Friday, March 19, 2010

The Roaring Monster

70013 Oliver Cromwell pulled The Railway Touring Co's steam excursion, the Cumbrian Mountain Express today. The tour was diesel hauled initially from Leicester, then former BR Britannia Pacific ‘Oliver Cromwell’ took the train from Crewe to Carlisle via the West Coast Main Line over Shap. That's it arriving in Carlisle's Citadel Station on time at 12.41 today. The return journey was by the Settle - Carlisle Railway.

I just love these 'Roaring Monsters'!

As do hundreds (thousands) of others! The excursion itself was a sell out.

There was a large welcoming committee, all with cameras, awaiting.

Actually, with so many people, it takes a little skill to get a semi-decent photo. But it's just great to be able to get up close, and the station staff at Carlisle are most helpful.

Yes, my memories of the 1960s are not only of steam trains. The mini kilt is up there in the top five. These two hostesses from the excursion were happy to pose! (Apologies, I did not get their names). I asked one what she thought of all the hundreds of old men at the station, and along the lineside. Quick as a flash, she came back with, "But you're not old!"

That one was straight out of the book How to Make a Trainspotter Happy, and my step was somewhat more sprightly as I continued my Carlisle adventure today.

I wonder if in forty years time people will come out in numbers to see a heritage Voyager DMU?

Once all the passengers had disembarked to savour the delights of Carlisle for a couple of hours, the coaches were backed into a siding to free up the platform.

And the locomotive came back to the station before running round.

'I'm in charge'! Oliver Cromwell is owned by the National Railway Museum and is maintained and operated by the 5305 Locomotive Association. It was restored for main line running in 2008.

The locomotive has an interesting history. When British Rail was formed by the nationalisation of the railways on January 1, 1948, it surprised many by continuing to develop steam. The first of the new engines, including Oliver Cromwell, worked expresses between London and East Anglia. But soon BR unveiled its modernisation plan to do away with steam. Final days were in 1968.

Oliver Cromwell became the last steam locomotive to be overhauled at Crewe and soon was the very last in service. Oliver Cromwell was chosen as one of the locomotives for the final passenger steam service. The Fifteen Guinea Special ran on August 11, 1968, between Liverpool Lime Street and Carlisle.

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