92 Squadron – From Rust to Renaissance

On the 6th July Steve Lacey and Kevin Wilkins of the “92 Squadron” Preservation Society gave the Milton Keynes Branch an excellent presentation on the history and work done to preserve Battle of Britain Class light pacific No.34081 “92 Squadron”.

Steve opened the talk with a brief resume of the work of Oliver Bulleid, designer of the loco, highlighting both the successes of his tenure as CM&EE of the Southern Railway such as the Merchant Navy and West Country/Battle of Britain Classes (especially their free steaming boilers) to the less than successful projects such as the Leader Class locos and the double deck electric multiple units. The talk then gave a detailed account of the history of 34081 with images of its working career on BR – the loco having been built after nationalisation – it was a long term resident of 72A Exmouth Junction.

Steve then showed the condition of the loco when it was purchased from Woodham’s Barry scrapyard, which gave some idea of the gargantuan task that faced the Preservation Society to get the loco back to running condition. After years of hard work they completed the task. The loco is based on the Nene Valley Railway and Steve gave several images of it both at work and the maintenance and servicing needed to keep it in good condition.

The other fascinating aspect of Steve’s talk was the description of the RAF 92 Squadron that 34081 is named after, which included the exploits of some of the pilots during the Battle of Britain and their base at Biggin Hill.

All in all a fascinating presentation, the proof of which is that several members who are not naturally interested in steam preservation remarked what an excellent talk it had been.