© 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 Links: 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 APT-P Crewe station (north) - the view from the box A remnant of the "Spider Bridge" at Crewe North Another Britannia - 87004, seen from the signal box Track plan inside Crewe North signal box Interior view - Crewe North box 6115 "Scots Guardsman" and 70000 "Britannia" BTH Type 1 D8233 Crewe Station "A" box and LNWR (modern) breakdown crane Crewe Station "A" and D2073 "Robert" HC1752 of 1943 undergoing restoration Brown Boveri former gas-turbine no. 18000 47 435 - the cab! and 92134