© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
An email from a member of the team
restoring "Robert", the ex-NCB
"Austerity" 0-6-0ST, reminded me that I
had never visited "The Railway Age*" at
Crewe. After a week of wielding
sandpaper and paintbrush, a little trip
out seemed like a good idea.
Robert is Hudswell Clarke 1752 of 1943 - I had photographed him
in action at Littleton and Bold collieries, and later he found
fame as the industrial entry in the Rainhill processions in 1980. I
hadn't seen him since that day at Bold - but there were others I
hadn't seen for some time too. I had last seen 6115 "Scots
Guardsman" in 1978, when it hauled a couple of steam specials,
and there too was Britannia, no 70000. I had photographed the
latter on the Severn Valley Railway, in action on the Foley Park
shuttles during the same year - and more recently in 1991 on the
Crewe - Chester - Shrewsbury route.
All three, I have to say, looked better last time I saw them.
"Robert" is making good progress, though there is clearly much
re-assembly ahead. 6115 stood forlorn, two sets of driving
wheels out, while Britannia's paintwork was fading well. Clearly
there are limited resources in railway preservation - but here are
two less common locomotives (how many "Black 5"s, "Halls" or
Bulleid pacifics are there in preservation?) which would be well
worth some time and effort...
There are other rarities here - I hesitate to use "Modern Traction"
to describe Brown Boveri 18000, the gas-turbine test machine
ordered by the GWR. Similarly, D8233 is the only survivor of one
of the less successful early diesel designs, a British Thomson-
Houston type 1 which would be eclipsed by the English Electric
variety. And there is without doubt a degree of irony in the
placing of the APT-P set alongside the main line where
"Pendolinos" are now in the ascendancy.
One of the biggest attractions is a much more permanent fixture
on the site - the former Crewe North signal box. This major
installation shows - and demonstrates - the amazing complexity
of railway signalling, something easily forgotten by the "punters"
(as my friend Barry, in a somewhat worrying way, used to call
passengers) when things go wrong. And of course, almost by
definition, the view of the north end of Crewe station and the
main lines is truly excellent.
* “The Railway Age” became “The Crewe Heritage Centre in 2008
6115 in action at Attercliffe Road, 11 Nov. 1978
Robert at Littleton, 10 April 1976
Robert at Bold, 24 Aug. 1979
The Crewe Heritage Centre