The Wing is to become home to a unique piece of Battle of Britain-themed railway history after the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust was presented with the original nameplate and squadron badge from a classic steam locomotive.
The loco was named after No 92 Squadron, the Spitfire squadron famously based at Biggin Hill during the Battle, and the society has loaned us the two items because it wanted them to be displayed “in a truly appropriate setting”.
They were presented to Group Captain Patrick Tootal, Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, and Wing Commander Andrew Simpson, one of the Trustees, by Ian Bowskill, Chairman of the Society, formerly known as the Battle of Britain Locomotive Preservation Society.
The items will be displayed in The Wing, our visitor centre, where the unique Scramble Experience brings the 1940s conflict to life and pays tribute to the men of the RAF who made sure this country emerged victorious.
“We will be proud to add the locomotive nameplate and badge from No 92 Squadron to the other items of memorabilia at the Battle of Britain Memorial,” said Wing Cdr Simpson. “It will complement the site and the multi-media Scramble Experience that aims to give visitors of all ages a better understanding of the significance of the Battle.
“A visit to the Memorial offers information, enjoyment and – on a clear day – some of the most stunning views across the English Channel over which the Battle of Britain was fought in 1940. This generous loan from the society will complement that experience.”
Locomotive No 34081 entered service from the Brighton works in September 1948 but was withdrawn from Eastleigh shed in August 1964 and subsequently sold to Dai Woodham’s scrap yard at Barry Island in South Wales.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 on 7 December 1976. Following restoration, she moved under her own power in 1998 – the first time since 1964 – and became a regular performer on various heritage railways until being withdrawn for overhaul at the North Norfolk Railway in May 2008.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 following seven years of extensive restoration work.
She was rededicated at a ceremony held at Wansford Station during which a Spitfire aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast.
After the re-dedication, replica nameplates were unveiled on the locomotive by Wing Commander Tim McAuley, current OC 92 Squadron RAF so that the original nameplate and badge could be handed over to the Trust.