34051 Winston Churchill (SR 21C151 & BR 34051)

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21C151 was built at Brighton Works in 1946, at a cost of £20,220, being released to traffic on 30 December of that year. Initially it was unnamed and paired with 4,500-imperial-gallon. It was first allocated to Salisbury locomotive shed for services on the West of England Main Line between London and Exeter.

21C151 was officially named Winston Churchill in a ceremony at Waterloo railway station on 11 September 1947. The former prime minister, by then Leader of the Opposition, was offered the chance to name the locomotive, but turned it down, claiming a prior engagement. The locomotive was named by Lord Dowding, who also named his own eponymous locomotive at the same ceremony.

In July/August 1947 it had its original flat-front cab altered to a more streamlined wedge-shaped, with a larger front window.

It passed to British Railways in January 1948 as part of nationalisation of Britain’s railways. However it was October 1948 before it received its British Railways number 34051. It also kept its Southern Railway malachite green with chrome yellow striping until 1950 when it was repainted into British Railways Brunswick green.

During an overhaul at Eastleigh Works in 1949, 34051 swapped its tender for a tender previously coupled to 21C128 Eddystone.

In January 1950, 34051 moved to Nine Elms locomotive shed in London, and continued to work the West of England Main Line, as well as the Waterloo to Weymouth line. In August that year it gained a tender which it would keep for the rest of its British Railways service, which 34067 Tangmere had had from new.

In March 1951 it was reallocated to Exmouth Junction shed, on the eastern outskirts of Exeter. Its opportunities to wander the network of branch lines west of Exeter were cut short when its allocation was changed to Salisbury only two months later.

It stayed at Salisbury for the rest of its career, becoming the shed’s ‘pet’ locomotive, even being noted on the Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway line in June 1959 on the front of a Salisbury–Wimborne cattle train.

During a General Repair at Eastleigh Works in November/December 1954, 34051 had its boiler pressure reduced from 280 to 250 psi. At its next general overhaul, six years later, it was fitted with a speedometer and Automatic Warning System apparatus, and the tender had its cosmetic high-sides removed.

On 24 January 1965, Winston Churchill died. At his state funeral on 30 January 1965 a special train hauled by 34051 Winston Churchill was been laid on to take the family to Handborough (This was the closest station to the parish church of Bladon where Churchill’s body was to be interred.), seven miles north-west of Oxford. The train was the last steam-hauled state funeral in the world.

While being prepared, the locomotive carried the four discs in an inverted ‘T’ formation—the headcode for a Royal train, but this was subsequently changed. The headcode used while pulling the special was one disc on each side of the locomotive’s smokebox, and a third in the middle of the bufferbeam—a ‘V’ formation evoking Churchill’s ‘V for Victory’ sign. In reality, that headcode would normally only have been used for a breakdown train.

34051 was withdrawn later that year in September 1965, having covered 807,496 miles.

After hauling Churchill’s funeral train, 34051 was earmarked for preservation, so in November 1965, 34051 was moved to Hellifield for storage but spent many years at the former Pullman works at Preston Park out of public view. It later spent some time at the Didcot Railway Centre from 1977 until 1983 when it moved to York.

It now resides at the National Railway Museum, York, as part of the National Collection. It was cosmetically restored at the Mid Hants Railway in 2014 and returned to York for display in the National Railway Museum in time for the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill on 20 January 2015.

The locomotive is one only two members of the class that have been preserved that have not been steamed since withdrawal from service with BR. The other locomotive being 34073 249 Squadron which has been used as spares for 34067 Tangmere and may never be restored.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Locomotion ShildonStatic displayNational Railway Museum

NRM Object Number{1978-7042}

34051 Winston Churchill at Eastleigh – May 1959
34051 Winston Churchill at Basingstoke – May 1961
34051 Winston Churchill at Bristol Temple Meads – August 1962
34051 Winston Churchill heads for Nine Elms shed – June 1963
34051 Winston Churchill hauling the Sir Winston Churchill funeral train at Barnes – January 1965
34051 Winston Churchill at Oxford hauling the funeral train for Winston Churchill – January 1965
34051 Winston Churchill at Leeds Holbeck shed whilst in transit from Nine Elms to Hellifield for storage – December 1965
34051 Winston Churchill on display at Brighton – Circa 1975
34051 Winston Churchill at Didcot – April 1979
34051 Winston Churchill at the Didcot Railway Centre – March 1981
34051 Winston Churchill in the National Railway Museum at York – August 2001
34051 Winston Churchill being cosmetically restored at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway – September 2013
34051 Winston Churchill in the NRM at York - August 2015.jpg
34051 Winston Churchill in the NRM at York – August 2015
34051 Winston Churchill at Locomtion at Shildon – May 2016

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