Questions and Answers with the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society

Before our Annual General Meeting earlier in the year some of our directors took the time to answer questions about our project. These questions were put to us by our members and the general public through our social media platforms. So sit back, relax and enjoy this discussion about 35011.

2022 is going to be a very important year for the project with some big goals in mind. To achieve this we will need your help, you are able to support us in many ways if you are not already a Society member you can sign up for membership for currently only £15 per year here, or donate to the Society or even better become a shareholder here.
As always thank you for your continued support.
Thank you

#OnThisDay the first Devon Belle

#OnThisDay in 1947, The “Devon Belle” Pullman service was introduced by the Southern Railway. The service ran  between London Waterloo and Ilfracombe with a portion to Plymouth did not in reality last for long as named train services go with the train being ran in September 1954. Usually the train was worked from London to Exeter with Merchant Navy class pacifics and was then split with a four coach portion heading to Plymouth and the remaining eight (sometimes up to ten) coaches including the iconic observation car heading to Ilfracombe both portions usually behind Bulleid Light Pacifics.#

Back in Southern Railway days Merchant Navy class Nº21C11 General Steam Navigation with a full load of coal in her tender and all prepared to work the “Devon Belle”. photograph: Mike Morant collection

At the time it was the only service to as advertised run ‘non stop’ from Waterloo to Exeter i.e. not stopping at Salisbury, although in reality an unadvertised stop was made at Wilton (the next station to the west of Salisbury) to change engines. This resulted in light engine movements between Wilton and Salisbury in each direction.

To meet the needs of up and down services two Devon Belle rakes were formed along with two popular observation cars on the Ilfracombe portion. These observation cars, numbered 13 and 14, were converted from other coaches, with the origins of No 14 being an ex LNWR Ambulance car which was converted into a Pullman car in 1921 before being ultimately converted for its role as an observation car. With the decline in passenger numbers first the number of operating days was reduced, then from 1950 the Plymouth section ceased and ultimately the final Ilfracombe Devon Belle service was run in September 1954.

Nº21C14 Nederland Line at Waterloo with the down
Nº21C14 Nederland Line at Waterloo with the down “Devon Belle”. This photograph, and the one above, shows off to good effect the distinctive nameplates of this train. The background colour was red, which was a departure from the normal green background used on Southern nameplates. photograph: Mike Morant collection

Putting Funds into the Frames

Now that the boiler has been successfully removed from the frames for the first time in 61 years, see news item from 2nd October 2020 here, our attention is now turned to the restoration of the frames and the rear dragbox.

We have therefore set up a Fund for the Frames that will be essential for the successful restoration of  35011 back into her original condition. Not only do we need to clean and review the condition of the frames as they exist today, any corroded sections of the framework, the rear platform and dragbox will cut out and replaced. We also need to reverse some of the areas that were changed during rebuilding to allow a new middle cylinder to be installed and reinstate Bulleid’s unique patented chain driven valve gear.

This a general fund with no minimum / maximum donation or number of contribution limits, all monies donated to the Fund for the Frames will be specifically ring fenced for the frames. If you are able to contribute to this project in any way however great or small, we thank you for your support.

Trailing Truck – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Since, the last trailing truck update, and arriving at the North Norfolk Railway (NNR) the truck has been fully dismantled, a detailed examination and testing undertaken.

News on the truck can perhaps be broken into 3 sections, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (the film being sequel/prequel to “A Fistful of Dollars”, which we need to get the project completed).

The Good
The axle & wheelset are in excellent condition. Visual and Non Destructive Testing (NDT) of the axle showed no defects. One end of the axle has some pitting, but the majority of the axle is at its original size. NNR are awaiting confirmation from Ricardo, our certification body, that we can appoint our preferred subcontractor for the tyre turning/profiling to be done.

The new set of springs that we purchased as part of an order with our friends the 35006 Locomotive Society are excellent and all have the same deflection under load, so setting up the height of the Trailing Truck will be easier.

The Bad
The Left Hand axlebox has visible cracks in three places, one of which extends at least two inches down the side and would need grinding out to near the top of the arch before attempting a welding fix, that being gunmetal could be difficult to demonstrate that it’s been adequately done. The Right Hand axlebox however has no visible cracks. The bottom of both axleboxes are bent, probably from the truck being jacked up at some stage. The LH is far worse than the RH and may well fracture if we try to return it to shape, the RH might be OK to be returned to shape. The plan is to use penetrative dye on both axleboxes to look for further cracks, but there is a good chance we will have to replace the LH axlebox.

There is a pattern available for the axleboxes, and these are the same as for the tender, so if we do decide to replace it, we may well consider ordering all eight to reduce costs (including the RH axlebox).

The Ugly
The swan necks at the front of the truck are in poor condition, especially the Right Hand one. We are recommending that they are cut out completely and replaced as the best long-term solution. We can then be certain the frame remains true, and ensure the strength & rigidity of the final frame. It will also enable NNR to examine the rear of the frame and it’s condition around where the necks are connected.

There is a small crack in the right rear of the frame, close to where the swan neck ends, but it should be repairable. We have instructed NNR to arrange for NDT around the crack, the location on the LHS of the frame and also around all the other weld areas as well, to determine how much material is there and how sound all the welds are.

Next steps
NNR are creating a full CAD of the Trailing Truck, partially to understand how the truck went together originally, as well as for replacement parts. NNR will advise us of the likely costs of the testing and the manufacture and installation of the new swan necks the replacement swan necks . We knew that only once it was fully disassembled, examined and tested that a complete picture of the work required would be obtained.

The original cast trailing truck on top verse the later fabricated style.

The support of the members of the Trailing Truck Transformer Fund Club has enabled the substantial amount of progress to date to be achieved. It is likely that the overall cost will exceed the initial estimate for the fund club, even once all ‘Lots’ are allocated and therefore further funding from other sources, such as Company shares will be required. Once again we thank the members for thieir continued support, as mentioned above we do still have further ‘lots’ available in the fund club or alternatively the General Steam Navigation C.I.C. offers all our supporters the opportunity to purchase shares in the locomotive.

The members of the Trailing Truck Transformers  group are key to funding this key component back to working order and you can help by joining our group here.

The momentum being generated by our engineering team means 2022 is going to be a very important year for the project with some big goals in mind. To achieve this we will need your help, you are able to support us in many ways if you are not already a Society member you can sign up for membership for currently only £15 per year here, or donate to the Society here or even better become a shareholder here.

Spring Engineering Update

Spring Engineering Update


Inside GSNs firebox (Rob Edwards)

Work continues on the boiler with the last of the remaining boiler tube  stubs being removed last month. A big thank you goes out to the sterling work by our volunteers (including Paul G, David O, Geoff A & Jack G) who completed this strenuous task. Work has started on removing rust from the inside of the firebox, descaling the inside of the boiler, and generally cleaning the inside of the boiler and firebox ahead of a planned inspection. It may seem that one paragraph seems like little progress on the boiler, but this work is very labour intensive, and with only a small band of volunteers takes time for the fruit of their labours to become apparent.

Crank Axle

The FEA on the original Crank Axle design shows failure as per the failure on 35020 in 1953.

An interesting fact that has come to light recently is clear evidence that the original design for the Merchant Navy had a balanced crank axle. This was mentioned briefly in the Crewkerne report, in going through drawings of the chain- driven valve gear, one early drawing clearly shows a balanced crank axle. There are no other drawings showing this, it is understood that an unbalanced design was introduced to reduce the weight of the locomotive, but it’s interesting to think what could have been, with a balanced crank axle, Crewkerne may never have happened, which was a key driver in the rebuilding process.

FEA of the balanced crank axle design as fitted to 35011 in 1954 with grade A4T steel showing no failure.

Progress on designing the crank axle continues, we have now converted the original drawing into an electronic CAD file. The next step with the axle will be to design the chain-driver sprocket, for which no drawing exists of one that would fit the balanced crank, and to start conversations with a forger & manufacturer to develop forging & manufacturing drawings.

 A question of balance

As progress continues with design work for the new crank axle, our thoughts are turning to the balancing design. As members will be aware, one of the changes that was obvious on a rebuilt Merchant Navy were the external balance weights on all 3 axles. Our plan is to remove the weight added in 1958 on the leading & trailing axles and rebalance the wheels with weight in the pockets again, if possible. We still need to decide on the shape & material of the coupling rods, which will impact on the amount of balancing needed on these axles, but aesthetically we want to restore that classic Bulleid appearance with no visible balancing. The central driving axle is another question. Originally the crank webs & inside connecting rod were balanced on the wheel rim, with a large plate on the rear face of the wheels and lead in the pockets. The question that arises is what would have been done to that lead when the balanced design was fitted to 35011 before rebuilding? At first inspection, one would think a significant amount of that lead would have simply been removed. However, it’s slightly more complicated than that. All steam 7 locomotives have an amount of balancing on their wheels, to counteract the rotating masses of the coupling and/or connecting rods, as well as, where necessary, the valve gear. Some locomotives, especially 2-cylinder designs, attempt to partially balance the reciprocating (backwards & forwards) masses, to reduce the front-end oscillation that occurs. This balancing can only be perfectly conducted for a given speed, so the engineer has to decide what speed to balance at, and the percentage of reciprocating masses balanced is usually limited to reduce the hammer-blow on the track from these additional rotating masses. Bulleid reasoned that for a 3-cylinder locomotive the reciprocating masses were to a certain extent self-balanced within the mechanics of the machine, as the longitudinal motion of one cylinder is always partially opposed by the other two, and so didn’t add any additional mass to balance the reciprocating forces. For stability purposes, rotating imbalances on one wheel were balanced on the other, so the left-hand balance weight balances the right-hand motion (and viceversa). By studying & understanding the designs for the original & rebuilt locomotives, we’ve managed to determine how to rebalance the driving axle; it will likely have slightly greater mass (approximately 1062 lbs vs. 942 lbs) on it than on the original design, but it will be at a different location (175° vs 140° from the crank); compared to the rebuilt design the location is similar, but the mass is reduced by around 6%. Geometrically, it can be seen how this works out in the drawing of the original design, by balancing the crank webs with counterweights, we have removed the line labelled middle (GH, the righthand side of the polygon), the closure line is then from A to G & is slightly longer than the line AH, at a shallower angle. The leading & trailing wheels from a mechanical perspective won’t need rebalancing, though from an aesthetic perspective we will plan to do this. We also plan to fit the plain rods that were fitted in 1956, as they have greater tensile strength and are less prone to bending. The next step with the balancing is finer detail; we need to determine the disposition of lead in the pockets to achieve the desired counterbalance. For the leading & trailing wheels, this is little more than a tweak to the original design. The central wheel needs some more design to determine the centre of gravity of the lead pockets and the balance weight plate, it is anticipated this will be completed in the coming weeks.

Frames update

A key event in the process of unrebuilding 35011 occurred at the November working weekend when, with the very welcome assistance of the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, and after many, many weekends of effort, the 5 large brackets that held the external valve gear & screw reverser were lifted off the frames. As we are planning to construct Bulleid’s chain drive valve gear (& fit a steam reverser) these brackets are now surplus to requirements. They are in excellent condition, so we are offering them for sale to any interested parties. By removing these, we made it easier to access other areas of the frame, and quickly removed the last of the brake blocks & arms from the leading & trailing axles. The plan now is to continue 10 removing all the parts hanging off the frames; later in 2022 we should then be able to lift the frames, releasing the leading bogie, leading axle & trailing axle. The leading bogie will then be assessed and prepared for professional restoration to mainline condition, whilst the driving wheels will be sent to South Devon Railway Engineering for rebalancing & profiling.

The newly removed components from GSN

In order to help fund the work on the frames the Society has started a Funding the Frames appeal that will be essential for the successful restoration of GSN back into her original condition. Not only do we need to clean and review the condition of the frames as they exist today, any corroded sections of the framework, the rear platform and dragbox will cut out and replaced. We also need to reverse some of the areas that were changed during rebuilding to allow a new middle cylinder to be installed and reinstate Bulleid’s unique patented chain driven valve gear.

This a general fund with no minimum / maximum donation or number of contribution limits, all monies donated to the Fundiung the Frames appeal will be specifically ring fenced for the frames. If you are able to contribute to this project in any way however great or small, we thank you for your support.  You can find out more here

University projects

We now have a further university project looking at the Internal Aerodynamics of a Merchant Navy. Building on lessons learnt last year, as well as better understanding of the test data that is available on both the original smokebox as well as the rebuilt design, they have made excellent progress simulating 3 baseline designs before moving onto some potential design improvements. The new designs they are looking at include some variations on the original exhaust design as well as variations on a Lempor exhaust, in both cases to understand the impact of nozzle size, angle & target upon the smokebox draught. Based on this work, we may run a final study in academic year 2022/3 to polish off the design as well as to understand how it impacts on the external aerodynamics of the locomotive.

Visit to Great Central & some tender parts

Students on Boscastle

As part of the student project this year, I arranged a visit to Loughborough sheds with the students, to have a crawl around Rebuilt Light Pacific 34039 Boscastle. It was a very useful visit, giving the students a good insight into what they’re simulating, and why, and was also a helpful reminder as to how much pipe work and other gubbins there is on a complete locomotive. Whilst there, in chatting with their Chief Engineer, we were offered some left over parts from their tender for a very reasonable sum, including two front footsteps, two rear footsteps, two rear ladders, one tender tank filler and lid, three Vacuum Reservoir tanks with holding down straps and hardwood timber supports, one Vacuum Reservoir tank cover, one Vacuum Reservoir tank cover, 5 tender doors and two curved front corner pieces. These are all original parts from a 2nd series tender, which became spare when the tender tank was scrapped; the vacuum reservoirs are the wrong type for a Light Pacific, the footsteps & ladders were going to be reused but were inadvertently reordered as part of the manufacture of the tank. Whilst we are years from constructing our tender, and still need to flesh out our ideas for it, it is nice to be able to have some genuine parts that can one day be fitted to our machine.

We have also recently managed to purchase two electrical lamps for the locomotive, so we now have 6 lamps. The purchase of one was sponsored by one of our directors, but if you would like to sponsor the other, please do get in touch with us.

Other Engineering Progress

We have made a start on two other big engineering areas in the last few months. Firstly, members of the Engineering Sub-Committee have started creating an online Engineering Bill of Materials (EBoM). As members of the Bulleid Pacific Locomotives Association, we have access to the extensive collection of over 3000 drawings in their catalogue, but the way they are catalogued is not very easy for understanding the relationship between the drawings, nor for knowing what drawings we are missing. By producing the EBoM, in time we will be able to have a clear record of how many of each part we need, the drawings for them, records of when we order parts & how, records of manufacture where appropriate, etc. Those projects that have constructed (or are constructing) locomotives from scratch, such as 60163, 2007, 72010 have gone through a similar 13 process. By starting this, we are laying the foundations for our original Merchant Navy and starting to put the documentation in place we will need to be accepted for mainline running.

The second significant progress is in the subject of assurance, the process by which we demonstrate the locomotive meets the standards necessary for mainline running. After meetings with numerous potential assurance partners, and independent advice from others in the industry, we have appointed Ricardo Rail to be our assurance partner. They will give us the support to understand & produce the evidence we need to restore General Steam Navigation to original design conditions whilst meeting mainline standards, and document that process. They work with numerous similar projects and are a good fit for our project.

Finally, we are becoming involved in a forum of new-build steam locomotives, to look at ways of pooling knowledge and cost-saving between us. Whilst that title may bring howls of protest from some quarters, we have things we can learn from these groups in the assurance process. Where we are manufacturing components from scratch, we will need to demonstrate that the finished component doesn’t bring additional risk to the design compared to the original. Where we are restoring, we will need to demonstrate that our restoration has returned the components to a condition where it doesn’t bring additional risk to the locomotive.

As always, any members who would be interested in being involved with the engineering of our project, please do get in touch. I need some support on the engineering of this project, especially at the moment with weld design, so if you have any experience in this area, please do get in touch. We also need some additional support archiving drawings online into the EBoM, this is an opportunity to study some of the original drawings of a Bulleid pacific. Similarly, if you have any question or comment on the Engineering report or the engineering in general, please do email our CME (

The momentum being generated by our engineering team means 2022 is going to be a very important year for the project with some big goals in mind. To achieve this we will need your help, you are able to support us in many ways if you are not already a Society member you can sign up for membership for currently only £15 per year here, or donate to the Society here or even better become a shareholder here.

As always thank you for your continued support.

March 2022 Update

March 2022 Update

The Packet

Issue 17 of our Member’s magazine The Packet should, subject to local post, have arrived with our members. We hope all members enjoy the comprehensive 32 page read getting the latest updates on the great progress being made on the restoration of GSN.
If you are not yet a member and therefore missing out you can join us here

2022 Annual General Meeting

Members in front of the engine at the 2019 AGM

The sixth Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held on Sunday 15th May at Blunsdon on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway at 1pm. This years AGM will be taking place on an operational day for the Swindon and Cricklade allowing members to have the first opportunity to experience all the line has to offer before the meeting. Catering facilities will also be available in the railways excellent onsite café. The AGM is still dependent on Governmental guidance. The AGM will be the first that many of you will have had the chance to get to see the engine following her boiler lift in the Autumn 2019 and the major work that has continued since that time. It is planned that once the society AGM has been completed the CIC’s will take place with the shareholders. Shareholders will be contacted separately in this matter.

Volunteer Opportunities

Working Party Volunteer Jack Garside

Our working parties are attended by dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers, despite recent Covid restrictions, who also take the time to man our sales stand at various railway events that helps not only raise funds but also continues to spread the word about our project. Much work has taken place behind the scenes during the last 12 months, particularly on the engineering and fundraising fronts. This good work will soon hopefully bear fruit and with this in mind we plan to accelerate the rate of GSNs restoration and expand the number of railways we visit with our sales stand and also further increase both number of working parties and the number of volunteers that can work on site at any one time.

To further strengthen owning CIC and Society boards we are looking for somebody with relevant legal experience to act in an advisory capacity when required. This would not be an onerous task or overly time consuming but would be a very useful addition to our team. To enable our engineering progress to step up a gear the Society does need to increase its income and anyone with fundraising experience or ideas would be extremely useful to the project.

In the same way we are also looking for an advisor with experience of reviewing and drafting engineering / purchasing contracts to assist us when sending parts away for contract overhaul & such like. Our CME Dr Steve Rapley is doing fantastic work on planning, researching, parts design and all mechanical matters relating to the overhaul, he is assisted by an engineering subcommittee and would like to recruit additional volunteers with solid engineering experience or qualifications (professional welding knowledge would be particularly useful) to assist him leading the engineering team & turn our dreams into reality.

Finally, if you fancy helping us either with the restoration at Blunsdon or helping take our sales stand to major steam events around the county you would be made most welcome. Our working parties are friendly affairs with much laughter as well as satisfying work on the loco, new members are always welcome to join our happy family. If you are interested in any of the roles mentioned above, then please get in touch with myself at and we will look forward to welcoming you to our friendly team. With your help 2022 will see us increase the rate of restoration and fund raising and be a year closer to putting the steam back into General Steam Navigation.

Fundraising Coach Trip

7820 Dinmore Manor working on the Dartmouth Steam railway. Here it working a Kingswear to Paignton service along the coast north of Churston.

Following the success of our 2021 fundraising trip to Yorkshire we are planning a similar trip in 2022, with profits again being split between GSN & the S&CR.

The trip departs on Monday30th May & is 4 nights half board. We are staying at the TLH Victoria Hotel in Torquay which is close to both the seafront and town centre, the proposed itinerary is a follows:

  • Day One. We depart Blunsdon & travel to Torquay.
  • Day Two Return journey on the South Devon Steam railway from Buckfastleigh to Totnes.
  • Day Three. We travel into Cornwall and ride on the steeply graded Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway.
  • Day Four. Return journey on the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway.
  • Day Five. We return home with stops en route.

We hope you join us for a steam filled week. A great way to raise money and meet fellow members and volunteers. The cost is from £459pp and includes all travel and train fares and 4 nights half board accommodation.

Please contact Holidays & Cruises in Melksham on 01225 865725 to book your place.

Fundraising Wagons

The Society still has a number of fundraising wagons available for sale. The model has been produced by Dapol and is based on their 00 gauge 7 plank open wagons with the lettering General Steam Navigation, Blunsdon & Gillingham Pier (the locations of the two Societies) and Number 22. The wagon is available in either black or green, both colours that were carried by 21c11 General Steam Navigation during her lifetime. The wagons include a coal load.

The wagons cost £12.90 each and are available from the General Steam Navigation website online store here.

A small number of the previous limited edition N Gauge Gun Powder Vans in either red or blue are also still available for £11.90 whilst stocks last.

Become a shareholder in 35011

The General Steam Navigation C.I.C. is offering our supporters the
opportunity to purchase shares or additional shares in the locomotive. Shares are sold in blocks of 250 by £1 which can be purchased directly, via standing order (£25 a month for 10 months) or online.

What will you get for your money?
• Choice of 1 of 3 Stuart Black exclusive portraits of General Steam
Navigation in her various conditions
• One Ticket behind General Steam Navigation’s first passenger
• First choice of components to sponsor
• Invitation to our yearly shareholders day and all open workshop

For members who purchase more than one block the Company has
created some extra rewards.

• Tickets for four people to ride on General Steam Navigation’s first
passenger service
• The remaining 2 Stuart Black portraits to add to your collection

• Footplate ride on General Steam Navigation

• Name engraved on the roll of honour plate inside General Steam
Navigation’s cab
• Chance to drive General Steam Navigation
• Free Society Membership for five years

To apply for shares please visit our shareholders page on the website. 

The Society has been paid £52.30 through EasyFundraising. Thanks to everyone who helped to raise these funds. If you’re not supporting 35011 General Steam Navigation, please sign up now. It takes 2 minutes & 4,300+ shops will donate to us for free every time you shop with them! You can sign up using the link here. By signing up to EasyFundraising you’ll be able to help restore GSN without any costs or hassle to you.

A full engineering report will be appearing the next few weeks, until then thank you for your continued support.

35011 Component Sponsorship Opportunity

The Society would like to order 2 new sets of springs for the Trailing Truck as part of a group order with another Merchant Navy. The first set will be used on the trailing truck straight away with the second set being kept as spares for when the engine is running. Costing £175 each these 8 springs are on the lower end of the price range for components that can be easily seen from the outside of the locomotive. If one day you’d like to be standing next to a fully restored General Steam Navigation and have the ability to point and say “I paid for those” these springs could be the perfect opportunity for you. If you are interested, please do email our sponsorship co-ordinator at
Thank you

New Mainline Steam Builders Group starts work

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society is one of six high-profile steam project groups with the common objective of delivering their respective locomotives fit for UK mainline running that have agreed to meet and cooperate with each other on a regular basis.

While the groups all have their own technical and project management challenges to deal with, many of the present-day safety certification and related requirements are to some degree of a generic nature, applicable to all new or restored steam locomotives. Group members can also build on the collective knowledge in the new build sector, and the significant experience / expertise gained by the A1 Trust through the previous approval of Tornado; helping each other by sharing information and experience.  While the main focus will be on meeting the risk management and network compatibility requirements of the rail industry safety certification standards, other directly related issues (for example supplier assurance, technical solutions) will be under discussion. Sharing third party costs where appropriate can ease pressure on individual project budgets.

Founder Group Members are:

B17 Steam locomotive Trust
Class G5 Locomotive Company
General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society
LMS-Patriot Company
P2 Steam Locomotive Company (A1 Steam Locomotive Trust)
Standard Steam Locomotive Company (72010 Hengist)

The Group decided to come together as the benefits became clear through their individual project experiences.

An inaugural meeting was held on 26th January 2022 at the premises of CTL Seal Ltd, a large bespoke engineering company in Sheffield that is now the home of the B17 and Hengist projects.   With the expert guidance of Graham Nicholas from the P2 project (sharing direct experience from the A1 project and his work for the Railway Safety Standards Board), along with representatives of Ricardo Certification Ltd, the group studied the evolution of rail industry certification requirements up to the present day, before starting work together on a hazard identification exercise for heritage steam locomotive design and manufacture / restoration.

General Stream Navigation limited edition 00 gauge open wagons wagon in cooperation with the Medway Queen Preservation Society.

Continuing the cooperation between the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society and the Medway Queen Preservation Society (a GSN shipping Co ship) following the success of their previous wagons in both 00 and N gauges further new limited edition 00 gauge 7 plank open wagon have been produced to raise fund for both societies.

The model has been produced by Dapol and is based on their 00 gauge 7 plank open wagons with the lettering General Steam Navigation, Blunsdon & Gillingham Pier (the locations of the two Societies) and Number 22. The wagon is available in either black or green, both colours that were carried by 21c11 General Steam Navigation during her lifetime. The wagons include a coal load.

The wagons cost £12.90 each and are available from the General Steam Navigation website online store here.

A small number of the previous limited edition N Gauge Gun Powder Vans in either red or blue are also still available for £11.90 whilst stocks last.

#OnThisDay General Steam Navigation enters service

#OnThisDay in 1944, the first of the second batch of ten members of the new Merchant Navy class entered service. Numbered 21c11 and having been built at Eastleigh, to order 1189, in wartime black livery allocated to Nine Elms shed. She was slightly unique to other members of this batch in having a distinctive casing at the bottom of the cylinders to the front buffer beam. 21c11 was officially named ‘General Steam Navigation’ on 20th February 1945 at Waterloo Station by Mr R. Kelso the Chairman of the General Steam Navigation Company. She received full lined malachite livery in 11/01/47

After the formation of British Railways, she was renumbered to 35011 retaining lined malachite green with BR Gill Sans numerals and lettering. As with all members of the class the front of the cab was modified from the ‘flat front’ to the ‘wedge’ style to give improved forward visibility for the crew in September 1950. Unlike most members of the class, 35011 never carried British Railways Blue livery and was repainted into BR Breen November 1951. Following a brief three-month allocation to Bournemouth from January 1954 she was back at Nine Elms until being allocated to Exmouth Junction in June 1957.

All members of the merchant Navy class locomotives underwent rebuilding with no 35018 being the first so being treated. This process included: retaining the boiler, frames, outside cylinders, wheels, removing the oil sump and air smoothed casing and replacing the valve gear with three sets of Walschaerts gear, a new middle cylinder, reverser, smokebox, ashpan and grate. 35011 re-entered service on 4th July 1959 having run 670,782 miles in her original form. She was finally allocated to Bournemouth (some say her spiritual home) in March 1960.

35011 on 13/02/1962 at Eastleigh. Copyright John Turner (

35011 was withdrawn from service in February 1966 having run a total of 1,069,128 miles, with 398,346 in rebuilt form.

After a brief spell in store at Stewarts Lane she was moved Eastleigh Works where her centre crank axle was swapped for a plain axle. The crank axle was later fitted to 35026 at Weymouth.

Having been stored at Eastleigh she was sold to Woodhams Brothers in Barry in March 1967.


Early preservation

35011 was purchased for preservation and left Barry in March 1983 and was stored in Brighton Preston Park, then RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire until 2007. She then moved to Williton on the West Somerset Railway, where a further axle swap took place this time with another plain axle from Bulleid Light Pacific West Country Class No. 34046 Braunton. She was then moved to a private site at Sellindge in Kent during 2009.

General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society

Ownership of 21c11 / 35011 was transferred to the current General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society in 2016 and the project to restore her to original air smoothed condition complete with new crank axle, middle cylinder and chain link valve gear in an oil bath began.

In April 2019 35011 was moved to her current home on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway, enabling her to be under cover for the first time since 1966 and enable the restoration to continue at a greater pace.

The boiler was lifted in October 2020, separating it from the frames for the first time in 61 years, to allow the full chassis restoration work to commence. The boiler has now had all the tubes removed and is awaiting an initial assessment by the boiler inspector.

In August 2021 due to the initial response of members joining the Trailing Truck Transformers Fund Club we have, been able to award the refurbishment contract to North Norfolk Railway Engineering.

With 2022 shaping up to be a landmark year for 35011 why not consider joining the Society and support our efforts to put the Steam back into General Steam Navigation. You can join by clicking here.

Thank you for your support.

Chairmans Chairman Message


As 2021 draws to a close all of us at General Steam Navigation would like to wish all our members, supporters and your families a wonderful Christmas time. We hope 2022 brings you and GSN, health, wealth and happiness. During the last year we have really started to make progress with the restoration of 35011 to her 1950’s condition and we are sure with your continued support this will further accelerate throughout 2022. If you are not already a member please seriously consider joining this amazing project. Details on the Web Site here.

In case you haven’t seen it, please watch this fantastic video presented by Andrew Collett which looks at the various engineering achievements of the past few months. We also will be doing a question and answer session at the start of 2022 so please do send us any questions you might have.

My final personal wish to you all is that you may never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve. You never know you might just see a red flash or hear bells ringing and Angels singing.

Gerry Leyman


General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society

Montly updates from the 35011 project