Class 33 Locomotive Naming
South East Locomotive Group Website
We can confirm the successful naming of an ex-British Rail mainline diesel locomotive as 'RJ Mitchell', on Sat. 3rd September 2005. The event was attended by owning members and invited guests, including the Tunbridge Wells Mayoress and the Deputy Lieutenant of Kent (the latter pulling the cords of the curtains to unveil the plates in the absence of Bob Doe, former Battle of Britain pilot whose health is not so good at this time). After speeches and the reveal, a Spitfire completed three flypasts over the town and the locomotive shed where the event was held.
This was the culmination of hundreds of man-hours to get the required finish on the locomotive including none too substantial bodywork repairs (two weeks welding). The loco having been commissioned into service back in 1962 (retired in 1996) has been suffering from "steel worm"!
Here is our website and specific page covering the build-up to the naming event.
Here are a few notes pasted form the said naming page...
"So why this particular choice? The name was chosen from a list of projected names that would have been fitted to Class 33's if the Eastleigh overhauls had continued. Indeed, the name was originally allocated to 33046 but subsequently switched for 'Merlin'.
For the record, the original list of 10 names were put forward in an Eastleigh Traction Mtce. Depot staff competition back in 1990/1 to name ten of the Class 33 locos based at the T.M.D.. The winner was driver David Orchard's choice of names associated with the Spitfire aircraft (designed and tested at the adjacent Supermarine factory in Southampton). On 18th April 1991, he unveiled locomotive 33047 with the name 'Spitfire' at Eastleigh TMD."
Note that David Orchard and his wife attended our 'RJ Mitchell' naming day and he has commented how happy he is, now that "it has been put right". He had always felt the decision not to use 'RJ Mitchell' amongst the first set of namings in the early 1990 was a mistake, but now that has been rectified.