THE LAST TO FEEL WARMTH ON 70013?
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
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”.
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
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.
Oliver Cromwell in the yard at Diss on August 13 1968, awaiting collection by low loader for transfer to Bressingham.
‘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.