Today I brought out one of my favorite engines, the MTH Premier Line Princess Coronation/Duchess Class Duchess of Atholl. This locomotive is equipped with Proto-Sound 2.0, which of course includes the Digital Command System, and was announced and released in 2008. It is one of five Duchess Class locomotives which are also the only British locomotives that MTH has produced to date. While many French and German locomotives have been produced successfully since MTH first announced European locomotives there has not been a great deal of interest in the British engines.
The Duchess of Atholl was built in July of 1938 with the number of 6231 and painted in the Crimson Lake livery of the London, Midland, & Scottish Railway. She was part of the first group to be built un-streamlined and was used on express trains. After World War II railways in Britain were nationalized and became British Railways. It was at this time that a 4 was added to the number which made locomotive number 46231. The model reflects this era and is wearing the BR express passenger blue paint scheme which lasted from 1949-54. The locomotive was scrapped in December 1962.
Three Duchesses have been preserved and two of the three have or are currently operating. One even traveled to North America. In 1939 Duchess of Hamilton stood in for Coronation, the streamlined first member of the class and was sent to the 1939 New York World’s Fair along with a set of coaches. While here it toured the country and it even passed through Ohio on its travels. Upon the start of World War II, the Duchess of Hamilton found itself stranded but was eventually sent back home in 1942. Its coaches, however, remained in America and became an officers club.
An interesting feature of the Duchess Class is that they have 4 cylinders. Two are outside and two are inside the wheels. If you look right beneath the smokebox you will spot a rectangular plate with two metal protrusions and that is where the other two cylinders are located. Having more than two cylinders was thought to equalize power on the wheels and reduce stress on the track and running gear. It was more common in Europe than in America to have multiple cylinders. While they were extremely successful machines they were high maintenance but this worked Britain due to the proclivity of sheds and servicing facilities at every major city and station.