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The family of Charles John Bowen-Cooke

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.

Charles_Bowen_Cooke

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.

 

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!

Door-Outer-1Door-Outer-2

Matched funding and Legacies

In addition to the steady progress being made with fabrication, we are also making steady progress on the fundraising side of things. Your continued support now means that we have recently met the conditions to secure our next tranche of matched funding from our anonymous benefactor. In addition to your generous and indispensable support, these tranches constitute a considerable fillip to the project and mean that we can press on in a concerted fashion with the next phase of fabrication, which promises to be substantial.

Regarding this, we are presently in the final stages of signing contracts with contractors and to hope to soon commence fabrication beyond the smokebox door, which is nearing completion. Due to the sensitive nature of these contracts we regrettably cannot reveal further details at this point in time but rest assured it will be significant and the announcement will take place within the coming months.

In other news, we have recently secured our first legacy. We humbly thank the donor for this most generous gift. If you would like to know more about legacies, subscriber donations (otherwise known as a Standing Order Mandate) or even how to make a one-off payment we kindly invite you to visit the links at the top of this site, and remember that each donation option qualifies for Gift-Aid if you are a UK tax-payer. Standing Order Mandates, payments are monthly and can be easily cancelled at any time. It is only with your support that we can push ahead with the task of building a new example of these magnificent machines – a prime example of an early 20th century express type – something poorly represented in preservation – to inform and delight for generations to come.

Successful weekend at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition

To begin with, we’d like to express our thanks and gratitude, both to the organisers of the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition for organising this excellent event and for the support they’ve shown to us, and to the many visitors who paid us a visit at our stand over the two days of the exhibition. We are truly humbled by the enthusiastic interest and many epxressions of support the project including dozens who signed on as ‘Friends of George’. We would also like to thank those existing supporters who dropped by for a chat. Thanks one and all! (Incidentally, if you would like to become a ‘Friend of George’ it’s of course never too late. There’s absolutely no cost and you will receive periodic news updates from us on the progress of the build – so to become a ‘Friend of George click here!)

While we manned the stand, it was gratifying to have people came up to tell us how important our project is; ‘an iconic British locomotive’ and how different it is, a pre-First World War engine and an 4-4-0 for mainline running. As one person put it ‘Of all the new build projects this is the one where success is most important.’ Who are we to disagree!

Additionally there were a few invitations from various societies inviting us to give them a talk on the build. One gentleman told us of his grandfather who used to drive Georges and that at his home in Crewe he had a picture of a George on one side of his mantelpiece and a 4-6-0 on the other – he called them his ‘ladies’! In addition to the usual team Mrs Hibberd had a go on the stand on the Sunday and in the end was putting up a very credible solo performance -as she puts it ‘you just need to say the word superheat every so often and it goes down very well!

In no small part, part of the pleasure derived from this project arises form the people you meet and the personal stories they share, either of dim personal memories or of close family members and loved ones, often now passed, who had some association with the class and the London & North Western Railway or London, Midland & Scottish Railway. These personal stories enthrall us. They mean as much to us as your support and each account paints a picture of the life of the class and of the men and women who worked on the LNWR and the LMS.

We hope that this project will be a testament to their stories and their legacies.

If you would like to share a personal account – a personal reminiscence or a family story involving the LNWR George the Fifth class or more generally, of any London and North Western class, we’d like to hear from you. With your permission, your accounts will be published here and we’ll open these accounts to comments from our readers. To share your story, send it to GeorgeVtrust@gmail.com.

It would be remiss of us not to mention the fine chaps at ‘The Unknown Warrior’ who had a stand close to ours and with whom we have a strong rapport. Their project is an inspiration to us, and their advice has been invaluable.

Members of the LMS Society

Members of the LMS Society, David Hunt and Adian Tester, both authors of several definitive works with Tom and Paul from the Trust.

Our Stand at Warley with Tom and Paul discussing the project with a visitor.

Our Stand at Warley with Tom and Paul discussing the project with a visitor.

Paul and Tom manning our stand at Warley with 'The Unknown Warrior' looming in the background!

Paul and Tom manning our stand at Warley with ‘The Unknown Warrior’ looming in the background!

These photos taken by Bruce Nixon, who was in attendace and is one of our trustees.

Charity status of the Trust and other matters

While this is just a minor update to our news section this time around, it’s a significant step for the trust. The LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust has successfully achieved registered charitable status and has been entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1153991.

The higher status as a Reigstered Charity means we achieve a higher profile and are subject to a more rigorous operating regime supervised by the Charities Commission. In short this should help give the public confidence in the way the charity conducts its affairs and it may help the Trust to access grants from elsewhere. Only about half the charities in the UK are scrutinised solely by HMRC, the top half in terms of income have the additional prestige of being assessed by the Charities Commission.

In other news, we would like to take this opportunity to being to our members and readers, the little railway that could – the marvellous Wells and Walsingham Light Railway coursing its way through the idyllic countryside of north Norfolk from the seaside haven of Wells Next-to-the-Sea through to the picturesque and historic hamlet of Walsingham, which was a site of medieval pilgrimmage. The members of the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway have been great supporters of our endeavours and we in turn, are great supporters of them. Beyond significant donations, Richard Coleby who is the designer of their latest new-build Garrett, has been assisting us with the evaluation of the LNWR’s George’s Joy Valve gear. You might recall that we introduced him back in February in a post which can be found here.

The Wells & Walsingham Light Railway was born out of one man’s passionate dream, hard work and sheer determination. Lt. Cmdr. Roy Francis had already built the mile long 10¼” gauge Beach railway at Wells. In 1979 he started to construct the WWLR on the four miles of old Great Eastern track bed from Wells to Walsingham. Work was completed in 1982 and on 6th April services began on schedule making it the longest 10¼” narrow gauge steam railway in the world.

We heartily recommend the WWLR for an enjoyable day out with family, friends or for whatever society or organisation you might belong to. The WWLR accepts group bookings and a wide variety of refreshments are available from Christine’s Station Buffet at Wells Station. Whilst visiting, you might consider making a donation or volunteering for this wonderful and unique little railway. Information on the WWLR and how to get there can be found here.

Lastly, we hope to send out a newsletter soon and make further announcements about the build and the next stage of construction. We humbly ask you to tell your friends and colleagues about us. Help spread the word. The more supporters, the quicker the progress.

First tranche of matched funding!

Glad tidings of great joy!

If yesterday’s news wasn’t exciting and promising enough, in yet another piece of fantastic news I can hereby confirm that the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust has successfully met the required conditions for our first tranche of matched funding from our anonymous benefactor.  Originally the agreement specified that the Trust was to receive matched funding at £10,000. That is, for every £10,000 that we raised through our own fundraising efforts minus Gift Aid, our generous benefactor would match it with a Charities Aid Foundation voucher.

However, recently he agreed to lower that threshold to £5,000. What this therefore means is that the project will be receipt of an additional £5,000 through a Charities Aid Foundation voucher. We are of course immensely grateful to him and to all our donors and supporters in assisting us get to this point.

And just to reiterate, there is a commitment to match our funding until a £50,000 is reached! As you can imagine, this is a real filip to the project and means that we can begin to initiate our plans beyond the fabrication of the frame-plates!  We therefore ask that all our readers and supporters help spread the word. You’ll find a button at the top of this very post which will enable you to forwards the details to others through a number of platforms, from email to various social medias such as Twitter and Facebook.

I think this news deserves a good and proper British Ale or two!

Building a full head of steam!

On the 3rd August, the LNWR Society held its 40th anniversary celebrations at Kidderminster Railway Museum, kindly hosted by the Severn Valley Railway. The event was well attended and proved to be enjoyable and informative with a good deal of lively discussion and debate ensuing on all matters ‘Premier Line’. The presentations included the Crewe to Shrewbury Line by Bob Yate (author of The Shropshire Union Railway, The South Staffordshire Railway volumes 1 and 2 among other titles) and the restoration and operation on ‘Coal Tank 1054‘ by Peter Skellon (who wrote the book on the Coal Tanks, Bashers, Gadgets and Mourners.)

Trustee Paul Hibberd and young Trust supporter Tom Mainprize were also there presenting the project and outlining the plans to the gathering in an hour-long Q&A session, which was warmly received. Indeed, I think we can safely say that the response we received far exceeded our expectations – to wit, thanks to the generosity of the members of the LNWR Society and other visitors, on the day we received in excess of £3,000 excluding the Gift Aid that will arise from the bulk of these donations. This places us in a position to order the frame plates.

On behalf of the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust, we would like to humbly thank the many individuals who gave their financial and moral support for the project on the day. We firmly believe that this day constitutes a real inflection point for the project and a gathering of momentum, and that with your support, together we will build a new LNWR George the Fifth! As to the progress on the door and the intention to commence fabrication of the frames-plates, we hope to make further announcements soon. We also hope that we can soon confirm a number of other related developments underway that will no doubt please our members and supporters and provide a real filip to the project.

Watch this space as they say.

It should be noted that since the inception of the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust, we have enjoyed a strong working relationship with the 700 strong membership of the LNWR Society, who have been tremendously supportive of our endeavours. That support arose under the auspices of the previous Chairman, Peter Stanton and continues with the personal support of the current Chairman, Brian Hayes.

We were of course, very happy to be a part of the LNWR Society’s 40th anniversary celebrations and we heartedly recommend becoming a member to anyone with in interest in the London & North Western Railway or even in Britain’s rich railway history and heritage generally. Membership provides direct access to a wealth of knowledge, artifacts and rare archival material – material that has been painstakingly preserved and collated over the years by the Society’s members to become the largest single repository of information and relics pertaining to the London & North Western Railway and its constituents. This tremendous depth of knowledge also extends to the membership and social events are a regular occurrence. More information on the LNWR Society can be found on their website here.

A sample of this rich collection was showcased on the day with the LNWR Society displaying a number of artifacts including nameplates, which helped to bring a past era alive again. The nameplates included Sirocco, the last LNWR 4-4-0 (a Precursor rebuilt to the George specification) – an engine that our trustee Bruce Nixon snapped as a young lad at Chester in 1949.

As mentioned, the bonds between the LNWR Society and the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust are strong and abiding. The previous Chairman of the LNWR Society, Peter Stanton has been a redoubtable supporter of the project since its inception.  As a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and a Chartered Engineer, Peter has been actively involved with the minutiae and the nuts and bolts of the project particularly in relation to mainline access. He is our ”Competent Independent Person’.

In addition to Peter Stanton and Richard Coleby, who was the subject in February 2013 of this post on this very blog, Peter Skellon of the Coal Tank Group (mentioned above) has long been tirelessly at hand in answering our many inquiries (and trust me, we’ve had a few in relation to the fabrication of the smokebox door!). Finally, it would be remiss of us not to again mention the invaluable support provided by Ted Talbot, who only recently has made available to the Trust a copy of the June 1911 pamphlet produced by Schmidt’s Superheating Co (1910) Ltd. entitled ‘The Application of Highly Superheated Steam to Locomotives‘ which specifically refers to the successful results achieved with the Georges. We would like to thank these gentlemen for their efforts and in bringing their great experience and knowledge to bear on this project.

All our members and supporters whether that support be financial, knowledge and expertise or moral are the very lifeblood of this project and we again thank you. Support which I should hasten to add, increasingly extends far and wide, including Australia and New Zealand, where notably one benefactor ‘downunder’ recently donating the sum of £500 to the project! So to our supporters (financial and otherwise) in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, we also extend a warm thanks. Wherever you are in the world, you are a part of the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust family. Momentum grows and with it, so does our support-base, which is now widespread extending to all corners of the globe and across a broad-cross-section of the community in terms of age and profession.

Finally, here is a collection of photos from the LNWR Society day at Kidderminster. The first shows young Trust member, Tom Mainprize manning our  booth surrounded by the magnificent artwork of  Gerald Broom, Roger Markland, John Wardle and others. The second shows two LNWR nameplates including that of the LNWR George the Fifth class ‘Coronation‘, a photo of which can be seen on our main website. The third shows Peter Stanton while the fourth shows Mrs Muriel Higgs, is the widow of a driver/fireman.

 

 

 

Gift Legacies

On behalf of the trust I apologise for our silence of late. Negotiations are currently taking place concerning the completion of the smokebox door, which when completed we hope to display publicly, and concerning the next phase of fabrication, which promises to be a more substantial task than anything to date.

Partnerships and alliances are also under detailed discussion and negotiation, and given the often sensitive, long and convoluted process involved with such negotiations it would be unwise to broadcast anything without absolute clarity nor without concrete decisions and agreements in place. To do so would jeopardise the generous trust that you, our supporters place in us as well as the trust of those who donate their time and expertise and those individuals, firms and societies which enter into partnership with us. When and only when the time is right will we make an announcement even if results in weeks or even months of silence. We will of course, do our utmost to keep you informed wherever and whenever possible and we are working as quickly as possible to secure critical agreements and build on the momentum we have to date.

So on behalf of the trust I would like to assure everyone that behind the scenes steady progress is being made and assure everyone that the Trust is thinking well beyond the mere production of a smokebox door without the rest of the locomotive to attach it to or a place to store it (the door or indeed an entire locomotive!). The task of building a new example of an extinct class of engine is as you would appreciate, a substantial one, and one that will undoubtedly take many years and require the tremendous generosity in money and time from many individuals such as yourself.

With this in mind that I would like to announce that the Trust now offers an additional method of providing support to this project. A method that revolves around a sensitive topic, which few of us like to discuss let alone think about. This involves Gift Legacies. None of us likes to consider the process of writing a Will and Testament or the implication of what that decision entails. Yet, a Will is an undoubtedly crucial document, which serves as a lasting  testament to our values, concerns, beliefs and interests.

The act of charitable giving is tremendously selfless act. We therefore kindly and humbly ask that you to seriously ponder whether your legacy; your values and interests would be served by the creation of a new locomotive – an example of one of Bowen-Cooke’s magnificent LNWR George the Fifths – a testament to the ingenuity and artistry of our ancestors that will serve to educate, inform and delight generations to come?  If your charitable interests accord with this vision and our aims then perhaps you might consider gifting a legacy to this project? Your great generosity will help ensure the completion of this project and the creation of a glorious LNWR George the Fifth to delight and educate future generations.

Further information can be found on our Legacy Form (PDF format. Left click to view and right click to download and save) including information on legacy options and on options for making a one-off or regular donation in the memory of someone dear. If you are considering a Gift Legacy, we invite you to contact us at GeorgeVtrust@gmail.com or at the address provided on the form and we will seek to answer your questions.  We also encourage you to discuss it and the process of charitable giving with your solicitor or financial advisor. Click on the ‘How to Help‘ button above to see the myriad of ways you can help.

On behalf of everyone at the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust we humbly thank you for your tremendous support and for choosing to be a part of this project. Together we will build a magnificent locomotive to be enjoyed by generations to come.

We’re in the latest issue of Heritage Hub

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Rowan and the lads at Heritage Hub for the write-up in their latest issue of their excellent digital magazine. If you’re unfamiliar with Heritage Hub we strongly recommend checking it out. The UK Heritage Hub exists to foster interest in the wide diversity of heritage available within the UK. Galas, open days, and themed events. A group of dedicated volunteers, the lads at The Heritage Hub provide a vital service to the heritage rail movement as well as a cracking good read. You can find the current issue (featuring us) and back issues here:

Heritage Hub download page.

You can also follow them on Twitter here: @UKHeritageHub

Register for Easyfundraising and help build a George the Fifth!

The LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust has just established yet another means of donating to the building of a new LNWR George the Fifth; a locomotive that when complete will be the sole representative of a 20th century express engine type of the London & North Western Railway and a rare example of a working Edwardian 4 coupled bogied (or 4-4-0) express suitable for mainline running!

The Trust has bene successful in establishing an account with Easyfundraising. You can now contribute to building one of these marvellous engines by simply registering on the Easyfundraising website here:

http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/lnwrgeorgevtrust/

After registration, whenever you shop with any of over 2000 partnered retailers, the retailer will make a donation on your behalf of up to 15 percent of what you’ve spent, at no additional cost or effort to you! The donation will arrive to us within 30 days of your purchase.

It’s as simple as that!

The list of participating retailers is extensive (everything from airlines, hotels, electronics, clothing, books, hardware, sports-gear and insurance) and can be found here:

http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/retailers/

With Easyfundraising, you’re not only doing your bit for British retail but you happen to be helping to build a classic British steam locomotive (while also assisting British manufacturing along the way, and that can’t be a bad thing).

Of course, you can still make secure donations through Paypal simply by clicking the button that is found at the bottom of our main website or by downloading and filling out the donation form. A button those this is also found at the bottom of our main website:

http://lnwrgeorgevtrust.org.uk/