The sole-surviving member of the Southern Railway’s N15 ‘King Arthur’ Class, No. 777 Sir Lamiel, is set to return to steam following a new overhaul agreement.
The overhaul, agreed between the National Railway Museum and 5305 Locomotive Association, will take place to main line standards with work due to start later this year and scheduled to be completed in 2023.
Once the overhaul is finished, a second, five-year loan agreement will be negotiated to enable Sir Lamiel to be based at the Great Central Railway and to begin main line tours and a schedule of appearances at heritage railways across the country.
Work on Sir Lamiel will take place at the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire, with the locomotive expected to regain its BR identity as 30777.
Initial mechanical assessments have confirmed Sir Lamiel’s suitability for overhaul and the locomotive’s condition will be regularly assessed and appropriate repairs or replacements carried out as the overhaul progresses.
The 5305 Locomotive Association will fund initial work on the engine before launching a public fundraising campaign to raise the remaining £80,000 required to complete the overhaul.
Alan Berck-May, Chairman of the 5305 Locomotive Association, said: “We’re really proud to continue our association with Sir Lamiel and look forward to working with colleagues at the NRM and the Great Central Railway as we undertake the overhaul.”
GCR’s Managing Director, Michael Gough said: “Sir Lamiel has a memorable history of time at the Great Central and I am delighted that 5305 have been able to conclude a deal with the NRM that suits everyone. Once its restoration is complete, 30777 will have a significant part to play in our home fleet, as well as its visits to other railways and the main line and I eagerly look forward to the day when it is steaming between Loughborough and Leicester once again.”
Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum said: “I am pleased to announce this latest overhaul agreement which will see popular Southern Railway locomotive, Sir Lamiel return to steam. The 5305 Locomotive Association has a very strong track record of caring for Sir Lamiel which stretches back almost 40 years and I look forward to working with them and the Great Central Railway as the project progresses.”
Robert Urie had designed the N15 Class two-cylinder 4-6-0 express passenger locomotives for the London & South Western Railway (LSWR), and the first emerged from Eastleigh Works in August 1918.
Following the Grouping of railway companies in 1923, the LSWR became part of the Southern Railway and the new Chief Mechanical Engineer, Richard Maunsell, was authorised to construct further examples of the N15 Class to meet an urgent demand for additional express passenger locomotives.
Maunsell’s team made improvements to Urie’s basic design, and a batch of ten emerged from Eastleigh Works – these were rebuilds of Dugald Drummond’s unsuccessful LSWR G14 and P14 4-6-0s.
However, a lack of capacity at the railway’s works meant a batch was outsourced to Glasgow’s North British Locomotive Company. Entering service in 1925, No. 777 Sir Lamiel is from this batch of 30 locomotives, which incorporated further detail differences from previous batches, most visibly around the cab area.
The publicity department of Southern Railway gave the N15 locomotives names relating to Arthurian Legend – Sir Lamiel of Cardiff was a minor knight of the Round Table mentioned in book XIX of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.
The ‘King Arthur’ Class were the first locomotives in Britain to be fitted with smoke-deflectors. In total 74 locomotives were built between 1918 and 1927.
Sir Lamiel entered service in 1925 and worked on the Bournemouth and West of England services for most of its working life. The engine was withdrawn in 1961 after 36 years of service and is now part of the National Railway Museum’s collection, under the custodianship of the 5305 Locomotive Association.
In preservation, the engine was stored at Fratton, then Stratford and Ashford before being adopted by the Humberside Locomotion Preservation Group in 1978. The group returned the engine to steam in 1982 and completed an overhaul in 1989. Sir Lamiel arrived at the Great Central Railway in 1995 and was withdrawn for a further overhaul by the 5305 Locomotive Association in 1996.
To support the overhaul of Sir Lamiel, visit www.sirlamiel.org.uk.
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