Saturday, 26 January 2013

An Audience With The King...A Royal Occassion...

Hi guys. This morning, in the snow, I drove to Quorn & Woodhouse station, on the Great Central Railway. It was the railways annual Winter Steam Gala, which had begun yesterday and would run until tomorrow. I only attend one gala per year religiously...this one. I've been coming to this gala annually for a few years now and it never fails to deliver. This years star locomotive was none other than the regal King: No6023 "King Edward II". The King's were the biggest GWR Class of 4-6-0 and were extremely powerful, employing four cylinders to create 40,000 pounds of tractive effort. With 250psi boilers they were good steamers but the firebox was very long and thin. "KE2" was built in 1930 at Swindon and was withdrawn in 1962, later ending up in Barry Scrapyard, alongside also preserved sister No6024 "King Edward I". The loco went through a very labour intensive overhaul following removal from Barry and was dubbed a huge restoration achievement. Released in April 2011, the blue King suffered terrible boiler problems following running-in on the Mid Norfolk Railway. The remainder of the rectification work was recently completed at the GCR's Loughborough sheds, and the regal King had her steam test this Thursday...just in time for the gala. At around 10:40am, we were treated to an audience with the King as she departed Quorn for Leicester North. What a beautiful machine and a wonderful preservation achievement...
As well as the beautiful Blue King, there were SEVEN other locomotives in steam. One of them, regrettably, was the GWR 2-8-0 No3803: freshly removed from Shackerstone. The loco was planned to stay at Shackerstone until just after our March steam gala. However, when the GCR asked, Shackerstone obliged and 3803 was duly shipped off. The big 2-8-0 will not be returning to the railway following this gala. Instead, she'll be going straight back home to the Buckfastleigh based South Devon Railway. We've had a great 2 years working with 3803; firing and driving something big for a change. However, all good things must come to an end and we must look to the future. I did catch one last brief ride behind her: from Quorn to Loughborough aboard the local train...
In addition to the King and 3803, the other six locomotives in steam included:
* 2-6-0 Standard 2 No78019
* 2-6-0 Ivatt 2MT No46521
* 2-8-0 LMS 8F No48624
* 4-6-0 SR N15 No777 "Sir Lamiel"
* 0-6-0 Class 3F Jinty No47406
* 0-6-2 N2 Class Tank No1744
The locomotives were all pretty clean and sounded brilliant. The King in particular was amazing to ride behind. I caught her from Loughborough to Rothley and, though you felt tremendous acceleration, she hardly made a murmour once linked up. The bark when getting away was amazing mind! I would really love to see that enigne on the main line. Once at Rothley I made my way to the favourite location for photography: the embankment. From here you can watch all of the trains that arrive and depart. With snow on the ground you could certainly get some brilliant photographs. Below, 78019 barks away with the Windcutters...
With 78019 having departed, 3803 was released from Rothley Brook yard and ran wrong-line to Swithland. It was so weird seeing her somewhere else as she has been based at Shackerstone for two years...
The N2 arrives with a train for Leicester North...
The red 8F clanks in light engine...
The big blue King departs for Quorn...with a beautiful bark...
The traditional Booking Office at Rothley Station...
I departed Rothley aboard another Local Train, hauled by the red 8F. I did not travel to Leicester North today as all of the real action was on the double track section of the line. The loco was looped at the recently opened Swithland sidings, allowing the 'Express' trains to pass - as per typical main line standard. The N2 came tearing past with an express as we sat aboard the 4-coach local...
Below, 48624 makes beautiful music from her chimney as we accelerate from Swithland towards Quorn...

After steaming back to Quorn I left the train and watched a few trains pop through the platform. Below, the King prepares to depart Platform 2 with a Loughborough train. At one point it didn't look like her chimney would clear the bridge!...
The relatively recent Quorn turntable was in use once again during this gala. LMS 8F No48624 stands grandly on the turntable below. The gasps of fright from the crowd as the locomotive banged its way onto the turntable were quite memorable. The GCR rep with the microphone kept on reassuring everyone that this was "completely normal"!...
As the sun began to dissapear the day grew colder and I spotted 3803 one more time, showing off her Great Western bark to the Leicestershire air - just a few miles away from Shackerstone!!
With the 38' having departed there was a brilliant, spark-ejecting TPO run through Quorn behind 78019. The TPO was my last spot and so I jumped back into the Saxo after another brilliant GCR Winter Gala visit. I'll be back again next year I'm sure. Cheers guys. Sam.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Sam Brandist said...
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anthony.williamson77 said...

Went on the Sunday was a great gala.Next week it a trip on the Cumbrian Mountain Express behind 60009 Union of South Africa.

Regards
Anthony Williamson