'The Unknown Warrior' makes its Centrepiece Debut at Warley National Model Railway Exhibition

Another landmark occasion took place when the new steam locomotive 'The Unknown Warrior' was exhibited as the centrepiece locomotive display at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham on the 23rd/24th November. The new 'Patriot' class locomotive had been brought down from its place of construction at Llangollen the previous Wednesday, and visited the National Memorial Arboretum for its first public appearance. After being displayed at the National Memorial Arboretum on the afternoon of 21st November, 'The Unknown Warrior' was taken to the NEC, Birmingham where it was the first exhibit to be allowed inside Hall 5 at 6am on the Friday set-up day of the Warley show.

'The Unknown Warrior' is the first partially completed new build standard gauge locomotive to be displayed at the Warley exhibition which in previous years has displayed narrow gauge or other standard gauge smaller steam locomotives.

Thousands of visitors flocked to the two-day model railway exhibition to see the prominently displayed Fowler designed locomotive on display - the last of which was seen in 1963 before it was sadly scrapped (as all 52 of the 'Patriot' class were). Collection buckets were positioned around the locomotive, and thousands of pounds were raised towards the outside cylinders thanks to the generosity of the Warley visitors.

On the Saturday of the show, a collection of 18 original Patriot nameplates were displayed by the cab end of 'The Unknown Warrior'. One of these plates 'PRIVATE W. WOOD V.C.' was brought to the NEC by Graham Wood, whose grandfather had received the Victoria Cross after serving in the Great War. The name was carried by Patriot no. 5536/45536, to honour the man was a cleaner, fireman and then driver for the L.N.W.R and then L.M.S and who returned to the employ of the railways after surviving the Great War.

The previous day had seen the two cab sides of 'The Unknown Warrior' painted LMS crimson lake and BR green by specialist painting contractors Heritage Painting. Signwriter and coachpainter, Mike O'Connor, did a demonstration of cabside lining and handpainted the numbers - 5551 on the LMS side and 45551 on the BR side.

Another momentous achievement occurred on the Sunday of the show when the 1000th Member was signed up to join the Project. Paul Gittins was the lucky Member who received a Colin Wright Limited Edition Print of The Unknown Warrior at Llangollen. 128 other Members were also signed up at the special Warley rate of £10 for the first year's Membership.

A display of 'Patriot' models of four different gauges was displayed next to the LMS-Patriot Project sales stand including 2 Bachmann models of 'The Unknown Warrior' which will be produced by Bachmann initially for The LMS-Patriot Project in a few years’ time.

The Warley show has helped to raise around £15,000 which will be used to cast the two outside cylinders next year. Fundraising for the boiler continues with £75,000 raised already through the boiler loan scheme.

After being displayed at the NEC, 'The Unknown Warrior' was taken to Tyseley Locomotive Works for the axleboxes to be fitted to the driving wheels. It is expected to remain at Tyseley until the New Year, when it will return to its Llangollen construction base. Tyseley Locomotive Works is also assembling the bogie for 'The Unknown Warrior'.

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