Sir Lamiel for overhaul

National collection locomotive N15, King Arthur class, No. 777, Sir Lamiel is set to return to steam following a new overhaul agreement with the 5305 Locomotive Association.

The overhaul will take place to main line standards with work due to start later this year and due 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. During the overhaul, Sir Lamiel will be based at the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire with work carried out by the 5305 Locomotive Association’s engineering team.

The overhaul will also see the locomotive repainted in lined out BR Green with early crests on the tender, replacing the current Southern Railway Malachite Green. 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 the colleagues at the NRM and the Great Central Railway as we undertake the overhaul.”

Great Central Railway’s Managing Director, Michael Gough, said: “Sir Lamiel has a memorable history 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.”

Steam locomotive, Southern Railway, King Arthur class, No. 777 Sir Lamiel was designed by Richard Edward Lloyd Maunsell and built by Glasgow’s North British Locomotive Company in 1925. Pre-Grouping, the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) had designed the N15 class, two cylinder 4-6-0 locomotives, under the auspices of Robert Urie.

Following the grouping of railway companies in 1923, LSWR became part of the Southern Railway and Richard Maunsell developed the Class N15s to meet an urgent demand for additional express passenger locomotives. 

The publicity department of Southern Railway gave the N15 locomotives names relating to the 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-deflector plates. In total 74 locomotives were built between 1919 and 1926.

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 a relatively short 36-years 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.

The locomotive is part of the internationally significant Science Museum Group collection (more information and images are available here).