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Crewe Chronicle: "Virgin Trains Remembers Royal Navy Train That Served Crewe During World War"


War Hero
"Virgin Trains has unveiled a commemorative plaque at Crewe station, recognising a Royal Naval train which transported soldiers and sailors along the West Coast Main Line over 100 years ago.

To mark the centenary of the journeys made on the Jellicoe Express during the First World War, Virgin Trains worked with two Community Rail Partnerships (North Staffordshire and Crewe – Manchester), to unveil a commemorative plaque on Platform 12.

Named after Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, the commander of the Grand Fleet who led the British forces at the Battle of Jutland in June 1916, the Jellicoe Express carried service personnel to and from the British fleet based at Scapa Flow in Orkney - travelling daily between London Euston and Thurso with a journey time of 21 hours 30 minutes.

Unveiled by Cllr Pam Minshall, the plaque provides a permanent memorial to the train, which served the town as part of its 717-mile journey.

Crewe station was one of the few stops on the route where sailors and soldiers could join the train. It also served as a welcome refreshment stop, where over 300 women volunteers worked around the clock to provide refreshments in a canteen on Platform 6.

With the help of the local community, Virgin Trains has created a small display using images of Crewe station and accounts from people who travelled on the Jellicoe Express to illustrate the facilities available for armed service personnel during the First World War. It is available to view until June 15.

Heather Hodkinson, Virgin Trains Station Manager at Crewe, said: “At Virgin Trains we’re proud to celebrate a significant part of Crewe’s heritage. Crewe station played an important role as the Jellicoe Express made its journey between London Euston and Thurso, and today it continues to be a key hub on our west coast route.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with the local community to offer an insight into the station during the First World War and help ensure the Jellicoe Express will forever be remembered here in Crewe.”

Cllr Pam Minshall said: “I am delighted to be part of the Jellicoe Express project alongside Virgin Trains. Crewe was able to play a small but significant part in helping thousands of naval personnel travel between London and the North of Scotland during World War One.

“I am really pleased that there is now a fitting memorial on Platform 12 at Crewe station to commemorate the journey and the lives of so many.”

Nick Jellicoe, grandson of the Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, said: “The railways were, in a very real sense, the Navy’s vital lines of supply. From every corner of the country, munitions, food and manpower were transported north through its steel arteries. And from neighbouring Wales, all of that of course, but also its famous black coal.

“John Jellicoe was the first to acknowledge the tremendous debt that he – and the Navy – owed the men and women who worked these trains in a relentless race against time. And maybe, especially to those who kept the Jellicoe Express running on time, day in, day out.”"
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