The LMS Patriot Project

The first indoor meeting of 2023 was held at our new venue of the Network Rail offices at The Quadrant in Milton Keynes. We were pleased to welcome both familiar and new faces to hear a candid talk from Colin Hall about the project to build a new LMS ‘Patriot’ class steam engine. As Colin relayed to us the history of this new build has had many twists and dramatic turns.


The presentation started with a brief outline of the history of the Patriots, none of the 52 examples surviving the cutters torch at the end of steam. Nicknamed ‘Baby Scots’ the locomotives resplendent in LMS Crimson Lake colours, were regular performers on London to West Midlands expresses during their 1930s heyday. Over the life of the class, it is estimated that they travelled 100 million miles.


The project to build a new Patriot was formally launched at the Llangollen Railway in April 2008 and has to date cost £3 million – building a new steam engine is not cheap! Most of these funds have been raised through supporters donations. This new engine, which will carry the number 5551, will be named ‘The Unknown Warrior’ and become a new National Memorial engine, dedicated to the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country.


Colin took us through the many issues the project has encountered in the construction, which included several changes of contractors and locations, highlighting just how challenging the build of a new steam locomotive is. A project reset in 2020 was hampered by the lockdowns imposed in response to the Covid pandemic but Colin was defiantly confident that ‘The Unknown Warrior’ will take to the rails in 2029, the current project completion date.


At the conclusion of the presentation, Colin took a range of questions from the audience, providing an enlightening and candid insight into this challenging project. A highly recommended speaker on a subject that will appeal to many, not just those who remember steam.