Category Archives: General News

The family of Charles John Bowen-Cooke

Anyone familiar with the history of the London & North Western Railway and familiar with the LNWR George the Fifth class would know the name, Charles John Bowen-Cooke. For those unfamiliar with either, briefly then Bowen-Cooke was the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNWR – the largest joint-stock company in the British Empire and the largest railway company in Britain, directly or indirectly servicing most major centres in Britain – from 1909 until his untimely death at the age of just 62 in Cornwall in 1920.

During his stewardship through what proved to be immensely difficult and challenging times for the nation, for its people and for the company – a period of great upheaval, disruption and momentous change brought about not by the war but looming competition in the form of motorised road-transport, Bowen-Cooke unfailingly continued the work commenced by his predecessor, George Whales in transforming the LNWR from an essentially Victorian railway concern to one ready to meet the demands and challenges of the new century.

Charles_Bowen_Cooke

Of course his success and achievements were to some degree cruelled by the onset of The Great War – plans and designs were understandably shelved and the war took its toll on rolling-stock, infrastructure and not least, on its men and women. Many heeded the call and went off to war. Many didn’t return – slaughtered in the trenches on the western front and elsewhere. In commemoration to its fallen, the LNWR dedicated a one of Bowen-Cooke’s ‘Claughton’ class to their memory. The memorial engine was bored the name ‘Patriot’ and appropriately it sported the number, ‘1914’; the year that the first shots in the ‘war to end all wars’ had been fired. Inscribed beneath the name were the words:

In Memory of the Fallen L&NWR Employees. 1914 to 1918

The Great War had taken its toll on the railways of Britain and they never truly recovered – it could be argued that the great age of the railway was coming to an end. In the years following the war’s conclusion it was determined that the railways would be amalgamated into 4 great entities with the LNWR being the largest constituent of the largest of the post-grouping entities – The London, Midland and Scottish Railway, which came into being on January 1st, 1923.

Despite these odds, Bowen-Cooke achieved a great deal in his tenure. With your help, one of those achievements we intend to commemorate with a new-build of one of his and the LNWR’s most feted designs – a design that built on the successes of his predecessor and implemented the latest practice to meet the challenges of early 20th century. This new-build will be the singular representative of 20th century L&NWR engine engine practice, marking and commemorating an important, pivotal and yet under-represented epoch in Britain’s railway history.

It is with this in mind that we seek to make contact with surviving members of the Bowen-Cooke family and his descendants . Charles Bowen-Cooke was buried at St. Kust in Roseland, Cornwall. At the time of OS Nock’s book ‘The Locomotives of C J Bowen-Cooke’, published in 1977 there were four surviving children:

Victor R Bowen-Cooke who had been Assistant Road Motor Engineer of the LMS and three daughters about whom we know much less. His daughters were:

Mrs Faith Harris MBE
Mrs Erica Robinson
Mrs Eileen Tracy

Victor is believed to have died in the 1980s and at the time was living in Devon. It is also believed that one of his relations lived in Portsmouth at one time in a house called ‘St. Mawes’.

We welcome anyone of the family, or acquainted with it who might assist us in completing the picture or simply finding additional information. Any genealogists willing to take on this task are also welcome to do so. The Trust would be most interested in making contact with members of his family or at least fleshing out the story of the people connected to the LNWR George the Fifth class.

 

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New works underway!

With the recent completion of the smokebox door and the obtainment of secure space in which to store the components, we are now proceeding with the next stage of fabrication.

We are therefore delighted to announce that the Trust has signed an agreement and mailed a cheque to Tata Steel Plate Solutions in Wolverhampton for the fabrication of the front frame-plates with delivery in 5 to 6 weeks!

We will keep everyone posted.

 

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May news roundup

Given that it has been over a month since the last update this post will cover a number of recent developments and upcoming events in one go.

The auction at Crewe Heritage Centre
Founding member Bruce Nixon attended the auction held at Crewe Heritage Centre on Saturday 26th April where we successfully sold the whistle once belonging to the last operational Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway class 4-6-0; a historically significant item that was generously donated to the Trust to be auctioned. We are of course grateful to the donor and to the buyer who paid £760.00. This provides a real fillip to our funds and greatly assist us in moving forward with the build.

During his visit, Bruce also had the opportunity to meet with a number of people from the South Cheshire Model Engineering Society and the LNWR Heritage Co Ltd. where he also was given a tour of the works. Bruce managed to spread the word about our build a little wider and received many expressions of support.

Matched funding and a Legacies
Donations such as the whistle and the invaluable financial contributions from our growing band of supporters has led us secure our next tranche of matched funding from our kind benefactor. I should also note that we have received our first Legacy. On behalf of the trust I would like to express our sincere and profound gratitude to the donor for this considerable and generous gift.

If you would like to make a one-off donation, a Standing Order, or provide a Legacy you will find links to the relevant forms at the top of this page and remember, it you’re a UK taxpayer, your contribution receives matched funding through Gift-Aid and additional funds from our good friends, the tax-people (HMRC). For example, a donation of £40 secures £10 from the HMRC, which when matched with Gift-Aid, results in a £100 donation to the trust!

Your contribution matters and it is through your generosity that together we can complete this build sooner rather than later. Month-by-month the momentum is building and together we will recreate one of these beautiful and powerful machines, filling a hole in the preservation ledger (an operational early 20th century express type and an LNWR engine at that), to be enjoyed by present and future generations on heritage rail and certified for mainline running. Fabrication has commenced, parts have been donated and I’m pleased to say that we now have a place to call home so why not be a part of (re)creating history?

A home-base
We’ve held back from committing ourselves to fabricating anything substantial until we could secure a home for the parts, however temporary. While we’ve had the funds to commit to works that are far more substantial than the smokebox door, there has been the matter of storage.

We are therefore pleased to announce that the completed parts will be held in secured storage at a work in Heckmondwike in Yorkshire (next to a former LNWR trackbed where some new build LNWR fish vans are being constructed). Erection will occur elsewhere at a site that’s yet-to-be-determined but having secure storage within the works of like-minded friends provides us with the opportunity to commit to the next significant stage of fabrication.

Regarding this, while I would love to share the details, contractual agreements and pending discussions over the final details prevents me of sharing it just yet. Very soon. Suffice it to say, the next stage will be substantial and during the course of June and July, all will be revealed so stay tuned!

Upcoming events
The Trust will be at Kidderminster on the Severn Valley Railway this year for the annual LNWR Society event. All are invited and welcome to attend and more details with be forthcoming.

Easter weekend at Quorn
To conclude, the newly fabricated smokebox door was on display at the Great Central Railway’sEaster Vintage Festival’ at Quorn station over the Easter long weekend from the 18th to 21st April. As you can see, the door made for quite a sight as it traversed the East Midlands from Bingham to Quorn! The tractor (in keeping with the vintage theme) is a 1953 Turner with V4 diesel and the LMS dray has been painstakingly restored by the talented chaps at Keyte Smith Ltd. We thank Jamie and his crew for their sterling work on the door and for transporting in such style to and from the event.

Easter Festival Quorn 01Easter Festival Quorn 02Easter Festival Quorn 03Easter Festival Quorn 4Easter Festival Quorn_5Easter Festival Quorn 6

Posted in Crewe, Crewe Heritage Centre, Exhibition, Fabrication, Fundraising, GCR, General News, Great Central Railway, Heckmondwike, Homebase, Legacies, LNWRS Society, Matched Funding, Public Events, Severn Valley Railway | Leave a comment

A new smokebox door for a new LNWR George the Fifth!

Well here is it and I’m sure you’ll agree that even with a temporary coat of paint, the result is fantastic and it’s worth noting that this is the first large LNWR smokebox door with original fittings seen since the 1920’s. The work is a credit to Jamie and his team at Keyte Smith Ltd.

Since we posted this on our Facebook page, we’ve received over 100 hits on the photos in the first 20 minutes. As mentioned in the previous blog update, the door will on display at the Great Central Railway’s ‘Easter Vintage Festival‘ at Quorn Station from tomorrow through to Mondat 21st. So come along, be a part of something special and help us create a legacy for present and future generations by donating or volunteering your time!

Door-Outer-1Door-Outer-2

Posted in Exhibition, Fabrication, Fundraising, Galas, GCR, General News, Great Central Railway, History, Preservation Steam, Social Media, Volunteers | Leave a comment

Smokebox door on display this Easter!

At last, the newly fabricated smokebox door will be on public display at the Great Central Railway’s ‘Easter Vintage Festival’, with the festivities taking place across the Easter long weekend from the 18th to 21st April and centred at Quorn Station.

There’ll be plenty for everyone – from steam-powered gallopers and a big wheel, traction engines, drays, steam powered farm equipment, live music, craft stalls, real food and real ale and of course timetabled steam-hauled rides along the GCR line with events at every station.

The LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust will be there from noon Friday and our stand replete with smokebox door – on public display for the very first time – will be adjacent to the “Edwardian Saw Bench” Steam Powered Wood Sawing demonstration at Quorn.

For more information and to book tickets, visit the Festival website here. Note that parking at Quorn Station is strictly limited. We do hope that our supporters and followers can make it for an exciting and entertaining three days. Tell your friends, tell your family and we hope to see you there!

Posted in Exhibition, Fabrication, Fundraising, Galas, General News, Great Central Railway, Preservation Steam, Public Events, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A rare piece of railway memorabilia to be auctioned.

The London & North Western Steam Locomotive Trust was recently the recipient of a historically significant piece of railway memorabilia.

A supporter of the Trust, who at the time of receipt was a young 16 year old lad living near Blackpool and who now resides in Australia has most generously donated the whistle once belonging to the last operational Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway class 4-6-0 in service. The engine in question was a Hughes design (one of the rebuild ‘Dreadnoughts’), BR no. 50455 of the class pictured below, and was withdrawn from Blackpool shed in 1951.

A Hughes Dreadnought in LMS livery.
A Hughes Dreadnought in LMS livery.

The donor was verified the providence of the item, also pictured below with an accompanying letter, a handbill for the last passenger train hauled by the loco (a Blackpool to York excursion) and even a piece of coal from the day! A photo of the engine on the day can be found in Barry Lane’s book ‘Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Locomotives’ published by Pendragon Press. This special excursion took place on sunny Sunday, 1st July 1951 in conjunction with the Stephenson and Manchester Locomotive Societies.

The L&Y whistle donated to the trust is to be auctioned at the Crewe Railwayana Auction at Crewe Heritage Centre on Saturday 26 April. It is expected that a free vintage bus service will be available from Crewe Railway Station on the day. We invite all our readers and supporters to attend and to spread the word.

We hope that the sale of this most important historic relic of a handsome and sadly long lost class will  raise a good sum that will go towards the building of our LNWR George the Fifth!

Whistle from the last LYR 4-6-0.
Whistle from the last LYR 4-6-0.

 

Posted in Auction, Crewe Heritage Centre, Fundraising, General News, Lancashire and Yorkshire, Stephenson Locomotive Society | Leave a comment

Stage 3 progress of the Smokebox door.

While it’s been relatively quiet here on the announcement front, work has nonetheless continued on the smokebox door as this post will testify. The Trust has also been working to establish the foundation for future progress; a task that has occupied us considerably of late.

Our supplier, Keyte Smith has commenced stage three of the smokebox door. Here are a collection of photos taken at the commencement and during fabrication.

*The 20mm thick hinge plate has been pressed to follow the contours of the outer door – it only took 30 tons! It is now being prepped for welding.

*The hinge tube has been made from solid bar. This has had the hole put through it and is now away having the bush seats bored.

*The outer door profile has been marked out and the holes for the plug welds drilled in it.

*The handle has been bent up. This was made from a piece of profiled plate, 20mm thick, and was bent hot over a former. It has been trimmed to size and welded onto the base plate. The base pate was pressed to follow the curvature of the door prior to welding. The handle is also set at an angle to the base (6 degrees) so it projects true to the smokebox front when installed, as per original design.

*The bosses are all turned ready for fitting.

*The next few stages are to trim most of the excess from rim of the outer door, weld in the hinge plate and fit the inner profile.

We of course are immensely thankful for the continued support of our supporters. We kindly ask you to spread the word in whatever manner possible.

Stage 3 kit of parts.
Stage 3 kit of parts.
Formed Hinge Plate
Formed Hinge Plate
Handle 3
Handle 3
Handle 2
Handle 2
Handle 1
Handle 1
Drilling Plug Weld Holes
Drilling Plug Weld Holes
Hinge Plate Plug Holes
Hinge Plate Plug Holes
Handle Parts
Handle Parts

 

 

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LNWR George the Fifth Trust becomes a Partner of the Friends of Crewe Heritage Centre

The heart of the London & North Western Railway will forever be Crewe and in turn Crewe substantially owes its rapid transformation from a tiny village in the early 19th century to a significant regional centre of over 70,000 inhabitants today to the London & North Western Railway; its antecedents and descendants. The existence of the prestigous Rolls-Royce and Bentley in Crewe, both marques of engineering excellence that owe their existence to the long and rich engineering tradition of Crewe, first established down by the coming of the railways.

Crewe is richly steeped in railway history and the railways and Crewe are forever entwined. Crewe Station was completed in 1837 by the Grand Junction Railway and is one of the world’s most historic stations as well being one of the major junctions on the West Coast Main Line. Crewe Works was opened by the Grand Junction Railway in 1840. To support the new locomotive works, over 200 railway cottages were constructed for the workers and their families who settled there, dramatically enlarging the tiny hamlet’s population. By 1848, after the merger in 1846 of the Grand Junction Railway with the Liverpool & Manchester Railway and London & Birmingham Railway, the works employed over 1000 men and were already producing one locomotive per week.

Crewe Works witnessed a number of firsts and milestones. Locomotive Superintendent, John Ramsbottom developed the first reliable safety valve and water scoops for the collection of water by passing locomotives from troughs positioned between the rails. The works was also the site of the first open-hearth furnaces employed on an industrial scale anywhere in the world. And another milestone among many – Ramsbottom’s 0-6-0 ‘DX Goods’ class went on to become the largest single class of engines in Britain with 943 built at the works in Crewe! Ramsbottom and his successor Webb, revolutionised the standardisation and interchangeability of parts and tools in manufacturing.

With the formation of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923, Midland Railway locomotive and engineering practice was broadly adopted and the new company’s centre of engineering was located at the Midland’s former headquarters and works in Derby. However, with the appointment of William Stanier as Chief Mechanical Engineer in 1932, Crewe’s experience with heavier locomotives (Claughtons and various 8-coupled good classes for example) led Crewe to regaining pre-eminence. Crewe became the centre of construction for the LMS’s most distinguished passenger and mixed traffic classes; the Princess Royals, Coronations, Jubilees and the redoubtable Black Fives.

Following nationalisation in 1948, Crewe’s place as a centre of engineering continued and the works turned out various Standards including Riddles’ Britannias and Clans. By the end of steam, Crewe works had turned out over 7000 locomotives. It’s worth noting that the LNWR George the Fifth class ‘Coronation’ of 1912 (which can be seen in our photo-collection on the main-site) was in fact Crewe’s 5000th engine! The George the Fifth class was indubitably a product of Crewe and an exemplary class embodying Crewe’s and the the London & North Western Railways’ engineering excellence.

The 1955 Modernisation Plan saw the rapid transition from steam to diesel and from 1957 on, the works were turning out a succession of diesel types, including the famed Intercity 125’s, which remain in service today.

For over 150 years Crewe has been and remains a centre of railway engineering, and while today the works are a shadow of their former self, Crewe’s proud railway heritage isn’t forgotten thanks to the tireless efforts of the Crewe Heritage Centre. The Trust’s cause is aligned with that of CHC as our locomotive similarly represents a celebration of this heritage. Our locomotive will be a living and breathing testament to Crewe and to the London & North Western Railway’s position as the largest and arguably most prestigious of the pre-grouping rail companies, and at the time of grouping, Britain’s largest business!

As with the tremendous efforts of the Crewe Heritage Centre in preserving the rail history of Crewe and of Britain more broadly, we hope that our LNWR George the Fifth new-build will be an ambassador for Crewe to present and future generations and a living celebration of Crewe’s contribution to early 20th century engineering. Our locomotive will exemplify the sophistication of the twentieth century London & North Western Railway, bringing it to life for the enjoyment and education of all.

With a common cause in mind, we are very pleased to announce a partnership between the Trust and the CHC. We commend the Crewe Heritage Centre in their efforts and encourage to our readers and supporters to pay the CHC a visit with their families and friends to experience their many fascinating and unique attractions including the only surviving Intercity APT. The Crewe Heritage Centre reopens in March 2014.

The website to the Crewe Heritage Centre can be found here. We have also conveniently listed it on the links page  to our main site. We commend the work and efforts of the volunteers at the Crewe Heritage Centre most warmly and we at the LNWR Steam Locomotive Trust hope to have a long and close relationship with them. We most humbly thank the Friends of the Crewe Heritage Centre for listing us as partners on their site.

Posted in Crewe, Crewe Heritage Centre, Exhibition, General News, History, Preservation Steam, Research, Website | Leave a comment

Smokebox door – nearing completion.

Greetings to all our followers and supporters for 2014. We hope that you all had a restful and joyous festive season.

The trust has signed off on the next phase of work on the smokebox door. This phase is the most expensive and extensive so far and it moves the door on a long way from just being a pretty face to an important component of a working locomotive.

The work will include the fabrication and assembly of key components of the door including the central hinge, hinge plate, hinge tube and stop. The fabrication schedule also includes the inner door profile and inner ring, handle and baffle stand-off.

At the completion of this work, the door will undergo non-destructive testing to satisfy and comply with National Rail standards. This testing is critical for certification for mainline running and will be undertaking throughout the fabrication process.

We will of course provide photos as the work progresses.

LMS Drawings showing LMS period modifications and original LNWR features.
LMS Drawings showing LMS period modifications and original LNWR features.

 

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The procurement of a LNWR Vacuum Gauge

Along with the LNWR whistle kindly donated by Mr Robin Dean, the Trust has now procured another authentic component to be fitted to the completed build – a Simplex Vacuum gauge from a LNWR class locomotive, which was originally procured directly from British Railways by the husband of a widow who, upon his passing, then donated it to the GCR. This information narrows the potential donor class down considerably (almost certainly a goods class such as a Super D). Fortunately, identical vacuum gauges were to be found in the George the Fifth class.

Andy Lowe of the Great Central Railway kindly offered the gauge to us on the condition that it would be used in a suitable engine. As this is an authentic item and a necessary part we certainly couldn’t pass up this great offer. The gauge still registers and so with calibration, cleaning and a check, it will easily be fitted to the completed loco and as the manufacturer (Budenburg, formerly Budenberg & Schaffer until World War I) still exists and is located at Irlam, Manchester, a service shouldn’t be a problem. And so, while air-brakes will be required to conform to modern mainline running, a vacuum brake is required for running on heritage lines and this gauge will do its part on a completed engine.

Andy also kindly donated a number a number of copies of George drawings including engine side, tender side and birds eye views, centre bearing dimensions, and various views illustrating both cab fittings and the front end. Andy is a fireman on the GCR and WSR and thus there was much to discuss with him on the gauges’ suitability from the tender diagram he provided. Moreover, being a bit of an LNWR fan himself he is building is own George, in 5 inch scale!

Tom and Paul were there to meet Bill Ford, the General Manger of the Great Central Railway for a small handing over ceremony at the GCR on the 30th November. The photos show Bill (left) Tom and Paul receiving the gauge in front of a rake of Gresley teak coaches, earing the legend of the principal stops from London (Marylebone) to Manchester. Among the other people we met were Bill Carr who discussed their engineering with us in depth and showed Tom and Paul round their works. They were also privileged with a a ride on the line and the driver turned out to be ex-BR Nuneaton where he had experience of the Super Ds. He’d also driven the Super D on the GCR in preservation and was very complimentary.

We of course would like to thank everyone at the GCR for a wonderful day and for giving us first refusal on this gauge, which takes us ever so slightly closer to our goal. We would of course like to remind everyone that the GCR is currently undertaken a massive operation to ‘bridge the gap’ between the two extant parts of the old GCR mainline. Barely 500 metres is missing at Loughborough crossing the Midland Mainline however once completed, the united halves will provide over 18 miles mainline heritage line running, which would be eminently suitable for an engine such as a LNWR George!

To support this endeavour and to find out more, go to Bridge to the Future the GCR’s website. And don’t forget, for us to build an engine capable of running on a unified GCR or indeed for mainline running, your donations are vital. We are rapidly drawing close to fulfilling the required amount for our second tranche of £5,000 from our benefactor but require your support to get us over the line. Links to information on how to donate can be found at the top of this page.

AndyLoweGCR01AndyLoweGCR02GNR_N2classGCR_02class

Bridging the gap.
Bridging the gap.
GP Neele was a LNWR Prince of Wales class 4-6-0, built in March 1914 and scrapped in October 1933.
GP Neele was a LNWR Prince of Wales class 4-6-0, built in March 1914 and scrapped in October 1933. Neele was a superintendant of the LNWR and retired in 1895. He however lived on until 1920 by which time he was the ripe old age of 95. He also wrote a famous book of railway reminiscences.

 

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