Saturday, 29 January 2011

"The Banbury Cross"...

Hi all. The 2011 Winter Steam Gala at the Great Central Railway was a fabulous day out indeed. Named the "Banbury Cross", the gala featured a fantastic line-up of 8 steam locomotives, all of which would have had connections to the Banbury area. Throughout the three-day event, all sorts of trains operated, from humble light freight's to the fabulous 'Windcutter Minerals', the fast TPO pick-up's and of course, one of the stars of the show, the GWR Autotrain. All of these trains were of course complemented by many normal passenger turns, light engine moves and even a Dining Train. In total, there were 31 departures from Loughborough on the Saturday; amazing! This post has been a while coming (published 7/2/11) due to the processing of various images and videos taken on the day; there were many! My day started with the 30 or so mile drive from home, in the faithful Saxo of course. Arriving at Quorn at 8:45am, I immediately got my equipment ready and put on my 3 or so extra layers, as well as gloves, a hat and a scarf. What a freezing day it was; the coldest Winter Gala I've ever known! I then locked the car and proceeded to the platforms where the first train, the Autotrain; 'shoved' by 5526; was just about to leave. After filming the little Prairie, I proceeded to buy my ticket and timetable, before waiting for my train, which would be hauled by two loco's; 4953 and 45305. So, what was running? In no particular order; John Cameron's Gresley K4 2-6-0 No61994 "The Great Marquess". This wonderful 3-cylinder Mogul, in striking BR Black, was a very popular machine and her easily distinguishable beat could be heard throughout the day, roaring around the Leicestershire countryside...
The second visitor; Small Prairie No5526. Though she did many Autotrain runs, she also hauled Freights, full passenger rakes and of course the 2-coach 'Local' (seen below at Quorn). This lovely little 55xx, from the South Devon at Buckfastleigh, looked right at home on the GCR and it was very nice to see her, and hear her, running at pretty good speed...
Loco No3 was the fabulous Black 5 4-6-0 No45305 "Alderman A E Draper". This gorgeous machine, owned by Draper's Scrapyard of Hull, is based at the GCR under the banner of the '5305 Locomotive Association'. Thoughout my day, 45305 gave some great performances, some of which I was lucky enough to capture on film! What a lovely Stanier machine...
The 4th loco, arguably the star of the show, was visiting GWR 38xx 2-8-0 No3850. The loco came to the GCR after some work at Tyseley. The GCR have repainted her into BR Black, which looks very well indeed. I have ridden behind this engine before, at her home; the West Somerset Railway (see seperate posts). However, she looks much better in Black I feel. This beastly machine also gave some great performances during the day, particularly on the 'Windcutter Minerals'. Below, 3850 steams into Rothley on the 'Windcutter's...
The fifth engine was another '5305 LA' loco; the NRM's Southern Railway N15 'King Arthur' No30777 "Sir Lamiel". This machine, also based at the GCR, is mainline-certified (like 45305 and 61994) and can often be seen out and about on railtours. "Lamiel" is a very popular machine and is currently the oldest loco allowed to work on Network Rail. Thoroughout the day, 30777 did some very good turns, particularly when driven by Chief Engineer Tom Tigh!...
As if that wasn't enough, the 4th visitor and SIXTH engine was the NRM's City Class 4-4-0 No3717 "City of Truro"! This beautiful Edwardian machine is reported to have been the first steam engine to achieve 100mph, back in 1904. Whether this 'rumour' is true or not is anyone's guess but I reckon she is probably capable; afterall, she has pretty big wheels! I did take a ride behind 3717 during the day and, what a powerful machine she seems for a 4-4-0; lovely design. It's a shame that there aren't more older engines in operation; they really are beautiful. 3717 seemed to have a really good day, particularly on her fast TPO trip!...
Now based at the GCR, the 7th engine was John Kennedy's Hall, No4953 "Pitchford Hall". A previous Tyseley resident, 4953 moved to the GCR quite recently and, as far as I know, will be staying here for now. A lovely Hall in a lovely livery. Below, she takes the Windcutter's out of Rothley up the bank...
Finally, last but very much not least(!), the FIFTH visitor and EIGTH engine was GWR 0-4-2 14xx 'Autotank' No1450! Now, I've never seen a 14xx in operation before so thats another to cross off the list! These loco's were small yet punchy and fast. For example, a 14xx in 'good nick' could apparently achieve a 70mph+ performance, when hauling one or two Autocoaches of course. This was down to their big wheels and good steaming ability. This 14xx, though her paint is looking a little tired by now, was a very attractive example and I really like this class as a whole. Below, the lovely 1450 approaches Rothley with the short freight...
Well, thats it folks, all 8 locomotives laid out in photo's! What a line up, ay?! Back to me, I caught the first 'main' train of the day; behind 4953 & 45305; to Leicester North. However, 4953 came off at Rothley, leaving 45305 to take the train onwards to Leicester. Once there, 45305 ran round (see opening image) and later took the train back to Loughborough. I alighted at Quorn once again before filming more trains; particularly good were the TPO runs with 3717 and the Black 5 herself. I later caught the Hall again, this time double-heading with the K4. Good lord, can the Hall not travel alone?! The Hall & K4 trio took us to Rothley where I alighted again. I then spent a few hours around Rothley, up on the embankment in particular. After a chat with a few Shack friends, I reboarded the train, this time with 3850 at the head. It was standing room only, well, squeezed-in room only! It was so busy it was unbelievable...passenger takings must have been on a huge high today; massive. 3850 took the hugely packed train down into Loughborough; easily of course. There, I had a quick look round, though the platforms were packed. Below, 1450 waits in the yard; a nice portrait I think...
In the Goods Loop, "Sir Lamiel" waits with another Windcutter...
With "Sir Lamiel" gone, 1450 draws the TPO stock into the Goods Loop, awaiting the K4 to take the head for the last demonstration run. I tell you, I would have paid more money to see the 14xx do the TPO drop instead!...
After some more filming, I boarded the train again, this time behind the punchy 3717, and headed back to Quorn to see the final few moves take place. The final TPO run with the K4 was very good indeed, though it could have been faster! After that, freezing but happy, I decided to call it a day. So, it was back into the Saxo and off back down the M1 & M69 to home. What a day! A fantastic gala. The video footage I achieved can be seen below. First, the shots around Rothley...
Next, one or two shots I took at Loughborough...
Finally, click HERE to view the 3rd video; taken at Quorn. All in all, a very good day out to the GCR's 2011 Winter Steam Gala, the "Banbury Cross". Thank you very much for reading this mega post folks. Good Evening...

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