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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Walsh

1930s Steam returns to Plymouth

Today saw the return of the Duchess of Sutherland to Plymouth on her tour, The South Devon Explorer, from Woking.

She arrived in style into Plymouth at 13:35 running 7 minutes behind schedule.

The engine, numbered 6233, is an LMS Princess Coronation Class locomotive. She was built in 1938 for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway at Crewe works. Her design was that of William Stainer. She was withdrawn from service in 1964 and sold to Butlins in Scotland. In 1996 she was purchased by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust who planned to restore her and bring her back to mainline duties. This was completed in 2001 and she was returned to the national network once again.

The Duchess has worn a few different liveries over the years, on March 6th 2010 she was unveiled in her black livery, on March 3rd 2012 she was renumbered 46233 and was rolled out in Brunswick Green livery. On September 9th 2018 she gained her most recent livery, Crimson Lake and her number reverted back to the original 6233 to mark her 80th birthday.

The Duchess of Sutherland has been used as the Royal Train, she transported Queen Elizabeth II on a tour to North Wales in June 2002, as part of her Golden Jubilee.

The Duchess is now used frequently on railtours all over the country, usually backed up by a trusty Class 47 diesel, just in case the unfortunate happens. Bearing in mind, she is an old girl now.

I watched her depart Plymouth a little later than planned at 17:29, 19 minutes behind, along with many other fans and enthusiasts. It truly was a delight to see how many joined me to watch her leave.

If, like me, you love the sound and smell of an old steam loco, it's worth keeping an eye out for any tours that head this way.

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