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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

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

#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

#ThisWeekIn 1951 GSN is the last Southern Railway built Merchant Navy to lose the Malachite livery.

#ThisWeekIn 1951, 35011 General Steam Navigation left Eastleigh works following a light intermediate overhaul. During her visit to the works GSN had 400 steel stays repaired and 30 new “Howell” tubes installed. The major change was the new paint on the engine, gone was the Southern Railway malachite green replaced with the new British Railways Brunswick green.
General Steam Navigation was the last Merchant Navy built and operated by the Southern Railway to wear the malachite livery, having never worn the BR express blue livery. The short-lived British Railways express blue was dropped by the Southern Region as soon as it could with 35024 being repainted into the Brunswick Green livery in May 1951. General Steam Navigation would wear the Brunswick Green livery for another 15 years before being withdrawn in 1966.

35011 at Eastleigh works – Copyright Coffin

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.

August 2020 Update

Issue 13 of the Packet

 Members of the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration have been receiving their copies of issue 13 of the Packet in the last few days. Full of information and updates on our progress despite Copvid 19! If you are not already a member you are missing out, only £12 per year join online here we welcome your support.

Proxy Annual General Meeting 2020

The Coronavirus lockdown has caused an unprecedented amount of disruption to our way of life this year and led to us having to cancel our AGM which was scheduled earlier in the spring. The Society had hoped a physical AGM could still take place in 2020, unfortunately in the last few weeks it has become clear that it wouldn’t be possible.

The option that the trustees have decided to take going forward is to hold the Society and CIC (for shareholders) Annual General Meeting by proxy for this year with the expectation of being able to return to normal and hold a physical AGM in March 2021 subject to the relaxation of restrictions to enable us to host a safe event. The proxy AGM will take place on 1st October 2020 and will deal with the Society’s financial year that ended in February 2020 and the CIC financial year that ended in November 2019.

Included with the latest issue of the Packet members will find a booklet which contains all the financial statements for the last financial year, a report from the Society chairman, an agenda for the meeting and a proxy voting form. Please read the booklet carefully and return your proxy voting forms by Friday 25th September. Please note that votes arriving after this date will not be registered, so please send them in at your earliest convenience.

We are living in very uncertain and unusual times but its key that all the legal business of the project is completed correctly, on time and in a transparent manner. This does require a certain amount of flexibility which has been provided to us by the Government.

Twenty Twenty Club

(c) Geoff Dowling

We are pleased to launch our TWENTY TWENTY CLUB – a great way for you to support the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society whilst having a bit of a flutter!

Here’s how it works…

You complete and sign the membership form and Standing Order mandate for £5.00 a month (or £60.00 annually) available for download from our website at

Fundraising Coach Trip Postponement

35011 at Southampton (Copyright P Rowlands)

Sadly due to the continuing Covid 19 situation in Lancashire & Yorkshire we have made the tough decision to postpone our joint

fundraising trip with the S&CR. With the current uncertainty and with our member’s welfare in mind we feel this is the best option. The new dates will be 21st-24th May 2021.

We intend to have the same itinerary as planned ( NRM York, North York’s Moors Railway, East Lancs Railway & Bolton & Embsay Railway) but this can’t be confirmed until the railways concerned release their 2021 timetables.

Those of you already booked will be contacted directly. Thank You for your understanding.


September 2018 Update

September saw our volunteers working hard on the locomotive at the Sellindge site. With the spring beams being completed by North Bay Railway Engineering Services the Society had hoped to be able to get the trailing truck axle sprung when test fitting all the new components. Unfortunately the hangers and various fittings weren’t completed by our machinist in time but we were still able to pose all the remaining components together to show the difference between the early cast style trailing truck and GSNs unique fabricated style design. The Society would like to thank all the volunteers who attended and the members who contributed towards the components. A full write up of the working weekend will appear in the next issue of the Packet due out late October.

Top; 35006s early cast style trailling truck with GSNs fabricated design below

The Society will be hosting a sales stand at the upcoming Watercress Line Autumn Steam gala. The event has a Western region theme with guest locomotives Foxcote  Manor, Large Prairie 5199 and BR Standard ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T No. 80078 all visiting the line. The Society would welcome any volunteers who’d like to help man the stand or people who like to find out more about the project to come along.

Lots of exciting progress is being made with the project and today is the perfect time for people who are considering about signning up to do so. The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society Membership costs £10 for the year with members being kept up to date with the latest goings on with the locomotive, receive our members magazine ‘The Packet’ 3 times a year with progress reports on GSN and articles about Merchant Navy’s and the light pacific’s, access to the locomotive when possible and the ability to get involved with the society. You can sign up by visiting our membership page here.

As always thank you for your continued support.