Published 23rd April 2013
Wolverton Works opened for business in 1838. This makes it the oldest and longest continually operating Railway Works in the World and it will celebrate its 175th anniversary on 17 September 2013.
The associated Wolverton 175 celebrations commence with a unique Royal Train event on May 4 at the Milton Keynes Museum. The Royal Train has been kept at Wolverton Works since the 1860s and therefore there is a long and interesting history attached to the place.
The anniversary year is being celebrated with many events which will reflect the two aspects of Wolverton Works, the railway side and the local social history created by the very first railway town. This was built by the London and Birmingham Railway (LBR) who ran the first long distance intercity route in the world from 1838. The LBR became the London and North Western Railway in a merger a few years later which itself became the London Midland & Scottish Railway in 1923.
The Works has brought world-wide fame to Wolverton, partly due to the Royal Train being based there for over 150 years providing a unique aspect of railway employment for generations of Wolverton’s townspeople.
Two of these generations will launch the Wolverton 175 celebrations at the Milton Keynes Museum on Saturday May 4th. Two former Royal Train Foremen will join forces to talk about their respective Royal Train experiences, the first time this has been arranged.
Wolverton Works also built ‘The Royal Scot’ train in 1929 and the streamlined ‘Coronation Scot’ train in 1937 as part of the 1930s dash for streamlined speed on the UK’s railways. Leo Coleman recalls that train well when he was a lad at the Works.
The discussion starts at 6pm and the panel, Leo Coleman and Chris Hillyard have decades of royal railway service between them, will be available for questions on their Royal Train and Wolverton Works service dating back to before World War 2.
The event runs between 6pm and 8pm will be introduced by Rail.co.uk’s Phil Marsh. He has also been involved in the Royal Train and will also be speaking about when he was instructed to sell the Royal Train in 1997 and how with Chris Hillyard, conspired to avoid the sell-off!
At 4pm on May 4th, the Wolverton 175 organising team will be launching a project aimed at discovering as many Wolverton Works’ artefacts as possible from former Works’ employees. So anyone whose family worked in the Works is urged to look in their lofts or garden sheds to see if there are any Works’ relics hidden away.
These can be brought between 4pm and 530pm on May 4th in for assessment by Phil Webb, the Milton Keynes Museum Wolverton Works Project Manager and Phil Marsh from rail.co.uk. They will be able to offer information and valuations on any Works’ items brought in by the public. Please note they will not be retained by the museum!
The well know pop writer, Pete Waterman is a keen LNWR collector and he bought some carriage destination boards found in a loft a mile away from the Works in 2008. At the auction, he said that the carriage boards which had train names painted on them, brought back memories of holiday romances that often started on these overnight trains.
Hilary Saunders, Chair of Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council said on behalf of the organising team: “The May 4th launch of the anniversary year marks the start of the celebrations which have been in the planning stage since last summer, and it is looking forward to everyone joining in and enjoying them”.
The event is free but places are strictly limited and it is expected that the evening will be recorded so be prepared to become a film star. Milton Keynes Museum is situated in McConnell Drive near the junction with Millers Way. Satnav setting; MK12 5EL.
The audience will be able to ask questions about the Royal Train at the evening. These can be emailed in advance to Phil Marsh at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A 175th anniversary book has been written about Wolverton Works and will be published in September to mark the anniversary. This will contain images from 1837 to 2013, many have not been seen for decades as well as never before revealed information about Wolverton Works.
It will cost £6.95 plus P&P and full details will be posted on www.wolverton175.co.uk.
Written by Phil Marsh