Aviation and Railway History United
Aunique piece of history has been unveiled at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent following the presentation of the original nameplate and squadron badge from a classic steam locomotive.
The Battle of Britain Locomotive Society presented the items from Battle of Britain class Pacific locomotive No. 34081 at a ceremony at the Nene Valley Railway. The nameplate and the badge of No. 92 Squadron — famously based at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain in 1940 — will go on display at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Capel-leFerne, home to the National Memorial to the Few.
The long-term loan of the historic items was suggested by the preservation society as a way of ensuring the items could be displayed “in a truly appropriate setting”.
The items will be displayed in The Wing, the Trust’s visitor centre, where the Scramble Experience brings the Battle of Britain to life and pays tribute to the men of the RAF who made sure this country emerged victorious in 1940.
Locomotive No. 34081 entered service in September 1948 but was withdrawn in August 1964 and subsequently sold to Dai Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry Island in South Wales.
Purchased by the preservation society in autumn 1973, she arrived at Wansford on the Nene Valley Railway, near Peterborough, in December 1976. Following restoration, she moved, under her own power, in 1998 — the first time since 1964 — and became a regular on various heritage railways until being withdrawn for overhaul at the North Norfolk Railway in May 2008.
The locomotive returned to service on the Nene Valley Railway in February after seven years of extensive restoration work. She was rededicated at a ceremony at Wansford Station during which a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast. After the rededication, replica nameplates were unveiled on the locomotive by Wing Commander Tim Mcauley, Officer Commanding No. 92 Squadron RAF, so that the original nameplate and badge could be handed over to the Trust.