Over the weekend of 29th February to the 2nd March the A1SLT was in the fortunate position of being aboard Britain’s newest warship, the super-carrier HMS Prince of Wales. With the ship berthed in Liverpool for the first time at the end of February, the Navy decided to hold an open weekend, the first time either of the new carriers have opened their doors to the public. Tickets were free and all 20,000 sold out in 50 minutes of being offered online! The public began embarking on the £3.1 billion vessel on Saturday morning and continued to come on the Sunday. Visitors were taken inside the aircraft hangar and had the chance to chat to serving personnel, as well as take a look at some of the weapons and kit used. A number of the ship’s affiliates had been invited to attend with stands, hence the presence of the A1SLT, as builders of No. 2007, Prince of Wales.
HMS Prince of Wales alongside in Liverpool – Edward Laxton
Manned by Trust volunteers including Trustees Graeme Bunker-James and Huw Parker and engineering apprentice Edward Laxton, the P2SLC stand was ‘decorated’ with various components destined for No. 2007 Prince of Wales including the body of the live steam injector, parts of the exhaust injector, a complete Kylchap cowl, a regulator handle, a draw hook and, of course, a locomotive nameplate! In addition the Trusts’s publications director, Graham Langer, ran a live steam, Gauge 1 model of Tornado on a rolling road. It was helpful having a model in steam to show how a Stephenson type locomotive works and to illustrate where the various parts from the full-size locomotive went, even if the team did have to describe the inner workings of an injector dozens of times!
The P2SLC stand in place on the ship’s hangar deck – Graham Langer
The Monday was a STEM day. STEM Learning is the largest provider of education and careers support in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), working with schools, colleges and others working with young people across the UK. As such, the ship was filled with secondary school pupils and undergraduates. In consequence the stand was re-arranged so that David Elliott, Director of Engineering, and Alan Parkin, our electrical and CAD designer, could demonstrate their skills on a large VDU to one side of the stand, while on the other side the 1:32 Scale A1 continued clock up miles on the ‘home trainer’, having run for up to five hours each day without fault. Groups of teenagers congregated at the stand all day, proving that, even in these days of electronic marvels, steam can still hold sway. The team was delighted with some of the questions that were asked which proved to be thoughtful and perceptive so perhaps there is still hope for steam in the 21st Century!
The Trust would like to express its gratitude to the crew of HMS Prince of Wales for the cooperation and hospitality shown towards Trust members over the weekend.
Graham Langer, Graham Nicholas, Edward Laxton, David Elliott and Alan Parkin – Graham Langer
NOTES: The event is the first time either Queen Elizabeth-class carrier has been open to visitors. Alongside sister-ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Prince of Wales is the largest and most powerful ship ever built for the Royal Navy. She weighs 65,000 tonnes and her flight deck is 70 metres wide and 280 metres long – enough space for three football pitches.