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!
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.