Model railway celebrates war-train centenary

Gainsborough Model Railway Society will be celebrating the centenary of one of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive designs at its exhibition this weekend.

The first 8K engine (later better known as class O4), designed by John George Robinson, appeared from the Gorton, Manchester workshops of the Great Central Railway in September 1911.

It was the first of 126 locomotives turned out over the next three years used for heavy freight traffic across the company’s system, including trains taking coal for export at Immingham Docks which passed through Gainsborough.

However, the real fame of the locos came when they were selected as a standard for service in World War I by the Ministry of Munitions, and another 521 were built to bring up supplies behind the trenches of the Western Front.

As war surplus, the engines were disposed of to various companies and worked not only the length and breadth of Britain, but some were also sold to far-flung corners of the world.

The loco’s war work was not over, for 90 engines were sent to the Middle East during World War II.

Society Chairman Richard Woods said: “It is appropriate we are commemorating these engines, as they were a particular favourite of our founder member George Hinchcliffe, who died last month.

“Having seen them working as a boy growing up in Gainsborough, he was amazed when serving with the Navy during World War II to find them working in Australia, Hong Kong and beside the Suez Canal.”

Richard added: “George was also instrumental in ensuring one of the locos was saved for preservation when they were withdrawn in the 1960s.

“This survivor, which belongs to the National Railway Museum, can still be seen running on the preserved Great Central Railway between Leicester and Loughborough.”

The Society has five of the locos in its collection, including the first of the class, and they can be seen running when the clubrooms in Florence Terrace, near Tesco, are opened to the public this coming Sunday, October 9, between 1.30pm and 6pm.

Admission is Adults £4, Child/Senior Citizens £3, Family (2+2) £10.

Contact M Clapham 01427 615871