Someone, on social media, asked the question ‘what famous name / hero would you like to see on an engine?’. There were all the ‘usual suspects’ and the odd surprise, as you might imagine. There is, however, a much more interesting question – why do we name locomotives? When each engine was a one off, like Wylam Dilly, Salamanca, or Sans Pareil, hand built right down to making the nuts and bolts, a work of art(isan), it isn’t difficult to see a name being given. It becomes much less obvious when it’s a mass produced object, one of a hundred or more, identical, and interchangeable.
Within preservation naming engines, which were previously un-named, is something of a hot topic. Naming locomotives or units on the privatised railways is more a matter of money, and possibly decorum. Though having said that, one of the NBR, ‘Scott Class’ 4-4-0s was called Wandering Willie. Personally I quite like the idea of a Notorious Class; with names like Rasputin, Jack the Ripper, Bloefeld, Dr. Moriarty, Cruella De Ville, Davros, or even Caligula. None of which would be as odd as some of the names which have been bestowed; a GWR Bulldog was ‘One and All’, an LNWR 6′ Precursor was named ‘Glowworm’ others oddities include, ‘Autocrat’, ‘The Auditor’ and ‘Problem’.
The photograph shows Black 5 No.45231, now named ‘Sherwood Forester’, approaching Dalgety Bay station with one of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society ‘ Fife Circle’ rail tours.
If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it: