Saturday, March 8, 2014

What's At Walt's Barn? ~ King George V Locomotive

What’s At Walt’s Barn? ~ King George V Locomotive

When Lillian Disney died the Disney Estate was sold and the new owner decided to demolish the home and Walt’s barn where he worked on his backyard trains. Diane Disney Miller, Walt & Lillian’s daughter asked if she could have the barn.

The barn was dismantled moved to the Los Angeles Live Steamers Club/Museum (LALS) in Griffith Park, Ca. Walt was a member of the LALS and had donated the track from his trains to the club before his death.

There are many wonderful items in the barn today. You will find items that belonged to Walt and some that belonged to some of his top animators, Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson along with others. There are also many items from Disneyland.

Today I’m going to share about the King George V Locomotive that sits in the middle of the barn. This is a beautiful old locomotive belonged to Walt Disney and has an interesting story to tell, if only it could talk.

In 1951 Walt and Lillian took a holiday to Europe. While there Walt went into the Bassett-Lowke Ltd. Shop in London to look around for a train to add to his new backyard train set. It was early in the day and Walt made the purchase with the agreement to come back in the afternoon to finalize the purchase and arrange shipment back to the United States.

Shortly after Walt left the shop another American came in and wanted to buy the locomotive Walt had just purchased. The shopkeeper told the man the locomotive had been sold but to come back that afternoon to see if the purchaser changed his mind.

That afternoon both men met at the train store and got to talking over this locomotive. Walt asked the man what he did for a living. When he said he was an artist Walt told him to come talk to him when he got back to America. Walt did not let the gentleman have the King George V.

This second American train enthusiast was none other than Harper Goff! Harper did look Walt up when he got home and ended up designing the Nautilus Submarine for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He worked on many other Disney movies. He also developed conceptual ideas for Disneyland including Main Street USA and the Jungle Cruise.

Walt and Lillian took a cruise ship home to America. He had the locomotive crated and shipped home on the ship with him. On the way across the “Pond” the crate with the prized locomotive became soaked with sea water and the locomotive suffered water damage. Walt never repaired the King George V locomotive. He was too busy with “plans for his little park”, Disneyland. The locomotive has sat in storage unrepaired and unused since 1951.

On a funny note, Walt could never have ran the King George V on his tracks as his existing layout was 1/8 scale and the King George V is a different scale.

This train, along with a picture of a dejected Walt Disney checking out the water damage after getting it home are on display at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn.

I’ll be posting more stories from the barn in the coming days.

To find out more about the Carolwood Barn check out their website.

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