An ambitious plan to rebuild an iconic steam locomotive named after Manchester United is under way at Mizens Miniature Railway in Knaphill.
The £1.8million project, bringing a London and North and Eastern Railway (LNER) engine back to life, is being co-ordinated by enthusiast Ken Livermore.
A section of track is in place at the 10-acre site in Barrs Lane to provide a plinth for locomotive, which is in the early stages of being assembled.
Volunteers are meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on the locomotive, as part of a project started by Ken in 2008.
“I’m very pleased with the commitment of our volunteers and delighted with the progress we have made so far,” he told the News & Mail.
“The project will fill an important gap in the ranks of UK preserved steam locomotives and will provide railway enthusiasts with a unique opportunity to remember the heyday of steam.
The engine, a Class B17 4-6-0 steam locomotive, No. 61662, had a top speed of 100mph when in service. It was built in 1937 by Robert Stephenson & Company of Newcastle for the LNER and was transferred to British Railways when the railways were nationalised in 1948.
It clocked up almost one million miles before it was retired at the end of 1959 and sent for scrap the following year.
Much of this class of engine’s popularity was due to the fact that 25 out of the 73 built were named after top division football clubs. No. 61662 was named after Manchester United and the club is actively supporting the appeal to restore the locomotive to its former glory.
There are regular reports in the club’s match day programmes and on its website
The engine is being completely rebuilt from raw materials and reclaimed spare parts and it is hoped the work will be completed in the next five years. Restoration work on the locomotive’s tender, which started in 2013, is already complete.
Ken said: “The ultimate dream is that far from being just a static exhibit, the locomotive will once again operate in special service on Britain’s main lines.”
Currently, up to 300 steam train services are run by private companies across the UK for the public each year.
For more information about the restoration project, visit www.engine61662appeal.co.uk.