Who, and what is Locomotive Storage Limited?
Locomotive Storage operate a fleet of mainline steam locos that is one of the finest in the country, mainline locos from not only each of the ‘Big Four’ but also BR Standard locomotives too. The also have a fleet of mainline diesel and electric locomotives and in 2020 launched the iconic Midlan Pullman HST. Have a look at their
website and see for yourself.
The company uses the ‘Icons of Steam’ brand as a trading name. Their primary base is the Crewe Diesel Depot for their fleet of steam and diesel locomotives along with the carriages used on charter trains, but not all are operational at the same time and this is where the Margate site comes into the equation. Locomotives that are waiting in the queue for their next overhaul can be shipped to Margate and kept in a dry safe environment until their turn comes. In addition items from the collection that are not inteded for main line use but have been restored to display standard are based here. In 2021 planning permission was granted to develop the site as a railway museum under the One:One collection brand. The facility was converted from the former Hornby factory and is being developed with a full opening planned for 2024.
Thanks to the assistance of Dennis Dunstone, Chairman on the 5-BEL Trust, the chance came to house items at the Margate site from the closed Electric Railway Museum. Locomotive Storage Limited have gone out of their way to make this happen and we are seriously indebted to them for the chance to keep these items under cover for the first time in 30 years, both the 4-SUB and 503 were going to be problematic to re-home due to their needing major renovation work and their general incompatibility with heritage railway operations. Had this offer not been made — we dare not think of what the outcome for the two units would have been.
Why Start a New Charitable Trust?
When originally purchased for preservation over 20 years ago the funds raised to enable it to happen were secured by the selling of shares in the ownership of the units, this was formalised as two private limited companies and whilst this achieved the initial aim, it presented serious restrictions on what could be done to raise funds to restore them.
In 2014, the shareholders of the two companies were approached and asked to relinquish their shares to create a new charity that would be a better set-up for the long term future. This was agreed and the process got underway.
With the strife surrounding the closure of the Electric Railway Museum priorities shifted and the need for the trust suddenly became a matter of urgency. To this end the Heritage Electric Trains Trust was established.
Who, or What is the Heritage Electric Trains Trust?
The Heritage Electric Trains Trust (HETT) has been set up as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, meaning it’s not a limited company nor is it a pure Trust but something in between. The Charity Commission created the concept just over two years ago for organisations that have charitable objects but do not need to be limited companies.
The HETT has no shareholders and its only members are its Trustees. The Trustees have been chosen for their talents and skills that will be needed to run what is, without doubt, a major project getting the two units restored. The HETT requires a top team to carry out its objectives. These Trustees are: Ian Brown CBE, Neil Bennet, Graeme Gleaves, Mark Walling and Professor John Missenden. Other Trustees may well be added as a need is identified, this is still in the early start-up phases and the HETT registration has been submitted to the Charity Commission; we await their response.
The role of the Trustees is to both project manage the restoration work and secure the funding to pay for it. This will be through donations, sponsorship, grants, legacies and other such sources. The total for both units over a ten year timescale will be in excess of £1,000,000 to bring them up to Heritage Railway operation and display standard, neither unit has had a classified overhaul since the early 1980s. To put that in context it was around the time Prince William was born, Henry VIII’s Mary Rose was raised from the Solent and Channel 4 went on the air ...
What Can I Do To Help?
The role of the 4-SUB Association is to support the work of the HETT in keeping 4732 safe and secure in storage and raising the funds to keep her there. We need to point out that whilst we have been offered very generous terms it is not free to use the siding space at Margate.
We will need regular contributions, preferably by standing order to our 750 Supply scheme, to meet our financial commitments for storage charges, insurance and of course the restoration work. Please get in touch if you can help out with a regular contribution.
As a guide, it costs more to keep the eight vehicles at Margate a year than it did to lease the entire site at Coventry. The environment of Margate is far better I am sure you will agree and for that we have to pay our way.
Can I visit the site in Margate?
At present — no! It is a private and secure site with no public access.
However, the One:One Collection is working towards opening the site as a high quality railway museum with a target opening date of 2024. The 4-SUB has been invited to be a permanent exhibit at this museum subject to its full cosmetic restoration.
There will be open days prior to the full opening and we will bring you news of these when we find out when they are planned to happen in the future.
What Has Happened to The Electric Railway Museum and the Suburban Electric Railway Association?
The closure of the Electric Railway Museum threw up challenges for how best to disperse the collection and who would take care of the items going forward.
Leaving out individual privately owned vehicles and locomotives, the collection is now in the hands of three different groups. Firstly, there is the Heritage Electric Trains Trust with the 4-SUB and 503, large scale projects in need of heavy restoration but both unique and iconic designs, potentially the core of any future ERM.
Then there is the AC EMU stock which is now at the Colne Valley Railway in Essex (Class 307, 308 & 312 vehicles) and the Tanat Valley Railway in Shropshire (Class 309 Unit No. 616). All are under the banner of ‘Project 300’ and the owning company is AMPS Rail Limited.
The Suburban Electric Railway Association continues to exist and has smaller projects under its care; the Tyneside EPB & Spondon loco at the Battlefield; the restored 457 car at the East Kent Railway and the 2-EPB unit 6307, the Liverpool Overhead Railway Car and City & South London Carriage body in store at Sellindge in Kent. Whilst both the 4-SUB and 503 were originally part of the SERA, their status as major projects demands a higher profile organisation and thus why the HETT was established.
The Electric Railway Museum company has been wound up as it was without a base to continue its mission.