OLIVER CROMWELL LIMPS INTO NORWICH AFTER BIG END FAILURE
Oliver Cromwell’s Great Eastern Main Line swan song ended prematurely on February after the former Norwich (32A) engine suffered a hot big end. Having melted the whitemetal in the big and adjoining coupling rod bearings just north of Diss, No. 70013 limped into Norwich at reduced speed on February 22 with the ‘Cathedrals Express’. The train had been billed as the last chance to experience the 1951-built ‘Britannia’ on its home patch before retiring for overhaul (see separate story). Adorned with a wreath and 32B shedplate in honour of R.H.N. Hardy, who died four days before, ‘Cromwell’ had been running at its permitted 75mph limit before a telltale ‘knock’ brought the spirited run to a halt on the main line. Having been effectively pushed into the Norfolk city by the Class 47 diesel attached to the rear of the train, the 4-6-2 was moved into the sidings close to where it was allocated from new in 1951, for its right-hand side motion to be dismantled. The Steam Dreams Rail Company charter returned to Liverpool Street diesel-hauled. A hastily arranged pick-up truck was dispatched from the engine’s Loughborough base the same day and returned the offending rods to Norwich three days later following re-metalling and machining. That wasn’t the end of the drama, as the onslaught of the ‘Beast from the East’ weather system delayed the engine’s planned February 26 return to Southall depot by 48 hours.
‘Team 70013’: The crew who helped make Oliver Cromwell ready for its motion repairs pose with the engine at Norwich. From left to right: (bottom row) Simon Horrobin, Craig Stinchcombe, Charlie Barber, Jonny Johnson, Bill Gwilt, (on engine) Pete Hackney, John Street, Jim Street and Andrew Tooley.
‘Cromwell’s’ motion, part-way through dismantling at Norwich on February 22.