Full steam ahead to find new home for the Bloomer

A life-size stream engine built as a monument to Wolverton Works has been gathering dust in a shed for almost a decade – because nobody wants it in their back yard.

But this week it is full stream ahead to find a home for the magnificent Bloomer in Wolverton, where ten sites are being considered.

Already though plans for the obvious place, outside the entrance of Wolverton Works, have been derailed – because the building’s new owners will not allow it.

German company Knorr-Bremse have offered to clean up the Bloomer and transport it to its new home when it is found. But the brake manufacturing company do not consider it applicable for the testimonial to 175 years of engineering to be outside its gates.

The replica engine was built by Manpower Forum apprentices in 1980s and, much to the disgust of the people of Wolverton, stood outside Central Milton Keynes Station for the next 21 years.

“Wolverton people felt it was their engine. It represented their town and they wanted it displayed here,” said Wolverton and Greenleys Town council chair Hilary Saunders.

“Eventually in 2006 we managed to get the Bloomer back to Wolverton. It was a real celebration that day,” she said. But then, admits Hilary, things went completely loco when finding somewhere in town to display the Bloomer proved impossible.

At one stage it was all set to be erected outside the rail works and planning permission was granted. But those plans were scuppered by red tape and repeated changes of ownership of the buildings.

The town council has now hitched up with Wolverton’s arts and heritage society to identify the list of new sites.

The favoured place is at the edge of a play area opposite Radcliffe school.

Said Hilary: “The Bloomer would be visible from the road and would be facing towards Stony Stratford, as if it’s just puffing its way out of town,. We think it would look wonderful.”

But some residents on the nearby Galleon estate are not quite so chuffed.

“It may be heritage but I don’t want a great big steam engine outside my house,” said 87-year-old Bert Coleman from Trinity Road.

“My neighbours and I are not impressed. It would look hideous. It ought to go outside the nearby museum.”

Hilary said proposed sites are still in the early stages and residents will be consulted during the planning permission process.

“The important thing is to have this engine proudly on public display in the town where it belongs. It has already taken a ridiculously long time,” she said,