Chōshū Five Sesquicentennary
By Richard Tremaine
An enjoyable and successful exhibition was held at the Japanese Embassy in London from the 10th to the 21st of October, celebrating the 150th
anniversary of the arrival of the Chōshū Five in 1863. They were 5
young men who came to study engineering at the University College
London (UCL). At the time Japan was still 9 years away from it's first
operational railway between Tokyo (from the Shimbashi Terminal) &
Yokohama. These young men rose quickly to the highest levels of
government, including the 1st Prime Minister and 1st
Minister for Railways following the Meiji Restoration. A seminar was
held on the official opening day in the presence of some 150 senior
railway industry personel, including a significant presence of managers
direct from Japan.
Japanese woodblock prints of the early growth of railways set the scene
of the Japanese Railway Society portion of a large impressive
exhibition. A wide range of models and books within glass cabinets
summarised the development of Japan's Railways up to the 395 series
Javelins of Hitachi, which had successfully supported the rail
operations of the London Olympics. A model of Japan's 1st
locomotive (Vulcan works, Newton-le-Willows) of 1871 was accompanied by
a full size brass replica works plate. The display included JRS
Bullet-In publications and highlighted also Richard Trevithick, father
of railways, whose grandsons were the 2 major westerners, of some 150
mainly British personnel, employed by the Japanese Government to
develop the railway.
Models in 'HO' scale also included the 0 series Shinkansen (of 1964)
and the 300X experimental Shinkansen which still holds the Japanese
record of 443 km/hr employing steel on steel running.
A team from Japan came to set up the main display of 8 large (7'6"
square) panels, depicting the major British influence of Japan's
Railway development, through to the Shinkansen trains progress
(included were 1/20 scale models of the vary latest E5 & E6
versions of 2011 & 2012), and the 800/801 trains that are to be
constructed in the UK at a new Hitachi works in Newton Aycliffe, in the
North-East of England.
Next year in 2014, we expect to be involved in celebrations marking the
50th anniversary of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen success at the National
Railway Museum in York, with 'our' popular 22-141 vehicle which first
went on display in 2001.
Below are some photographs of our stand.
Photographs courtesy Yukina Gonda, Embassy of Japan London.
Page last updated 31st October 2013.