The invitation to this prestigious event came about as we could provide something ‘different’ , an immaculate locomotive together with a naming ceremony dedicating one of railway historys most important engineering complexes , Stratford.At the time of the request for attendance 31271 was undergoing major bodywork repairs at Swanwick so we really had a job on our hands..! The work being carried out can be seen here .
Following many many weeks of grafting , often until the early hours , the finishing touches were made to 31271’s bodywork on the morning of her departure to York ! , the cast BR arrows and depot plaques being fitted during the night ! The nameplates were ‘offered up’ to drill the holes accurately but were not properly fitted until the evening prior to naming at York.On the morning of 26/05/04 , an immaculate 31271 hauled EM2 27000 to Riddings for collection by GBRf 66713 to Barrow Hill to pick up D9009 and 84001 with arrival at York in the early evening.This move to the NRM occured a few days prior to the show in order to ease congestion with the many exhibits arriving there.
31271 stands with the EM2 and 84001 at Barrow Hill en-route to York ‘Railfest’..26/05/04
Luckily we were given a prime spot outside and our salestand was in attendance over both weekends of the event sited next to 31271 which made brisk business throughout the days. It was absolutely choc a bloc ! The No 2 end s/mans door was open to allow the public into the cab during the weekends with A1A staff ‘manning’ ! During this time we literally had queues and queues of eager visitors each waiting for a look around 271’s immaculate cab .
At ‘ Railfest ‘ , immaculate 31271 ( prior to naming ) stands awaiting the crowds on the first day…29/05/04
The naming ceremony was planned for the Monday at 1300 and we had invited the ‘Great Eastern Railway Society’ President Mr John Watling to perform the honours . On the Sunday evening once the public had departed the event , the nameplates were offered up and securely fitted with just a bit of ‘ touching up ‘ to do to the paintwork of the plates before retiring for the night. Early next morning the plates were taped up and the frame and curtains built up ready for the big occasion !
Various announcements were broadcast over the NRM’s PA system which ensured a large crowd in attendance for 1300. Steve Harvey ( A1A Loco Ltd Publicity Director ) started off the proceedings with a few words followed by more words from Jon Pridmore ( NRM Railfest Event Organiser ). John Watling then continued the ceremony with a superb speech about Stratford’s role in railway engineering from when the Works was built in 1840 by the Northern and Eastern Railway through to the depot’s closure in 2001 by EWS. John then opened the curtains and officially christened 31271 ‘Stratford 1840 – 2001’ . Job Done ! !
A1A Publicity Director Mr Steve Harvey keeps the crowd informed prior to naming 31271 ..31/05/04
The curtains are opened and 31271 is christened ‘Stratford 1840 – 2001’ by the Great Eastern Railway Society President Mr John Watling , seen here ‘championing’ Stratford’s role in railway history…31/05/04
The decision to name 31271 ‘ Stratford 1840 – 2001 ‘ celebrates the history of this Works/Depot and the involvement it had with the Brush Type 2 since introduction in 1957. 31271 was actually delivered new to Stratford in 1961 as D5801 and was based there in her final years whilst allocated to the Construction pool operated by British Rail. 31271 carries the authentic livery along with depot crests whist based at Stratford . Class 31s visited Stratford up until closure in 2001.
One of 31271’s nameplates pictured immediately after naming at York NRM Railfest..31/05/04 photo A Haigh