On Saturday, 27th January 2024, the Western Locomotive Association celebrated its 50th Anniversary at Swindon's STEAM Museum, the birthplace of Westerns and the place where D1062 was restored to her former glory back in May 1977, just a few months after the end of Westerns on BR.
The WLA was formally launched in Bristol, in January 1974, although the founder members had gathered around in 1973 to discuss the possibility of saving a Class 52, just as the first withdrawals were taking place in May 1973. The WLA managed acquire sufficient funds to acquire D1062 Western Courier in October 1976 and the locomotive was subsequently restored and painted in maroon with half yellows in the Weighbridge building - the exact same place where the WLA held their evening dinner to finish off the celebrations!
Following a welcome by Roger Smith, Chairman, a message was read out on behalf of Graham Howell who used to work at Swindon Works and had much to do with D1062's preservation and sourcing of spares. Graham was also a WLA Committee Member in the early days, assisting the then Chairman, David Ashley. Graham said "I cannot quite take it in that the WLA was formed 50 years ago. Little did we all think our little group would achieve so much and it has now blossomed into a world-renowned organisation with members scattered all over the world." He asked the present Members to "carry on and continue to inspire the preservation world..."
The celebrations included a full afternoon with over 120 people attending. Presentations were made by Paul Finch, WLA Vice Chairman, outlining much of the work carried out during 2023 on D1013 Western Ranger and D1062 Western Courier, plus the transfer and gift of D1048 Western Lady in October 2023. This was followed by a talk by Martyn Williams who was an Apprentice at Swindon Works who outlined how they managed to repaint D1062 Western Courier and D818 Glory around the Swindon turntable. A slide show presentation followed by Bernard Mills renowned for his professional photographs of all things Western, including his dry humour, especially when comparing the railway operations that take place today! Finally, an excellent BTC film show was presented by Keith Bullock, who normally undertakes preservation work for the DTG.
The day was completed with a meal and drinks at Harpers Steak House in the old Weighbridge building, where around 50 people enjoyed and finished off a super evening!
Surrounded by headboards, the WLA's 50th Anniversary Celerations get underway with WLA Vice Chairman, Paul Finch doing the intitial introductions. Photos by Colin J Marsden
The WESTERN LOCOMOTIVE ASSOCIATION is a company limited by guarantee - Registered No: 3873466
Registered Address: 5, Prospect Place, Millennium Way, Pride Park, Derby, England DE24 8HG. Charity No. 1115058