Monthly Collections Post:North British Locomotive Plans and the Unknown Warrior

Hello, we’re Roz and Astrid, the two new graduate trainees here at Archive Services. This blog-post will be the first in a series of monthly collections blog-posts that will show-case the collections we have been working on. We are looking forward to discovering all that is available in the Archives and to sharing our discoveries with you.

Beginning of September saw us spend an exciting couple of days working with Kevin West, Chief Engineer, of The LMS-Patriot Project.

The aim of this project is “to build a new ‘Patriot’ steam locomotive, baptised the Unknown Warrior, which will be capable of running on the mainline . . . in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice in 2018”.

Figure 1 The Unknown Warrior’s frost covered nameplate catches the sun outside Llangollen shed. 3rd December 2014, Photo – Kevin West,

The Unknown Warrior’s frost covered nameplate catches the sun outside Llangollen shed. 3rd December 2014, Photo – Kevin West

Here at Archive Services we are delighted to have supported the project by providing it with more than 55 drawings from our North British Locomotive Collection (NBL) over the last two years. The NBL was founded in 1903 and was the largest manufacturer of locomotives in Europe pre-1914.

This collection consists of Administration, financial, liquidator, production, and staff records for the years 1903-1968 as well as a large number of plans (1903-1963) of locomotives (including the L883 series that was of interest to the Unknown Warrior).

The majority of the plans within the collection are hand drawn in Indian ink on waxed linen. Some, however, are ink drawn on paper backed with material and others ink drawn on tracing paper (perhaps original drawings). Each plan is unique, and length can vary from a few feet to over twenty feet. This makes the unrolling of these plans an interesting process, one that requires organisation, time-management and above all team-work. Care must be taken when handling these fragile documents, as they are a vital source information which we hope will be preserved for generations to come. Here, special thanks must go to our Preservation Team Elzbieta Gorska-Wiklo and Colin Vernall for their help in providing the L883 drawings.

Through handling the plans, we got a real sense of how these documents were used in the past. We sifted through about sixty rolls and extracted individual plans from almost each one to store away in temporary pigeon holes (see photo below), before taking each plan through to the search-room for consultation. It was brilliant to see the extent and variety within this collection, knowing we were only scratching the surface, and that there is plenty more to discover. And of course, we cannot wait to see the Unknown Warrior when it is completed in a few years’ time.

For Information

The locomotive will be on display at an event at Barrow Hill Roundhouse, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire this coming weekend (26/27 September 2015) please see  more details here:


Behind-the-scenes: Plans stored in temporary pigeon holes in our repository, photo taken by Elzibeta Gorska-Wilko, 3 September 2015


Some of the 55 plans to be used for the creation of Unknown Warrior, photo taken by Peter Morphew, 4 September 2015

Categories: Archive Services

Tags: ,

2 replies


  1. The First World War Roll of Honour – A Collaborative Effort « Glasgow University's Great War Project
  2. Looking back at a Memorable year – University of Glasgow Library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: