Category Archives: Galas

23rd Annual Crewe Luncheon of the LNWR Society

On Saturday 17th November, Paul Hibberd, Bruce Nixon and Tom Mainprize attended the annual Crewe Luncheon of the LNWR Society. There, they presented the project to the attendees. Young Tom (only 21) gave a rousing speech that was well-received by the audience. Here is the speech in full:

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for allowing me a little time to speak to you.

I am Tom Mainprize and work for and with the LNWR GVT in many aspects!, I am also a trainee fireman at Didcot Railway Centre, and I help at PRCLT in the engineering works with 46233 and others., They of course have the LNWR Royal Special Saloon 5000, built at Wolverton in 1923.

Your are all probably wondering why someone aged 21 is about to talk about matters relating to the LNWR!… I do not wish to talk so much about the History of the LNWR, there are many far more informed and distinguished people in this room than I who can do the subject justice. The subject I wish to speak on, is my experience of the LNWR as someone who is from a different generation, someone who has no recollection of Steam on BR as the norm.

I may therefore perceive the LNWR and the future of the LNWR and to some respect the LNWRS in a slightly different light…

I wish to tell you the story of how I have become interested, and why I am actively involved in building of an LNWR engine that I can neither remember, nor have ever seen!
Railways are in the blood of my family. I still have a granddad who remembers streamlined red and gold, silver and blue Princess Coronations speeding though Lichfield Trent Valley ..super Ds, Big Bertha and even the occasional clanking George! I was aware that the North Western had been a really great British institution, but living in Reading it was some years before I had a firsthand experience of its territories.

It wasn’t until the age of 8 or 9 that I finally ventured to Euston. My family and I were heading to Scotland on the ScotRail Caledonian sleeper.

Arriving at Euston, by taxi you’re thrown into a concrete box, a monolith of ‘Beeching Rail’ and the world of modernisation (something of which I knew little about- apart from the obvious axing of railways). It did not occur to me that this place had ever looked different, but there was something , that for some reason in my mind set it well above Paddington, maybe it was the vast scale of the place, 18 platforms and the Caledonian sleeper, the length of which I had never seen before! Maybe it was the fact this place didn’t reflect its size and importance with a grand structure like Paddington, it just didn’t add up, and I put it to the back of my mind not thinking much of it for many years to come.

This experience which I have told you about has precious little to do with the LNWR bar the metals and places we were on. And that was the problem – I’d been to Euston but not found Euston!. It was through my readings that I finally found the conclusion to my tale, the callous wanton destruction of such a Historic and Iconic terminus. More reading followed and led me to the sad story of the LNWR, second best not only in 1923 but in 1961-2, it left a vivid impression on me: The Doric Arch- Gone, The Great Hall- Gone, Old Euston- Gone, Old New Street- Gone. Curzon Street- my only tangible link to LNWR infrastructure.

Of the locomotives it’s a similar story- the famous picture of a Precursor, Prince of Wales, and Claughton lined up at Crewe ready for the cutters torch says it all. What we have left we must cherish and appreciate them, they really show the glory of the ‘Premier Line’- the best coaches in the country (IMO) many survive thankfully, Cornwall, Hardwicke, and the only two working examples; the Super-D and the resplendent coal tank.

There is something telling me, ‘although we are very lucky to have these pieces, the LNWR faces becoming a distant chapter in our railway history’ … Why you ask? The LNWR was once the largest joint stock company in the world, but how many people actually know or remember anything about the LNWR? Even here in Crewe I’m sure average Joe couldn’t tell you why there is a road named ‘Claughton Avenue’. Maybe I am overly sceptical, but through my own experience within railway circles I heard very little about the Premier Line and I wonder how many railway enthusiasts of around my age know much about the LNWR? … I want to help correct this.

This leads me to my final words, the LNWR George the Fifth new build project is the perfect project to do this. We have an opportunity to build an LNWR express locomotive of the 20th Century and fill a big gap in LNWR heritage. It is not that other LNWR projects aren’t worthy projects; far from it they are hugely important. But this can be the flag bearer for the LNWR- a mainline engine, capable of feats not seen since Wild Duck, Deerhound or any of the other Iconic names that disappeared as it seemed for ever. An engine that will not only be of national importance but one that ‘average Joe’, railway enthusiasts and the like will come and see, I have seen it first hand with Tornado.

This George will in my eyes help revive the LNWR- the Premier Line to greatness. The commitment, along with an engine must be to excite and educate people… most importantly the next generation… on the LNWR so that this George will be seen to be deeply entwined into its history along with the other surviving locomotives and all that has been lost.

We thus achieve many things with one project, these are things that the preservation movement is grappling with and reaching inadequate answers to thus far. We can lead the way. Just like the LNWR of old. My message is therefore simple; join the George the Fifth new build project; donate if you can through subscribing or a one off donation and be part of the revival of the LNWR- and its new chapter in history!

Tom at the LuncheonMembers signing.

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Behind the scenes work continues on finalising the contract to manufacture the smokebox door and plans are well underway regarding the next parts of the locomotive to fabricate. I know what it is and it’s very exciting, however regrettably I’m unable to share it at this stage. I know it’s very unfair of me! Finally we should have the newsletter going out shortly.

 

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John ‘Wiggy’ Wigston.

Our good friend, John Wigston aka ‘Wiggy’ is an accomplished artist with a fascination for transport in all its forms but specifically John has had an abiding passion for railways since he was a lad. John has kindly painted a marvellously evocative scene of old Euston on behalf of the trust. It shows two ‘Georges’ waiting on platform for departure at Euston on an overcast day.

We hope to make further announcements about this wonderful painting shortly but in the meantime we thought we’d share it with you. We think it perfectly captures the spirit of the old ‘Premier Line‘ in its twilight years and the handsome and purposeful lines of the Georges. Sadly we can’t rebuild Euston (although there is a move to rebuild the Propylaeaum, otherwise famously and affectionately known as the Euston Arch – a move that we in the Trust wholeheartedly support) but with your help, we can certainly build a new George the Fifth!

Two Georges awaiting depature from Euston

In other news, if you’re a member or a ‘Friend of George‘, we expect to have the next newsletter ready by the end of November. We’re also currently seeking tender on the fabrication of the smokebox door and hope to have an announcement about this soon. Trustee Paul Hibberd will be appearing in front of the U3A (University of the Third Age) engineers in Hertford this Saturday to give a presentation on the build and Saturday week, we will be appearing at the LNWR Society to present progress on the build. Busy times!

Posted in Art, Euston, Fabrication, Galas, General News, History, John Wigston, Newsletter, Public Events, Social Media | Leave a comment

Upcoming events and other news.

We’ve been busy filling our calender with events for the remainder of the year. Here’s the busy schedule we’ve set for ourselves thus far…

On the 28th October, the Trust will be present with a stall at the ‘Tyseley Steam Open Day‘. We encourage all our supporters to make their way to Tyseley for a wonderful day of steam. Tyseley will be throwing open the doors of its magnificent workshops and depot so the open day is rare opportunity for the public to glimpse behind the scenes including a chance to see the progress on the restoration of 7029 Clun Castle. While there, drop by and have a chat with us and show your support with a donation or by becoming a member.

On the 9th November, Trustee Paul Hibberd along with Brian Hall of the B17 Trust will be presenting a talk on the aims and challenges of building a new build steam locomotive to the technology group of the U3A (University of the Third Age) – ‘a collection of self-help, self-managed lifelong learning co-operatives for older people no longer in full time work, providing opportunities for their members to share learning experiences in a wide range of interest groups and to pursue learning not for qualifications, but for fun’.

Paul will of course be discussing our new build project. There is a wealth of technical and practical knowledge out there, as well as unbridled enthusiasm amongst Britain’s seniors – knowledge and experience that is scandalously under-utilised in today’s society. We will of course be encouraging those interested to join us on this project.

Finally, on the 17th November the Trust will present the project at a luncheon held by the LNWR Society in Crewe. A number of the LNWR Society’s members are either actively involved or supportive of the Trust’s endeavours. We will be presenting progress and outlining plans for the future.

The luncheon is open to LNWR Society members only, however membership provides access to a wealth of knowledge and the rare archival material on the endlessly fascinating LNWR – material that has been painstakingly preserved and collated over the years by the Society’s members to become the largest single repository of information and relics pertaining to the London & North Western Railway and its constituents.  This tremendous depth of knowledge also extends to the membership, which is some 700 strong.

An update on the build itself. As it can be inferred from the previous blog post (below), the part we’ve selected for fabrication is the smokebox door. This will be the first new component of a new-build LNWR George. Building a new-build locomotive of an extinct class is like archeology. It’s proving both fascinating and enlightening to dig down through the layers and glean a better understanding of the history of a locomotive class, with all the incremental changes during the course of its working life.

The detailed plans we’ve obtained from the NRM were produced by the LMS’s Drawing Office in 1930 (signed off by Hewitt Beames – the last CME of the LNWR and successor to Charles Bowen Cooke, the designer of the LNWR George the Fifth class) and entail a few small changes to the original design, notably a door-mounted MR/LMS style lamp-iron, which differs markedly from the square-slot LNWR-style lamp-iron (these were mounted above the door with the handrail integrated in LNWR days). Checking this detailed drawing against the original LNWR drawings in our collection and against photos of Georges in service under the LNWR confirms that the door in the detailed LMS drawing is the original profile and design sans the addition of the lamp-iron and the placement of the dog-bolts (which we won’t be fabricating at this stage).

We’re currently double and triple-checking everything before proceeding as we want our George to be ‘as-built’ but things are looking good to go for the door and we hope to have more news in the coming weeks.

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George at the Great Central.

What a sight that would be! A new-build LNWR George the Fifth in full-flight on Britain’s (and the world’s?) only preservation society dedicated to preserving a former mainline and operating an extended double-track where the one can experience the trill of steam engines passing at speed!

To get to this stage however, numerous small and incremental steps are required. One of those steps was the GCR Gala at Loughborough where some of the team (Tom and Paul) as well as friends and members,  Marcello Gabrielli and Richard Walsh of the Jinty Appeal (more anon) were were in attendance, manning our modest stall, taking donations, memberships and fielding questions. The response again was tremendously positive and we thank everyone who paid us a visit. We also thank the wonderful staff at the Great Central Railway and we heartedly recommend a visit if you’ve never been, and a revisit if you have.You may notice in the photo below that Paul and Tom are holding a drawing. This is a fairly obvious clue to what we’ll be fabricating first. Yes that’s letting the proverbial cat out of the bag somewhat earlier than intended but the lads are justifiably excited by this development. We hope to officially announce this shortly once all the T’s are crossed and those I’s are well-and-truly dotted.

Regarding the Jinty Appeal. We’d like to encourage our readers and members to consider assisting Marcello and Richard at the Jinty Appeal with the overhaul of 47357, an LMS 3F Jinty at Butterley. £40,000 to complete the restoration properly and the task is being undertaken by the Midland Railway -Butterley‘s younger volunteers. If you wish to assist with a donation, however small while helping the next generation of rail preservationists carry the torch you can visit the appeal’s site here.

And remember, you can be a part of making a new George the Fifth a reality. Donations can be made and memberships forms can be obtained from our website here.

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A reminder!

Just a quick reminder that we’ll be present at the GCR Gala at Loughborough on the 7th October. We hope you can make it for a great day out. Support the GCR and come have a chat with us in the process. We of course humbly welcome all donations and memberships, and we encourage all those out there watching this project to get behind us! Donations and Memberships can be performed through the Trust’s website but forms will also be available at the gala.

The groundwork for the fabrication on our first significant piece of a new George continues behind the scenes. After the gala we expect to commence discussions with suppliers, obtaining quotes for fabrication. Not until we’ve locked in an agreement and the contract is signed off with a supplier will we declare which part of the engine we’re having fabricated (It’s fairly substantial and no, it’s not the name or number plates!). When we do we hope that you’ll be pleased with how your support is beginning to bear fruit and that through your support, together we’ll move forward in the task of building a new George.

I’d love to be able to say more but right now all I can say is friends, watch this space!

 

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A report from the Llangollen Railway Gala

Members Paul Hibberd and Tom Mainprize have returned from a weekend manning a stall for the George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust ( and moonlighting at dog-minders for visitors!) at glorious Llangollen where a celebration of all things steam took place at the Llangollen Railway Gala. Truly Llangollen is well worth the visit.  On arrival at Llangollen the Stationmaster, who was very helpful gave us the freedom of positioning anywhere within reason under the canopy on Platform 1. We chose to locate to the far end of the canopy about 20ft from the entrance.

The weekend proved to be a great success with the profile of the project raised just a little higher and firm friendships and associations forged with the chaps at Llangollen and with other new-build projects, specifically the team behind the LMS Patriot build who were also present (their build is based there). We humbly thank them and the team on the Betton Grange Project, which is also based at Llangollen. The members of these new-build projects were generous with their time and their words of advice, offering invaluable insights and personal expressions of support. We forged many new firm friendships and connections while there and we even agreed with the Patriot team that some day we’d have a completed George double-heading with ‘The Unknown Warrior’!

What a marvelous sight that would be!

Our humble thanks must of course go out to those people who dropped money in our donation box, who signed up either as a ‘Friend of George’ or a Convenantor and who entrusted us with their dogs while they rode the line (see the photo below). We thank the public for the many inquiries and expressions of support over the course of the two days. If you wish to make a donation, become a Convenantor or head with time and skills , please head over to our website and click on the How to Help link.

Of course, we must thank all the people at the Llangollen Railway for a wonderful celebratory weekend of steam and for their unfailing assistance and support. We are currently planning our next stall and are in the advanced stages of planning the first part of a new George to be fabricated. We’re very excited about this and can’t wait to tell you all. So finally, a big thank you to for all those who have donated or become Convenantors thus far!

Watch this space!

 

 

 

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Back from Railfest!

This gallery contains 2 photos.

We’re back from Railfest in York and we’re exhilarated and overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response we received there. People of all ages came to chat and many signed the email lists and took donation and subscriber forms. A highlight of the event for the Trust was undoubtedly the donation of a genuine LNWR steam whistle – a physically small yet symbolically momentous piece of the new locomotive. The voice of our new George will be authentically LNWR! Paul Hibberd, one of the Trustees, was presented with the whistle from Robin Dean in the cab of ‘Hardwicke‘. Robin told us he was given the whistle by someone at Wolverton carriage works … Continue reading

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