Prince George is crowdfunding for survival. The locomotive, that is, not the heir to the throne. Chill, loyal subjects.
The LNWR (The London and North Western Railway) George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust is in the process of reconstructing a piece of rail history and is in need of a cash injection of £1.5 million to bring the nostalgic engine back to life.
The original George the Fifth Class passenger locomotives, introduced in 1910, were stalwarts of the ‘Premier Line’, as it was once known. For 30 years they chugged from London Euston to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Carlisle and Holyhead. Despite the great success of the engines, the last of the fleet was withdrawn from service in the 1940s. Three locomotives were lined up for preservation, but the project never proceeded, so none now survive.
That was until 2012, when the trust was founded after a ferroequinologist (that’s train enthusiast to you or me) stumbled across an old railway magazine that featured the 4-4-0 and enquired if there was interest in reconstructing this illustrious locomotive.
The trust went straight to the top to get the wheels rolling. In 2013, it approached the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to name the proposed locomotive after their newborn son, Prince George. The offer was accepted and the engine was numbered after the year of his birth. Then in 2014, for Prince George’s first birthday – as well as casually being gifted a crocodile and three meerkats – the locomotive was officially named after the royal tot and the project launched.
Seven years on, it’s still a work in progress, with the trust encouraging train and royal enthusiasts to donate if and when they can. The reconstruction is planned so that it can be a fully functioning, mainline locomotive, reaching speeds of up to 95mph while remaining faithful to the historic machine, albeit with some modern internal tweaks from the hundred-year-old design.
A spokesperson for the trust says the reconstruction is not just about a locomotive, but about ‘recreating a world which no longer exists for the benefit of current and future generations’.
Fingers crossed it happens before little George takes the throne or Bucky P becomes the world's largest Wetherspoon’s...
You can find out more about the locomotive and donate on the LNWR website.