Winston Churchill Battle of Britain locomotive bid hits halfway and calls for donations

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 July 2013

Named after Winston Churchill and responsible for hauling the former Prime Minister's funeral train in 1965, the Battle of Britain Class locomotive has remained in much the same condition it arrived in when it joined the National Collection in 1966.

A monochrome photo of a steam train on a track during the 1950s
Winston Churchill's Funeral Train at Long Hanborough (January 30 1965)
Now a public appeal, launched in 2011 with the aim of cosmetically restoring the train in time for the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death, is looking to build on its momentum, having raised half of its £45,000 target.

Southern Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, Oliver Bulleid, designed the uniquely-shaped, technologically innovative No.34051 engine as one of 44 Battle of Britain locomotives produced between 1945 and 1950.

Experts at the Mid-Hants Railway’s Ropley Works have already begun tending to the train.

“Their knowledge of Bulleid locomotives is second-to-none,” said Ian Harrison, the Chairman of the South of England Group.

“We are starting the restoration process so that the work will be carried out in good time for the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 2015.

“But we are still asking for support to help us cover the costs of parts and labour.”

James Lester, the fireman on Churchill’s funeral train during its journey from Waterloo to Long Hanborough in front of a television audience of millions, has backed the campaign since it was launched by the Friends of the National Railway Museum in January 2011.

“The steam days were always special to me,” said the former cleaner, whose track record began in 1957 and concluded in 2004, when he was the Traction Officer for Eurostar.

“My journey on the funeral train stands out in particular.

“My memories remain with me today. I am giving the proposed restoration of Winston Churchill to its former glory my full support.”


Churchill was the only statesman to be given a state funeral during the 20th century.

  • Email nrm.friends@nrm.org.uk, telephone 01904 636874 or write to FNRM (Winston Churchill), Leeman Road, York, Y026 4XJ to sponsor parts, labour or make a donation.

More pictures:

A photo of a steam train on a track during the 1960s
The 34051 at Eastleigh (1963)
A photo of a man standing in front of an ancient green locomotive
Jim Lester, the fireman on the funeral train, joins it at the Mid-Hants Railway
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