Category Archives: Other News

AGM CANCELLED

Dear Member / Shareholder,
I regret to inform you that we have had to cancel our Society and C.I.C. AGM’s planned for Saturday March 28th.
The Swindon and Cricklade Railway have cancelled their Steam Gala and all trains until at least the end of April as a precaution against Covid-19 and your Board has decided that we should follow their very sensible lead.
We hope to be able to arrange the AGM’s for a later date when the current situation resolves itself and we shall announce a new date in a future edition of The Packet and will be writing to all shareholders as well.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused to any of you who intended to attend the AGM’s but I am sure you will understand our decision under the circumstances.
Andy Collett, Chairman of GSN C.I.C. and Gerry Leyman, Chairman 35011 GSNLRS.

General Steam Navigation, co-operation between rail and sail

The General Steam Navigation Company was founded in 1821 to run steam ship services from London. Almost 100 years later P&O Navigation bought a controlling interest in the company but it continued to trade under its original name.

It is quite appropriate, therefore, that the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society who are rebuilding the Southern Railway Merchant Navy Class Locomotive 35011 named after the General Steam Navigation and the New Medway Steam packet Co (Medway Queen Preservation Society) who have rebuilt a ship that operated under GSN management should work together and support one another’s aims.

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society recently moved their locomotive, Merchant Navy Class 35011, to Blunsdon on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway. There they are working to convert the locomotive back to its 1940s specification; before the class were rebuilt into the more conventional form by British Railways. This includes restoring the iconic air smoothed casing along with Bulleid’s oil bath encased chain driven valve gear. Once complete, General Steam Navigation will be the first engine to be restored to as-built condition within the ranks of preserved Merchant Navy class locomotives.

On the river Medway, the GSNC worked closely with the New Medway Steam Packet Company and Captain J. H. Wills of the GSNC and his wife were on board when PS Medway Queen made her maiden voyage across the Thames Estuary on Friday 18th July 1924. In 1936 GSN acquired the New Medway Company but, again, retained the name for trading purposes.

The Medway Queen Preservation Society have rebuilt their vessel structurally with the aid of HLF funding and are now engaged in fitting out the ship, initially for use as a floating venue for meetings and events. The long term aim is to see the ship sail again under its own power. Medway Queen is berthed in Gillingham, Kent, where a small team of dedicated volunteers are pushing the project forward. Like the locomotive, progress on the ship is governed by the availability of resources – both physical and financial. Although a Kent based organisation, MQPS has worldwide support and has a PR team based, conveniently, in Wiltshire and not far from Blunsdon!

The aims of the two groups’ cooperation will be to support one another in publicity campaigns and appropriate merchandising and marketing initiatives. An early project will be a promotional wagon for 00 model railways. For some years now the Medway Queen has benefitted from income generated by a series of such wagons and it is hoped that a joint project will reach a wider market and generate funds for both teams. Details will be announced when the model goes on sale early in 2020.

For more information on the two societies go to:

www.35011gsn.co.uk  and www.medwayqueen.co.uk

May 2019 Update

Since the last update the Society the project has been incredibly busy with the biggest news being the locomotive has arrived at her new home on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway. The move which took 2 days and involved a crane, 2 low loaders and around 30 volunteers was a complete success with the locomotive arriving at the railway on the 20th April.  The Society would like to thank Reid freight and all the volunteers at Sellindge and Swindon for their help during the move. The Society is also incredibly grateful to all our members who donated towards the costs of the move and raised £1,700 in just under a week. You can still support our efforts to cover the move by donating at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/35011gsn.

General Steam Navigations move to the Swindon generated quite a bit of main stream media coverage for the project. The stand out achievement was a 3 minute feature on the local BBC 6pm news program ’Points West’. The feature included footage of the locomotive arriving, some old photos, interviews with Andrew Collett one of our trustees and Allan Bott one of the Swindon and Cricklade volunteers. Getting the feature was a great scoop for the project as the program gets an average of 580,000 people tuning in.

Andrew Collett and Allan Bott were also interviewed for BBC Radio Wiltshire’s  Drivetime program. General Steam Navigation also made the front page of the S&CRs local paper the ’Swindon Advertiser’. All this mainstream coverage is a great success for the project and our new hosts as we look to build our volunteer and supporters base in the local area.

The Society held its AGM on the 18th May at Blunsdon station on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway. This year’s event was the first time the Society has been able to hold the AGM with the locomotive present and was the majority of our members’ first time seeing 35011 in person. A full write up will appear in Issue 10 of the Packet out in the next couple of months.

If you are considering getting involved with the restoration of the locomotive joining today is the perfect opportunity to join. Working parties will be starting soon at the Swindon site and will make the next stage of her life and you could be part of that new chapter. For more details please do get in touch with us through our website or various social media platforms.

As always thank you for your continued support.

General Steam Navigation setting course for the Swindon and Cricklade Railway

35011 sets course for the Swindon and Cricklade Railway

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society are pleased to announce that they have agreed terms to move locomotive 35011 to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway in Wiltshire.

The Society restoring Merchant Navy class locomotive 35011 General Steam Navigation are working to retro convert the locomotive to its 1950s specification before the class were rebuilt into the more conventional form by British Railways. This includes restoring the iconic air smoothed casing along with Bulleid’s oil bath encased valve gear incorporating chain drive. Once complete, General Steam Navigation will be the first engine to be restored to as-built condition within the ranks of preserved Merchant Navy class locomotives.

By relocating the group and the locomotive to a publicly accessible site near Swindon, restoration will be able to step up a gear, with a target to complete the rolling chassis within the next five years. The Swindon and Cricklade’s Blunsdon station will become the new home for 35011.

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society was formed towards the end of 2015 with the aim of restoring 35011. The Society has made great advances since then, but volunteers were keen to find a permanent restoration  base for the locomotive.

“We are delighted that we can finally announce that the locomotive will be moving to The Swindon and Cricklade Railway in the near future” said Simon Shutt, Chairman of the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society. “This move will enable us to take the project to the next step and escalate our efforts to put the steam back into General Steam Navigation.”

Working in association with other locomotive groups based at The Swindon and Cricklade Railway, the plan is to remove the locomotive boiler for the first time since it was withdrawn by British Railways, to allow thorough restoration of the locomotive frames and wheel sets.

“We are pleased to welcome this group to The Swindon and Cricklade Railway” said Mick Lay, chairman of the railway. “By relocating General Steam Navigation to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway both parties will benefit.” said Mick. “General Steam Navigation will be a valuable and useful locomotive when we extend to Cricklade and also help raise the profile of our railway while 35011 is restored. In giving General Steam Navigation a permanent home, we hope it will provide mutual support to our volunteers and the team working on her.”

The cost of the move has been priced up just under £9,000 which is where we need your help. We are fundraising to help cover as much as the cost as possible with the target being set at £4,000, the more money the Society can raise the more money that can be spent on components and help restore this mighty beast. If you can donate please consider supporting  the Society by visiting our Just Giving page below thank you.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/35011gsn