd June. On this occasion, it was the long awaited result that the support group had worked for as the Boiler Inspectors were finally able to issue the steam test certificate and declare the Duchess ‘Fit for Purpose’. However, it would now be necessary to carry out a few minor adjustments including attention to the leaking inside cylinder drain cocks and adjustment of the mechanical lubricator arrangement.

Mike Foster and Kieran bring the Duchess to the boil but the Inspector’s keep their distance!

A little while later and given the ‘All Clear’, Kieran Yarker was to be seen giving the Duchess ‘her head’ and the freedom of the track for the first time since the locomotive was            withdrawn from service several years ago.



The ‘Duchess’ displays a full head of steam and as Kieran opens the regulator, the locomotive
speeds away with ample evidence of leaking inside cylinder drain cocks.


In view of the problems identified in the steam test, it was back to workbench for the Duchess in order for the appropriate adjustments to be carried out which also included tightening of the regulator stand fixings and replacement of a missing bolt in the right hand return crank.

The Duchess on its side revealing the very complex arrangement of the inside motion,
the minimal space creating difficulties to carry out the required adjustments.

As a result of swift rectification work by members of the support team, the Duchess was steamed again on the 17th June and took to the full length of the track for the first time since the locomotive was withdrawn from service. With Kieran at the controls and on this occasion without passengers, the locomotive circuited the Springfield Park track for most of the afternoon, Kieran acquainting himself with the idiosyncrasies of firing a 3½”g 4 cylinder locomotive in order to maintain steam pressure and boiler water levels, quite a different set of criteria to that required for the society’s other locomotive, a 5”g Horwich Crab and a task to which Kieran was already extremely competent. For a first time effort, Kieran demonstrated a very creditable performance  and a display for which he could well be pleased. No doubt, as with most new challenges, his technique would improve and confidence grow as more footplate experience was gained in the weeks to come.

The next steaming of No. 6230 was the following Sunday, the 24th June but the prceedings were interrupted when the ‘Duchess Bug’ struck again, this time as a result of a fracture to the tender hand pump delivery pipe.  Appropriate repairs carried out, the next appointment for the Duchess to be steamed was on the evening of the society’s Annual Models Competition scheduled  for the 6th July at the Springfield Park track. Yet again, the weather was to thwart a further attempt to give the locomotive a run out as extremely heavy rain fell almost all day causing  cancellation of the event without a locomotive turning a wheel!


Hopes were high for a successful trial on Sunday the 8th July but after an initial run-out it appeared that the Duchess was determined to resist all attempts of the members to return the locomotive to passenger service as the Duchess had to be returned to the steaming bays suffering from problems with the blower, which would once again require the attention of the locomotive’s support group in due course.

The Duchess  awaits attention and again challenges her dedicated support group

The blower problems resolved, the loco was steamed again on the 15th July but yet again the occasion was not to last, Kieran becoming concerned about the performance of the locomotive’s injector.  At the society meeting on the 20th July, the purchase of a replacement unit was approved and once the new injector had been acquired and fitted, the ‘Duchess’ was ready and prepared for passenger traffic again on the 5th August.

                  Kieran edges the ‘Duchess’ from the station on the locomotive’s first passenger excursion
                following a considerable number of years in storage, the fitting of a new boiler, a long period 
                 of restoration and in spite of an apparent determination by ‘Her Highness’ to thwart every   
                         attempt by the members to bring the locomotive back into regular service.

Unfortunately, not all went according to plan, the ‘Duchess’ again doing all she could to counter the TLC crew’s attempts to return the locomotive to being a regular performer in the society’s steam fleet. At long last and with the injector problem resolved, all seemed to be in order for the locomotive’s first encounter hauling passengers for many years but soon after leaving the station with a loaded carriage, Kieran rapidly brought the ‘Duchess’ to a stand. On examination, the cause of the difficulty was soon obvious, the head of the offside eccentric rod retaining bolt had sheared off leaving the members with no option but to invite the passengers to disembark and be offered another ride on the next available train. Following removal of the locomotive from the running track to the steaming bay area there was no possibility that the ‘Duchess’ could  take part any further part in the day’s activity, so the fire was dropped leaving the TLC crew to carry out the rather tricky task of removing the remains of the bolt without damaging the internal thread of the crankpin.

Kieran surveys the problem and a pending tricky repair for John Davidson

It was only the previous Sunday that to everyone’s disappointment, the ‘Duchess’ had to be retired in rather dramatic fashion as a result of a fractured right hand crankpin retaining bolt. However, during this latest period of restoration, there was nothing that caused the present TLC crew to ‘throw in the towel’ and this latest setback would be no different. The broken stud was drilled out and a new retaining bolt, manufactured by a member of the TLC crew, was subsequently fitted, ensuring that a week later, the locomotive was able to be steamed and lined up again for a spell of passenger hauling duty, its driver later reporting that “The ‘Duchess’ ran very well”.



With safety valves lifting the ‘Duchess’ indicates full boiler pressure and moments later departs with
her first passengers of the afternoon prior to completion of the circuit and a successful return to traffic.

Consequently, as the locomotive completed that particular session of passenger hauling without interuption or the need to be withdrawn from service, this occasion had to be considered the point where the restoration process came to an end. It had indeed been a lengthy challenge, presenting the society with plenty of anguish and disappointment along the way, but Sunday, the 12th August 2012 was surely a day of reflection and immense pleasure for the society.

It was a day that will stay long in the memory, when as a result of the dedication and  non relenting efforts of the TLC crew, the rest of the members were able to say “The ‘Duchess’ is back” and hopefully in future, the locomotive will justify the dedication of the support crew by providing many more years of reliable service for the Rochdale society, replicating the ambition of its builder, David Woolfenden, half a century earlier and more recently no doubt, to the immense delight of his neice and benefactor, Margaret Sutcliffe.



The Duchess at work on the 14th October


Geoff Dowden   October 2012


Appendix 1
During the early stages of the preparation of this article and my search for contemporary photographs of 6230 in original condition, I was disappointed to find that suitable images were in short supply, (at least, in the pages of the publications on my bookshelves!), and when I did find one that was appropriate, it was accompanied by the familiar copyright logo. However, as events turned out, the restriction was  far less a barrier than I had imagined and as an encouragement to anyone else who may wish to engage in a similar exercise, the following is an account of the circumstances that allowed the B&W image and GA drawing on the title page and the Philip D.Hawkins painting of 6230 to be included within the text of the article.

Originally, I was resigned to including my photograph of the full size 6230 on the match box card but was doubtful about the validity of such action in view of the copyright logos on each edge of the card. Enquiries with friends and colleagues provided a mixed response, varying from ‘No problem’ to ‘Don’t even go there’. Not the kind of answers that would instill me with sufficient confidence to go ahead without the fear of  possible reprisal or court action and for obvious reasons, neither of which I would wish the society to become involved.

A short while later, a club colleague suggested that I may find something on the internet and whilst a comparative newcomer to this amazing world of IT, it did not take me too long to find that he was right! Googling ‘Stanier Coronation Pacific Non Streamlined locomotives’, I soon found Rail Album photographs of the class and hit the jackpot, a B&W photograph of 6230 herself together with a GA drawing as a bonus! However, my immense delight was soon shattered as included in the small print with the publisher details was the dreaded copyright logo but by now I was desperate and decided to email Parthenon to enquire whether approval could be given to include both the images within the text of the article. To say that I was delighted to learn by ‘return of post’ that it ‘would be quite in order’ would be something of an understatement, the reply to my email informing me that the B&W photo had been taken in the 1930’s and was not the subject of copyright restrictions.

Offering my grateful thanks, I took the opportunity to enquire about the match box card and was informed that the card image was derived from the original photograph but as the locomotive had been coloured, unfortunately it was now a different story! I was therefore advised to contact the publishers, Blandford Books, an approriate email being dispatched the following day.

I then received an email from Margaret Sutcliffe to say that she had remembered that she had a page from a Footplate 2000 calendar, sent to her by David Kinsella, which was a picture of 6230 at speed painted by the FGRA Philip D Hawkins. Margaret emailed several photographs of the painting, then more taken by her daughter and I was thrilled to note that the Rochdale model perfectly matched the image of the artist’s painting albeit that understandably, there was no caption and the Footplate 2000 credit impinged a little on the lower edge of the painting. Not to worry, I could live with that as I now had a picture of 6230 in original condition.This revelation was an opportunity too good to miss but again I realised that copyright would probably be a very severe stumbling block to overcome.

Unbeknown to me at the time, Margaret had been busy Googling and emailed me with the details of painting’s publisher. I was quick to contact Quicksilver with my email request and almost within the hour, was astonished to receive consent from Pamela Apps, who also indicated that if I cared to email the artist, I would probably receive a jpeg to ensure that I obtained the best possible image for reproduction purposes! True to her word, the day after I emailed my now familiar request, I was asked by the artist to provide information with regard to the size of the image that I required,
the jpeg arriving to my inbox the day following my emailing of ‘16cm’ please. Absolutely brilliant, my delight and grateful thanks to Philp Hawkins were rapidly returned!

The consent from Quicksilver made it two down and one to go! As several weeks had  passed and I had not received a reply from Blandford Books, I decided to include the match box card image within the text on the assumption that:-

……………...and in my defence, I had at least made an attempt to seek consent which, for whatever reason, appeared to have been ignored.

Appendix 2
How many readers recognised that the two colour photographs of the locomotive on the title page are of a ‘00’g version of 6230 which, by coincidence, has also been in the ownership of the author for nearly half a century!