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Steam locos - what's significant, and what is at risk?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by Jamessquared, Aug 21, 2022.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    This is really a follow-on to the 7027 thread, but I think there is a wider issue.

    There are extreme views expressed, but one poster is getting lot of flak for basically saying "what's significant about a Castle?" (given 7 others in preservation). He is probably expressing it in more abrasive terms than I might, but the question is germane: Is the eighth Castle of great significance, and if so, why? Is it more or less important than, say, the third Crab (which is basically no more)?

    Which leads to two questions:
    • Amongst locomotives, what is of significance? How do you judge? The counter argument advanced on that thread doesn't seem to have got much further than "of course it's important, it's a Castle", or maybe "it's the only surviving [bunch of widgets] example of a Castle", or maybe "it's important just because it has survived thus far". But except for the first, you could apply the same to an Austerity tank, or a BR Mark 1 TSO, but Austerities get mutilated into fictional BR identities and Thomas-a-likes; a Mark 1 TSOs are two-a-penny
    • What is at risk - by which I mean, ceasing to exist in meaningful form?
    And then the related question: what (if anything) is simultaneously of great significance and at risk?

    It's worth pointing out that the Vintage Carriage Trust lists significance and risk for carriages, but I am not aware of any systematic survey of locos along the same lines. There is a paper here, which discusses the criteria chosen - http://www.rhrp.org.uk/papers/significance.htm which were adapted from those used for teh Railway Heritage Committee designations:

    a. That the items are unique, as made or built/the last remaining one of a group or class/extremely rare:
    b. That they are representative of a group that merits preservation:
    c. That they are illustrative of a type of activity that merits preservation:
    d. That they represent an important technical or operational aspect of the railway:
    e. That they represent an important aspect of the social impact of the railway:
    f. That they form part of an established series or part of an assemblage that is being collected by a recognised institution:
    g. That they represent an important stage in development:
    h. That they have been involved in some significant event, or have associations with an important person or organisation:
    i. That they are of local, regional or national importance.


    How would you adapt those to assess the importance of locomotives?

    This is really just musing - but my aim is not so much to have an argument on X is more important than Y, but to ask why that is the case.

    It isn't the place to continue the debate about 7027, but to look at the wider issue. It isn't also primarily about Railway Governance, though my feeling about the 7027 saga is that really, it is the Governance issue that arise that are more important than the specific loco. But again, that is predicated on the question about significance and risk: the more you consider a loco is of significance, the more the Governance around its safekeeping are of importance.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2022
  2. Gladiator 5076

    Gladiator 5076 Part of the furniture

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    Tom I had been toying with posting this "what if" scenario on the 7027.
    But just say (and I am not suggesting this is what is happening with the Castle) someone decided to sell a part restored part restored loco to use the money to save the last Vulcan
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-62548065

    Would that still be regarded as totally wrong by the railway fraternity?
     
  3. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    While MK1 TSOs are very common at the moment given their importance as working passenger carrying vehicles I suggest that collectively they are very important

    Also it was saddened to see how many of the vehicles that were used on final trains over the S&D made it into preservation but we're the!n scrapped
     
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  4. torgormaig

    torgormaig Part of the furniture Friend

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    While I agree with you about Mark 1 TSOs I'm intrigued about you second sentence - please do tell us more. The only vehicle on one of the final trains over the S&D that I know of is BSO 9267, currently on loan to the S&DRHT at Midsomer Norton from the NYMR. Mind you I worked with this vehicle for almost 30 years on the Moors and knew nothing about its historic connection with the S&D so there could be others that I know nothing about.

    Sorry for the thread drift so soon Tom.

    Peter
     
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  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’d suggest there that they may be operationally useful - but that is likely to ensure they aren’t at risk. It isn’t about the heritage significance. (And returning to 7027 - the fact it hasn’t been restored in fifty years suggests it has limited operational use - so presumably those wishing for it to survive are making a heritage reason for preservation, in the absence of an operational one)
    I’d suggest at best the closure of the S&D - and therefore artefacts associated with that event - was of local significance: hard to say it was of greater importance than, say, closure of the GCR or M&GNJR. The S&D just benefitted from good PR in the 1950s snd 1960s…

    Tom
     
  6. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    There is no simple answer to the basic question of Which Locomotive is important to preserve because the choice is made by an individual who either funds the purchase (and subsequent overhaul / maintenance) from his own funds or seeks financial assistance from others.

    In my case I wanted to see the preservation of both a Class V2 2-6-2 and a Class 35 Hymek. In the case of the V2 the NRM had already declared its intent to preserve 60800 therefore I took no further action but in the case of the Hymek I initiated a financial appeal which appeared at the same time as that of the Diesel & Electric Group hence I combined with that and joined the D&EG to subsequently become the group's chairman in the late 1970s. The success of the public appeal in funding the preservation of D7017 proved the feasibility of public appeals hence future locomotive preservation schemes have followed the experience of the D&EG. The important point however is that someone chose a particular locomotive for a personal reason then sought (by public appeal) to find similarly-minded enthusiasts to help fund the particular scheme.
    The other option is that of individuals such as David Smith (WCRC) or Jeremy Hosking (LSL) who have the finances to purchase without the need for public appeal but their choices are personal and do not depend on the opinion or expectations of others. The main problem with this funding, however, is that the individual takes the financial risks of operating the locomotive, including the costs of main line running and 10-yearly overhauls whereas group funded purchases tend to retain a modicum of supporters who maintain and overhaul their locomotives albeit with the help of public funding through appeals.

    A rarely noted point is that the NRM has a collection but does not have all the preserved items it would like but in the early days it saw itself with a basic fleet with the option of "borrowing from" or 'lending to" specific groups who preserved items of interest that neither party had but which they wished to exhibit with items the did have. The late John Coiley made clear that the NRM couldn't preserve everything but the NRM would look favourably on those groups / organisations who preserved itms of interest to the NRM but accepted that the choice of items to preserve was still the right of the individual to make.

    Again personal experience was that in July 1977 I thought to preserve D2 / 44002 as the only Peak to have been officially registered for 100 mph running and contacted both the NRM which promised to store the locomotive until a permanent heritage line location was arranged if an appeal proved successful and the Nene Valley Railway which offered running facilities if there was a vacancy in their fleet capacity at time of purchase. Shortly after I began "setting the ground", but before I could start a public appeal, Mike Jacobs bought D4 / 44004 Great Gable hence I took no further action as - at the time - I could see no way that 2 Class 44s could be funded by public appeal.

    Again on a personal basis I have supported appeals by various locomotive groups which own locomotives that have a personal resonance with me during my life and will continue to support such schemes in the future. This may not directly answer the OP's question but it may give a clue asto the importance of the individual in selecting a particular traction unit for preservation and the consequent difficulty of liaising with others to maximise variety whilst minimising duplication. After all do we really need 6 Deltics or 19 Class 14 Teddy Bears or the 18 Class 50s to illustrate BR history whilst ignoring examples of Classes 16 / 21 / 22 / 29 / 41 (D6xx) which have a common interest in being built by a major UK locomotive manufacturer unable to meet the demands of the new world of diesel traction hence a part of the UK's diesel locomotive history.
     
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  7. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    Continuing the thread drift (sorry Tom), think how many non-corridor carriages were built by the Big 4 - and how many survive?? Of the handful that do survive even fewer have ever been restored yet these vehicles were the backbone of operations on the branchlines which form most of today's heritage railways. Yes, Mk1 TSO's are very useful vehicles for today's traffic but hardly represent a branchline passenger train of the era that we are trying to recreate. Unfortunately some of the few surviving non-corridors are probably past the 'point of no return' having spent decades in the open with little or no prospect of ever being restored - the 2 ex Glos Warks G.W. brake 3rds are just two examples that spring to mind. No reflection on the Glos Warks BTW as the carriages were privately owned. Perhaps if some of the long thousands being put into creating 'Frankenstein locos' could have been put into the undercover accommodation and restoration of correct period carriages to run behind our Big 4 locos............ I'll get off my soapbox now.
    Ray.
     
  8. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    When I was Chairman of the LNER Coach Association I wanted to add an LNER suburban coach of some description - preferably a CL, for which a body existed on a farm in Scotland and we had a suitable underframe - of which there are no restored examples apartt from the Quad Arts, but it was always going to be an uphill struggle to find a home willing to take it until we were in a position to tackle it and they ended up elsewhere. But isn't this thread supposed to be about locos? I can think of very few that are genuinely "at risk" - the former Binbrook Crab and perhaps the NG Peckett at Bromyard are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. With most seemingly neglected/derelict locos there are likely purchasers around if only the current owners would let them go.
     
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  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I agree with your points, just to say that the VCT and others had looked at both risk and significance for carriages - hence my thought about doing similar for locos.

    On risk: the preponderance of railways considering Mark 1s as operationally useful is arguably what puts more significant pre-nationalisation carriages at risk: if resources are limited, you keep the useful ones running even if it means setting aside more significant vehicles. The curiosity is that that doesn’t necessarily apply to locos, where funding tends to chase glamour. I can name at least a couple of railways that are overhauling Bulleid Pacifics while they have non-operational 4MT tanks. Which I get in financial terms, but does suggest that for locos, significance, usefulness and desirability (measured in the willingness of people to donate) are not congruent properties.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2022
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  10. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    Just thinking about the question, I would start with the list that the VCT came up with, and then look at each individual locomotive through that lens, together with a purely utilitarian "can this be used effectively" calculation. That is a calculus that would be unfavourable to some favoured types, and which would highlight the gaps we all know - notably in the LNER family.

    I think the problem is then in the "so what" element. Generally speaking, locomotives are more charismatic than carriages, which are more charismatic than wagons. The role of charisma is then important in determining which "important" projects actually get support and funding. Going back to the origins of this, I suspect that is part of why emotions run so high at the thought of a Castle disappearing, but were less engaged about an 8F or a Hall. Likewise, some find the stock that survives from the end of the S&D important to them - yet it's hard to see why those locomotives or vehicles are more significant than those that worked other last trains elsewhere.

    Lurking in the background, though, is the fact that railway preservation is not a unitary thing, but a large number of private individuals and groups all trying to do their bit with finite resources on the things that interest them. That makes it inevitably harder to focus interest onto something important but dull.

    Which takes us back to the comment by @Jamessquared about there always being a role for Mk1s, because they're so useful - yet I've also seen comments this evening highlighting the lack of priority for Standard 4 2-6-4Ts in their railways' workshop queues. It is, for example, a over a decade since the NYMR ran the "Bridges and Wheels" appeal, yet 80135 is still not running. Where something is plentiful, the pressure of significance to deal with any individual example will be less - yet the end result may be as bad for the type as if there were none.
     
  11. misspentyouth62

    misspentyouth62 Well-Known Member

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    Difficult questions Tom given the broad interest that railway enthusiasts have. I could have a go at judging what I believe to be most significant but it's too subjective and tbh, it's not really about what I think.

    I'd say a couple of things though :

    The word 'preservation' has certain meaning in my view and from the dictionary it says "the act of keeping something the same or of preventing it from being damaged". In that way, building attractions for other reasons, whether flights of nostalgia or commercialism, isn't really preservation at all. The good news is that 4920 and 5972 haven't been harmed so far in their commercial surroundings if you see what I mean?

    I'm a huge fan of new builds and personally can't wait for Beachy Head to grace the Bluebell - but this is not locomotive preservation as such, it's recreation of an experience to showpiece the past. Both have their place but in my view, we have responsibilities beyond our personal ownership when it comes to our heritage - IMHO as always.

    The other point is that extinction is forever and when something has been converted into razor blades, that historic artefact / antique / relict cannot be replaced. If we don't care that the last Elephant or Tiger is lost forever, don't prevent those that do care from trying as those who don't care have decided not to contribute to their preservation. As a long term contributor, I've never had an opportunity to contribute towards the preservation of 7027 - that I'm aware of anyway. We also have to future-proof our decisions since a flippant decision now as an act of revenge or neglect, deprives the next lot of young lads from staring upwards at an eighth Castle albeit of BR origins and kindling the interests that many here have enjoyed. If HR can sustain 7 Castles then why not 8. They don't all have to be on the mainline to inspire.

    nuff said ;-)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2022
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  12. misspentyouth62

    misspentyouth62 Well-Known Member

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    I agree Fred that early diesels withdrawn late 60's, early 70's have been missed and it's a real shame. I think it's just a consequence of bad timing more than anything given that railway preservation was evolving and there were steam engines wanting to be saved.
    We all look back and think what might have been with more hindsight. D6122 and D601 were near misses but they are gone. On the other hand there is still D5705 to look forward to seeing sometime soon hopefully. :)
     
  13. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member Friend

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    Marked in bold - that was kind of my point in my post in 7027 thread (https://www.national-preservation.com/posts/2759838) about having a larger class of 'ideal' locos for heritage railways but as is often the case on NP, discussions on wider issues soon go down the rabbit hole of specific cases.
     
  14. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    @Jamessquared , glad you started this thread

    I think to expand the question , what is preservation in the 21st Century . Are our "heritage" railways just theme parks for entertainment where it is a train ride or is our movement genuine preservation when the fundamental focus is to recreate the steam era for future generations .

    taking that a step further do we need some sort of protection for heritage assets . Are locomotives and rolling stock just freely traded commodities for sale to the highest bidder? (could be overseas or worse case a scrap man) Could a failed preserved railway be redeveloped for housing ? What protection is offered for infrastructure and trackbeds

    Do we as a community have the desire to fight for what we have and are we willing to fund it.
     
  15. 30567

    30567 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Yes, I was musing on similar lines.

    I presume the starting point is private ownership, possibly through trusts, of the heritage assets themselves. So, locos etc are really one small class of a broader question about art, furniture, buildings and the rest of heritage. One question which follows from that is whether some assets should be subject to listed status ie they cannot be sold abroad or destroyed without the opportunity for purchase whether by the NRM or by public subscription. The list of criteria seems quite sensible in that context.

    I think there is at one end of the spectrum a select list of locos which easily meet those tests and another, much longer list which don't. Suppose WCR had decided that 44932 was better sold to Ian Riley as a pile of spares for 44871 and 45407. Is there really an overriding public interest argument against allowing that to happen?

    But then there is a large grey area where opinions will differ and some kind of overall judgement has to be arrived at. I'm thinking hypothetically of cases like 46201 or 60009. Do locos like that meet some of those criteria? Possibly cost has to come into it somewhere.

    What I take from the above and from parts of the 7027 thread is that the biggest risk is inability to fund and gradual deterioration. But what you don't want to do is to put unnecessary barriers in the way of private owners acting pro bono publico to try to preserve part of our heritage. Some failures are a worthwhile price to pay for a massive overall success story.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2022
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  16. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    A typical heritage railway is a mixture of theme park and recreation of the steam era. It has been pointed out on other threads here that heritage railways need shops, eateries, clean toilets, etc, often longer trains than in the BR era and larger motive power, etc.

    Didcot is a special case. It has demonstration lines to allow people to ride in moving trains, but the lines are short and that is not a major part of the whole; whereas on most heritage railways the ride is a major part of the whole.

    Didcot aims to be a museum of everything GWR (and successors) including broad gauge, documents, Swindon panel, etc, and that is why it tries to fill gaps in the collection by new builds or rebuilds. There is scope for disagreement about how successfully the GWS is meeting its aims and whether some of its decisions have been good or bad, but we should acknowledge the particular background against which those decisions have been taken. For the GWS's particular purposes, a working Saint, or even in future an out-of-service but complete Saint, makes much better sense than an incomplete Hall. Likewise a complete Star and a complete 4700 would make much better sense than an extra Castle; but the other thread has identified some reasons why Thornbury Castle's frames and boiler are not ideal starting points for those two projects.
     
  17. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

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    Of course, it's worth remembering that complete recreation is impossible - the original wasn't made to be a recreation of itself!
     
  18. Richard Roper

    Richard Roper Well-Known Member

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    Just to make a very broad comment - and using as a parallel the preservation of vintage buses - I think that any vehicle can be considered "at risk" even those which are part of Museum collections. I've seen plenty of lovingly-restored vehicles either sold off to become burger bars or mobile homes, and plenty more which have been exported to Europe and other parts of the world, simply to generate the owner some cash.

    The same applies to Railways - Look how close Flying Scotsman came to being shipped out to India. Yes, it's part of the NRM collection now, so should have a safe future - But we all thought that about 563 didn't we? Until it was de-accessioned. (No discredit at all to the Swanage Railway, they have given it a good home, and hopefully a secure future).
    My point is, an artefact only has to come into the possession of someone who either doesn't appreciate it for what it is, or who doesn't think or care about who the buyer will be if it's offered for sale.
    We are still lucky in that some young people are still willing to take on the gauntlet of caring for and overhauling steam locomotives and vintage carriages etc...

    On the bus front, I see many young people who are not remotely interested in anything with a half-cab. I predict that in the next 20 years a lot of half-cabs will end up as scrap.
    Bus preservation at the younger end seems increasingly to revolve around running a vehicle until it's on its arse, scrapping it, and buying something else to play with. That is not preservation.

    Richard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2022
  19. Avonside1972

    Avonside1972 New Member

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    Its not just restricted to Bus preservation either, I see this happening in most forms of mechanical heritage. The big problem being that as we move further away from the technology that created all this stuff being day-to-day knowledge, so there is less understanding and appreciation of it. The item then becomes a plaything until it breaks and is scrapped or passed on.
    More importantly, something that will affect all Heritage is the upcoming double tsunami that is 'Cost of Living' and 'Environment'. How much survives remains to be seen. Far from worrying about what group X will do with item Y, I think we all need to think ahead to the next round of begging letters and consider carefully which Heritage site you wish to support in the hope it might survive the coming storms. One things for sure, there wont be any more Government handouts.
     
  20. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    This - and following posts - have raised a thought that I have been having regarding "preserved" items whether they be physical entities or ephemera (including photographic collections). IIRC great works of art are considered sufficiently valuable to the nation's fabric that death duties can be avoided by donating them "to the nation" but no such dispensation exists for those whose "great works" include preserved artefacts. If these latter items are considered sufficiently valuable to be considered worth saving it raises the question of (i) what should be considered worthy of "national" preservation (ii) who should be the custodian (iii) what incentive should be given to ensure "worthy" items are donated (e.g. dispensation from tax payments) (iv) what form(s) of donation can be made (e.g. items to be in trust / owned by charity) and what time restrictions should apply (e.g. within 6 months of death).

    As I write it seems that many valuable items - especially photography collections - are being lost because descendants have no appreciation of value hence simply dispose of them to waste; how much valuable items have been lost to posterity because of such ignorance ?
     

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