Category:Coronation Scot 1939

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As the first of three new planned red-and-gold carriage sets, the 1939 Coronation Scot train was shipped off to the United States almost as soon as it was completed (after publicity photos), along with the last of the first batch of five red-and-gold streamliners, 6229 Duchess of Hamilton (which swapped numbers and names with Coronation 6220 for promotional purposes).

The 1939 US tour

The back of the blue LMS publicity brochure for the tour gives a taste of the prevailing mood and the impending threat of war:


Why are we sending the Coronation Scot train to America?

In 1933 we sent you an Ambassador of goodwill and technical achievement, the Royal Scot train. You responded magnificently and the train was crowded wherever it stopped, from morn til night. Millions went miles just to see her go by. New as tomorrow, it yet made thousands feel a touch with the Old Country.

The Royal Scot made many friends for Great Britain, for those Officers of my Company who were associated with the venture, and for myself.

The Coronation Scot, which comes to you as the latest product of the science of British Railroading, comes then as a cementer of these friendships. It will make a tour of the United States, and be our exhibit at the World’s Fair in New York, where we of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway feel that we are providing a representative worthy of this important occasion. We believe, too, that the Coronation Scot provides visible evidence of the advance that has been made in Great Britain in railroad transportation since the Royal Scot visited you six years ago.

May we also hope that the visit of the Coronation Scot can have an even wider significance than mere commercial objects? There is nobody in Britain who does not admire the courage and foresight shown in organizing the New York World’s Fair at a time when trade has been receding and when the world outlook is not wholly peaceful. Yet, just as in 1933, the visit of the Royal Scot preceded a revival in business and industrial activity on both sides of the Atlantic, so may we hope the World’s Fair and this new tour of an L M S train will coincide with a new period of peace and prosperity for both our nations.

May 1939 article, Meccano Magazine

"The Coronation Scot" in the United States

Famous Train's 3,000-Mile Tour

THE principal British exhibit of railway interest at the New York World's Fair just opened is the new L.M.S. "Coronation Scot" train. This train is one of several intended for regular service later on, and was described in the "M.M." in February last. In the same issue we recorded the shipment of the train and its locomotive complete from Southampton Docks for Baltimore.

It is no light undertaking to arrange for the transport of a modern express train to the other side of the world, but the work was carried through without a hitch. For shipment from Southampton the train was necessarily run over the S.R., but the "Coronation" locomotive L.M.S. No. 6220 did not haul its own train and in fact was itself conveyed dead as a separate item. The transfer from L.M.S. to S.R. metals was carried out by way of Willesden, Kew and Hounslow, and S.R. locomotives were responsible for hauling first the vehicles composing the train, and then the locomotive, together with a wagon containing the necessary spares, down to Southampton Docks.

A special length of track had been laid down to facilitate loading, and such is the efficiency of modern equipment that it took 7 mm. only to lift the locomotive, swing it inboard and stow it in the hold. It is recorded that during this time not so much as a word was heard from those responsible for this part of the job! The vessel entrusted with this unusual cargo was the motor ship "Belpamela," one of a number built for difficult tasks of this kind.

On arrival at Baltimore "The Coronation Scot" first enjoyed the hospitality of the shops of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and then commenced a tour of 3,121 miles over eight different railroad systems before the commencement of the actual display of the train at the Fair. Among the systems concerned were the Baltimore and Ohio, over which a mileage of 375 was covered, and the Louisville and Nashville. The greatest distances travelled on any one railway were over the tracks of the well-known New York Central and Pennsylvania systems, on which 849 and 839 miles respectively were covered. In the course of the tour several important American cities were visited, including that great American railroad centre, Chicago.

An interesting feature of the visit to Chicago was the presentation to the engine of an American type locomotive whistle, which had been specially subscribed for by railway enthusiasts in the United States. It will be interesting for British enthusiasts to compare the deep tones of this with the sounds emitted by the ordinary British locomotive whistles. We have become familiar with the American locomotive "voice" through the medium of sound films, but to hear the real thing fitted to a British locomotive will be distinctly thrilling. The whistle will add distinction to the passage of No. 6220 when it again dashes through the English countryside.

The visit of the train, following on that of its relative "The Royal Scot" in 1933, has enabled Americans to see the progress made on the L.M.S. in locomotive and train design and equipment since that date. In this respect Americans are fortunate, for while a train such as "The Coronation Scot" can be operated without difficulty over their railways, it would be impossible, owing to loading gauge restrictions, for a typical United States train to be run over here. It will be recalled from the article describing the train previously referred to that to comply with American railway regulations a special headlight and bell had to be provided for this tour. In its present position, high up in front of the chimney, the bell could not be accommodated within the British loading gauge. That is why the bell is not shown in the illustration on this page—which was taken while the train was making a trial run prior to shipment—or on our cover.

The train has certainly aroused the interest of American railway men, and has already been described in the "Louisville and Nashville Employees Magazine" as "distinctive in design and styling, and quite different from its American counterparts." At the same time the regular schedule of "The Coronation Scot" in running the 400-odd miles between London and Glasgow in 6 hr. is sufficiently good to be called "amazing," even in a country that claims the largest number of high-speed trains in the world.

For the tour the train consists of eight vehicles and includes a first-class sleeping car. In normal service no sleepers are run on "The Coronation Scot," but the car is included to demonstrate how first-class travellers by night are catered for in this country.

— , -, , The Coronation Scot in the United States, , Meccano Magazine, , May 1939


The makeup of the 1939 train was a little different to the other two planned "red" sets, and consisted of eight cars, six of which were in twinned pairs with shared bogies.

Compared to the blue 1937 trains, the most obvious external differences were the shared-bogie carriages, circular end-side windows on some of the cars, and the addition of a "skirt" or valance that smoothly extended the carriage sides down between the wheel-sets (and hid some of the under-carriage "gubbins".

The end cars also had slightly rounded-off rear edges, no rear door, and a "hamster-tail" paint-job that extended the gold side stripes to meet at a small central chevron that mirrored the gold "whiskers" on the locomotive's nose.

The "hamster-tail" wasn't an entirely convincing nod to streamlined design, but it was at least better than having the train end abruptly. The hamster-tail carriages complicated later reuse on the BR network, as they prevented passengers and staff from being able to travel along the full length of a train, when a repurposed "hamster" had been used for one of the middle cars.

The sleeper car

The other notable difference on the American train, other than the club car and bar, was the existence of a sleeper car. A sleeper car wasn't included in the "normal" Coronation Scots, because the entire journey from London to Glasgow only took a little over six hours. A sleeper car was more useful when the train was covering the far longer distances across the US, it was something that US audiences expected to see, and it also meant that, at a pinch, the crew were guaranteed to always have somewhere to sleep as they travelled across a foreign country.

The war years

When war broke out, the full "red" train was stranded on the wrong side of the Atlantic, with the carriages used for a while for US Army accommodation after the tour ended. The locomotive was shipped back to the UK during the war since it had a role to play in the war effort, but returning the carriages wasn't as high a priority, so they weren't shipped back until after the war was over.


  • G.M. Kitchenside, The "Coronation Scot" train sets of the LMS, article, Railway World, September 1964 issue