December – Newsletter number 3
3 August – Report to the 40th anniversary meeting of the L&NWR Society at Kidderminster Railway Museum:
There are so many ways to start a communication of this kind! They can vary greatly, and this one starts with a big ‘THANK YOU’ The George the Fifth project has previously resisted communicating until we have had real news to publish, often leading to periods of silence. Our strategy has been one of waiting until significant milestones are reached. During the early stages in such a project this seemed entirely sensible.
The milestone of the Kidderminster meeting cannot be overestimated for the project; this is our defining moment – THANK YOU.
The event at the Kidderminster Railway Museum raised over £3,000 (before gift-aiding) thanks solely to the generosity of the L&NWRS members. Be in no doubt, the project is moving forward rapidly and as detailed below, gaining momentum. This is an achievement only made possible by the L&NWRS membership. The synergy between the two groups is such that it will surely last deep into the 21st Century.
The £3,000 raised enabled us to move comfortably past the first target for our matching fund agreement to ‘kick in’. Thus another £5,000 has now been added to our growing funds.
Money however is useless without a cohesive and thorough plan. I shall now briefly describe our medium term objectives which we believe gives our project stability, continuing prospects for growth, and increasing appeal (including to that of the L&NWR Society) to a wider audience than previously possible. This plan is only achievable through our use of contacts within the L&NWRS – Engineers, Mainline requirements, historical accuracy, monetary support, the list goes on…
These are our medium term objectives:
1 – Firstly we aim to establish our home base and erecting shop around the Crewe area. There is no need to justify our choice on this point!
2 – Once our home base is agreed we will be able to order the frame plates; a substantial milestone in building any locomotive, we already have the boiler door.
3 – We will now apply for Registered Charity status (as opposed to being simply HMRC approved). This means we will be regulated by the Charity Commission. Our favourable tax status (which enables us to benefit from gift-aiding on contributions made to us) will continue and our new status will help us when Approaching significant outside sponsors.
4 – We are actively seeking suitable Patrons.
5 – We are also seriously considering fabricating the nameplates if our preferred name is given clearance from the relevant body, a name highly suitable to an LNWR engine and able to, reach an audience much lake 5551 ‘The Unknown Warrior’.
The Kidderminster event itself was hugely interesting with such an eclectic and wide ranging mix of stands – from dioramas, models, nameplates, through to the coal tank and our new build display stand. The event featured a broad and interesting set of themes capturing much of what the London North Western was (and the L&NWR Society still is) all about. By being able to talk to the members we gained so much; important information on the Schmidt superheaters; engineering opinions on various LNWR matters; old correspondence from Crewe; donated drawings, pictures, money and other offers of help. It truly showed that the Society is willing and able to help support our project in so many different ways and for this we are very grateful.
Tom Mainprize and Paul Hibberd gave a 45 minute talk based firstly around the George’s history pictorially displayed and described, than on setting out the Trust’s current position and how we plan to grow from the base we have built thus far. The final 15 minutes was dedicated to a question and answer session with various points being debated and discussed with present L&NWRS members, the diversity and depth od knowledge of the discussions lead to a very interesting and pleasurable finale to our day.
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, 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 in 1948. 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 in part be a platform for enthusing the next generation on the LNWR and the great history with 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.
The Trust has now raised over £10,000, a fantastic start!
It is now possible to move forward by setting up a home base, hopefully at/near Crewe, and getting the frame plates cut. Along with gaining charitable status and etching the nameplates we hope that you can witness our project really progressing towards its stated goal of manufacturing a ‘Crewe-Built’ LNWR 4-4-0 for the mainline.
This could be the only chance to get such an LNWR engine back on the mainline where it belongs.
With an estimated price tag of £1.5million we still have a long way to go. However, the generosity already shown by the L&NWRS and its members has been crucial to our early success without which the project would still be only a pipe dream. This is no longer then case. Money is our biggest obstacle to progress and the larger the volume of people donating either through a subscription or as a one off (no matter how small) edges us forward to the day where we can lift trains up Camden Bank once more! Help us maintain the momentum of this life changing moment by continuing to support our George the Fifth New Build project.
Finally special thanks are due to Brian Hayes for overseeing such a very successful event.