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!


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.

The London & North Western Railway Society 40th Anniversay Meeting

The trust will be present at the 40th Anniversary meeting of the The London & North Western Railway Society at Kidderminster Railway Museum on the Severn Valley Railway on the 3rd August.

Admission is free and open to the public. Events kick off at 10:30AM and will continue through to 5:30PM.

10.30am-12.30pm – “The Crewe – Shrewsbury Line” by Bob Yate, author of The Railways and Locomotives of the Lilleshall Company, By Great Western to Crewe” (the Wellington – Market Drayton – Nantwich line), The Shropshire Union Railway and Canal Company and The South Staffordshire Railway, plus numerous articles in magazines and journals. 

1pm – 2pm – The Build a George the Fifth Project – A Progress Report.

2.30pm-5.30pm – “Coal Tank 1054 – its Restoration and Operation” by Pete Skellon, author of Bashers, Gadgets and Mourners, the Life and Times of the LNWR Coal Tanks.

 Exhibition of paintings by Gerald Broom, Roger Markland and John Wardle. 

There will also be a number of stands, including our own displaying LNWR artifacts including nameplates, memorabilia, archives and models. The LNWR Society will also host a stand.

We cordially invite our followers, supporters, their families and friends to come along.  Please drop by to say hello and while you’re there be sure to check the exhibits at the Kidderminster Railway Museum and take a ride on the marvellous Severn Valley Railway.

An update on the smokebox door

We apologise for the recent silence but we can report the following and we hope to have more updates very soon, hopefully with photos over the coming weeks.

Due diligence on the smokebox door has taken us longer than we anticipated but we are finally underway. The down-payment has been made with Keyte Smith Ltd of Bingham, Nottingham. Peter Stanton, the Chairman of the LNWR Society and Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and a Chartered Engineer was appointed by the Trust to ensure that we confirm to the appropriate certification especially as we want to be eligible for mainline running. Along with Jamie Keyte of Keyte Smith, all the necessary due-diligence for the smokebox door has being undertaken.

A materials certificate is to be provided and the door will be made of Boiler-Plate, which is stronger and more resistant to corrosion than the ‘Crewe Steel that’ the LNWR employed, which was made by the LNWR for its own use. Keyte Smith have also done calculations to demonstrate that the door will be able to withstand the partial vacuum behind it. The outer door profile is being produced by a process known as ‘metal spinning‘. You can read about the process on Wikipedia here. The original doors were fabricated by pressing, which only makes sense if you are producing large quantities of the same item (as Crewe Works was undoubtedly doing) and really isn’t practical or cost-effective for one-offs. I should stress that the result will be indistinguishable from the original.

Internal discussions are currently taking place to finalise the next stage. We are all reasonably certain about the next part to be fabricated next however we’ll hold off announcing it until the decision is definitive. To this end we hope to soon begin running simulation software and following due diligence to again ensure mainline running. What I can say is that we are considering a more structurally integral part of the locomotive, which we hope will be a serious demonstration of intent. It has made sense for us to hold back on structurally critical parts of a new locomotive until we felt ready to tackle them but we are coming to grips with the fabrication, tendering and certification processes and we are attracting invaluable support from knowledgeable and experienced individuals such as Peter Stanton, Richard Coleby and Ted Talbot.

We are also steadily gathering interest and support and we have you, our donors and supporters to thank for getting us the point where we can finally cut metal. Of course it perhaps goes withing saying that much more is needed and so we humbly ask for your assistance in raising sufficient funds for the next stage of fabrication. And remember, once we reach the £10,000 mark matched funding from a kind benefactor will kick in, helping to expedite the build. At £20,000, another £10,000 in matched funding will be made – all the way to £50,000 – which will give this project a real fillip. People like you will make this happen so please consider becoming a regular donor or if you’re not comfortable with monthly contributions, then a single donation is of course also greatly appreciated. A reminder that UK taxpayers can match their donation through Gift-Aid so remember to tick the Gift Aid-box and fill out the appropriate details when filling out the donation form. Monthly donations can be cancelled at any time. You’ll find a link on ‘How to Help‘ at the top of this page including the form in doc and PDF formats. Single donations also can be made securely through Paypal on our main website.

We thank you for your support!

Speaking of assistance, the LNWR Society is in the process of digitising the drawings it holds in its collection and we shall be receiving a full collection in a digital format soon. We kindly thank the LNWR Society for this gesture.

Those ‘flimsy frames’?

2013? Hard to believe. We hope you are all well and wish you all the best for the coming year. We also hope to have some news for you in the coming weeks now that Christmas is out of the way.

In the meantime we’d like to bring an article written by Ted Talbot for the January edition of ‘Back Track‘ entitled “Centre Bearings, Weak Frames and all that” to your attention. It concerns the removal of the Centre Bearings and frames from LNWR engines, which was authorised in 1923 and had a deleterious effect on the reliability, maintenance costs etc of the engines. Ted’s article looks at the consequences, assesses the reputation that LNWR engines subsequently received, that of having ‘flimsy-frames’ (undeserved argues Ted) and the likely motivations of this removal (a decision emanating from the smoke-filled rooms of Crewe’s old rival, Derby perhaps?)

The Centre Bearing was a feature of LNWR engines employing Joy valve gear where the space on the driving axle typically occupied by the eccentrics driving the steam chests found with Stephensons gear was instead occupied by a centre bearing in addition to the axle box bearings, which served to lessen the fore & aft shocks on the crank axle. To illustrate what a Centre Bearing and frame was, Ted has kindly provided us with a photograph of between the frames on a 5in gauge model of a D class 0-8-0 (the unsuperheated Whale 0-8-0 with large boiler). Note the central plate or frame and the Central Bearing between the connecting rods and cranks. Note too that the steam-chest linkages to the con-rods known as the valve rods and the reverse gear linkages have been removed here for clarity.

We heartedly recommending Ted’s fascinating article. We also recommend the Back Track journal for anyone interested in the rich and endlessly fascinating history of Britain’s railways.

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.


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.


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!

A report from the Llangollen Railway Gala

Members Paul Hibberd and Tom Mainprize have returned from a weekend manning a stall for the George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust ( and moonlighting at dog-minders for visitors!) at glorious Llangollen where a celebration of all things steam took place at the Llangollen Railway Gala. Truly Llangollen is well worth the visit.  On arrival at Llangollen the Stationmaster, who was very helpful gave us the freedom of positioning anywhere within reason under the canopy on Platform 1. We chose to locate to the far end of the canopy about 20ft from the entrance.

The weekend proved to be a great success with the profile of the project raised just a little higher and firm friendships and associations forged with the chaps at Llangollen and with other new-build projects, specifically the team behind the LMS Patriot build who were also present (their build is based there). We humbly thank them and the team on the Betton Grange Project, which is also based at Llangollen. The members of these new-build projects were generous with their time and their words of advice, offering invaluable insights and personal expressions of support. We forged many new firm friendships and connections while there and we even agreed with the Patriot team that some day we’d have a completed George double-heading with ‘The Unknown Warrior’!

What a marvelous sight that would be!

Our humble thanks must of course go out to those people who dropped money in our donation box, who signed up either as a ‘Friend of George’ or a Convenantor and who entrusted us with their dogs while they rode the line (see the photo below). We thank the public for the many inquiries and expressions of support over the course of the two days. If you wish to make a donation, become a Convenantor or head with time and skills , please head over to our website and click on the How to Help link.

Of course, we must thank all the people at the Llangollen Railway for a wonderful celebratory weekend of steam and for their unfailing assistance and support. We are currently planning our next stall and are in the advanced stages of planning the first part of a new George to be fabricated. We’re very excited about this and can’t wait to tell you all. So finally, a big thank you to for all those who have donated or become Convenantors thus far!

Watch this space!




46233 Duchess of Sutherland (2012) vs 1662 Deerhound (circa 1912)

This short article is intended to give you an idea of the power and speed that the George the Fifth class was capable of in service on the ‘mountainous’ section of the West Coast Main Line, rather than a contest of ‘which is best’. The runs in comparison are 46233 Duchess of Sutherland on the Royal Scot PMR tour from Crewe to Carlisle on 9 June this year (reported in Steam Railway magazine, issue 404, p.81) and 1662 on the Crewe to Carlisle portion of the 10am Euston to Glasgow express circa 1912 (reported on p.89 of O S Nock’s book ‘The Precursor Family’).

Firstly one must put both runs into context and perspective. 46233 was taking a moderate load of 380 gross tons, 1662 was taking a load of 370 tons gross. So the loads are broadly comparable, perhaps even more so given the rolling resistance of the stock in use a hundred years ago. Secondly it is not entirely straightforward to ascertain what timing points Nock was using. For example was his ‘Shap summit’ the modern milepost thirty seven and a quarter, and his Tebay (the old station) appears to be half a mile south of the modern ‘Tebay North’. Thirdly 46233 stops in Carnforth loop for water (roughly 0.31 miles South of Carnforth Station), 1662 was probably doing around 65mph at this point and does not stop at Carnforth. So precise comparison is not possible but it does give a good indicator of the George’s performance. We can use 46233 as the benchmark (albeit a very high one!) being one of the most consistent and higher performing engines ever to grace British railways.

From Carnforth to Oxenholme verifies the above statement, 46233 from a standing start passed Oxenholme in 16.57, whereas 1662 took just 13.34, this was due to passing Carnforth at speed. Having troughs en route it was unnecessary to stop for water, unlike with mainline tours nowadays. The Oxenholme to Grayrigg section, with the two miles of 1 in 173 on the ascent to Grayrigg shows performance one would expect of both engines, 46233 took just 8.56 compared with the 11.20 of 1662. The speeds of both engines were clocked, 47mph for 46233 and a minimum of 32mph for 1662 in passing Grayrigg. 46233 then takes 5.25 from Grayrigg to Tebay (old station) as against 5.44 for Deerhound and so passing through the Lune Valley things would have been pretty much neck and neck (and would Deerhound have been picking up water on Tebay troughs).

From Tebay (old station) it is 5.5 miles to Shap summit and not surprisingly it was here that Sutherland pulled ahead, gaining 2.08 on the George, taking 6.38 as against 8.46. So the total time for Sutherland was 37.05 for the 31.2 miles from the loop as against 39.44 for Deerhound (for the 31.4 miles Nock quotes from Carnforth station to the summit).

This was a very fine performance for the George, but not one that was out of character. For the 59 ton 1662 with a comparable load shows an incredible performance from such a small engine with only 175lb boiler pressure available, but it did have the benefits of high temperature superheat and long-travel piston valves. 1662’s average speed throughout was a striking 47.3 mph and the average drawbar horsepower seems to have in the region of 950.

Taking all the factors together, I think it is a fascinating comparison between a quality climb of Shap on a Scottish express achieved in the conditions applicable around a hundred years ago and an excellent steam performance in today’s conditions, and the experience taken as a whole is a surprisingly close run thing – and in the absence of these plucky little Georges it is pretty clear the West Coast main line is missing something sensational. If you would like to keep updated with progress and become a ‘Friend of George’ click here and fill out the form.

If you would like to donate click here for the forms, or donate via Paypal here. If you have skills that you think would be beneficial please let us know.

By Tom Mainprize and Paul Hibberd.

LNWR GEORGE THE FIFTH STEAM LOCOMOTIVE TRUST 62 High Street, Buntingford United Kingdom, SG9 9AH

Email: thomas.mainprize@gmail.com

As well as being a member of the LGFSLT, Tom is a volunteer with (4)6233 and The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust

Deerhound at ShrewsburyDeerhound piloting The Life Guardsmen462333 Duchess of Sutherland at Carlisle