Locomotive 35011 General Steam Navigation to have long term home at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway

By Jamie Hill - 20 March 2019

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The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society has agreed terms to move locomotive 35011 to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway in Wiltshire.

The Society restoring Merchant Navy class locomotive 35011 General Steam Navigation are working to retro-convert the locomotive to its 1950s specification before the class were rebuilt into the more conventional form by British Railways.

This includes restoring the iconic air smoothed casing along with Bulleid’s oil bath encased valve gear incorporating chain drive. Once complete, General Steam Navigation will be the first engine to be restored to as-built condition within the ranks of preserved Merchant Navy class locomotives.

By relocating the group and the locomotive to a publicly accessible site near Swindon, restoration will be able to step up a gear, with a target to complete the rolling chassis within the next five years. The Swindon and Cricklade Railway will become the new home for 35011 with initial restoration taking place at the Blunsdon site. 

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society was formed towards the end of 2015 with the aim of restoring 35011. The Society has made great advances since then, but volunteers were keen to find a permanent restoration base for the locomotive.

“We are delighted that we can finally announce that the locomotive will be moving to The Swindon and Cricklade Railway in the near future” said Simon Shutt, Chairman of the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society. “This move will enable us to take the project to the next step and escalate our efforts to put the steam back into General Steam Navigation.”

Working in association with other locomotive groups based at The Swindon and Cricklade Railway, the plan is to remove the locomotive boiler for the first time since it was withdrawn by British Railways, to allow thorough restoration of the locomotive frames and wheel sets.

“We are pleased to welcome this group to The Swindon and Cricklade Railway” said Mick Lay, chairman of the railway.

“By relocating General Steam Navigation to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway both parties will benefit.” said Mick. “General Steam Navigation will be a valuable and useful locomotive when we extend to Cricklade and also help raise the profile of the railway while it is restored.” 

“We hope both the Swindon and Cricklade Railway and the GSN Society will benefit by combined mutual support, and a sharing of skills and knowledge. The S&CR will gain more working members, be part of a national project to restore 35011 and give the GSN team a permanent home from which to work.”

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