Sunday, 29 January 2012

10 In Steam at GCR - The Gala...

Hi everyone. Today, I headed over to the Great Central in Loughborough, across a frosty M69. This was my annual visit to the railway's ever impressive Winter Steam Gala. This year it was called "The BIG One". I must admit, it really did live up to its name in that a total of 10 main line steam locomotives were in action on a very intensive timetable. In fact, I don't see how the GCR could make a more intensive timetable with their current infrastructure. But, you never know, they may yet surprise me! This gala was billed as the biggest in the history of the GCR and so passenger numbers had swelled well over capacity. I arrived at Loughborough Central at 9:15am and, after parking up, I took a gentle stroll up Great Central Road to the entrance. The road was ungulfed in smoke and steam from the platforms below as all of the engines were being shunted about into their correct orders for the morning runs. I purchased my ticket and wandered down the wooden staircase onto the island platform at its foot. There were just engines everywhere. The air was crisp with chill and this created fantastic steam effects from each locomotive. I walked down to the end of the platform and crossed the foot crossing. First engine I saw: BR Standard 2 No78019...
I left Loughborough on the 9:50am, aboard the footplate of King Arthur Class "Sir Lamiel" (see previous post). After a good run to Leicester North I transferred onto the train and rode back to Quorn & Woodhouse where I alighted to have a cuppa' and a walk around. Below, the 3rd loco in the troop; 8F No8624; strolls through with a clanking train of Windcutters (still not sure about the red!)...
The fourth locomotive was this years only visitor; LSWR M7 Class 0-4-4 No53; courtesy of the Swanage Railway. I suppose the sight of this lovely antique loco was the main reason why I visited this years gala; as well as for the ride on Sir Lamiel of course. 53 had a nice crisp bark and seemed to be busy all day with various loads behind her. The locomotive is spotted below, rolling into Quorn with a passenger train for Leicester North...
Quorn was a hive of activity with trains passing in either direction at regular intervals. The 5th loco in the line-up; Great Central 8K/LNER 04 No63601, the lovely Edwardian 2-8-0; soon arrived light engine from Loughborough. She (and four 'willing' volunteers) soon gave an interesting demonstration of the recently opened Quorn Turntable in operation. She moved freely and within a minute or two she was facing the other way...
The main reason for hanging around at Quorn in this damp, frosty weather was to await the passing through of the 6th locomotive; Brit 70013 "Oliver Cromwell"; on the fast moving TPO pick-up train. This year, I waited nearer to the foot crossing and didn't witness the drop (I've seen it many times before). However, the performance of the loco on the acceleration to the apparatus site is not to be missed, as Driver Craig Stinchcombe proves below with the massive Brit...

As soon as the Brit had dissapeared loudly into the distance I made my way up onto the platform and caught the next train to Rothley; hauled by "Sir Lamiel" & 78019 double-headed. When I arrived the 7th loco; Jinty No47406; was already there, waiting in the platform with the returning TPO stock for Loughborough: a cute machine...
After another cuppa' I walked up the station stairs and across the road to one of my favourite locations; Rothley Embankment - just off Swithland Lane. From here, a good view is afforded in both directions and some interesting shots are available with very little effort. Below, the Brit climbs tender-first out of Rothley for Loughborough on the 'Local'...
"Sir Lamiel" makes a very steamy departure northwards...
Loco No8 in the line-up was a newly-overhauled one; Ivatt Class 2 No46521. I saw the engine in black gloss a few weeks ago in the shed at Loughborough (see previous post) but now she is in steam and running, with a crisp bark and a piercing hooter. 46521 earnt fame in the comedy series "Oh Dr Beeching" when she starred as 'Blossom'; the regular locomotive. Below, the lovely Class 2 barks out of Rothley with a mixed freight (I like that shot)...
Locomotive No9 was the recently sold (to Epping Ongar Railway) Hall Class No4953 "Pitchford Hall". She looked in fine form as she steamed into Rothley wearing a "Cornishman" headboard...
The 'Duch-Eight' clanks in on the Windcutters (many photographers around me were commenting that they were going to Photoshop the 8F into Black...now, now)...
Finally, the 10th locomotive was the N2 Tank No1744; a GNR 0-6-2. Here she drops into Rothley on the Mixed Freight...
After spotting the N2, I caught the next train back to Loughborough hauled by 78019. There, the 04 is later spotted waiting to leave on another freight...
By 3:30pm, the cold was getting to me a bit and, after a lovely morning & afternoon out, I decided to call it a day so jumped back into the warm Saxo and headed home. I must admit, the gala was fabulous and how they will ever create a more intensive timetable I'll never know; there was just so much going on this weekend. All in all, well done to the Great Central Railway and thank you for a lovely visit again. Finally, thank you all for reading: Sam...

1 comment:

anthony.williamson77 said...

Nice shot of 70013 on the maildrop-going on the Long Drag and Shap behind it on the 25th.Keep up the good work mate.