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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

 

More Liberals in steam

Following my request for information about railway locomotives named after Liberal Party leaders, three more engines have come to light.

A fourth Lloyd George has been found - a
Great Central 4-6-0 built in 1920. The website tells us, intriguingly, that

No. 6167 Lloyd George lost its nameplates on the orders of Sir Frederick Banbury, during August 1923. The nameplates were lost until 1963 when Kings Cross Top Shed was being demolished, and they were found behind a partition.
This is presumably the same Banbury who was then a reactionary Conservative backbench MP (representing Peckham from 1892 to 1906, then the City of London from 1906 to 1924) and a prominent opponent of women's suffrage. It was Banbury who, following the general election of December 1923, when Britain's first-ever Labour government seemed a real possibility, offered to lead the Coldstream Guards into the House of Commons "to save the British Constitution".

Banbury, who was also a stockbroker, had been a fierce opponent of the Liberal government's financial reforms between 1906 and 1914, and Lloyd George was Chancellor of the Exchequer for most of that period. In January 1923, the Great Central Railway (owner of the locomotive Lloyd George) was absorbed into the new LNER (London & North Eastern Railway). Banbury had been Chairman of the Great Northern Railway, another of the companies absorbed into the LNER. One assumes that he thus became a big wheel in the LNER, and used his power to extract petty revenge on his old political foe. Either that, or Lloyd George had been rather too friendly with Lady Banbury.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the LBSCR (London Brighton & South Coast Railway) had not one but two steam locomotives named after the Earl of Rosebery, who was Prime Minister from 1894 to 1895.

The first Rosebery, a
Stroudley D1 0-4-2T (pictures of the type here), was built in 1877 and kept the name Rosebery until 1897, when it was renamed. This engine survived until 1936.

The second Rosebery, a
Billinton B2 4-4-0, was built in 1897, rebuilt in 1909 (when it lost its name) and survived until about 1930. (The locomotive's designer, Robert J Billinton, was succeeded at the LBSCR by his son, Lawson B Billinton, who inadvertently designed Thomas the Tank Engine, but that's another story).

Incidentally, I have a family connection with Lord Rosebery. My great-great-uncle, William Titley, was Rosebery's valet for 45 years, from 1884 until Rosebery's death in 1929. Uncle William was left some money in Rosebery's will, not a fortune but enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement in Brighton.

Comments:
Nick Spenceley says: "My great grandfather, George Spenceley, was listed as being Lord Rosebery's valet in the 1881 census, so you've just helped me complete a bit of my family history, as we now have a better idea of when he left Rosebery's employ. His son George Albert became Liberal Mayor of Harrogate in 1944, and my wife Lorna (training administrator for the Liberal Democrats, and Liberator subscriber) I believe you may know!"
 
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