No.5551 The Unknown Warrior is a steam locomotive which is under construction as a "new-build" project, based on the Llangollen Railway in Denbighshire, Wales. Unlike other new builds this engine will be a replica of the original engine which was withdrawn in June 1962 and scrapped in October of the same year, but unlike the original engine which never received a name during its career with the LMS & BR the replica will be named "The Unknown Warrior". All of the original un-rebuilt LMS Patriot Class locomotives were withdrawn by November 1962 and the whole class was withdrawn by December 1965 with none of the engines (un-rebuilt or rebuilt) surviving into preservation.

Original engine

The original 5551/45551 was built at Crewe Works in May 1934 and unlike many other members of her class which were given names, she alongside nine other class members wasn't named. Sheds that she was allocated to over the years included: Crewe North (5A), Carlisle Upperby (12B), Camden (1B), Willesden (1A) and Edge Hill (8A). Edge Hill was the last shed she was allocated to, being transferred there in June 1961 and remaining there for twelve months until withdrawal.

She was also one of thirty four members of her class to be kept in her original unrebuilt condition prior to her final withdrawal in June 1962, her final working life was twenty eight years and one month. She was later cut up for scrap in October of the same year at her birthplace Crewe Works.


The locomotive is being built by The LMS Patriot Project [1] at the Llangollen Railway. Following the success by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust which built the LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado it was decided to construct another long lost class of engine, in this case the LMS Patriot Class. Like the A1 "The Unknown Warrior" is being built with differences as the plan is to run the completed engine on the mainline, so one main difference being the modifications to the tender so that more water and less coal can be carried. It is also planned to have an entirely British-built boiler constructed for the engine which is at present (2017) ongoing.

As of April 2017 the engineering update shows that the engine has had its wheels fitted and also the brake system, pistons, valves, motion plus boiler are all being worked on.[2]

Name, number and liveries

The Unknown Warrior's driver side nameplate with the RBL (Royal British Legion) crest placed above the nameplate.
5551's drivers side cabside painted in its former LMS colours of crimson lake.

The original 5551/45551 never carried a name during its career under LMS & BR ownership, a competition was set up to choose a name for the new engine with examples of nameplates being: Patriot, Hero, Remembrance, Wilfred Owen, British Legion and The Falklands. Alongside names based on regiments, the military & war heroes there were other names entered into the competition which included: Henry Fowler, Winston Churchill, Sir Edward Elgar, Fred Dibnah, Robert Riddles, Baby Scot (nickname for class), Jack Mills (Great Train Robbery), Crewe & Llangollen.[3]

Following a final vote to decide on the engines vote the name which received the most votes and would be carried by the locomotive was "The Unknown Warrior" (the tomb in London which holds an unidentified soldier who was killed on the battlefront during the First World War) It was also decided for the engine to carry the Royal British Legion's crest above its nameplates.

The liveries that the original Patriots wore included: LMS Crimson Lake, LMS Black, BR Black & BR Green. At present during the locomotive's construction, the engine currently wears crimson lake on the left side of its cab and BR Green on the right, this being to give an idea to the public of what she would look like in either livery when completed and running. It was announced in November 2016 during the Patriot Group's annual meeting at Crewe Heritage Centre that the first livery that "The Unknown Warrior" would wear on completion would be LMS Crimson Lake, with the three remaining liveries applied at later dates.[4]

In November 2017 it was announced by the group who were building "The Unknown Warrior" that there had been a few problems arising with the RBL who were supporting the construction of the engine, and with deep regret it was announced that the RBL could no longer support the loco group which also meant that the RBL's crest above the engines nameplates would have to be removed. A new set of crests will be placed above the engines nameplates as a result and the group will still support the RBL at events as it is still planned for the completed engine to be known as "The National Memorial Steam Engine".[5]

Project milestones

  • Jan/Feb 2008 (Jan/Feb 2008): Engine to be named "The Unknown Warrior"
  • Aug 2008 (Aug 2008): Project Launched
  • Mar 2009 (Mar 2009): Cutting of frames commences
  • Nov 2009 (Nov 2009): First nameplate unveiled by The Royal British Legion
  • Sept 2010 (Sept 2010): First driving wheel cast
  • Dec 2010 (Dec 2010): Patriot Project acquires tender for engine
  • Dec 2011 (Dec 2011): Loco's dragbox completed
  • May 2012 (May 2012): Boiler appeal launched
  • Jul 2012 (Jul 2012): Second tender acquired
  • Mar 2013 (Mar 2013): Cylinder appeal launched
  • Nov 2013 (Nov 2013): Engine visits the National Memorial Arboretum
  • Aug 2014 (Aug 2014): Engine attends the Great Dorset Steam Fair
  • Sept 2014 (Sept 2014): First parts of engine's boiler ordered
  • Nov 2014 (Nov 2014): £1,000,000 raised for construction of "The Unknown Warrior"
  • May 2015 (May 2015): LMS Fowler 2-6-4T no 42424 announced as next project after "The Unknown Warrior"
  • Sept 2015 (Sept 2015): Engine visits Barrow Hill Roundhouse for the first time
  • Jan 2016 (Jan 2016): Construction of engine's boiler starts at Crewe Heritage Centre
  • Mar 2016 (Mar 2016): Galatea Locomotive Trust to fund engines mainline equipment
  • Nov 2016 (Nov 2016): Loco's first livery confirmed as LMS Crimson Lake
  • Nov 2017 (Nov 2017): Replacement contractor for boiler construction announced
  • Nov 2017 (Nov 2017): Engine's boiler moves to Butterley from Crewe
  • Dec 2017 (Dec 2017): Construction of engine's boiler re-starts
  • N/A (N/A):
  • N/A (N/A):
  • N/A (N/A):
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Further milestone dates to follow


Although most parts that are being manufactured for "The Unknown Warrior" are brand new, a number of parts off fellow preserved engines will also be used. An example of parts that will be used in the construction of the Patriot include the leading front wheelset from an LMS 8F 2-8-0 no 48518, a set of LMS Fowler Tenders (both of which being from Woodham Brothers scrapyard at Barry Island) are also going to be used in the project. Examples of new parts that will be constructed for "The Unknown Warrior" alongside the frame include the driving wheels and the second fowler tender (the first having usable parts but not fit for re-use itself due to corrosion).


On 31 March 2009, two frame plates were cut at Corus Group plc 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 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,[6] 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 now 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. The motion girders, motion brackets, cylinder covers and slidebar have now been fitted and sandboxes fabricated.


All the components for the bogie have been manufactured and it is being assembled at Tyseley Locomotive Works with completion scheduled for November 2015. The remaining wheelset was assembled by the South Devon Railway in Buckfastleigh Devon. The locomotive has become a 4-6-0 now that the bogie is completed.


An ex LMS Fowler tender that remained at Woodham Brothers Barry Scrapyard and was later stored in the ex EWS wagon depot, was secured for use with 'The Unknown Warrior'. The first tender provided the group with the three wheel-sets they needed for the engine's new tender as well as two sets of axle boxes, the other four not being usable due to damage alongside the salt air at Barry Island causing corrosion. The springs despite being exposed to the elements and salt air were fit for reuse and were removed for refurbishment at Rowan Springs in Rotherham. The frames, however, were in very poor condition so they alongside the other unusable parts were cut up and sent for scrap.

The Project later purchased a second tender from the East Lancs Railway, Bury. The frame plates were in good enough condition to be used along with two of its axle boxes, (the remaining two acquired with the engines tender not being usable and the two missing axle boxes are now in use with another engine). Alongside the acquirement of the second tender which provided the society with two more usable axle boxes they also now had two spare tender wheel sets for use in the future when required. The remaining two axle boxes need to be either acquired from another donor tender or manufactured from new. New drawings have also been produced to help in the construction of the engines tender as it is planned to be built slightly wider than the originals to enable an increase in water capacity from 3,500 gallons to 3,900 gallons. The amount of coal that the engines would have carried in steam days will be reduced to aid in the Increase of the water capacity, the water-scoop will also be removed. Higher water supplies for engines being a recommendation now due to there being no water trough's left on the mainline and very few water cranes, except at certain locations like Hellifield and Appleby.


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 and front tubeplate have been manufactured and were fitted to the locomotive in July 2013. The copper firebox is under construction at L&NWR Heritage at Crewe and is expected to be complete by the end of 2015, with construction of the boiler proper scheduled to begin in January 2016 with completion scheduled for the end of 2016.

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, the surviving chimney from 45539 E C Trench and many other smaller components.


The completion date was planned to be for 2018 with a formal dedication planned for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. However, because of the need to change contractors for the engine's boiler after Crewe withdrew its contract due to a shortage of boilersmiths, the earliest that the engine will steam would be autumn 2019. The engine like 60163 Tornado and fellow Llangollen based new build locomotive 6880 Betton Grange is being built for mainline running.

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