How many of you have taken the family for a fun day out on one of Britain’s 100 Heritage Railways? (The nearest one to us is the Bluebell Railway near East Grinstead – www.bluebell-railway.co.uk)
It’s a popular day out and usually entertains Dad and Grandad as well as the children……
Around 750 steam locomotives remain preserved in the UK, many on the Heritage railway network and they vividly chart the progress of the industrial revolution and our nations amazing engineering and transport history. Interestingly, the Heritage railway industry contributes £250m to the economy and employs 23,000 staff and volunteers.
But did you know ….that after WW1, during the so called “Golden Age” of Britain’s Railways, three of the Great Railway Companies named locomotives to honour their own employees who had fought and died during the war. The London Midland and Scottish (LMS) series was named the ‘Patriot’ class and included one named “Private E Sykes V.C.” The Patriots were a class of 52 express passenger steam locomotives built ifrom1930 to 1934 and, as they were based on the chassis of the Royal Scot they were nicknamed the Baby Scots. All were withdrawn from service by 1965 when British Railways withdrew from Steam engine operation.
Tragically, all were scrapped.
The failure to preserve a ‘Patriot’ class locomotive leaves a massive gap in the history of LMS express locomotive power.
In 2008 a group of intrepid enthusiasts, set up ‘The LMS-Patriot Project’ with the aim of building a NEW Patriot locomotive from scratch. This ambitious project, was inspired by the success of another steam build project, the A4 “’Tornado” which was the first new steam loco to be built in Britain for 60 years. (www.a1steam.com)
A fundraising campaign began and the two main frame plates were cut in March 2009, at Corus Steel, Cradley Heath in the West Midlands. The new locomotive will be built to the original Sir Henry Fowler parallel boiler design and capable of running on Network Rail’s mainline. A new ‘Patriot’ will provide the historical link between the ‘Royal Scot’ and ‘Jubilee’ classes of locomotive and will enhance the UK’s steam collection.
Today, amazing progress has been made, with wheelsets, cab and smoke box now largely complete. See ‘Loco progress’ at www.lms-patriot.org.uk
The aim is for it to be complete in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice in 2018.
The new ‘Patriot’ will be named ‘The Unknown Warrior’ in keeping with the tradition of the war memorial engines and to commemorate of all those brave men and women who courageously served their country
The Project has received the endorsement of The Royal British Legion, and Number 45551 will carry a Legion crest above the nameplate, in recognition of this and it will serve as a permanent memorial to all those who fought and died war.
But the project needs more money. Around £600,000 has already been raised towards the estimated build cost of £1.5m……
If you would like to be part of this exciting project visit the web site at lms-patriot.org or join the society. Members of The LMS-Patriot Company receive a quarterly newsletter ‘The Warrior’ where news about the Project is announced and, amongst other benefits, get an invitation to an annual member’s day at Llangollen, Wales, to view progress of the new locomotive as it is assembled. Single membership is £16/year.