David Shepherd celebrates 40 years ownership of ‘Black Prince’ at Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly in on June 1st
29 May 2008
World-renowned wildlife artist and conservationist David
Shepherd - and owner of heavy freight steam locomotive 'Black
Prince' - visits the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) hot
on the heels of his visit to nearby Nature in Art on Sunday 1st
June, to celebrate 40 years of ownership of his 140-ton 'baby'.
Black Prince - for the technically-minded a British Railways 9F
class 2-10-0 no. 92203 - was purchased by David following a
successful exhibition in New York. He took delivery of it in 1968,
the same year that the national railway network finally finished
with steam. He then rode on the engine as it made its way under its
own steam from Crewe to the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire,
then an oasis for surviving steam locomotives. Shortly
afterwards he named it 'Black Prince'.
Black Prince is now based at the GWR, which runs 10 miles
through glorious Cotswold scenery between Cheltenham Racecourse,
Winchcombe and Toddington.
During the GWR's Cotswold Festival of Steam, which started on
24th May and finishes on 1st June, the big, black locomotive has
been running as it appeared in 1968. In those days, freight engines
were rarely cleaned and no. 92203 has been running in typical
grubby appearance. Someone at Crewe thought to paint some of the
embellishments on the engine's front in white for its journey into
David's ownership, and the GWR has done the same just for this
But on 1st June, at 11.45, the engine will be specially cleaned
up and David Shepherd will ceremoniously fit the nameplates of the
locomotive at Winchcombe Station.
"The engine has stirred many memories for people seeing it in
this condition," commented the GWR's Ian Crowder. "David Shepherd
himself said that it took him straight back to that moment 40 years
ago when he was handed the locomotive at Crew."
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly in
1st June will have particular resonance for David, when the RAF
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster bomber and Spitfire
and Hurricane fighters also fly over the railway at about 3pm.
David takes up the story:
"Sunday, 1st June promises to be a highly emotional day for me.
First of all, my 140 ton steam locomotive, Black Prince, will be in
steam on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Furthermore, the
Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane, of the Battle of Britain
Memorial Flight, will be flying over the railway at 3pm, and the
combination of the Lancaster and Black Prince will be almost too
much for me to bear!
"In the late 1950s, the Royal Air Force, with whom I have never
served, used to fly me all around the world gathering material for
commissioned paintings of aviation subjects with which I started my
career. They flew me to Nairobi in 1960 and it was there that they
commissioned my very first wildlife painting, which changed my life
and from which I have never looked back. So I owe an enormous debt
of gratitude to the RAF."
This was repaid in some measure in 1978 when David was asked to
raise money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. This involved
doing a painting, Winter of '43, Somewhere in England, and
producing 850 copies of the print, signed and numbered and it
raised some £96,000.
David continues: "Through this exciting and successful project I
got to know the personnel of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
It was last year, when they celebrated their 50th anniversary, that
I donated a painting which was auctioned and raised a very
worthwhile sum for them and they then came down to Toddington at my
invitation to enjoy the delights of riding on the footplate of
"So the link was forged and as a result, they accepted my
invitation to fly over the GWR when Black Prince would be in steam.
So that is the background to the event on Sunday 1st June."
Full information about fares and the Festival on www.gwsr.com or
telephone 01242 621 405.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Cotswold Festival of Steam concludes over the weekend of
31st May and 1st June. Eight locomotives have been in steam
over the celebration of the
- 40th anniversary of the end of steam;
- 60th anniversary of the creation of British Railways on
- 100 years since through expresses started using the route
between Stratford and Cheltenham, over part of which the GWR runs
- It also marks 40 years since David Shepherd took delivery of
Black Prince is a 9F class freight locomotive weighing 140 tons.
It was built in 1959 at Swindon Works, one of the last steam
engines to be manufactured for British Railways (it is
identical to the last steam engine to be built, Evening Star, which
is now at the National Railway Museum). It served for just eight
years before being withdrawn to be scrapped like thousands of other
steam locomotives in the 1960s - but was purchased by David
Shepherd and moved to Hampshire in 1968. After various homes,
the engine moved to the GWR 10 years ago where it is now
Media contact: Ian Crowder, 07775 566 555 or email@example.com