News Release - Issued by National Railway Museum
- Locomotive and luggage van to be reunited for commemorative display to mark 50 years since the state funeral on 30 January 1965
The National Railway Museum will be commemorating 50 years since Winston Churchill’s state funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1965 with a 30 January – 3 May recreation of the funeral train which carried the illustrious former Prime Minister from Waterloo, London, to his final resting place in Oxfordshire.
The ‘Churchill’s Final Journey’ display will showcase the newly cosmetically restored locomotive Winston Churchill, part of the York museum’s collection. The Battle of Britain Class engine was chosen to haul the former Prime Minister’s funeral train from Waterloo to Long Hanborough on 30th January 1965 and was seen on TV by millions worldwide.
Winston Churchill was one of 44 members of the class produced by the Southern Railway between 1945 and 1950. They were all named after the people, aircraft, fighter squadrons and airfields involved in the battle. Designed by the Southern Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer Oliver Bulleid, their unique shape and innovative technology set them apart from other British steam locomotives.
Sir Winston was the only statesman to be given a state funeral in the 20th century, and after the locomotive bearing his name fulfilled its solemn duty it was earmarked for preservation and joined the National Collection in 1966. Up until 2013, the locomotive remained in the same poor cosmetic condition as the sixties.
Work started on No. 34051 Winston Churchill at the Mid-Hants Railway’s Ropley Works in 2013 after an appeal launched by the Friends of the National Railway Museum in January 2011 raised the money to give the steam icon a new look in time for the 50th anniversary year of the wartime leader’s death. The new look locomotive is set to arrive at in York from Hertfordshire in late Autumn.
The funeral van, Southern Railway Van S2464S will be used to create the complete train.
The umber and cream van, which until its starring role in 1965 was just a regular goods van carrying things like vegetables and newspapers, is currently being restored in the workshop at Locomotion: the National Railway Museum at Shildon in time for the 30 January display. Like the locomotive it was saved for preservation in 1966, spending many years at the Pacific Palms Resort in Los Angeles where it became a tourist attraction overlooking the Dwight D Eisenhower Golf Course, but it was returned to the UK in 2007.
The carriage which is on loan from the Swanage Railway Trust arrived at the Co Durham museum in mid September and will join the locomotive in early January. The stunning display in the Great Hall will feature interpretation panels and newsreel footage to show the impact that Churchill’s final journey had on the nation.
Senior Curator of Rail Vehicles at the National Railway Museum, Anthony Coulls, said:
“Our locomotive and the carriages that it hauled have earned a place on the national stage for all time due to the part they played in Churchill's final journey.
“Churchill’s funeral was watched by 300 million of people on television and so his last solemn journey by train has stuck in people’s memories. It is only fitting that our museum commemorates this aspect of his final goodbye.”
A particularly staunch supporter of the Museum’s January commemoration is James Lester who was the fireman on Churchill’s funeral train. James’ railway career began in 1957 as a cleaner at Nine Elms and finished in 2004 as the Traction Officer at Eurostar.
He explained: “The steam days were always special to me, and my journey on the funeral train stands out in particular. My memories remain with me today and I gave this restoration of Winston Churchill to its former glory my full support. ”
Churchill’s Final Journey runs from 30 January - 3 May 2015. For more information visit http://www.nrm.org.uk/planavisit/events/winston-churchill
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• The appeal to raise the money to cosmetically restore Winston Churchill was launched on 30 January 2011.
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