‘SCOTTISH’ STEAM AT SNOWBOUND EAST LANCASHIRE RAILWAY GALA
Union of South Africa’s final star performance for BR was recreated 51 years on at the East Lancashire Railway’s Spring Steam Gala on March 2-4. One of two guest engines attending the event (the other being ‘Jubilee’ No. 45690 Leander), John Cameron’s ‘A4’ was piloted by ‘Black Five’ No. 45212 on the Sunday. This pairing echoed the ‘Grand Scottish Tour’ of March 25 1967, when the Scottish Region hired back the Gresley ‘Pacific’ – which it had only recently sold to Mr Cameron – and double-headed it with ‘5MT’ No. 44997 on 18 coaches. Adding to the Scottish feel was Ian Riley’s ‘Black Five’ No. 45407 carrying its alternative identity of No. 45157 The Glasgow Highlander… and a blast of wintry weather, courtesy of ‘The Beast from the East’. As the heavy snow approached, the timetable on the Friday of the event – also featuring ‘Crab’ No. 13065, ‘West Country’ No. 34092 City of Wells, L&Y 0-6-0 No. 52322 and converted ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0 No. 2890 – was rewritten, with all services running in ‘top-and-tail’ formation to minimise the need for operating points. But trains ran as diagrammed at the weekend, although there were delays of up to an hour on the Saturday, partially attributed to the storm having damaged one of the level crossing barriers at Rawtenstall, which necessitated hand-signalling. One BuryRamsbottom shuttle with No. 45407 was cancelled on the final day in order to path the dining train. With the M62 motorway closed by the snow and only reopening on the Saturday morning, motorists were warned to avoid travelling. As a result, it is estimated that fewer than 100 people attended on the Friday – but, confirms General Manager Tracey Parkinson, “we had a reasonable number of visitors on the Saturday and Sunday.” The final passenger count was approximately 1,000, compared to the figure of around 2,500 which would normally be expected. “Plenty of locals came,” added Financial Director David Layland, “but not so many from further afield.” Nonetheless, the event did manage to break even, he confirmed.
‘Black Five’ No. 45212 and ‘A4’ No. 60009 Union of South Africa cross the River Roch Viaduct with the 2.20pm Bury-Heywood train on March 4.
The weekend after the gala the snow had gone, but visiting ‘Jubilee’ No. 45690 Leander was still at the ELR, joined by ‘A3’ No. 60103 Flying Scotsman at Rawtenstall on March 11 for a ‘Scotsman on Show’ event.