Sir William Arthur Stanier, FRS[1] (27 May 1876 – 27 September 1965) was Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.[2]


He was born in Swindon, where his father worked for the Great Western Railway (GWR) as William Dean's Chief Clerk, and educated at Swindon High School and also, for a single year, at Wycliffe College.

In 1891 he followed his father into a career with the GWR, initially as an office boy and then for five years as an apprentice in the workshops. Between 1897 and 1900 he worked in the Drawing Office as a draughtsman, before becoming Inspector of Materials in 1900. In 1904, George Jackson Churchward appointed him as Assistant to the Divisional Locomotive Superintendent in London. In 1912 he returned to Swindon to become the Assistant Works Manager and in 1920 was promoted to the post of Works Manager.

In late 1931, he was "headhunted" by Sir Josiah Stamp, chairman of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) to become the Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of that railway from 1 January 1932. He was charged with introducing modern and more powerful locomotive designs, using his knowledge gained at Swindon with the GWR.[3] Stanier built many successful designs for the LMS, particularly the "Black 5" mixed traffic 4-6-0 and the 8F 2-8-0 freight locomotive. His Princess Coronation Class 4-6-2 No.6220 Coronation set a new British record of 114 mph, beating the previous record set by a Gresley A4.

During WWII he worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Supply and retired in 1944. He was knighted on 9 February 1943 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society[1][4] on his retirement, only the third locomotive engineer after Edward Bury and Robert Stephenson to receive that honour. He was also president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for 1944.

He died in Rickmansworth in 1965. He had married in 1906 Ella Elizabeth, daughter of Levi L Morse;[5] they had one son and one daughter.[6]

Sir William was a vice president of the Stephenson Locomotive Society for a number of years until his death in 1965.

Locomotive Designs

William Stanier, with the backing of Sir Josiah Stamp, Chairman of the Company, reversed the small engine policy, which the LMS had inherited from the Midland Railway, with beneficial results. Designs introduced by Stanier include:


Stanier's designs were a strong influence on the later British Railways standard classes of steam locomotive designed by R A Riddles, which adopted LMS design principles above those of the other "Big Four".

There is a secondary school in Crewe called Sir William Stanier Community School.

Stanier Avenue: Coventry CV1 (the road was built in the early 1990s, on an old railway siding); Eccles, Manchester M30.[citation needed] Stanier Close: Crawley RH10; Crewe CW1; Frome BA11; Kettering NN16; London (W.Kensington) W14; Macclesfield SK11; Southend-on-Sea SS1; Walsall WS4. There is also a Stanier Close in Cherrybrook NSW 2126 Australia.[citation needed] Stanier Road: Bath BA2; Bristol BS16; Calne SN11; Corby NN17; Leicester LE9; St Leonards-on-Sea TN38; Weymouth DT3; Worcester WR4.[citation needed] Stanier Street: Hailsham BN27; Manchester M9; Newcastle-under-Lyme ST5; Stoke-on-Trent ST4; Swindon SN1.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Hartley, H. (1966). "William Arthur Stanier. 1876-1965". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 12: 488–502. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1966.0024. 
  2. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36240. 
  3. ^ Nock, 1982, pp.10-11
  4. ^ "Lists of Royal Society Fellows 1660-2007". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 16 July 2010. 
  5. ^ UK Census 1881
  6. ^ "Sir William Arthur Stanier". Who's Who in Art. Retrieved 16 July 2010. 


  • Ellis, Hamilton (1970). London Midland & Scottish - A Railway in Retrospect. Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-0048-4. 
  • Nock, O.S. (1982). A History of the LMS - II - The record-breaking Thirties 1931-39. George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-385093-6. 

External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Ernest Lemon
Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway
Succeeded by
Charles Fairburn
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Asa Binns
President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Succeeded by
Col Stephen Joseph Thompson