was perhaps the most successful 4-4-0 of its time — an amazing little locomotive with huge power for its size. It was more than 25 per cent more powerful than the similarly sized Precursor. Outstanding performers, for power output in relation to size and cost, they were one of the most successful designs of their day On this basis, the ‘Georges’ were the equal of the best GWR Churchward engines and certainly cost far less to build.
A total of 90 were built at Crewe between 1910 and 1915. Ten of these were the non-superheated 'Queen Mary' class which were soon absorbed into the George the Fifth class once the advantages of superheated became clear. The compact and elegant 4-4-0s continued to haul West Coast passenger traffic into the late 1920s.
LNWR express locomotives were gradually superseded by Sir Henry Fowler’s large-boilered 'Claughtons', 'Patriots' and 'Royal Scots'. Then, in the mid 30s, Sir William Stanier introduced modern taper-boilered Pacifics and 4-6-0s based on GWR practice.
Now relegated to secondary duties, for a while, surviving 4-4-0 Precursor and George the Fifth locomotives headed fast trains from Euston to Watford, Berkhamsted, Tring and Bletchley. Part of the reason why few lasted beyond the 30's was that they could be flogged so hard, which shortened their operational lifespans. Also, LNWR locomotives and practice was littled favoured under the regime of Midland Railway traditions that dominated the first years of the LMS.
Yet, despite the ignominity of being relegated to secondary duties and their harsh treatment, the George the Fifths and Precursors in their final years could still perform amazing feats rivalling larger and more modern engines. Bill Broadbent once wrote of his experiences of 'Ptarmigan' in 1928:
" It was a grey afternoon in 1928 and my raconteur sat on the precarious perch provided by Bowen Cooke for drivers of his super-heated 4-4-0s. Ptarmigan, not yet committed to the excursion siding at Llandudno Junction, stood alongside the horse dock on Crewe station pilot duties.
As he saw the loco arranger crossing the tracks towards him he looked at his watch and guessed half the situation when it told him that the up ‘Scot’ was ten minutes late. The remainder was soon revealed - 6104 was limping in with a middle cylinder bye-pass valve failure, and seven minutes later Ptarmigan was running back on to the stationary train at Crewe North box home signal.
Train tare weight was 420 tons, quite a respectable load in itself, but,