The Friends of the
National Railway Museum

South of England Group
Vice Presidents: Sir William McAlpine Bt, FRSE, FCIT, FRSA; Richard Hardy

Last Update

7 July 2015


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Diary of Events


Winston Churchill:
  At Great Dorset Steam Fair
  Limited edition Prints
  MHR Presentation
  MHR Roll-out
  Arrival at NRM


On behalf of the Friends of the National Railway Museum, the South of England Group was responsible for raising funds for the cosmetic restoration of ex-SR locomotive 2C1 151 (BR 34051) Winston Churchill. It was taken into the National Collection in September 1965 on withdrawal from service. In the intervening period she has been stored in various locations, but not restored to “running condition” and suffered the ravages of time. She was taken into the National Collection because she exhibits in full the innovative ideas of Oliver Bulleid (chain driven valve gear, Boxpok wheels, thermic siphons, high pressure boiler, spacious and well-lit cab, air-smoothed casing) that were to make his locomotives unique in Britain. And, of course, she was named in honour of arguably Britain’s greatest Prime Minister in the sequence of locomotives honouring Battle of Britain heroes and squadrons. She hauled the funeral train of Sir Winston Churchill on 30th January 1965.

With Mallard and Duchess of Hamilton, the locomotive completes the story of streamlining in Britain (but as we know, MN, WC and BB locomotives were not streamlined…merely “air-smoothed”!).

34051 was based at Salisbury shed (72B) for most of her career. Undoubtedly her moment of fame was in working the funeral train of Sir Winston: on that day she became a national icon.

The Work

The locomotive has been cosmetically restored to a high standard in keeping with her iconic status. The work involved:

  • Replacing missing parts, fitting and pipework.

  • The cladding has been removed where rotted and new sheet welded in – especially along the bottom of the smoke deflectors and where it was damaged by an oil-bath fire during its latter days of BR service.

  • The front bogie has been removed and thoroughly overhauled and repainted.

  • The frames have been cleaned and the wheels taken back to bare metal.

  • The backhead has been cleaned and repainted and a new driver’s side cab-window manufactured. A huge amount of  detailed work has been carried out.  New steam piping, injectors and  cab instruments have been fitted.

  • Cleaning, including the internal treatment of the boiler with preservative to prevent corrosion.

  • On the tender various rotted parts have been repaired. The tank has been shot-cleaned inside and sprayed with a special paint to prevent rust reappearing. The footplate has been repainted in black and the body rubbed down to base and repainted and varnished. The electric lights have been removed, cleaned  and re-painted inside and out.

  • Full re-paint (the previous paint was applied when asbestos was removed just after the engine left BR service. The whole loco has been repainted and lined out to exhibition standard with the original nameplates and escutcheons.

The restoration work was carried by staff and volunteers at the Mid Hants Railway’s Ropley works. See the results here.

The Exhibition

The loco was taken back to York on 15 January 2015. On 30 January, an opening event was held to mark the return of the locomotive and train to the NRM and it now forms the centre-piece of the exhibition “Churchill’s Last Journey” which ran from 30 January to 3 May 2015 - see Churchill Exhibition at NRM

Also in the exhibition was the restored baggage car which carried Sir Winston’s coffin and the Pullman car "Lydia", both of which formed part of the original train for the journey from Waterloo to Long Handborough on 30 January 1965.

Raising the money

The campaign raised nearly 90% of the target, see the barometer on the right, with the remainder made up from FNRM central funds.

We are very grateful to those who generously supported the project through their donations to our general appeal, and through sponsorship of parts and labour. A list of donors is shown here, although many others wished to remain anonymous.

We are also grateful to those who have purchased a copy of our specially commissioned painting “The ACE at Battledown”  by Philip D Hawkins FGRA. It features 34051 together with 35029 Ellerman Lines and 30777 Sir Lamiel. A donation from each sale of the print has been made to the funding campaign. Copies are still available  See details and an order form. A ceremony at Ropley yard on 22 January 2014, saw a copy of the above print donated to the Mid Hants Railway in recognition of their work on the cosmetic restoration of the locomotive. See presentation report