Overhaul Update

June 2021 Update

Time flies when you’re having fun, or so I’m told. Well, I must be revelling in it as the past few weeks have flown by and I missed doing a report last month. Back on track now (if you’ll excuse the pun)!

Descaling of the boiler is progressing well when we can find someone thin enough to squeeze in through the dome. It’s taken a few weeks to disconnect all the steam, water and lubrication pipes attached to the boiler and the firebox backhead. Some of these pipes were very long and required manoeuvring around to extract them. My friend Mike and I spent a day at Loughborough recently. We were undoing cab and pipe fittings and connections. There are lubrication pipes that run from the cab, through a small hole in the cab front, down the side of the boiler to the front of the engine. After disconnecting, we had to pull the pipe back through the cab which meant Mike walking back over the tender whilst supporting the pipe and then moving the pipe around to allow a 900 bend and connector nut to be manoeuvred through the small cab hole. We managed it without Mike falling off the tender!

The cab looks quite bare with most of the pipework removed.

All the pipework is being removed to facilitate the boiler lift. The final job remaining is to remove the handrails. These are attached to the boiler with pins but also to the cab. The cab connections on the right-hand side are proving still to be done. They are accessed from the running plate but it’s not a safe place for a couple of people to work. Working at height is Health and Safety risk we need to manage properly, so we shall have to wait until we can get the engine outside and build some staging alongside to enable the work to continue.

Work on descaling the inside of the boiler is still progressing. The Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) will be the last parts of the cab fittings to be removed. After this and the removal of the right-hand handrail, the middle section of boiler cladding will be removed to facilitate the slings for the boiler lift.

As previously reported, we have removed the brakegear from the tender. This is now being cleaned up and painted. We’re also now planning to get the tender lifted off the bogies. The bogies will be inspected, cleaned, and painted. We will also need to assess the condition of the tender tank.

Fund raising continues as you might imagine. Our sales stand has been out at Quorn at the start of the GCR operating season. Over the gala weekend we took nearly £600 in sales and donations. We have received many railway books and some general railwayana for sale. We intend to be at all the major events at the GCR this summer.

There are a few ways you can help us. We’ve welcomed a couple of new working volunteers to work on the engine at Loughborough and on the sales stand. If you haven’t already, you can  :-

Thanks for your support with Sir Lamiel.

Alan Berck-May


5305 Locomotive Association

Overhaul Update

April 2021 Update

We’re back! Yes, our volunteers have been in for a couple of weekends now and we have made some progress on 777.

Arran popping out of the boiler for a bit of fresh air.

As the outcome of the boiler inspection is key to making progress on the project, work has focused on the boiler. With the dome cover off and the regulator valve removed we can now access the “J pipe”. This takes steam from the regulator to the superheater header. As you might imagine this is a seriously big piece of pipe and takes some effort to remove. Don’t forget all the nuts and bolts holding it in place have been underwater for a significant period.

Looking inside the “dome”. The “J Pipe” can be seen at the top. The metal rods inside the boiler are the longitudinal stays. The small gap between them is the only access to the inside of the boiler.

Once the “J pipe” was removed the descaling of the boiler has now commenced. Access to the boiler is through the dome. With the dome cover off there is a hole about 2 feet in diameter. Whilst many might volunteer for the descaling task only those of reduced girth and a fairly good level of agility and flexibility may enter. This is really the work of our younger, thinner, and fitter volunteers. Big thank you to Arran for stepping forward.

The less agile amongst us concentrated on the heavier work where size, grunt and with mechanical aids, removed the rear cylinder covers.

Heating up the rear cylinder cover nuts

Further work to descale the boiler is required but should be well on the way to being completed when you read this. Once completed we will be calling in our boiler inspector. Fingers crossed for some good news in the next report.

Maintaining our fundraising momentum is key to the success of our work. We still need all the help we can get. Please tell your friends and family about what we’re doing and how they can join in. There are a few ways you can help us. If you haven’t already you can  :-

Thanks for your support with Sir Lamiel.

Alan Berck-May


5305 Locomotive Association

News Overhaul Update

January 2021

We ended last year on a bit of a high with some significant progress on Sir Lamiel. Unfortunately, the news of the renewed lockdown and restrictions on access at Loughborough means that work on the overhaul has now stopped until restrictions are lifted.

We have rescheduled the project plan for the overhaul and still expect to have completed the overhaul in time for Sir Lamiel’s centenary year in 2025. Work has also stopped on the D6535 and other volunteer work at Loughborough. We are working closely with our colleagues at the Great Central Railway so that we can return to work as quickly as possible as restrictions are lifted.

 One area we still need to do further work is fund raising. We have launched the Knights of the Round Table and have raised around £20k so far. There’s still a long way to go. This year will be a challenge financially as opportunities for hiring of our locomotives will be restricted until the heritage sector returns to running normal timetabled trains.  We are looking into a Heritage Lottery Funding application to support the Sir Lamiel overhaul. This is quite a task as we have to build a good case for their support. A small project team is being set up to work on the application. If anyone has experience of HLF applications or other fundraising ideas, please contact us via

Maintaining our fundraising momentum is key to the success of our work. There are a few ways you can help us.

  • If you haven’t already you can join the Knights of the Round Table is main way of supporting the overhaul of Sir Lamiel 
  • There is also the opportunity to make one off or regular monthly donations. Please follow the link above.
  • There is also the opportunity to make one off or regular monthly donations. Please follow the link above.
  • Become a working volunteer.
  • Purchase gifts and accessories from our website shop. Please follow the link to see our current range. More items will be added to the shop in during the year.

Thanks for your support with Sir Lamiel.

Alan Berck-May


5305 Locomotive Association

Overhaul Update

December 2020 Update & New Year Message

We’ve not seen any snow here in Northamptonshire but looking out over the garden above the laptop the grass is white with frost this morning. My thoughts are with all the enginemen working New Year services this week on our heritage railways. It looks very warm on the footplate in the station with the Firehole doors open but at 25mph with the doors shut and looking out for signals it’s definitely cold!

45305 Heading South towards Leicester North on the Great Central Railway on a cold December morning.

It’s been a very busy month at Loughborough on Sir Lamiel. We now have a regular gang of volunteers working on the locomotive, so some real progress has been made. I reported last month that we had split the engine from the tender. Since then, we have removed all brake rigging on the tender and engine. This has all been cleaned and marked up and where possible, a start has been made on painting. Several bushes require replacement. Each bush needs carefully measuring, pressing out and a replacement machined. If we have any machinist in among our members who would like to get more involved the overhaul, please contact us – there’s loads of jobs like this that will need doing.

On the boiler, all tubes and flues are out. The dome and majority of the regulator components have been removed to facilitate getting someone into the boiler to start cleaning off the scale before we can get on with the boiler examination. All the flues and boiler tubes will require replacement. We shall be launching a boiler tube appeal in the New Year.

A dizzying array of some, but not all, parts removed from Sir Lamiel so far.

All motion has been removed from the engine, as well as the valves and pistons have been removed. The crossheads will require whitemetalling and machine. We plan to make a start on this in the New Year. The back covers of the cylinders will be removed in early January to enable the cylinder boring to take place. This will create a true machined bore. After more careful measuring a pair of liners will be cast and machined. The expected costs of the relining including fitting is estimated to be £16k. Your contributions to these costs will be a great help in getting these jobs done.

Our Black Five 45305 and the Peak D123 have been a mainstay of the GCR Christmas and New Year running. I hope you’ve seen the pictures of the Steam in Lights trains on social media.

Testing of the Winter Lights setup

As the overhaul continues, we move in to the renew and refurbish phase. Components are carefully checked measured and examined. Most parts are cleaned painted and stored. Some, however, require repairs, renewal and Pins and bushes replaced. This is where the real costs of the overhaul are incurred. We still need your help to move forward with this work.  There are a few ways you can help us.

The news of the approval of the vaccines hopefully means to return to normal volunteering and a Heritage train services in 2021.  As 2020 closes we are looking forward to an exciting new year for our Association. The five, Class 33 and the Peak will all be in traffic in 2021. With your help and support we shall push forward with the overhaul of Sir Lamiel

We have continued to make progress on the overhaul of Sir Lamiel despite the Covid restrictions. Thanks for your support with Sir Lamiel.

Happy New Year

Alan Berck-May


5305 Locomotive Association

Overhaul Update

November 2020 Update

Slow progress this month due to lack of volunteers caused by the Covid Lockdown restrictions but progress has still been made none the less.

A major step forward has been the splitting of the engine from the tender. On the tender, the wooden platform and tender sand boxes have been removed and the area cleaned out. All the steel work cleaned up and painted with the 1st coat of protective paint applied.  See the before and after pictures.

Rotting wood of the tender platform
Tender all cleaned up. After this photo, the metal was cleaned down and a number of layers of bitumen have now been applied.

Work on stripping the tender brake gear has also started prior to lifting the tender to release the bogies. The original tender water gauge has been located and a start on its repair and restoration commenced over the last weekend. The bottom flange of the gauge has a piece missing and a new section will have to be made and welded to the remaining part of the flange. This could be expensive as the whole assembly is made of cast iron. Any help with sponsorship of this work would be gratefully appreciated.

On the boiler nearly all of the small tubes have now been removed and this work will progress over the next few weeks. The dome cover, dome and regulator valve still need to be removed before further boiler work can continue.

More tubes pulled out by volunteers Chris and Rob one evening last week.

As you might imagine, as more parts of Sir Lamiel are stripped down, we soon have removed parts cluttering up the space around the engine. This makes it difficult to work and move around as they can become tripping hazards. We are in the process of obtaining a couple of shipping containers to store loco parts. Good quality shipping containers cost around £3,000 so again if you are able to help with sponsorship please do get in touch. Not very glamourous but they will be essential to securely store parts as they are removed and refurbished prior to reassembly.

Our volunteers continue to help with the overhaul of Oliver Cromwell’s tender. Recent work has involved descaling and painting the tender frames and tank bottom. Removing, cleaning up and painting all the brake gear.

In addition, we have also removed the radiator grills on the Class 33. These were scrapped due to their poor condition and new grills have been made up and painted ready for refitting.

Grills removed and the exposed metal below is being cleaned and primed for the new grills to be fitted.

We are very grateful to the Great Central Railway over the past couple of years for their support for the overhaul of Sir Lamiel. The latest news from the Government on the lifting of Covid restrictions looks likely to enable the GCR Christmas services to operate. Please do support the railway by using the Christmas services. A bit of insider info – 5305 is being fitted up in preparation for the “Steam in Lights” services.

We are continuing to make progress on the overhaul of Sir Lamiel despite the Covid restrictions. Thanks for your support with Sir Lamiel.

Alan Berck-May


5305 Locomotive Association

Overhaul Update

September 2020 Update

Some good progress this month, although still at the beginning of the long period where parts are being removed. Work on the boiler continues with tube removal underway. There are 193 tubes in Sir Lamiel’s boiler which need the ends cutting with gas cutting gear prior to removal. 73 tubes still require the ends cutting in the firebox end to enable removal. We have found what we think will be an interesting use for the old tubes after removal. Watch out for more news on this.

The ends of the tubes in the firebox are being cut out ready for the tubes to be removed.

The boiler is almost ready for removal with a few bolts remaining on the front mounting bracket. A move to a pit road is required to access these bolts.

Cylinder and valve covers were removed so that the valves and pistons can be accessed for removal.

All the cladding has been removed and the metal of the cylinders is exposed. The drain valves and mountings are by the front bogie axles before moved to storage.

The next month will see work continuing on the preparation for the boiler lift with the removal of the dome cover and lid followed by the regulator valve. Once all the tubes have been removed, we shall have a team inside the boiler cleaning the barrel prior to the initial boiler inspection.

All the nuts and bolts removed are carefully cleaned ready for storage. A growing number of parts are accumulating in the shed. We intend to purchase a couple of containers to store these parts in the next weeks.

Nuts and bolts being cleaned in an oil solution to remove rust and grime.
The cleaned nuts and bolts are re threaded and assessed for reuse.

As I’ve said before, none of this would be possible without your financial support and the work of our working members. We’re still interested in hearing from anyone who wants to take a more active part in the overhaul. There is work at all skill levels and getting involved in a loco overhaul is a great way to learn about how steam loco’s work.

Can I also apologise to all our Knights awaiting their membership cards. We have commissioned some new artwork. Unfortunately, our artist has had to deal with some family issues not helped by the Covid restrictions. He’s now back on the case and is hoping to get something to us in the next few weeks. I’m very sorry for the delay.

Thanks to you all

Alan Berck-May

Chairman 5305 LA.

Overhaul Update

July/August 2020 Update

During the overhaul for Sir Lamiel, we intend to do monthly updates about the progress we have made.

We’ve had a great start with our Knight’s of the Round Table Appeal with just over £10,000 pledge so far. There’s still a long way to go, so please spread the word far and wide.

Over the past month and a bit since we were able to share the good news, our team of volunteers have managed to complete quite a bit.

Sir Lamiel inside Loughborough Shed. Photo courtesy of Mark Atkins

All the superheater elements have been removed. As they were only put in around 2-3 years ago, they should still be in good condition. They will be assessed and hydraulically tested to see if we can use them again.

The concrete floor in the smokebox has been removed to allow access to the blastpipe bolts. This took a number of weekends to remove as it included back breaking work with a hammer and chisel.

Removal of smokebox floor. Photo courtesy of Pete Hackney

With the concrete floor removed, this meant that the blastpipe bolts could be warmed and removed. Warming one side of the nut causes it to expand and hopefully make it easier to remove. Failing that more heat can be applied to cut or melt the nut or bolt free.

Volunteers having a break while removing the concrete floor. As per any shed work a good cup of tea is required. Photo courtesy of Mark Atkins

The petticoat that sits directly above the blastpipe has been removed and inspected. It is well below the required minimal thickness and a new one will need to be bought. We suspect that this petticoat may well be the one fitted when it was last serviced by British Railways. The new petticoat will cost us around £2,000.

With the blastpipe, main steam pipes and the superheater elements removed, the boiler tubes are next on the list to come out. By the time you read this, a number of them may well already be out of the boiler.

The main aim and push so far has been to get to a stage where we can lift the boiler off of the frames. This will allow the boiler to be inspected and a number of work streams to begin simultaneously.


Sir Lamiel Fundraiser Launch

This morning we launch our fundraiser, “The Knights of the Round Table” for Sir Lamiel’s overhaul.

Having been responsible for Sir Lamiel for 42 years and having completed three major overhauls in that time, we have an intimate understanding of what needs to be done to bring the 4-6-0 back in order to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2025 in steam.

We are looking for 74 of the bravest souls to come forward with us by donating £1,000 each to the initial £74,000 appeal. By doing so, you will become an honorary ‘Knight of Sir Lamiel’s Round Table’.

Full details can be found on our new website linked below.

We appreciate that this is a big commitment.

There are other ways to support us:

To become a 5305LA member:

For other donations please contact us via

We will shortly be adding an online donate option.


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).