MAILBAG

THE LAST TO FEEL WARMTH ON 70013?

Steam Railway (UK) - - Contents -

Liv­ing in Nor­wich and hav­ing just left higher ed­u­ca­tion in 1968, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ‘Fif­teen Guinea Spe­cial’ was out of the ques­tion, so I sadly watched the end of steam on the tele­vi­sion news. Imag­ine my as­ton­ish­ment when, watch­ing the lo­cal news at teatime the next day, the lead­ing item fea­tured an in­ter­view with an emo­tional Alan Bloom on At­tle­bor­ough sta­tion as Oliver Cromwell went through light en­gine bound for Nor­wich and, ul­ti­mately, Bress­ing­ham Gar­dens. This trans­fer had been kept a se­cret and mag­i­cally, here was ‘Oliver’ back in Nor­wich af­ter all those years. I col­lected a like­minded friend, leapt on the bus to the sta­tion and we hot-footed it round the back to the sheds. In those days Nor­wich shed was presided over by the steam stal­wart Bill Har­vey, who had no ob­jec­tion to let­ting in a cou­ple of afi­ciona­dos. We found the en­gine, hid­den out of sight from the road, and climbed onto the foot­plate. Sadly there was not enough pres­sure left to blow the whis­tle, but it was still hot. Af­ter we got off they wrapped chains around the cab doors and pad­locked them to keep any­one out dur­ing the night. It has al­ways been my fond be­lief that my friend and I were the last two peo­ple on Oliver Cromwell while it was still hot on British Rail­ways! The next day, the en­gine was towed dead to Diss, along with Lon­don Til­bury & Southend Thun­der­s­ley to await road trans­fer to Bress­ing­ham. The next day we went to Diss to watch load­ing pro­ceed­ings (it turned out there weren’t any be­cause load­ing hap­pened some days later) and both en­gines were vis­i­ble in the dis­tance down the yard, which was roped off and guarded.

THESE EN­GINES ARE IN MY CARE NOW, THESE PEO­PLE WANT TO GO AND LOOK AT THEM, KINDLY RE­MOVE THE ROPES AND LET THEM IN ALAN BLOOM

At­tempts at blag­ging our way in or go­ing around the edges failed. We were about to go home when Alan Bloom ar­rived and said to the guard, “these en­gines are in my care now, these peo­ple want to go and look at them, kindly re­move the ropes and let them in.” The guard com­plied with­out ques­tion and went away. Shortly af­ter, a thun­der­storm blew up and we ac­tu­ally shel­tered on Oliver Cromwell’s foot­plate, swap­ping tall sto­ries and con­tem­plat­ing a steam­less fu­ture. Next time I saw them, Thun­der­s­ley was in­car­cer­ated in the mu­seum and ‘Oliver’ was chuff­ing up and down the short demon­stra­tion line in front of the mu­seum shed, which re­minded me of a sad, caged lion. Ian Sin­clair, Reep­ham, Nor­wich

OFF WITH HIS HEAD

Dur­ing the school sum­mer hol­i­days, and as part of my ed­u­ca­tion, my mother used to take me on four or five trips to Lon­don from Ip­swich to visit places such as the Sci­ence Mu­seum, Lon­don Zoo, St Paul’s Cathe­dral and Madame Tus­sauds. We in­vari­ably trav­elled be­hind a good old re­li­able ‘Bri­tan­nia’. On one oc­ca­sion, af­ter we had ar­rived at Liver­pool Street and were walk­ing off the plat­form, we walked past the lo­co­mo­tive that had brought us to Lon­don. “Look,” said Mum, “this lo­co­mo­tive is called Oliver Cromwell; it’s named af­ter the man who cut off the king’s head.” Be­ing rel­a­tively young and im­pres­sion­able at that time, I im­me­di­ately con­jured up in my mind the im­age of Oliver Cromwell per­son­ally cut­ting off the king’s head with a sharp knife! I never suf­fered any night­mares, but I can still clearly re­mem­ber it and at least I know – of all the lo­co­mo­tives that I might have trav­elled be­hind – that I trav­elled to Lon­don be­hind Oliver Cromwell. Robin French, Brent­wood

BRUSH, NOT SPRAY

In Howard John­ston’s ar­ti­cle on ‘Bri­tan­nias’ (SR478), a cap­tion poses the ques­tion of whether Oliver Cromwell might have been spray painted on its last over­haul. I can say that this was not the case and that Crewe never spray painted steam lo­co­mo­tives. While I was a mo­tive power ap­pren­tice, I was in Crewe Works for part of my train­ing when the last steam lo­co­mo­tives were over­hauled. By that time, they were not painted in the paint shop but in the erect­ing shop. How­ever, No. 70013, along with the three pre­served lo­co­mo­tives re­ceiv­ing at­ten­tion at the same time (Sir Nigel Gres­ley, Do­min­ion of Canada and Evening Star) were painted in what was then the re­cently com­pleted new paint shop, which was a re­fur­bished part of the block of build­ings at the west end of the steel works. In dis­cussing the en­gines al­lo­cated to Holy­head, Mr John­ston men­tions that it was the wa­ter ca­pac­ity of the ten­ders that prompted the al­lo­ca­tion there of the later en­gines with the larger coal-pusher ten­ders. How­ever, it was not wa­ter but coal, as these ten­ders had a ca­pac­ity of nine tons, as op­posed to seven. Wa­ter was never much of a prob­lem on the North Wales Coast or West Coast Main Lines, which were lib­er­ally equipped with wa­ter troughs. With the ear­lier en­gines, the Holy­head crews on lodg­ing turns in ad­verse weather con­di­tions, or when there were de­lays for one rea­son or an­other, were hav­ing prob­lems run­ning short of coal. Howard may have got his ver­sion from the writ­ings of E.S. Cox who, in this case, must have had a mem­ory lapse. There were nine sets of troughs be­tween Holy­head and Eus­ton, a set ev­ery 29 miles on av­er­age, with four be­tween Holy­head and Crewe. In his ref­er­ence to the mem­bers of the class al­lo­cated to Longsight, there were in fact five for most of the 1950s: Nos. 70031-33, which he men­tions, plus Nos. 70043/4 and they worked most of the Longsight lodg­ing turns to Eus­ton, both via Crewe and Stoke, un­til the diesels ar­rived in about 1960. When I was a tech­ni­cal in­spec­tor at Crewe, I reg­u­larly rode with Longsight men, many of the driv­ers hav­ing been fire­men in steam days, and I was of­ten told they ac­tu­ally pre­ferred the en­gines

to the ‘Scots’, which oth­er­wise worked those trains. Mr John­ston paints a pretty poor pic­ture of the con­di­tion of the en­gines when they ar­rived on the LM, while my rec­ol­lec­tion was that they were by no means as bad as that and I was at Crewe North at the time. They did not come to re­place the Stanier ‘Pacifics’, as by that time al­most all the di­a­grams they had worked had been taken over by the EE Type 4 diesels – of­ten, it has to be added, to the detri­ment of time­keep­ing. Rather it was the ‘Scots’ and other Class 7 en­gines that were be­ing with­drawn as soon as they be­came due for shops. The first ‘Brits’ we got came from Leeds Hol­beck in the late sum­mer of 1962: Nos. 70044/53/54. They were in very good con­di­tion and very clean too. I don’t think any of the en­gines, when they came to the LM, were given main works at­ten­tion other than when they were due for clas­si­fied re­pairs on the nor­mal ba­sis of mileage. How­ever, as with any class of en­gine, there would have been the odd case of an un­clas­si­fied re­pair for one rea­son or an­other.

Al­lan C. Baker, High Halden, Kent

CREWE’S 1968 FI­NALE

In 1968, af­ter I’d been work­ing in the Di­vi­sional Op­er­at­ing Su­per­in­ten­dent’s Con­trol Room at Derby for 13 years, the three (Derby, Manch­ester and Crewe) merged at Rail­house Crewe. I cer­tainly did not wish to work

at Crewe and ac­tu­ally re­signed in 1969. It al­ways seemed ironic to me that on my first day, there was great ex­cite­ment as we all looked out of the win­dows to see a re­splen­dent Oliver Cromwell. It had just come off Crewe Works and was ru­moured to be go­ing to Bress­ing­ham. This was def­i­nitely 1968, and con­flicts with claims that it was the last en­gine out of the works in 1967. Alan Jef­freys, by email No. 70013 was re­paired at the works in 1968, but it was for run­ning re­pairs (SR463), while its 1967 roll-out came af­ter its fi­nal ma­jor over­haul – Ed.

THE IMPOSTER’S MATE

Last year’s ‘Imposter’ ar­ti­cles (SR472 and 474) men­tioned Fire­man Nor­man Tre­na­man. You might like to know he is now 88 years old and re­mem­bers the 1959 in­ci­dent like yes­ter­day (when imposter en­gine­man John Wells was in­vited to drive his ‘8F’). He was over the moon to see his name in print, along with that of his old friend the late Peter Wince, men­tioned later in the same ar­ti­cle. It made Nor­man’s day when I gave him a copy of your mag­a­zine. In­ci­den­tally he still has a foot­plate pass which has given him hours of en­joy­ment in the cabs chat­ting to younger driv­ers. Steve Ram­say, New­ton Longville, Buck­ing­hamshire

IN­VITED BY IM­PEY

My wife and I were also ben­e­fi­cia­ries of a foot­plate ride with Driver Im­pey. We had gone into King’s Cross sta­tion on our way back to Liver­pool Street, just to see if there was any­thing of in­ter­est in the sta­tion. This must have been in the early 1970s. We got into con­ver­sa­tion with the driver and he asked if we fan­cied a foot­plate ride on his Class 31. We said yes, so he told us to get into the front com­part­ment of the train, so as not to be seen on leav­ing the plat­form, and at Fins­bury Park to join the foot­plate crew. We did this and had a ride to Hert­ford North, at which point we left the train to make our way back to King’s Cross. We did not know his first name, but have al­ways known him as Driver Im­pey, and have never for­got­ten the ride. Chris Bur­don, Rush­mere St An­drew, Suf­folk

HELP­FUL SWEDES

I was sur­prised to find my name men­tioned in SR477 re­gard­ing the repa­tri­a­tion at­tempt for Swedish WD No. 1930. Yes, I cer­tainly started some­thing with that Rail­way World ar­ti­cle. As far as I re­call that Swedish State Rail­ways (SJ) had promised free tran­sit of No. 1930 to an ex­port har­bour. Far from be­ing a Nene Val­ley Rail­way ru­mour, I was ad­vised that the lo­co­mo­tive had, as part of its free tran­sit, been at­tached to a train of with­drawn steam lo­co­mo­tives head­ing south for scrap­ping. Un­for­tu­nately it was never de­tached so it ended up in the scrap­yard in Kal­mar and was cut up in late 1974. The ar­ti­cle does not make clear whether a deal had been done and the en­gine paid for. Was there a dead­line date for the pur­chase to be com­pleted, and was this not met? Is that the rea­son the lo­co­mo­tive went to the scrap­yard? I found deal­ing with SJ to be very easy and they were al­ways help­ful. I was lead­ing a tour of Scan­di­navia for the Lo­co­mo­tive Club of Great Bri­tain in Au­gust 1974 and trav­el­ling south from Narvik on the overnight train we had to change at Ånge for Öster­sund. I asked SJ if they could have No. 1930 brought to the sta­tion so that we could see it dur­ing our lay­over. Sure enough, when we got there, it was in the sta­tion sid­ings! My in­spec­tion of it re­vealed its last mi­nor over­haul had been at Halm­stad on Fe­bru­ary 7 1956, so it must have gone into re­serve stock soon af­ter­wards. The strate­gic re­serve was be­ing thinned out in 1974. At Öster­sund we found ten steam lo­co­mo­tives, Åskott (six), Sven­stavik (three), Sveg (19) and at Hybo there were a fur­ther 19. Per­haps No. 1930 joined some of these on its jour­ney south? Brian Garvin, Beck­en­ham l Howard John­ston, who was in­volved in the repa­tri­a­tion at­tempt, replies: “The deal was never in fact com­pleted be­cause the com­plex lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues as­so­ci­ated with its on­ward sea/road trans­port were never re­solved; I re­call that the quotes took ages to ar­rive and were then pun­ish­ingly un­af­ford­able. There was a lot of un­cer­tainty in the UK with ram­pant in­fla­tion. Road and rail haulage was prim­i­tive and so, sadly, was to­day’s healthy na­tional good prac­tice fel­low­ship”.

TA­PER TYPO

In the ar­ti­cle ‘War Horses’ in SR477 there are two ref­er­ences to an LMS ‘8F’ be­ing the LNER’s very first ta­per boiler en­gine when built in 1943. This is in­cor­rect. The LNER had been build­ing and op­er­at­ing ta­per boil­ers since Great North­ern Rail­way No. 1470 Great North­ern was com­pleted by Don­caster Works in 1922. What was novel about the build­ing of the ‘8Fs’ at Don­caster was the use of Bel­paire fire­boxes in ac­cor­dance with the LMS de­sign. To that point most LNER lo­co­mo­tives with such fire­boxes had been built and main­tained at Strat­ford (ex-GER), Gor­ton (ex-GCR) and Cowlairs (exNBR). Af­ter the Sec­ond World War, Don­caster did build and main­tain fur­ther boil­ers of this type, cul­mi­nat­ing in their con­tri­bu­tion to con­struc­tion of the BR Stan­dards. Mike Johns, Taunton

SIZE MAT­TERS

I keep notic­ing the press put the ‘P2’ driv­ing wheel di­am­e­ter as 6ft 8in. The orig­i­nal six lo­co­mo­tives had a wheel di­am­e­ter of 6ft 2in, to help tackle the ar­du­ous East Coast Scot­tish route.

IAN SIN­CLAIR

Oliver Cromwell in the yard at Diss on Au­gust 13 1968, await­ing col­lec­tion by low loader for trans­fer to Bress­ing­ham.

JOHN WELLS

‘5MT’ No. 45379, viewed from the foot­plate, passes the goods yard at Cam­bridge on April 14 1962. The en­gine is now pre­served at the Mid-Hants Rail­way.

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