Steam locomotive, Southern Railway, Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 No 34051 "Winston Churchill", designed by O.V. Bulleid, built at Brighton in 1945, withdrawn in 1965.
Winston Churchill is a Southern Railway Battle of Britain class steam locomotive designed by the railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, Oliver Bulleid. Also known as a Light Pacific, it is one of 110 such locomotives built between 1945 and 1951. The Light Pacifics were powerful locomotives that could deputise for Bulleid’s larger Merchant Navy class when needed, but their smaller size and lighter weight allowed them to run over more of the Southern Railway’s network.
The Light Pacifics were divided between 66 West Country class locomotives, named after towns and other locations in South Western England, and 44 Battle of Britain class locomotives, commemorating Royal Air Force squadrons, airfields and personalities associated with the 1940 aerial battle. They had several advanced and unusual features including all-steel welded fireboxes fitted with thermic syphons to improve water circulation, electric lighting, flat-sided external casing and chain-driven valve gear enclosed in an oil sump. The locomotives proved difficult to maintain in service, leading British Railways to rebuild 60 Light Pacifics in a more conventional form, similar to Ellerman Lines, from 1957.
No 21C151 Winston Churchill was officially named at a ceremony held at Waterloo Station in 1947. The former Prime Minister had turned down the opportunity to name the locomotive after himself, and it was instead named by Lord Dowding, commander of Fighter Command during the battle. Renumbered 34051 by British Railways, Winston Churchill was not rebuilt and basically remains as designed.
After Winston Churchill’s state funeral on 30th January 1965 the locomotive hauled the funeral train. Thousands lined the trackside to watch as the train passed. In 2015 the locomotive featured in an exhibition held at the National Railway Museum to mark 50 years since Churchill’s funeral following cosmetic restoration at the Mid-Hants Railway.