THE ‘FAREWELL ALAN PEGLER’ SPECIAL
On October 13, exactly four weeks after No. 60009’s exploit, it was the turn of the only surviving ‘A3’, Flying Scotsman, to grace Cubitt’s terminus. It was at the head of a Steam Dreams special to York, commemorating the life and work of the locomotive’s saviour, Alan Pegler OBE, who purchased No. 60103 from BR in 1963.
A 12‑coach rake was provided, made up principally of Mk 2 vehicles weighing only 32 tons each, with the result that the tare weight of 406 tons was only slightly heavier than No. 60009’s train four weeks earlier.
The ‘Farewell Alan Pegler’ was also fully booked and I estimate the gross weight after the last pick‑up stop at Peterborough to be 445 tons. The locomotive was in the capable hands of West Coast Railways’ Driver Ron Smith. The fireman was Clive Goult as far as Grantham and Andy Simkins beyond.
Unusually, since the train did not stop at Grantham, the changeover was shown in the crew’s diagram to take place using the corridor tender, which may be the first time this has happened since the ‘Elizabethan’ last ran steam‑hauled in September 1961!
The remnants of Storm Callum were still making an impact and No. 60103 was no doubt aided to some extent by the strong southerly airflow. The train ran via Hertford North, picking up there. I have not tabulated this section as there were a number of clearance and bridge restrictions in force.
Leaving Hertford North ¼ min late, there was a generous allowance of 22 mins to pass Stevenage (9.45 miles), but a severe signal check at Langley Junction, where the main line via Potters Bar is joined, causing a minute’s loss on schedule.
In the right‑hand column of Table 1,
I have set out the log from passing Stevenage at 37mph compared with
No. 60009’s run from a standing start. The times of the two runs were just one second apart between Hitchin and Tempsford. Unchecked, No. 60103 achieved an average speed of 74.1mph between Hitchin and Abbot’s Ripton (31.60 miles), a performance which could scarcely be bettered under current conditions. This included a spectacular ascent of Stukeley bank, the three‑mile climb from Huntingdon to Milepost 62, during which speed dropped only from 75½ to 70½mph.
David Pawson advises that No. 60103 may have been exerting around 2,000edbhp at this point, though the effect of the southerly wind and its angle to the train rules out any precise estimates. The Holme water stop was reached 9¼ mins early.
After a pick‑up stop at Peterborough, and leaving on time, No. 60103 was scheduled on the Slow line like ‘Number Nine’, but made more modest progress up Stoke bank.
A pathing stop at Stoke Junction was scheduled, awaiting passage onto the main line. Unfortunately, rail conditions were very poor, with damp, compacted leaves, and on the restart No. 60103 struggled to keep moving at all. Driver Smith skilfully coped with the incessant slips and we crawled along at between 1 and 2mph, so much so that it took 26 mins to reach the mouth of Stoke Tunnel!
The descent from the tunnel allowed speed to pick up quickly and No. 60103
averaged 75.5mph over the 17.50 miles between Grantham and Bathley Lane Box, to arrive at the Carlton water stop 22¾ mins late. Watering was completed within the 31 mins allowed, but it was necessary to wait a further 22 mins while a succession of trains overtook before the signal cleared for our departure.
An interesting aspect of the schedule was that the train was routed from Hambleton South Junction via Hambleton West Junction, Gascoigne Wood Junction and the spur down to Sherburn-in-Elmet on the Sheffield-York line, continuing via Church Fenton to rejoin the main line at Colton Junction.
With the train now running 45 mins late, it was decided instead to head directly to York in order to recoup some time. Any disappointment was mitigated by the fact that this now enabled a direct comparison with No. 60009’s run from Carlton to York on the 61-min schedule, as described earlier.
No. 60103 proved more than equal to the task, recording a net time of 57½ mins against No. 60009’s 59 mins. The flying average from Retford to Copmanthorpe was 73.6mph for the 46.15 miles, including a signal check to 55mph at Arksey.
The highlight was the climb to Pipers Wood summit, topped at 70mph – another exhilarating run overall. With an extra coach, the ‘A3’ had beaten the ‘A4’s’ time.
I am indebted to the following correspondents who have commented or contacted me about recent trips – Bill Long, Sandy Smeaton, Alastair Wood, Dave Bradbury and Rod Payne. I am always pleased to receive details for consideration in future columns. They can be emailed to me at mthedderly @ btinternet.com
Flying Scotsman takes the direct route towards York near Hambleton North Junction with the ‘Farewell Alan Pegler’ special on October 13.