About the Project

Building a new 'Patriot' Class Locomotive

The LMS-Patriot Project was launched in April 2008.  A fundraising campaign began and the two main frame plates were cut in March 2009, at Corus Steel in the West Midlands. This heralded the start of the construction of the new steam locomotive. The locomotive would later be named 'The Unknown Warrior' when a competition was held in Steam Railway magazine.

In the Summer of 2009 the frame plates were delivered to the Llangollen Railway Works who were contracted to assemble the locomotive.  A wide range of workshops and manufacturers around the UK have been involved over the years in the manufacturing and supply of new parts and subsystems, including in recent years  Wiilliam Cook Cast Products, Riley and Son (E) Ltd, Tyseley Locomotive Works and a number of other specialised engineering and machining companies. See our partners and sponsors. Orders and specifications for the very many components involved are generally placed by the LMS-Patriot Project team.

Fundraising for the new boiler for 'The Unknown Warrior' began in 2012. The boiler for 'The Unknown Warrior' is of traditional construction with a copper firebox and is the first all new standard gauge boiler to be built in the UK since the 1960s. Boiler component manufacture and assembly were initially carried out by LNWR Heritage Crewe and Tyseley Locomotive Works. 

Substantial progress had been made by 2017. The smokebox and the cab frame were completed by 2013; the driving wheels were made in 2013 and fitted to the frames a year later. The cylinders were fitted by 2015 and the bogie followed in 2016 - making the engine a 4-6-0 for the first time. Other detailed work on the locomotive chassis continued at Llangollen over this period.

From 2017 the project has faced major change. In 2017, boiler work stopped at Crewe when LNWR Heritage decided to withdraw from all third party contract work. By the end of 2017, however, boiler work had restarted with our new contractors Heritage Boiler Steam Services, now based in Huyton, Merseyside, where work continues. 

Then in 2018 the Project Board decided to put the completion of the locomotive chassis out to tender. The partly assembled chassis was removed in the Autumn from the Llangollen Workshops to a temporary base at the the Railway Heritage Centre at Crewe.  Expressions of interest to complete the locomotive had been received from four railway engineering contractors, and the formal invitation to tender was issued just before Christmas 2018.  

The resulting hiatus in chassis construction work did not prevent a major milestone being achieved in November 2018 - the successful trial fitting, at the first attempt, of the boiler to the chassis at Crewe.  

In August 2019, the locomotive chassis was transferred to The West Shed at Swanwick, the home of the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust (PRCLT), who were selected to complete the job of locomotive assembly. 

2020 saw the project affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, with the main assembly base shutting down for nearly 5 months.  A number of historic engineering issues have since been identified with the active input of our new Assessment Body Ricardo Certification and PRCLT.  A new work programme was launched on November 2021. By the end of  2023, chassis component dismantling, testing and rectification work was largely complete and chassis reassembly had started, alongside the delivery of replacement driving wheels.  

In July 2023 PRCLT announced that they were ceasing  third-party contract work, to concentrate on their own locomotives. In November 2023 the Patriot Company announced that Tyseley Locomotive Works will be the locomotive assembly base from Spring 2024 onwards. The Locomotive chassis and other components were transferred to Tyseley in winter 2024.

Creating the New National Memorial Engine

After the Great War, three of the then Railway Companies named locomotives to honour the railway employees who had fought and died during the conflict. These were 'Valour', 'Remembrance' and 'Patriot'.

The L. & N. W. R. memorial engine, a Claughton class locomotive was named 'Patriot'. This name was later transferred to the new 4-6-0 locomotive number 5500, which became the new 'Patriot' memorial engine for the LMS and after which the class took the name.

The new 'Patriot' will be named 'The Unknown Warrior' in keeping with the tradition of war memorial engines. The LMS-Patriot Project aims to continue this tradition in memory of all those brave men and women who courageously served their country

The new locomotive will serve as a permanent memorial to all those who fought and died in the First World War and all subsequent wars.

In June 2016, Simon Weston, CBE, the Falklands War Veteran, became the first Patron of the LMS-Patriot Project. On Saturday 10th November 2018 (Armistice Day Centenary weekend), Simon unveiled the new nameplate crest for the locomotive as part of a dedication and remembrance service at Crewe.   

Mainline Running

'The Unknown Warrior' is being designed for main-line running and everyone would like to see it in action there.  A high profile engine such 'The Unknown Warrior' in its role as the national memorial engine would be be a huge attraction on the railway network. Main-line running  requires the locomotive to be built to a height of 13' - 2 ½” less than the original design. The design of the chimney and cab are also be affected by the tighter structure gauge requirements on today's railway. Additional items required for mainline running include safety, communication and monitoring systems - AWS, TPWS (and eventually ERTMS), GSM-R and OTMR. 

Early in 2020 the Project completed a review of the engineeering and safety acceptance requirements for main-line running, and appointed Ricardo Certification as its accredited Assessment Party for that purpose. Discussions are likewise underway with Train Operators.

In 2023 the LMS-Patriot Board decided to accelerate completion by focussing initially on the requirements for heritage railway operation. The locomotive continues to be built to the engineering quality standards required for main line operation.   

How the Project is being financed

At January 2022, the Project is looking to raise in excess of £1.5 million to complete 'The Unknown Warrior'. This is being raised through:

  • Public donations and regular contributions (with Gift Aid where applicable)
  • Legacies
  • Commercial sponsorship
  • Grant applications

Who is behind it?

The present Directors are Neil Collinson, Janet Elson, Colin Hall (Chair), John Hastings-Thomson, Andrew Laws, Keith Riches, Richard Sant and David Tuffin.

Simon Scott is the Lead Engineer as a volunteer. Kevin West is the Project's Design Engineer.

The Project's Administration Office is based at in Stafford and is staffed by volunteers. The LMS-Patriot Project also has a large number of other volunteer Members involved in various activities including workshop support , fundraising, and sales.

How to get involved

If you would like to be part of this exciting project to create a new 'Patriot' we would love to hear from you. You can become a member; and setting up a Banker's Order to make regular monthly payments is the easiest and best way to help. If you are a UK taxpayer, we will also be able to claim Gift Aid from the Government if you also send us a completed and signed Gift Aid form.

Members Days are arranged when possible  at the locomotive assembly base, allowing close-up inspection of progress. Members receive regular monthly bulletins by e-mail, and an award-winning quarterly magazine The Warrior.

To see how you can help this exciting project please click here.

The LMS-Patriot Company Ltd. • Civic Centre, Riverside, Stafford, ST16 3AQ
Registered in England & Wales No. 6502248 • Registered Charity No. 1123521
Tel 01785 244156
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