25 May 2012

"John Wesley" comes home on Wesley Day

At a ceremony at Methodist Church House in London yesterday, the Revd Dr Leslie Griffiths, The Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, unveiled the nameplate "John Wesley" from a High Speed Train (HST) power car.

24 May is celebrated in the Methodist Church as "Wesley Day" in commemoration of 24 May 1738 when John Wesley realised that God's love was for all people. On that basis, Wesley began to preach across the country and founded the Methodist movement.

The nameplate had previously been unveiled on a locomotive at St Pancras Station on 24 May 1988 by Dame Thora Hird. It was attached to British Rail HST power car No 43103 from 1988 to 1994. The power car is still in service with Cross-Country trains as No 43303 and has now travelled about 20 million miles. Power car No 43118 was named Charles Wesley (after John's younger brother and famous hymn-writer) at the same time.

The Revd Dr Leslie Griffiths, the minister of Wesley's Chapel in London and a former President of the Methodist Conference, said: "John Wesley travelled over 250,000 miles in England on horseback - more than anyone else, until the coming of the railways forty years after his death. The nameplate has travelled many miles and I'm so pleased that it has now reached a home where it will remind staff and visitors of the itinerant origins of Methodism."

The nameplate was found in a scrap bin in Edinburgh. It was acquired by Mr Derek Brown and sold to Dr Ian Harrison, a prominent Methodist and Chairman of the South of England Group of the Friends of the National Railway Museum. The Group has been given the task of raising £35,000 to fund the cosmetic restoration of the Museum's steam locomotive "Winston Churchill". Mr Brown generously donated the purchase price to the restoration fund.

The nameplate will be on display at Methodist Church House for at least the next five years. Ruth Pickles, The Vice-President of Conference, was also at the unveiling ceremony yesterday.

See images here.  

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