70013 on the “Great Britain III”
Old friends on the Lickey
8 April 2010
70013 "Oliver Cromwell" has been mentioned before in the
"Rail Diaries" - on the oldest page of all - "Old Square
Pictures". The event (I won't repeat the detail) was when I
watched him arrive at, and later depart from, Hellifield
station, hauling the infamous "15 Guinea Special". It was to
be (apart from a few more runs hauled by 4472 "Flying
Scotsman") the last steam-hauled train on the BR network -
11 August 1968. We all know the story of what happened
Meantime, 70013 had run down to Norfolk the following day, to
be installed in Alan Bloom's Bressingham museum - where it
remained until a year or two ago, when it was extricated and
restored to main line condition. It spent a few days very close to
home last year, when it visited the Severn Valley Railway - the
same weekend I was in Edinburgh, among other things seeing the
new A1 "Tornado" for the first time (see "Two A1s in Edinburgh").
Today the "Great Britain III" would be running from Bristol to
Preston. Originally routed via Hereford and Shrewsbury, the
threatened strike meant it was re-routed - via the Lickey - and it
would be double headed by 70013 and 44871 (another of the
survivors from the 15 Guinea special). The forecast was good -
and I needed a break from the painting and decorating...
I'd guessed correctly that there would be one or two others
there... Arriving an hour before the train was due, we had to
park some distance away and walk back, to join the sizeable
"gallery" in the fields near Burcot. And so we waited. There are
plenty of trains up and down the bank (not a good omen), though
they're not very interesting these days. At least the colour
schemes are reasonably attractive.
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
Inevitably, in these days of mobile telephony, the rumours spread
quickly. At one point, it was reportedly 45 minutes late - as a
result I was almost caught out minutes after it was due, standing
in the wrong place chatting*, when whistles and exhaust were
heard. And there it was - 44871 piloting 70013, charging
vociferously up the bank - just in time to meet a southbound
Voyager - oh no! Much wailing and gnashing of teeth... So no, I
didn't get quite the shot I'd planned, though the Voyager was
quickly out of the way. I mentioned in "Old Square Pictures" the
sharp exhaust of Oliver Cromwell. There it was again (was he
doing most of the work?) - a memory from nearly 42 years ago.
My wife commented on the sudden silence as the train passed,
and continued up to Blackwell (a sudden brief wheelslip as the
train crested the incline). Then it was time to pack up and go.
I'd forgotten about the "Western" following behind, which
someone had mentioned earlier - fortunately there was just time
to get the camera back out the bag.
The easy schedule through the West Midlands meant we would
have plenty of time to get to our second location, at Cranberry,
just a mile or so north of the preserved pumping engines at Mill
Meece - and inevitably it had lost more time, so that it came
just as a particularly dense patch of cloud scudded past the
sun... Within a minute (as ever) there was full sunshine again. At
least there's plenty of traffic up and down this busy stretch,
though one can tire of Pendolinos and Voyagers...
*The eagle eyed will have spotted the plural "Old Friends" in the title.
There he was, in the field at Burcot - one who has many similar
pictures to those in the "Rail Diaries" from 1977 until 1988, when he
relocated. Hence my standing in the wrong place. I promised he'd get a
mention - good to see you again, Mr D - hope you got a decent photo
(and if not, you were supposed to be at work anyway...)