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 — see for yourself on their website.
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. The facility was converted from the former factory and is receiving its first residents as you read this.
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 rehome 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 HETT has been set up as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), 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 latest 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 be done 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 meet our financial commitments for storage charges and insurance. 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.
Movement costs from Coventry to Margate were secured by donations from supporters and through a successful crowdfunding campaign that, at the time of writing, has raised over £4200. this will ensure our haulage bill for 4732 and the legal cost of the storage agreement can be paid.
Can I visit the site in Margate?
At present no! Storage means storage! It is a private and secure site with no public access until further notice. If this changes in the future we will, of course, let you know.
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 continues to exist as a residuary organisation to help settle these projects into their new locations, but importantly in the longer-term to continue to seek out potential sites where a new ERM could be established in the future. The reasons for the original creation of the ERM remain equally valid today as they were in 2007.
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