70013 on the “Great Britain III”
Old friends on the Lickey
8 April 2010
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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 subsequently. 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...)
Southbound Voyager Northbound Sprinter Eclipse! Re-emerging A fine spectacle Working well D1015 "Western Champion" (and a 47) 350 EMU at Cranberry Southbound 66 Northbound 90 Another Pendolino It says it's a "Network Rail rail grinder" Southbound double header - 2x86 on a Freightliner Nortbound double-header Steam on the slow line