Those of you that have checked out my locomotive fleet will have seen an odd-ball amongst all the LNER engines. No 746 Pendragon, a SR King Arthur. Well, its all very prototypical……

The answer, its 1943 and Heaton depot has 10 King Arthurs on loan from the Southern to handle the vast amounts of freight on the mainline. My Rede Valley line fictionally runs from Newcastle to join the Waverley somewhere near St Boswells, and I make the assumption the engines to be seen are supplied by Heaton depot to the south and St Margarets in the north.

In fact Heaton had a succession of large freight engines on loan from early 1943 onwards, firstly Robinson O4s released from the ex Hull and Barnsley, these were supplemented by the King Arthurs before being  replaced by USA 2-8-0s. The USA engines are the only wartime loanee not available in model form, even in HO scale. The USA engines eventually went off to europe and were replaced by WD 2-8-0s before these too were deployed on active service and were replacedin turn by Stanier 8Fs.

My research has shown the following 10 King Arthurs went to Heaton, though some sources contradict and list only 7 (excluding 748,749 &750)

739 King Leodegrance
740 Merlin
742 Camelot
744 Maid of Astolat
747 Elaine
748 Vivien
749 Iseult
750 Morgan Le Fay
751 Etarre
754 The Green Knight

Heaton primarily used the Arthurs on northbound freights, generally on V2/K3 workings, and while the Heaton crew would work to Tweedmouth the loco would work on to Edinburgh and bayond.

The 8F, Austerity and Arthur, as well as a wartime black example of one of Heaton’s many V2s all run on my layout. I only recently found out about the O4s, and I finally have an excuse to own one.

My king Arthur isn’t on the list above. At the time it was bought my daughter was in a school production of the Arthurian musical “Pendragon”, and the name was simply too appropriate to all the modelling opportunities missed due to transporting her back and forth to countless rehearsals.

The eventual plan is that the Rede Valley timetable will start in the 1930’s and as the day moves on so too does the year and the changes that took place to the railways as war started will be demonstrated, finishing with the postwar recovery, new Thompson & Peppercorn engines, the return of apple green and the 1946 renumbering. The theme can easily continue into nationalisation, but so far apart from Tornado there is no post 1948 stock on the layout.

Subsequently, Hornby have made the King Arthur available in the correct wartime black livery. I might need to trade Pendragon in for one of these!