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British Industrial History

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William Stanier

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Sir William Arthur Stanier F.R.S. (27 May 1876 - 27 September 1965) was Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

He was born in Swindon where his father worked for the Great Western Railway (GWR) as William Dean's Chief Clerk. He was educated at Swindon High School and also for a single year at Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire. He followed his father into a career with the GWR. Between 1897 and 1900, Stanier worked as a draughtsman, before becoming Inspector of Materials in 1900. In 1904, George Churchward appointed him as Assistant to the Divisional Locomotive Superintendent in London. In 1912 He returned to Swindon to become the Assistant Works Manager. In 1920 he was promoted to the post of Works Manager.

He was head-hunted and became Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway from January 1, 1932.

He was knighted in 1943 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1944, on his retirement, the only railway engineer other than George Stephenson to receive the honour.

He was also president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

William Stanier, with the backing of Sir Josiah Stamp, Chairman of the Company, reversed the small engine policy and saved the LMS. Designs introduced by Stanier include:

  • LMS Class 2P 0-4-4T (designed in the Midland Railway design office)
  • LMS Class 3MT 2-6-2T
  • LMS Class 4MT 2-6-4T
  • LMS Class 5MT 2-6-0
  • LMS Class 5MT "Black Five" 4-6-0
  • LMS Class 6P "Jubilee" 4-6-0
  • LMS Class 8P "Princess Coronation" 4-6-2
  • LMS Class 8P "Princess Royal" 4-6-2
  • LMS Class 8F 2-8-0
  • LMS Turbomotive

1965 Obituary [1]

Sir William Stanier FRS (Past-President), one of our really great railway engineers, died on 27th September at the age of 89.

Educated at Wycliffe College and trained at the Swindon works of the Great Western under the awesome Mr Churchward, Sir William's talent as a designer bore its finest fruit during his time as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. He was appointed to this post in 1932 at a time when the locomotives produced by the LMS were not doing too well. His instructions were to remedy the situation and, with thoroughness, charm and originality, he revolutionised the line. Among his best-known designs are: the 4-6-0 mixed traffic engine (Black Staniers); the 2-8-0 freight engine; and the Coronation class, Pacific-type engine which attained a test speed of 114 mile/h. He retired in 1944 but was retained as a Consultant by the Company.

During the war years Sir William acted as Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Production. His services to engineering won him a knighthood in 1943 and, a year later, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers in 1957 and this Institution presented him with the James Watt International Gold Medal in 1963.

An interview with him by Mr Rex Wailes was published in our October 1961 issue.

Sir William became an Associate Member of the Institution in 1901 and transferred to Member in 1908. Elected a Vice-President in 1937, he was President in 1941. His work for the Institution was long and varied and we mourn him as a devoted friend. In the wider sense we have lost a genius of locomotive design and another link with an outstanding period of railway engineering progress.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1965 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries