Sunday, 16 September 2012

Shackerstone Gala: An Ambition Fulfilled...

Hello everyone. Today was Day Two of the 2012 Battlefield Line Steam Gala, featuring a varied roster of 5 full size steam locomotives. Today I would fulfill an amibition that I have had for a long time: to fire an LMS Class 5; perhaps better known to all as Stanier's Black Five. To alot of us at Shackerstone the Black Five is admired as THE locomotive; the go anywhere, do anything, pull anything machine. Indeed, we've always wanted one and so when the railway secured 45379 from the Mid Hants for the gala we were overjoyed. She would be the first Black Five to run over the line in its preserved days, though she had travelled over the line in the 1960s during her BR service. The Black Five performed well during the gala yesterday and so myself, Dave and John were looking forward to a good day with her today. We arrived at 5am, walking along the driveway through the pitch darkness towards the shed. After greeting some of the others we walked along the shed to the 4-6-0 before climbing aboard, checking the water and firebox and then cleaning the grate. The loco was then lit up and began singing straight away.
Dave Adding More Wood To The Blaze
As the Five warmed up, the steam pressure rose gradually. Myself and John oiled the loco up whilst Dave cleaned the cab. With 150psi on the clock we moved the Five out into the morning light where we continued to clean before doing some shunting.
Our first departure was not until the 11am passenger and so we had to clear the shed road in order to let 3803 out, who would double-head the 9am freight with "Sir Gomer". The unlikely pairing left on time and were quite a sight as they passed the cab doors of 45379. With the freight in section we moved the "5" back across to the shed road so that 5521 could come out and couple up to the waiting 10am passenger in platform 2.
Soon enough our departure arrived and off we went on the 5-coach train. What a run. The Five sounded in very good voice with four crisp beats leaving the chimney and dissapearing across the Leicestershire countryside. As we steamed to Market Bosworth, Dave fired whilst Britt (John) drove and I enjoyed the Firemans seat. What a beautiful engine. We arrived at Shenton in good time and uncoupled from the train before running into the loop for layover. The train then left at 11:30am behind 5521. This layover again gave us time for a cuppa' and a chat. Our full english had been ordered from the Griddle Car and would be with us when 3803 turned up at 12:20.
A Black Five at Shenton
As we chatted the "5" sat quietly simmering away. We only added coal to odd patches when required to prevent blowing off but also to keep the fire going.
Mr Britt (our driver) is an avid LMS man though favours the slightly larger Jubilee, which employs 3 cylinders and 6ft 9" driving wheels, compared with the Black Five's 2 cylinders and 6ft driving wheels. He insisted that nothing would compare to the 'Jub's "Bahamas" and "Kolapur" but, by the end of the day, he had definately warmed to the idea of the Black Five and seemed to be quite in love with her, as myself and Dave were.
Our Driver: Mr Britt
Talking of Black Fives, for your information, they were quite a notable class. Designed by William Stanier they were a powerful mixed traffic 4-6-0 known as the 5MT type. As they wore Black livery and were often dirty they became known as the Black Five; a name which seemed to stick with them forever. In total, 842 of the type were built at various works between 1934 and 1951. This particular engine (No45379) was built in July 1937 at the works of Armstrong & Whitworth in Newcastle. She was withdrawn in 1965 and went to Barry Scrapyard. After changing hands in preservation a few times it found its way to the Mid Hants and returned to steam in September 2010. Since then she has visited the Churnet Valley and Avon Valley railways and will also be heading off to the West Somerset after her visit to Shackerstone ends. With a 225psi boiler and 18" cylinders she is a bit of a brute and steams beautifully. 
The Happy Team: Driver John Britt & Fireman Sam Brandist (D Hanks)
Anyway, back to us, the 38' arrived on time and we departed at 12:30, after quickly stuffing down our breakfast.
Back at Shackerstone we took water before hitching up the waiting 13.55 freight departure. The 38' turned up on time and as soon as we got the 'Right Away' off we went, with me firing and Britt driving. I fired the 28ft-square grate using a thin technique though also putting the odd extra shovelfull in the back corners. She steamed very well, blowing off as we pulled over the cross-over with 4/5 of a glass in the boiler. We barked out of Shackerstone with the lengthy freight before continuing out into the countryside. The "5" steamed easily and I continued to fire with the doors wide open and the small flap up, with the odd shovelfull being thrown over the flap when required. She held 210-220psi all the way with the injectors being used regularly. At Shenton we had another layover before returning on the 3:15 passenger, which I fired again. Once again, the Five steamed brilliantly: a gorgeous machine. Back at Shackerstone we had another layover, taking part in 'Driver for a Tenner' duties. Our final departure was at 4:45pm (the last trip of the gala), wearing the "Thames-Clyde Express" headboard.
A Tad Off Course: The Thames-Clyde Express at Shenton
At Shenton we ran straight round before departing on time for a good run back.
I must admit that alot of my photographs taken during the day were simply of the Black Five...just for the sake of it! ;)
A Round of Applause Please For Stanier's Black Five!
After arriving back safely we headed back into the shed with the 5MT, before cleaning down and disposing. We then signed off after a fabulous day to remember on 45379. Time for a beer! Well thats another ambition fulfilled. The Black Five is probably one of the only locomotives that I desperately wanted to have a go on, whereas others are mostly progression I guess. She was worth the wait: brilliant. On another positive note, extreme congratulations must go to my friend Dave Hanks who happily passed his firing exam, becoming Shackerstone's newest fireman. Well done mate. Dave has been training for a few years now on a variety of locomotives and mostly with myself & Eddie as booked crew. We always knew it would happen :)
Fireman Dave Hanks On A REAL Engine
 All in all a fantastic weekend at Shackerstone but I am so tired! It was all worth it though, of course it was. Thank you to everyone who was involved in the event, thank you to all the passengers who attended to make the event a success and of course thank you to you; the reader; who makes writing this continuous stream of complete dribble worthwhile ;) . Cheers guys - another one done. Sam.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep dribbling! We readers love it!

Anonymous said...

Agreed! Well done Sam on an ambition fulfilled. As a Midland Railway fan, I do have to agree with you on the Black 5 being one of the ultimate steam locomotives!

Anonymous said...

Nice pics sam , do come to Rudyard Lake for our September Steam gala , plently to wet your apitite.

Anonymous said...

Nice pics sam , do come to Rudyard Lake for our September Steam gala , plently to wet your apitite.