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Cuneo's first collaboration with the Friends was in 1979 when he painted Duchess of Hamilton climbing Beattock. Richard Lucraft marketed the limited edition signed full sized prints and donated 10% of the proceeds to the first Duchess Appeal. This was followed by a similar arrangement in 1985 for the Friends’ Mallard appeal and the painting captured Mallard in full steam during her record breaking run in 1938. Then in 1989, Cuneo also supported the second Duchess of Hamilton

Appeal and came to York to depict her in the Museum's South Yard.

He recounts this in the following text which was printed on the back of a final series of smaller limited edition prints launched by Richard Lucraft in 1992.

“The first time I ever clapped eyes on the Duchess was when I was escorted from inside the York Railway Museum to the length of track on which my ‘model’ had been placed – and there, dazzling in the bright morning sun –the Duchess of Hamilton. What a sight. A commanding portrait in gleaming maroon and burnished steel, and huge with it. The smoke-box door was ajar and on impulse I climbed onto the buffer beam, pulled the door open and stepped into the smoke-box. I could stand, full length with my head just touching the top of the box. A massive engine, this. I explored the roomy cab, its sliding windows and upholstered seats. Instinctively, I found myself comparing the high degree of luxury with that found on locomotives of my railway, the Great Western.

As I sat in the warm sunshine contentedly working on my sketch of No 46229. I felt a surge of pride. What a truly magnificent piece of locomotive engineering she represented. How could I have known then, that one day in the not too distant future this great LMS flyer would carry on her boiler-front a scarlet and polished aluminium head-board, proclaiming Cuneo ’85 Special! My train, for a day! A train that, on the 3rd October, would carry me, my family and friends and a full-seated load of enthusiasts over the Settle & Carlisle line, through the finest scenic route in the country”

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Updated: Aug 19, 2020


Photographer: Jason Hynes, Science Museum Group


In September of 2019, the Friends generously supported the acquisition of a large kinetic sculpture by engineer and cartoonist Rowland Emett (1906 – 1990), A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley. The sculpture tells the story of an eccentric railway line, where mermaids get caught in fishing nets and train drivers cook teacakes over the fire. This enchanting piece of art also acts as a clock, with each piece moving at quarter past the hour. The sculpture came up for auction and it was only through the rapid response by the FNRM agreeing to donate a substantial sum of cash that the sculpture could be bought, transported and erected. Although the NRM were able to buy the item, the additional costs would have been difficult to find quickly. An unusual addition to the National Collection, this ‘machine’ now performs its intricate and entertaining musical and moving display every hour at Locomotion, and following lockdown, has now proved itself to be a real ‘crowd-puller’ at Shildon.

The sculpture is currently on display at Locomotion and will move to York as part of Vision 2025. Early discussions are also underway about how the sculpture could tour to other museums within the group, ensuring we are able to share this unique piece of history with all our visitors.


By Russ Rollings


Find out more about Friends contributions here

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The Friends were established in 1977 as a charity, with very broad and general objectives, to support the National Railway Museum. The anticipated source of most of the income was to be donations and they were authorised to have a strategically located Friends collection box near the museum’s exit. Initially the public were extremely generous but the government’s imposition of entrance charges halved visitor numbers and decimated donations. The Friends implemented more positive fundraising projects. Operating speculative trains using Duchess of Hamilton and then the Mallard88 programme was very successful both operationally and financially to the extent that income from trading threatened to breach the Charity Commission criteria.


So in 1989, on the recommendation of their auditors, FNRM Enterprises was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee with a separate and independent board of directors to operate commercially, and encompass all trading activities previously undertaken by the charity. Unfortunately policy changes by British Rail on the operation of steam trains and the Science Museum on the use of National Collection locomotives impacted adversely on the anticipated revenue from that source. However the freedom to trade has generated a wide range of Enterprise projects over the last 30 years, including a very well regarded series of books on steam locomotives in the National Collection. The profits covenanted to the charity from Enterprises have been a significant part of the Friends’ financial contribution to museum projects. Books have also been published to support specific exhibitions and events at the NRM and Shildon, the first of these being Mallard – the Record Breaker in 1988. Commemorating fifty years since its record breaking run in 1938, the Friends organised ticketing for the celebratory trips and also sold many hundreds of the book as a memento of the event.


Books have also been published to coincide with National Collection locomotives being restored to mainline running condition and used on steam charters; these have included City of Truro, Lord Nelson, Sir Lamiel, Oliver Cromwell and Duchess of Hamilton.

In the last ten years, five books have been published in connection with NRM events, the first being Mallard75, when the six remaining Gresley Class A4 locomotives were brought together for the ‘Great Gathering’. Bulleid’s pacifics were the subject of a book commemorating the exhibition of part of Churchill’s funeral train in 2015. Another very successful book was published for sales on Flying Scotsman-hauled excursions following its return to mainline running condition, followed by Trains Of Hope telling the story of Ambulance Trains. This supported the NRM’s Ambulance Coach exhibit and also the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. The latest FNRM book tells the story of Stephenson’s Rocket and celebrated the move of the original Rocket from London’s Science Museum to York.


All of these books are written and published by FNRM members, the only costs being for printing. The entire profits go into FNRM Enterprises accounts which are transferred from time to time into the FNRM Charity account for supporting more NRM projects.


By Frank Paterson


Find out more about Friends contributions here

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