Sunday, September 08, 2013

Where's Paula?

Some days are really rather special. Saturday was one such, especially for the steam enthusiast. Full marks to those who organise these things... we had the sight of two iconic steam locomotives side by side at Carlisle's Citadel Station.

First into Carlisle was 60009 A4 Pacific 'Union of South Africa' pulling the Railway Touring Company's Cumbrian Mountain Express railtour from Crewe to Carlisle via Settle, and return over Shap.

I saw this locomotive recently (see here) at the 'Great Gathering' of all six survivors of this class at the National Railway Museum at York. On Saturday it was back earning its keep on the mail line.

There should definitely be a fan club for afficionados of the Crosby chime whistle!

I had braved the elements in a Wamphray field on Friday (here) to see the Duchess of Sutherland on her way to Perth, celebrating her 75th birthday. This was the return leg of the special railtour, and a brief stop at Carlisle.

As the 'Duchess' pulled out, 'Union of South Africa' whistled her on her way, and this was acknowledged with a suitable reply - the two locomotives 'serenading' each other! It fair made the hairs bristle on the back of my neck. Great stuff.

It was time then for 60009 and its support coach to link up again with its parked carriages, pick up the passengers, and head off south.

Talking of carriages, I have to confess that I have a bit of an interest in the coaching stock still able to run on the main line.

It's rather cute that some coaches have names, as well as their numbers.

An enthusiast needs a reference, and this little Platform 5 booklet is usually in my day pack. It brings back memories of the trainspotting days as a youngster when, Ian Allan's books of locomotive numbers were always to hand when travelling anywhere by train. I reminisced about that before, see here

Today though I discovered that West Coast Railways, who own a fair number of these coaches, are either being completely stupid, or mischievous, or just messing with the minds of old codgers like me!

You have to imagine me walking up the line of coaches. Yes, there's 3058, a Mark 1 Open First, built in Doncaster in 1955, and called 'Florence'!

And here's 'Florence'. What, again? Had I walked in a circle? Was I losing my marbles? I checked the number, then went back and confirmed what I looked at previously. Different coaches, same names! Bizarre. This one is 3093 - a Mark 1 Open First, built in Birmingham in 1959 and called 'Florence'! The Coaching Stock 2013 booklet indicates that this coach should be called 'Paula'.

So what's happened? I have no idea. It does look as if 3093 has had a bit of a makeover recently. Has the name been changed in error during the repaint? Or is someone at West Coast Railways infatuated with 'Florence'?

And where's Paula? As luck would have it, I'd encountered 3093 before, when she was 'Paula', and posted a pic on the blog, here. So this provides evidence that 3093 has been renamed 'Florence' at some point recently!

It does seem a bit stupid to have two coaches called by the same name!

And talking about stupidity, Virgin Trains, who run Carlisle's station, have gone to a lot of trouble - and no doubt expense - to paint these large graphics onto the platforms, presumably something to do with indicating where the various coaches of a train should stop. What a waste of money! I can think of many ways a little money would improve the facilities for passengers, visitors and staff at the Citadel without throwing it away on painting numbers on the platforms. But, hey, what do I know.

Photos © Skip Cottage

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