This painting shows a large-boilered C1 Atlantic built in Edwardian times, hauling a prestige train through Grantham in the mid-1930s.  At this time the locomotives had been given superheating and were in their prime, often performing feats of great strength and speed for their size, and looked splendid while they were doing it.  An “Atlantic” locomotive has a 4-4-2 wheel arrangement, counting the wheels on both sides of the locomotive.  It is a painting of one of my favorite locomotive types hauling a richly-liveried Pullman train.

My father was raised in Grantham, Lincolnshire.  As a schoolboy he lived on Harlaxton Road that overlooked Grantham station, and often saw this train pass through in the late 1930s.  I am happy to say that he enjoys the painting to this day.  I wish that I could have been alive to see it.  I am very happy to have been able to paint it for my father, who did.

The photograph:  A great railway photographer, Gordon Hepburn took the black and white photo that inspired this painting.  RAS Publishing, copyright owners of all of Gordon Hepburn’s photographic images, has granted me permission to publish my paintings inspired by his photographs.  Like me, Gordon Hepburn was from Nottingham and took many fine photographs of railway subjects in and around Nottingham.  He often traveled to other towns and cities with his camera, and when he was in Grantham in the 1930s took a wonderful image of the West Riding Pullman speeding through the station.

The painting: It differs from the original photograph in several respects:

  • The sky is more moody
  • Changed the engine number to another that I know also regularly hauled the West Riding Pullman

  • Named the first two Pullman cars (coaches) after my wife and her sister, because I could not make out the names in the original photograph
  • Added some smoke streaming back out of the chimney and steam sizzling from the safety valves to give an added impression of speed

First class Pullman cars had female names painted on the sides of the coaches compared with second class Pullman cars which had numbers.  The photo showed no smoke coming out of the chimney, and no steam sizzling from the safety valves.  Painted that way, it looked as if the train was standing in the station waiting for passengers, when it was in fact coasting through at about 70 mph!  So, to let everyone know that this train is moving fast, I added some smoke and steam.

The painting shows how the train looked for about six years.  The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) operated Pullman trains from 1923 until the outbreak of the Second World War.  Only during 1938/39 did newer, larger locomotives displace the Atlantics from hauling this train.

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Tags: historic, steam, railways, painting