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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.

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