As we enter the final months of 2014 we’d like to briefly reflect upon the developments thus far and upon what is yet to come.
Without question, the highlight was the official naming ceremony at Quorn Station on the Great Central Railway on a warm and sunny 22nd July and the overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement in rail preservation circles and amongst a broader audience. This response was far beyond anything we anticipated as the news reached a global audience especially on social media, reaching an audience beyond those interested in rail preservation, not least among many who have a keen interest in the House of Windsor. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has expressed their support and helped to spread the word.
We would also like to take this opportunity to again express our gratitude to the Royal Couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their gracious assent to naming the engine after their baby son, Prince George. We are humbled by this decision and we are proud that the completed new-build will bear his name just as the principal engine of the original class was named in honour of his great-great-great-grandfather, King George the Fifth and the entire class of 90 engines, according to standard London and North Western practice henceforth bore his title.
In revealing the name on the date of young Prince George’s first birthday, we thought it fitting to have the left-lower cab-side, splasher, running-plate and valance fabricated to commemorate the event and to bear the newly fabricated name and number plates (with 2013 being the year of the prince’s birth). We wanted to inspire our supporters and the general public to imagine from these how magnificent the completed build will be. The quality of the work is outstanding and it is a credit to the teams at:
Gratham Fabrications Ltd (Fabrication of the door and the splasher and running plates)
Purdie Dished Ends (Forming of the door)
Solus Testing (Non-Destructive Testing of the door)
The Bending Company (Rolling of curved sections for the splasher and door)
Parkside Steel Stockholders (Supply of material for the machined components)
AJB Engineering (Machined components for the door and miscellaneous fabrication)
TSW Services (storage facilities and loan of their trailer)
Sapphire (supplier of rivets)
Procast Foundry (Fabrication of the name and number plates)
Heritage Painting (All painting)
The photos below show the ceremony at Quorn and were taken by Bruce Nixon and Derby-based photographer Ian Loasby. Trustee Paul Hibberd and his wife, Gill spoke at the ceremony and the unveiling was done by Paul and Gill’s grandchildren:
Social media lit up with the announcement and the expressions of support and excitement were far beyond anything we’d hitherto experienced. The traditional media interest has been also very satisfactory with a number of media outlets covering the news. Steam Railway and Heritage Rail magazines for example featured the news prominently in these excellent articles:
As did a number of other outlets for rail preservation news, including UK Heritage Hub, the LNWR Society Journal and given the royal connection, the news even graced the pages and websites of news outlets covering all things royal. BBC Nottingham were also there to cover the events.
Of course earlier in the year we saw the completion of the smokebox door and we have now secured a suitable site in Heckmondwicke, Yorkshire to store the completed and procured parts for the build. This is an interim measure until we can secure an ideal site to begin erecting the engine once sufficient parts exist.
And the fabrication process continues! Looking ahead, we shall soon have some information to share on the front frames, which have now been fabricated for us by Tata Steel at Wolverhampton. This has regrettably, taken longer than we anticipated and the delay has in part been due to the preparations for the announcement made on the 22nd July. Looking ahead, our priority will be to complete the frames with a view to erecting a rolling chassis. Other parts (as we have done with the smokebox door) may of course be fabricated in the meantime depending upon circumstance.
On the 2nd August the Trust attended the annual LNWR Society meeting at Kidderminster Station on the Severn Valley Railway. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos of the event to share but we can say that the event was well-attended and thanks to Tom Mainprize, Paul and Gill Hibberd, the Trust managed to brief the attendees on the project’s developments, not least the name and the fabrication of the left-side splasher, cabside, running-plate and valance assembly. The support and the interest shown was very gratifying. Tom reports the following:
At Kidderminster me, Paul and Paul’s wife (Gill) attended with much interest shown in the project and the stand, we displayed some technicals, pictures (as standard)…Gill did a fine job of talking about the project and did most of our stall work…I tended to float around the event talking to all interested parties about the George…Paul and I gave an hour long Q+A session which involved an update on the project and a general discuss about many issues we had encountered and were addressing. Brian Hayes, the LNWRS Chairman stood up and gave both his personal wholehearted support and the society’s full backing. The event was a great success as Kidderminister was one our foundation moments 2 years ago
Over the coming months we intend to press-on with fabrication and with fund-raising drives. We are also looking to roll out a new and improved website that will hopefully provide an improved experience for our visitors, permitting readier access to all necessary information and will combine the information and news components into one site. As ever, your support is needed and it is through your support through your donations and standing orders that together we can make ‘Prince George’ a reality. We also encourage you to spread the word!