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If ever a locomotive deserves the description of ubiquitous it the London, Midland and Scottish Railways mixed traffic, medium powered Class 5 locomotives, designed by Sir William Stanier and universally referred to as Black Fives. Stanier, who had previously been the Works Manager at the GWR Works at Swindon, realised that there was a need for larger locomotives, with greater pulling power on the LMS and, using his experience gained at Swindon, took inspiration from the GWR Hall Class locomotives. Initially twenty were ordered from the Crewe Works and a further eighty from the Vulcan Foundry, with the numbering starting from 5000.
The first locomotive to be completed was actually engine No.5020 in 1934, which was built at the Vulcan Foundry, whilst locomotive No.5000, the first Crewe built example, did not emerge until 1935. The class were probably the most widely used steam locomotive to operate in the United Kingdom, operating the S&DJR route from Bath to Bournemouth, the route from Bristol to Birmingham, routes across the LMS region, out along the old Highland Railways Scottish west coast routes and right up to the tip of Scotland, to Wick & Thurso, on the former Great North of Scotland lines. Their ability to handle an enormous variety of duties with consummate ease made them popular not only with the traffic departments, but also with the crews who worked on them and it was fitting that, on August 4, 1968, Black Five No.45212 headed up the last steam hauled timetabled passenger train on British Railways.
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