A HAMPSHIRE radio presenter and railway enthusiast has been named honorary patron of train restoration charity the Urie Locomotive Society.

Based at Ropley, the ULS owns the only two surviving steam locomotives designed and built during the tenure of Robert Urie as chief mechanical engineer of the London and South Western Railway, and is dedicated to restoring them to full working order.

Constructed in 1920, the trains were designed for hauling heavy freight trains which ran between London and the south coast ports, are the oldest surviving locomotives built at Eastleigh works which closed in 2006.

Mark Collins, who presents on Wave 105, who recently received an invitation from Chairman Mark Pedley to become an honorary patron, said: “I went along to the Watercress Line on Saturday, had a look around the sheds at Ropley and had a fantastic afternoon. I spent hours there just chatting to the ULS team and admiring the commitment they have to restoring these two locomotives, the difficulties they come across and the hurdles they overcome in making sure that these things will run again on the railways of the UK. So I have accepted his invitation.”

ULS chairman Mark Pedley added: “We have a simple dream; to return both of our locomotives to steam and see them run together in their centenary year.

“Like all heritage projects, money is the key. As a result of our general frugalness and uncanny ability to spot useful things in skips, we have a healthy bank balance, but it’s still not enough.

“Mark’s agreement to become our patron is really exciting for us; his support will raise our profile to a wider audience and I have no doubt fundraising will increase as a result. One day these locomotives will steam together on the Watercress Line.”