The Ribble Steam Railway (RSR) will join in with Preston’s Armed Forces Day celebrations on Saturday by returning Walkden, one of its most popular steam locomotives, to its wartime identity.
Built for the War Department by Hunslet of Leeds to move munitions and supplies during World War II, it was a basic but rugged design intended to last very few years.
The locomotive entered service in 1944 as No. WD75105; and shipped to France to help with the Allied advance in early 1945. After hostilities ended No. WD75105 stayed in Europe, initially helping to rebuild war-ravaged areas before being sold to Dutch state railways for use in the coal industry, finally being withdrawn in the late 1970s.
It was repatriated to England in the 1980s and the lengthy process of restoration started.
The locomotive returned to steam in 2008 and has been on the RSR’s line since.
RSR Chairman and owner of Walkden, Dave Watkins, comments: “It is no exaggeration to say that engines like this played a significant part in winning the war.
“Its return to its World War II appearance will act as a fitting tribute to the thousands of railwaymen that fought in the conflict.”
Other elements of the Preston Armed Forces Day take place around the city’s Flag Market, with battle re-enactments, 1940s music and dance and military vehicle displays all expected.
See www.ribblesteam.org.uk and www.armedforcesday