Monthly Archives: November 2012

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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A small article in Steam Railway magazine.

It’s truly wonderful to see the news reaching of this build reaching out to a larger audience, thanks not least, to the excellent railway transport press here in the United Kingdom. The news of the planned fabrication of the smokebox door found its way into the latest issue of Steam Railway. We of course, encourage everyone to support these magazines, which have been vital to the success of the steam preservation movement over the years.

We would however like to clarify something as we feel that the article may give an impression that we’re fabricating the smokebox door design with the post-1930 modifications made under the auspices of the LMS. We can assure everyone that this isn’t the case. The drawings that we’re working from do date from 1930 simply because it has been difficult to track down earlier drawings with the necessary detail and information.

These particular drawings were drafted by the LMS Drawing Office in 1930 and were intended to show minor modifications to the original door, notably the placement of a LMS lamp-iron fixture and a new centre-boss.  What is fantastic about these drawings is that as well as showing the 1930 modifications, they also happen to show the original door where the changes have been made for comparative purposes! For example the drawings show the original new centre-boss and the original centre boss in a break-out. This is fantastic for it means that we have the original door design in these drawings and we’ll of course be fabricating the door design in its original (LNWR) form and without the 1930 modifications.

We hope this clarifies any potential misunderstanding as we feel that we need to be very clear on this, and we look forward to providing more updates on this in the very near future.

 

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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