Category Archives: Other News

General Steam Navigation welcomes visit by Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon

General Steam Navigation CIC (GSNCIC) welcomed Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, who visited Blunsdon at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway to view 35011 General Steam Navigation and discuss the current application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The application is focussed around the reconstruction and restoration of the Merchant Navy Pacific to original Bulleid condition, making it unique in preservation. Whilst the work on 35011 meets the “Saving Heritage” element of the bid, the other key Heritage Fund investment principles will be partially addressed with a new building at Blunsdon (which will be a Swindon & Cricklade Railway asset) to encompass engineering facilities together with training and education spaces.

L to R – Jon Netting (Treasurer – General Steam Navigation), Cllr Matt Vallender, David Tucker (Heritage Consultant), Justin Tomlinson MP, Robert Battersby (Architect), Nigel Willoughby (Trustee S&C Rly), Cllr Mark Clarke, Cllr Jason Mills, Gerry Leyman (Chair – General Steam Navigation CIC), Mike Abbott (Chair – S&C Rly).

Justin was accompanied by 3 local councillors, Mark Clarke (Cricklade Town), Matt Vallender and Jason Mills (Swindon Borough).

Following the visit Justin said “We will all be working together as they prepare their National Heritage Lottery fund bid. The Swindon & Cricklade Railway is a much loved and popular local service, so I have no doubt there will be strong local community support for this bid.

I have fed in a number of suggestions on how to strengthen the bid including working with a wide a range of local community groups, including all the local schools, Parish Council’s and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

As someone from a family of steam enthusiasts, I am very excited to be supporting this fantastic bid”.

General Steam Navigation announces new patron – Dr Alice Bunn OBE FIMechE FRAeS CEng

General Steam Navigation Locomotive CIC (GSNCIC) announce that Dr Alice Bunn has agreed to become patron of the project to restore the Bulleid Merchant Navy pacific locomotive 35011 to her original condition.

Dr Alice Bunn on site at Blunsdon with Jon Netting (Treasurer) and Gerry Leyman (Chairman) of the General Steam Navigation CIC.

Dr. Alice Bunn OBE (FIMechE FRAeS CEng) is the Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). She has previously served as the International Director at the UK Space Agency. Alice is responsible for increasing the UK’s global influence in science, security, and trade through space. She has a background in metallurgy and has worked in various organisations such as the Science Museum, London, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Alice has also played a significant role in international collaborations and agreements related to space missions and satellite imagery.

Alice sits on the Board of EngineeringUK; is Chair of the Professional Engineering Committee; is President of the UKSpace trade association; acts as advisor to Orbitfab; and sits on the World Economic Forum Future Council on space technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, has a PhD in Metallurgy from Darwin College, University of Cambridge and received an OBE in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the UK space sector and to charity.

Alice joins the General Steam Navigation project at a pivotal time, lending credibility and support to the GSNCIC’s Heritage Fund Lottery application and will help raise the profile of the project to put the steam back into General Steam Navigation at a national level.

As Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Alice has a direct connection with O V S Bulleid, who was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1946.

On becoming patron Alice said, ‘Whilst engineering technology is more important than ever for our future, we can always learn lessons from the past which is why I am delighted to take up the role of patron for this project’.

Dr Alice Bunn is presented with a print of General Steam Navigation in original condition by Jon Netting

Alice visited Blunsdon to look over General Steam Navigation in early October where she met members of the General Steam Navigation directors / Society Trustees and the Swindon and Cricklade Railway where the locomotive is based. Alice learned more about the ongoing work to restore and reconstruct General Steam Navigation to its pre rebuilt air smoothed condition, making it unique in preservation. Alice was made an honorary member of the Restoration Society and presented with a print of General Steam Navigation in original as built condition.

General Steam Navigation limited edition wagon range increases

General Steam Navigation limited edition wagon range increases with new livery open wagons wagon in 00 Gauge and 20t mineral wagons in N Gauge. Produced 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 and new 20t steel sided mineral wagons  have been produced to raise fund for both societies.
Both wagons are produced by Dapol with the lettering General Steam Navigation, Blunsdon & Gillingham Pier (the locations of the two Societies) and Number 23.  The wagons in both scales are  available in either red or grey.

The 00 Gauge 7 plank open wagon complete with coal load cost £12.90 each. The N Gauge 20t Steel sided mineral wagons had two side doors per side and an end door which facilitated easy unloading and came into service in the 1920’s and were used well into the 1970’s.  These new N Gauge 20t  wagons cost £14.30 each.

A small number of the previous limited edition 00 Gauge 14T rectangular tank Wagons, in either grey or bauxite for £17.50ea, and also N Gauge 7 plank open in black are also still available for £12.40 each, whilst stocks last.

All our Limited Edition wagons are  available from the General Steam Navigation website online store at 

Autumn Engineering Update

Autumn Engineering Update


Welcome to this autumn engineering update from the General Steam Navigation project.  Progress has been made on various engineering fronts on the project over the past few months and with some of our background efforts about to bear fruit we’ll have some brilliant work to share over the coming months.


The boiler tubes are gone! After many months of hard work by our small band of volunteers, the job is done. Work has continued 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 later this year. Still to do is sourcing the right tool for removing the thermal-syphon inspection plugs, so that we can wash out the boiler, and then plan the inspection.

Crank axle

Progress with the crank axle has been limited in the past few months; geopolitical events has caused the price of steel to become volatile, after discussions with our friends in the B17 project & A1 Steam Trust, with whom we were planning to place a group order for A4T forgings for the stub axles, we are pausing the ordering process until we have greater certainty over the price. Whilst it is disappointing to not be placing an order for these crucial parts of our locomotive, it feels more prudent to wait, saving us money in the long run. During this self-imposed delay, we are using the time to produce the engineering justification for manufacture of the stub axles in A4T & the sweep webs in 817m40, so that when we are happy with prices, we can proceed.


Work on the frames continues at a good pace with our volunteers working hard to clean up the frames in preparation for assessment of their condition. With over 50 years of grime to remove on the frames its not a particularly glamorous job but is very important and we are extremely grateful to all our hard workers. We have also removed the brake cylinders from the frames as they wont be required for an original condition Merchant Navy. The cylinders will be cleaned up and stored should a rebuilt Bulleid require them in the future.

Sponsorship component of the month

For those that want to make a more tangible contribution towards putting the steam back in General Steam Navigation we have relaunched the ‘Component Sponsorship’ scheme.

Each month the Society will highlight one particular component. The scheme will allow generous sponsors to cover the cost of individual parts that range from few pounds to several thousands.

Our generous sponsors will receive a certificate describing the part sponsored, be named on the roll of honour on this website and gracious thanks from all those who wish to see General Steam Navigation back in operation.

This month we are starting with the steam chest covers for the outside cylinders. The steam chest covers are a relativity simple component to produce being machined from plate steel.  35011 will require 4 of these in total with the covers being fitted to the front and rear of the cylinder on both sides .The cost of these covers are £250 each. For a full list of the currently available component and how to sponsor them please visit the component sponsorship page. 


The question that has been asked a few times, both within our project, and outside it, is why we are considering modifications to the exhaust, especially as Bulleid pacifics had a reputation for being free-steaming, if hungry locomotives. The reason is buried in that last statement. Consider how a steam locomotive, especially its combustion system works: exhausting steam in the smokebox produces a draught, sucking air into the firebox for the coal to burn. How much air the locomotive supplies to the fire will impact its fuel combustion. Too little, and you have rich combustion, which releases a lot of heat from the coal, but at the expense of high fuel consumption. Too much air, and you have overly lean combustion, which is cleaner (less production of carbon monoxide), but it can lead to high fuel consumption as well, as the extra air cools the hot air from the fire, reducing the heat transferred to the water in the boiler, meaning more coal is needed to be burnt to produce the same heat transfer to the steam. The reputation, coupled with data from the Rugby reports, suggests that at most of the steaming rates GSN is likely to operate, the combustion is too rich. The perfect air:fuel mass ratio for stochiometric combustion of coal is approximately 11.2:1. It is normal to supply more air than is necessary, to ensure all of the fuel sees sufficient air, normal practise for combustion of coal is to have approximately 30% extra air, so the ratio becomes 14.6:1. Data from the Rugby reports show the original locomotives ran with a ratio of between 11:1 & 17:1, with drop off in performance for steaming rates above 18,000lb/hr, which is where we can expect to operate. The rebuilt design exhaust was much less variable to incomplete combustion, and had higher air:fuel ratio. The data also suggests that these locomotives need to run with significant excess air, far more than the 30% recommendation. The rebuilt design can actually be seen to be broadly similar to how 71000 operated in BR service, suggesting that we can achieve similar performance with 35011 if we can emulate the performance of 71000s twin Kylchap design. By redesigning the exhaust, we should be able to achieve two things: (1) maintain closer to 50% excess air across the power range, reducing fuel consumption and (2) increase the total flow area of the blast nozzles, reducing the cylinder back pressure.

Working Weekends

Our current plan for working weekends in 2022 is as follows:
15th /16th October
12th /13th November
10th /11th December
14th /15th January 2023
11th /12th February 2023
11th /12th March 2023

As always, any members who would be interested in being involved with the engineering of our project, please do get in touch. Our CME Dr Steve Rapley does 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. Similarly, if you have any question or comment on the Engineering report or the engineering in general, please do  get in touch at by email to Dr Steve Rapley here.

To help us achieve our goal of an original condition Merchant Navy we’ll 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, consider sponsoring a component here or even better become a shareholder here.

As always thank your for your continued support

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.

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

Hornby: A Model World’ new TV series to air on Yesterday TV Monday 11th October and features 35011 General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society.

Hornby: A Model World’ will be coming to your TV screens on Monday 11th October at 9pm on Yesterday Channel as the first episode of the ten-part series goes live!
The new UKTV Original series features behind the scenes action at Hornby HQ, of what goes into making Hornby, Airfix, Scalextric and Corgi models.

From century old steam engines to cutting edge racing cars. Each programme follows the process from drawing board to perfect mini replica. The series observes the ups and downs of the design process as Hornby  attempt to get the all important detail spot on, whether it is perfecting the sound of a 1930s steam loco or the stitching on a First World War fighter plane.In the first episode, the Hornby team go back to their illustrious past when they decide to launch a metal diecast replica of a 1940’s steam locomotive, our very own  Merchant Navy, 35011 General Steam Navigation. It’s a passion project for Development Director Simon Kohler who fondly remembers his brother getting one for Christmas as a child.
UKTV cameras visited one of our working weekends earlier this year to feature our project to restore 35011 General Steam Navigation back to original air smoothed condition complete with Bulleid’s patented chain driven valve gear to view our progress in the restoration of the full size version of Hornby’s model.
For more information on how you can help support  the project click here.

Yesterday is on Freeview 26, Sky 155, Virgin 129, Freesat 159, BT/Plusnet/TalkTalk/YouView 26.
Yesterday +1 – Freeview: 74, Sky: 255, Virgin: 200

General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society awards contract for Trailing Truck restoration and confirm the grade of steel for new crank axle.

At the Annual General Meetings of the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society (GSNLRS) and General Steam Navigation CIC we were delighted to announce that following the removal of the trailing truck from the frames in October 2020 and months of preparatory work by their hard working volunteers, that the restoration contract for the trailing truck has been awarded after a tender process to North Norfolk Railway Engineering.

Located at Weybourne Engineering works, North Norfolk Railway Engineering presented a strong bid for the work, with a high level of engineering detail, that respects the historical merit of the unique in preservation fabricated Merchant Navy trailing truck.

Originally fitted to a series 3 Merchant Navy, our fabricated trailing truck is the last survivor of its kind. Lighter than the cast truck fitted to the other preserved Merchant Navy locomotives, longer than a Light Pacific’s truck, the GSNLRS are having this unique piece of Bulleid locomotive design restored to mainline standard, a crucial step towards GSNLRS’s vision of an original Merchant Navy with original air smoothed casing and Bulleid’s patented chain driven valve gear.

Funding for the Trailing Truck restoration has been via our Trailing Truck Transformers Fund Club and ‘Lots’ being available for purchase to join the club. Membership of our Trailing Truck Transformer Fund Club is still available, for details click here.

For more information on the North Norfolk Railway go to:

Crank Axle Steel Selection

Since 1966, 35011 has been without it’s central crank axle. Alongside the missing valve gear, this has been the driving force behind the decision to return to original design condition, due to the cost of replacement to either design being similar.
After many years of behind-the-scenes research in the BPLA collection & National Archive in Kew, and recent detailed Finite Element Analysis conducted at the University of Birmingham, under the supervision of Professor Karl Dearn, has demonstrated that A4T steel is of a suitable grade for the correct balanced crank axle design for 35011 in original design condition.

The stress report of the balanced design maximum stress reduced by 23%

This means the GSNLRS can proceed to final design of the central axle & balancing of the motion, and the order placement for the steel in the coming months and moving the project further forwards to a functioning original Merchant Navy once more.
For more information on the University of Birmingham FEA Project outcomes  click  here:

These two announcements are major steps forward for the General Steam Navigation Restoration Society, for more information on how you can help support  the project click here.

The GSNLRS feature in Railway Mania Podcast

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society feature in the latest Railway Mania podcast, episode 17. The 90-minute podcast features three of the Society Trustees,  Andrew Collett, Steve Rapley (CME) and Graham Muspratt with Corwin Bainbridge discussing our project to restore 21c11 / 35011 back to original condition complete with Bulleid’s chain driven valve gear and air smoothed casing.

The Podcast looks at our ambitious project in detail, the Trustees answer questions and discuss: the history of 35011; the main issues arising from the project returning her to original condition including: the missing crank axle, replacement middle cylinder, the work being undertaken in cooperation with Loughborough University and the University of Birmingham students on drafting and smoke clearing arrangements; visibility from the cab; the potential liveries and dispels some of the myths associated with casing fires.

The Railway Mania Podcast can be found here…