The big day at Crewe is drawing near, with a forecast of good weather for Saturday. Our team will be in attendance with identification badges ready to welcome the opportunity to talk to our supporters. It should be a great day out, and please excuse us if we take a few minutes out to admire the live steam passenger-carrying models, and maybe even take a ride on one.
Hoping to see as many of you as possible during the day, do please come and introduce yourself to us.
Contributed by Stephen Keay, a friend of the Trust
Locomotive lovers and family fun fanatics alike won’t want to miss out on visiting
the Crewe Heritage Centre this summer!
Throughout the summer holidays, it can become difficult to find activities that will be informative, fun, and cost-efficient for families of all shapes and sizes. For those with a keen interest in locomotives, railways, and the history of Crewe, there’s only one place to take the entire family.
Upon arrival you’ll be greeted by Charlie the Eagle,
legendary mascot of Crewe Heritage Centre.
The Crewe Heritage Centre has been an archive of local history since its opening by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in 1987. The present-day Heritage Centre boasts an impressive list of attractions perfect for a family outing.
Those visiting the centre can expect to see the following attractions; the Exhibition hall with numerous displays, the Harry Watson railway art collection, children’s play centre, steam locomotives, the American HO Gauge layout, 7¼” gauge miniature railway, 5″ gauge railway, signal boxes, special events and exhibits on loan from the National Railway Museum.
While visiting, dive deeper into the history of the LNWR and look towards the future with the help of the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust and their current Prince George Locomotive building project. Breathing new life into an ageing industry, the once-extinct George V Locomotive class is reborn and is currently on display at Crewe Heritage Centre this summer.
The construction of No. 2013 Prince George is an ongoing process with a dedicated team of knowledgeable and passionate volunteers working together to create a truly special locomotive. A locomotive fit for a Prince, the George the Fifth Locomotive has been signed off by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, allowing the use of Prince George’s name to make an incredible endeavour even grander.
While on display at Crewe Heritage Centre, the LNWR community welcomes the general public to take up the opportunity to witness the Prince George Locomotive in its current work-in-progress state. For those interested in engaging with the project and becoming friends of the trust, the LNWR George the Fifth Trust is always looking for new members and ways to gather more donations to complete the project.
The left side of the locomotive, complete with Prince George name plate approved by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
In addition to exhibiting the Prince George Locomotive, the Crewe Heritage Centre has many other exciting child-friendly features to experience, such as engineer cosplay, life-size chess games, face painting by Cosmic Faerie, and even free Thomas the Tank Engine books! It’s also worth noting that visitors will receive free admission if they attend the Crewe Heritage Centre on Wednesdays throughout Operation Summer between 10:00 am and 15:00!
For further information on the events and exhibits on display at Crewe Heritage Centre, please, follow the links below:
Crewe Heritage Centre: https://www.crewehc.co.uk/
LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust: https://newprincegeorgesteam.org.uk/
LNWR Society: lnwrs.org.uk
Cosmic Faerie: http://www.cosmicfaerie.com/
On Wednesday 28th June we were at Keyte-Smith’s Kirkby-in-Ashfield works to see Prince George winched on to a low loader for the two-hour run to Crewe. Our driver was very conscientious about making all secure. One last measurement was needed: the height of the chimney, which came in at just under 16 feet, so not a problem on main roads.
Once all was secure, it was time for Jamie and partner Paul to say goodbye their creation.
Our driver commented that some of the driving around him left a bit to be desired as drivers were admiring his load rather than the road around them!
Ready to unload
A 4-wheel steer JCB towed our loco off the trailer and into position. It was more than a little difficult to manoeuvre but eventually Prince George was in position.
Please support us & the Crewe Heritage Centre by visiting the exhibition over the next 3 months. See https://www.crewhc.co.uk for opening times and directions.
Finally, what we aim to build: ‘George the Fifth’ class No. 2013 ‘Prince George’. From an official LNWR photograph of No. 2663 ‘King George the Fifth’. Stephen Arrandale kindly colourised and photoshopped the original for us.
Please come to see Prince George at Crewe
1st July 2023
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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’s ‘Easter 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.