45551 The Unknown Warrier

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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.

Miscellaneous Parts

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.

Fund Raising

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.

By September 2019 it was revealed that the locomotive was unlikely to be in steam on the main line in 2020 but the intention was still to have it in steam during the year. It was also confirmed that agreement had been reached with the East Lancs Railway to hire the tender from 42765 if required in order to allow the focus to remain on getting the new build locomotive into steam.

In November 2019 an appeal for £100,000 of further funds was launched to cover the additional cost of design changes. The major change was the increased cost (£41,000) of using copper firebox stays rather than steel as originally allowed for. The appeal also covers the cost of the grate, ashpan and cladding which were not included in the original boiler appeal.

In December 2019 owners admitted that it was unlikely that the locomotive would target completion date of November 2020 would be achieved.

In October 2020 it was revealed that up to three coupled wheels on the Patriot needed to be pressed off the axles for repairs to previous welding work.

The three wheelsets were moved to Riley & Son (E) Ltd at Heywood in October 2020. What were described as “significant” defects were discovered when welds were removed from the wheels.

In May 2021 it was reported that a crack had been discovered in one of its trailing wheel pans. It was initially thought that welding repairs could be carried out but the problem turned out to be more serious and the wheelset had to be scrapped. There will be further delays to the project as the material for axle replacement which was due to be supplied from South Africa cannot de delivered until autumn 2022. Alternative suppliers are being sought.

In July 2021 it was disclosed that that all six driving wheels needed to be replaced following the discovery of widespread cracking. It was believed that the cracks occurred during the casting at the Boro Foundry in 2010/2011.

In August 2021 it was reported that the driving wheels had been sent from Riley & Son (E) Ltd to Boro Foundry so that an investigation into the cracks could be completed. At the same time an investigation into the work on the chassis and the rectification work on required was being undertaken by The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust.

In October 2021 it was reported that the bottom end was being stripped of its cylinders and other fittings after the discovery that the frame plates did not have the “mill scale” removed when they were manufactured. “Mill scale” leaves an uneven surface which could result in parts becoming loose and moving slightly as the locomotive runs. In addition a number of fitted cylinder bolts were found to have been undersized. The combination of both of the issues could have resulted in a cylinder becoming loose after a very short time in service.

In November 2021 after a review of the project to build the locomotive it was estimated that an additional £1.5m (on top of the £2.8m already spent) would be required and that the target date for having it in steam was now December 2026. This follows a full analysis of what was required to complete the building of the locomotive to a standard that could operate on the main line. The £1.5m was broken down as-

  • £660,000 to complete the bottom end
  • £270,000 for the boiler
  • £80,000 for the tender
  • £555,000 for final assembly

Of the expenditure £170,000 is forecast to cover the work by Ricardo Rail who are the Vehicle Acceptance Body for the project.

In order to achieve the target date of December 2026 funds of over £300,00 will be required every year to allow work to proceed.

In January 2022 it was reported that all six of the driving wheels would be scrapped and replaced due to widespread serious cracking. After a technical investigation of the wheels in conjunction with Boro Foundry, who cast the wheels, it was concluded the wheels could not be repaired. As Boro Foundry no longer had the capability to cast replacements discussions began with William Cook Cast Products to procure the replacement wheels.

A contract was placed with William Cook Cast Products in February 2022 for six new driving wheels. The pattern for the wheels was loaned by Tyseley locomotive works as they had produced the pattern for 45699 Galatea after that locomotive needed replacements for two driving wheels following a derailment at Woodham’s scrapyard in Barry. The first two wheels were cast in May 2022.

In September 2022 it was reported that all six new driving wheels had been cast.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
  The West Shed, Midland Railway – Butterley  Under construction  The LMS – Patriot Project
45551 The Unknown Warrior in the workshop at Llangollen – April 2016
45551 The Unknown Warrior in the workshop at Llangollen – April 2016
45551 The Unknown Warrior in the workshop at Llangollen – April 2016
45551 The Unknown Soldier – November 2018
45551 The Unknown Warrior at Crewe Heritage Centre – November 2018

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