None of the Patriot class locomotives were preserved which may be due at least in part that all of the members of the class were cut up at Crewe Works rather than being sold to a scrapyard owner.
The LMS-Patriot Project was launched in April 2008 at the Llangollen Railway‘s Spring Gala.
The new engine will be a National Memorial Engine, continuing the proud tradition associated with the original 45500 Patriot .The name the Unknown Warrior was chosen following a competition in Steam Railway magazine. In 2016 Simon Weston CBE the distinguished Falklands War veteran became the first Patron of the LMS-Patriot Project.
‘The Unknown Warrior’ is being built for mainline running. A high profile engine such ‘The Unknown Warrior’ in its role as the national memorial engine will be be a huge attraction on the mainline. However, mainline running would require the locomotive to be built to a height of 13’1”. This is 1 ½” less than the original design. The design of the chimney and cab would be affected by the reduced height requirements and additional items that are required for mainline running including TPWS, OTMR and possibly air braking also need to be considered. The LMS-Patriot Project is already working closely with a Vehicle Acceptance Body (VAB) representative to allow ‘The Unknown Warrior’ to be mainline certified.
Although most parts are new, the group will use the leading wheelset from a scrapped LMS 8F locomotive. Two unrestored surviving LMS Fowler tenders from Woodham Brothers Barry scrapyard will also be used for the project. The first parts of the engine to be constructed are the frames, followed by the wheelsets, while the Fowler tender is being restored by Rowlescourt Engineering at Alfreton Derbyshire. The driving wheels were fitted to the frames by Tyseley Locomotive Works during May 2014.
On 31 March 2009, two frame plates were cut at Corus Steel, Cradley Heath in the West Midlands. Measuring 39 ft in length 4 ft high and 1 1/8 in thick (28 mm), the frame plates were then taken to the Boro Foundry, at Lye, West Midlands, for machining and drilling, before being taken to the Llangollen Railway Works where assembly is in progress. The dragbox has been fitted to the frames, the front buffer beam fitted, the bogie bolster has been cast and has been fitted, all five of the five frame stretchers have been cast and are loosely fitted to the frames.
In September 2010, the first driving wheel was cast at the Boro Foundry, using the pattern made for LMS Jubilee Class 45699 Galatea. The two classes share the same size 6’9″ driving wheels. The six new driving wheels have been cast by The Boro Foundry Stourbridge and machined and assembled by the South Devon Railway who machined and fitted the plain axles, crank axle, tyres, and crank pins. The six driving axle boxes have been cast by Johnson Porter of Stourbridge, machined at FHT Southam Warwicks and final machined and fitted to the wheels at Tyseley Locomotive Works.
The three cylinders have been cast and machined and were fitted to the frames during January 2015. This is the first use of polystyrene patterns (made by Premier Patterns of Smethwick), for locomotive cylinders which were cast at Coupe Foundry Preston and machined at Harco Engineering of Brierley Hill.
All the components for the bogie have been manufactured and it will be assembled at Tyseley Locomotive Works during 2015. The other wheelset is currently under construction.
An ex LMS Fowler tender that remained at Woodham Brothers Barry Scrapyard and was later stored in the ex EWS wagon depot, has been secured for use with ‘The Unknown Warrior’. The frames were in very poor condition and were cut up following the acquisition of the second tender. The Project has now purchased a second tender from the East Lancs Railway, Bury. The frame plates are in good enough condition to be used along with two of its axle boxes. The wheelsets were removed from the Barry tender and have been refurbished. A new tank will be built as the originals were badly corroded, having suffered the ravages of the sea air at Barry for a number of years. The new tank will also be redesigned to give greater water capacity to help with mainline running. All the work on the tender will now be carried out by Rowlescourt Engineering of Alfreton Derbyshire.
At The LMS Patriot Project’s 2010 AGM on 14 November, it was announced that the boiler for ‘The Unknown Warrior’ will be built by LNWR Heritage at Crewe. The new boiler will be of traditional construction with a copper firebox. A fundraising campaign for the boiler for £1/2million has been launched. The smokebox has been manufactured and was fitted to the locomotive in July 2013. The copper firebox is under construction at LNWR Heritage at Crewe and is expected to be complete in early 2017.
In May 2017 the LNWR at Crewe announced that they would no longer be assembling the boiler due to staff shortages. It is expected to take a few months to identify a replacement contractor. By October 2017 it was anticipated that a new contractor to complete the boiler work would be announced soon. The delay in this work has however affected the date by which the locomotive will be operational as the boiler is unlikely to be available until February/March 2019.
Although the boiler will not now be built at Crewe as the original Patriot boilers were it will still be the first steam locomotive built from scratch in Britain since the early 1960s.
The contract to undertake the boiler work was awarded to Heritage Boiler Steam Services (HBSS) as that organisations first commercial work. HBSS has been established at the Midland Railway Centre at Swanwick by two former LNWR Crewe boilersmiths. The parts of the boiler at Crewe were moved to HBSS at the end of November 2017. It is anticipated that the work will be completed in early 2019.
Much of the engine’s motion has been reclaimed from scrapped Jubilee class locomotives and will be refurbished over the next year. A new connecting rod has been forged and machined and other items are currently being sourced. There have been a number of parts offered to the project as well, such as 4 original LMS buffers from a scrapped crane at Ruddington (GCR N), original LMS lamps, a genuine whistle and many other smaller components.
Over £1 million has been raised towards the project’s target of £1.75 million.
The completion date was planned for 11th November 2018 but due to the delays on undertaking the boiler work the locomotive will not be steamed in 2018.
By June 2018 the aim of the LMS_Patriot Project was to have the rolling chassis complete by the end of August 2018 with the intention of trial fitting the boiler onto the frames two months later. The trial will either be at Llangollen where the frames are being built or at the Midland Railway at Butterley where the boiler is being constructed. The estimated completion date for the boiler is January 2019.
In September 2018 it became know that as a results of differences of opinion, regarding charges for work, between the locomotive owners and Llangollen Railway Engineering the work on the locomotive would not be completed at Llangollen. The chassis of the locomotive was moved to Crewe in October 2018 for a trial fitting of the boiler.
As a result of Heritage Boiler Steam Services moving from Butterley to new premises at Huyton, Liverpool the boiler for the new build was moved in September to Huyton.
The boiler barrel and firebox were fitted in October 2018 at Heritage Boiler Steam Services.
In June 2019 it was revealed that the work to complete the locomotive would be put out to contract as the owners considered that completing the work themselves was too much of a risk. Three contractors were identified as competing for the work – Riley & Son € Ltd, the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust and Railway Forgings & Castings.
The target date for completing the engine was stated to be November 2020 which is the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey.
In July 2019 it was announced that the completion of the construction of the locomotive would be undertaken by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust at Butterley. The locomotive was moved by road to Butterley the following month.