The Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society (MNLPS / the Society) was formed at the end of 1965 with the dual aims of saving one of the Merchant Navy Class locomotives of British Railways’ Southern Region and maintaining it in running order.
It was during 1965 that Tony Clare, still an active member of the Society today, began to form the Merchant Navy Locomotive Society (MNLPS) together with Gerry Walker and his brother Maurice. He had written to British Railways asking for a price for a withdrawn engine. They replied with a set of conditions under which the locomotive would be sold and a rough price of £2500. Tony has commented that some of the conditions seem amusing now. "The locomotive would have to be kept in a condition that would not bring disrepute to the Railways Board; the locomotive could not run on BR; no guarantee could be given as to its condition, etc". Looking back there hardly seems to be any conditions we have not been legally allowed to contravene.
Following an appeal in the national railway press a fund of £3,850 was raised to purchase a representative locomotive from the class which was purchased in July 1967 for the sum of £2,200, about £50,000 at 2015 values. No.35028 Clan Line was selected because it had been the most recent member of the class to receive a major repair and had a boiler which was regarded as being in the best condition. The engine was purchased shortly after the end of steam on the Southern Region in July 1967 and became the property of the MNLPS when it was delivered into the hands of the Society on the 13th August that year.
In 1973 the MNLPS became constituted as a company limited by guarantee governed by a memorandum and articles of association. The Company is incorporated in England under the Companies Act 2006 (No 1114826). The Society is also registered with the Charity Commission under the Charities Act 2006 (No 266801).
The object and principal activity of the MNLPS is to preserve and maintain Clan Line in operational condition and to encourage and promote public interest and learning in the preservation of steam and other railway locomotives and rolling stock, railway machinery and equipment of historical interest and in railways generally.
The Society is run by an elected Committee (more formally known as the ‘Council of Management’) - the current members of which are shown in the pictures below. The Committee meets each calendar month to oversee and manage the Society’s affairs. These meetings address both routine business and matters of ‘strategic’ importance including the major risks that the Society could face, in the short, medium and longer terms. Members of the Committee are automatically Trustees of the Charity and are also registered with Companies House as Directors of the Company. The Committee is supported by a "Marketing & Operations Sub-Committee" which also meets regularly.
The Society could not though function without the dedicated support of a much larger group of volunteers, who come from all walks of life, many of whom are part of the ‘Working Party Support Crew’ team who travel and service the locomotive when on tours. We therefore encourage people of all ages, gender and abilities to join the Society and, if they so wish, become working members, for they are the building blocks of Clan Line’s future; the maintainance and operation of Clan Line to the highest standard on Britain’s rail network. Since taking ownership of Clan Line the Society has always sought to be self-financing and indeed it is a matter of pride to the Society that it has been able to achieve this.
The Society’s aims and objectives are twofold and yet inter-linked; heritage preservation together with education & learning and both are in keeping with the Society’s charitable status. The Trustees aim to maximize both the exposure of the engine, within the limitations of its wholly volunteer workforce and the need to maintain the engine to the high standards required by Britain’s railway authorities. It does so with a view to providing educational and training benefits to both individuals and a wider public audience.