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Young Sprowston train enthusiasts aiming to build Claud Hamilton steam locomotive

PUBLISHED: 09:53 06 February 2012

Railway ambition - Daniel Knights, left, and George Aldridge of the youthful team that plans to build a 'Claud Hamilton' class steam locomotive from scratch in time for the LNER centenary in 2023.  Photo: Bill Smith

Railway ambition - Daniel Knights, left, and George Aldridge of the youthful team that plans to build a 'Claud Hamilton' class steam locomotive from scratch in time for the LNER centenary in 2023. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

A team of young train enthusiasts is hoping to help a legendary locomotive rise like a Phoenix from the coal-fired flames.

Sprowston duo George Aldridge and Daniel Knights, both 19, are part of an eight-strong group drawing-up plans to build a working Claud Hamilton steam locomotive. The railway vehicles, known as Clauds, were operated by the Great Eastern Railway, (GER) with services including Cromer to Liverpool Street.

The collective, aged between 16 and 26, is aiming to have the standard gauge 4-4-0 D16/2 loco named Phoenix finished by 2023 to mark the 100th anniversary of the demise of GER.

Mr Aldridge said: “The Claud Hamilton was one of the most famous, most legendary and most elegant engines built in the UK and none got saved. One was supposed to be but it got scrapped.

“We’ve always been into trains and I’ve always known about Claud Hamiltons and why it’s historically significant.”

Engineering experts will be used to help the Claud Hamilton Locomotive Group during the building process.

There is no exact figure on how much the project will cost but members of the eight-man team have already invested their own money. The plan is to raise interest and cash at various train events.

Mr Aldridge said: “People can become members of the project, make donations or buy merchandise, such as mugs, keyrings and cards.

“The locomotive will primarily be for heritage railway use.”

People who donate to the project will be given opportunities to check up on the progress of the locomotive.

Mr Aldridge said they were looking into the possibility of using the engine on the mainline but the cost needed to be assessed.

The former Sprowston Community High School pupil, who has just finished a business course at City College Norwich, said: “It seems quite far away as there’s not something physical in front of us – there’s a lot to set up first. We are ready to do the wheels once we get the drawings.”

The group is looking at storage space to house the different components as the project progresses. The wheels are expected to be six foot high. Mr Knights, also a former Sprowston Community High School pupil now studying mechanical engineering at Easton College, said: “We can store the wheels ourselves but once you get the engine you can’t really leave it in your back garden.”

During the life of the loco, the Clauds were decorated with 14 different designs. The first livery lined-up for the new build is green, formerly used as the royal colours.

It hoped the colour can be changed every two years so that all 14 are used. It is said 117 Clauds survived when the railways were nationalised in 1948 although they were largely all withdrawn by 1952.

Members involved in the new build project are also from Dereham, North Walsham, Cambridgeshire, the Midlands and Southampton.

Anyone wishing to help should visit www.claudhamiltonlocomotivegroup.co.uk

Are you working on an unusual and amazing project? Call Richard Wheeler on 01603 772474 or email richard.wheeler@archant.co.uk

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