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It was a spotter's paradise, and I wish I could have gone there more often, but as the journey involved catching a train from Leeds and changing stations at Manchester, my mother had a morbid fear that her small boy could get lost somewhere along the way.

It never dawned on me that she had another, more tangible reason, like 'Mother Love', for example, but since she offered no other explanation, her refusal seemed very unfair.

It's the Birmingham coat-of-arms which was dedicated in 1945 when the loco was still fully streamlined and in its black wartime livery…' Bob adds - 'I guess we all have our childhood favourites, and it just so happens that City of Birmingham is one of mine.The 'Coronations' included the ex-streamlined locos which had been stripped of their casing in 1945, yet instantly identifiable by their bevelled smokebox tops.It coined their nickname 'semis' among spotters, but by 1957 they were becoming something of a rarity since only four remained in that guise; the last being No 46246 City of Manchester in May 1960.It has been since the first time I looked up at the huge beast in the old Birmingham Science Museum.Not so easy for today's generation though - the loco is now crammed away in a corner of the 'Think Tank' and the walls of the museum have been purpose-built around it…it's so sad that it'll never see rails again.

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