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.
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”.
On 2nd October 2020, the boiler of Ex-SR Bulleid Merchant Navy Class, 35011 “General Steam Navigation” was successfully lifted from its frames for the first time since 1959.
The boiler was built by North British in Glasgow in January 1941 and has been attached for a total of 61 years since its last overhaul in July 1959.
The lift of the boiler followed a successful fund raising “sponsor and inch or more” campaign and prize draw to cover the cost of the suitable crane hire to lift the boiler. A fully tubed boiler weighs 24 tonnes, however the tubes, despite the restrictions due to Cocid-19, were removed by volunteers of the society reducing the weight to around 20 tonnes.
“It’s a very exciting time for everyone involved in the 35011 General Steam Navigation restoration project,” said Andy Collett Chairman of the CIC. “The removal of the boiler is a big turning point as it allows us to commence the restoration of the chassis, which will be a big project in itself, taking several years to complete.”