‘Bloomer’ and Artefacts find a new home at the MK Museum

Posted 5th March 2017

The full size replica Victorian steam locomotive, officially Number 1009 Wolverton, but universally known as the ‘Bloomer,’ has found a permanent home at Milton Keynes Museum in Wolverton.

Bill Griffiths, curator of Milton Keynes Museum, officially received the ‘Bloomer’ on Friday 3 March following its slow but sure move by road from the Knorr-Bremse RailServices Wolverton rail facility.

For twenty one years the full-sized replica, commissioned by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation and built by Manpower Forum apprentices, stood outside Central Milton Keynes Station but was moved when the station was redeveloped. However, there has always been a local desire to see the ‘Bloomer’ return to display in Wolverton where the original was built.

The last few years has seen the superb replica loco carefully stored in the Wolverton rail facility operated by Knorr-Bremse RailServices. The company funded all the costs and organised the transportation and the preparation of the new permanent outdoor display site for the ‘Bloomer’ which will stand at the entrance to the Museum.

The Wolverton built ‘Bloomers’ were an extremely successful loco design in the mid-Victorian period and could operate at over 70 miles per hour. In 1851, just as the first of the type was entering service, an American lady name Amelia J Bloomer was campaigning for ladies to wear shocking dresses revealing their legs! Most of this loco type’s wheels and lower structure was exposed, hence the nickname!

Along with the ‘Bloomer,’ Knorr-Bremse also gifted many interesting artefacts to the Museum. The historic items were retrieved under often challenging circumstances, by a Knorr-Bremse team, from buildings on the huge Wolverton site which are unused and derelict. 

Nick Brailey, Head of Communications at Knorr-Bremse Rail UK, commented, “We thought it was sad that the magnificent ‘Bloomer’ was simply stored away out of sight so have been working hard to find a good home for the loco where it could be safe but importantly accessed and enjoyed by the people of Wolverton. We were also committed to saving any artefacts that remained on the unused parts of the site. Now, these small but important parts of Wolverton’s heritage will be safe for future generations to enjoy at the Museum.”

Bill Griffiths, Curator of Milton Keynes Museum added, “The ‘Bloomer’ was built to be displayed “in commemoration of the city’s historical links with the railway” and it will now once again be fulfilling that role on the Museum site at a gateway to Wolverton. It is appropriate that it stands along the drive named after James McConnell, designer of the ‘Bloomer,’ railway innovator, Locomotive Superintendent at the Works and founding member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The stone blocks on which the loco now sits came from the embankment along McConnell Drive and were discovered to be some of those originally laid by Stephenson along the line! The ‘Bloomer’ has been well cared for and preserved at Wolverton Works and we are grateful to Knorr-Bremse for all their efforts in looking after the Bloomer, for funding and arranging its transport onto the Museum site and for saving and donating a collection of artefacts from the Works. We must also thank Railway Support Services for their work in preparing the track and moving the Bloomer into position.”