Railway Children locomotive restored at Durham museum

The famous old 'pannier tank' steam engine will be rebuilt by Shildon museum in an Engine Heritage project

The locomotive as it appeared in the film The Railway Children
The locomotive as it appeared in the film The Railway Children

A star of the steam age is helping trainees acquire heritage skills which will be used to preserve the region’s industrial history.

At the National Railway Museum at Shildon in County Durham, the trainees are working alongside local volunteers in the site’s conservation workshop.

But it isn’t any old project which is in prospect.

They will be restoring the locomotive which featured in the classic 1970 film The Railway Children.

The Engineering Heritage Skills trainees are supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund under the Skills for the Future programme.

The locomotive, GWR No. 5775, will be transformed back to its on-screen livery.

It starred in the British film adaption of Edith Nesbit’s book The Railway Children, which featured Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter, Sally Thomsett and Bernard Cribbins.

No 5775 is on loan to Shildon from its home on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

The restoration work will began early this summer.

The restoration work will be followed by the locomotive going on display at the museum this autumn once the project is completed until early next year.

There will be a series of events and activities for visitors themed around the The Railway Children and Victorian life as part of Durham Book Festival at Locomotion on Saturday October 18 and Victorian themed activities throughout October half-term.

George Muirhead, museum manager at Locomotion, said: “Restoration projects bring life to the activity at the museum - offering something new to see and providing a deeper understanding to visitors to the museum of how vehicles are preserved and restored.

“In the case of No. 5775 it is great to have a locomotive that is visually familiar to a very wide audience and is not only representative of railway heritage but also a much loved classic film”.

Andie Harris, learning and skills manager at the North of England Civic Trust, said: “It is vital that the skills required to ensure the future of our heritage are maintained.

“The trainees based at the National Railway Museum, Shildon have an exciting opportunity to be part of the restoration project on a locomotive that is held dear in so many people’s hearts”.

The museum is still looking to recruit more volunteers with skills and experience in light engineering/cosmetic restoration work to help with the No. 5775 restoration project.

Contact the museum on 01388 771439 or email locomotion@nrm.

Meanwhile, guest locomotives have been lined up for the museum’s 10th anniversary steam gala on September, 20-21.

They will include:

  • The world’s only working replica Rocket from the National Railway Museum, York.
  • Bellerophon will be on loan from the Vintage Carriages Trust. Bellerophon was built in 1874 and remained in operation for 90 years and was rescued from scrapping by the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
  • Furness Railway No. 20, which starred recently in the Dickens bio-pic “The Invisible Woman” starring Ralph Fiennes.
  • Kitson No. 5 is on loan from the Stephenson Railway Museum in North Tyneside. Built in 1881, it has recently been overhauled and returned to steam.
  • Hawthorn Leslie No. 2 is on loan from the Tanfield Railway. It was built by R & W Hawthorn, Leslie and Co. Ltd in 1911 at their Forth Banks Works in Newcastle.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer