Saturday, 11 May 2013

Princess Coronation to Scarborough...

Hi guys. Today was a lovely day, and probably the best way to travel to any UK destination in fact. After travelling on the main line behind a few locomotives in the past, I'd decided that I'd sort of left the Duchess Pacific; which I have a huge appreciation for; out of the lime light. We normally travel with Vintage Trains Ltd which comes under the arm of Great Western supremo's Tyseley Loco Works. However, as the name suggests, Tyseley haulage is often Western which we have vastly enjoyed in the past. This year though I felt we should finally give the Duchess a try and I booked a table for two in Premier Dining aboard PMR's (Princess Margaret Rose Tours) "Yorkshire Coronation". PMR is the railtour arm which spans from the owners of the Duchess herself. The tour would take us from Leicester, diesel hauled by a lively Class 47, as far as Derby where the regal pacific would take over the train for a run via Chesterfield and York to the seaside town of Scarborough. The train picked us up from Leicester on time at 6:32am ("Yawn"!) and we were soon tearing through the countryside behind the 47...
We travelled in a BR Mk2 Dining Car which was beautifully furnished with the traditional large seats, table lamps and carpets. The 47 continued to pick up passengers at Loughborough and East Midlands Parkway, whilst the waiters began to serve tea in the dining cars. At Derby there was a 30-minute or so break in order for the Duchess to take up the head of the train. Taking a back seat on Derby platform to watch the Duchess, it is easy to appreciate the immense draw that steam has to the general public as many crowded around to see an LMS 4-6-2 in all its glory...
With the Duchess at the head of the train we departed from Derby on time and the diners were immediately served orange juice and cereal. The cereal was followed by a traditional Full English breakfast, served at speed as 46233 "Duchess of Sutherland" marched along the main line at 75mph. I was very impressed with the breakfast...
"Oh Yeah"
With breakfast finished we continued to enjoyed the seemingly endless cups of tea served by the staff of "The Gravy Train" catering company, who supply West Coast with all of their catering services. (West Coast is an operating company which performs the operational side of main line steam, working with companies such as PMR, VTL and the Railway Touring Company to name but a few). The Duchess seemed totally unhindered by the 12-coach load as she threw white steam over her shoulder and cruised mile after mile at speed. With Chesterfield behind us there was a water stop in a Goods Loop where a few passengers took the opportunity for a mid-morning snooze following the early start. Out of the loop the Duchess roared and back onto the main line on route for York. The big green pacific set down some passengers at York station under the impressive overall roof, before continuing out over the river and onto the Scarborough line. From here the Duchess was in her element again, cruising happily towards the seaside with barely a murmur from her chimney. The adoring crowds in the fields surprised many aboard the train as the camera's at each location were too many to count, such is the draw of main line steam. At Scarborough the Duchess enjoyed a well earned rest, arriving a minute or too early at just gone Midday...
Up close she is a very impressive machine and, as I said many times during the day, she is massive! Our Duchess was of course the only operational Duchess: No46233 "Duchess of Sutherland", out-shopped from Crewe in July 1938. She was estimated to cost £13,800 to build when completed at Crewe, a figure which looks almost miniscule when considering that her initial restoration cost £350,000! When she left BR service in February 1964, 46233 was initially saved by the Heads-of-Ayr holiday camp owned by Butlins, where she ended up on static display. The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust acquired the engine later in her preservation life and restored her to working order over a period of 5 years. She has been a popular main line performer and has even hauled the Royal Train twice since her return to steam. The loco has only left service during the 2011 season, and that was for a heavy overhaul, returning to work in March 2012. Long live 46233!...
"Royal Train Nameplate"
As far as the Princess Coronation Class is concerned, they really were beasts! Regarded as the most powerful locomotives ever built for the British rail network: producing 3300 horsepower: they were far more powerful than the diesels that replaced them. Walschaerts valve gear drove 4 cylinders with rocking levers to the inside pair, around huge driving wheels. They employed divided drive, with the inside cylinders driving onto the leading axle, and the outer pair driving onto the centre axle, all connected by the valve gear. Tractive effort was 40,000 and one Duchess even achieved 114mph. They were also fitted with coal-pusher tenders, with coal being forced down to the firing plate using steam power, allowing firemen to keep up with the 299 miles between Euston and Carlisle with Royal Scot trains. They were a hugely successful, and huge in stature, class of locomotive!...
Below, the 250psi boiler of the "Duchess of Sutherland" blows off into the Yorkshire air at Scarborough...
We left the Duchess at Scarborough Station and took a walk around the town and down to the seafront. It was a chilly day but its always nice to be beside the seaside...
Returning to the town from the low-level seafront, we took advantage of one of Scarborough's historic cliff railways. The central cliff lift took us back up to the town level for a gracious 75p!...
Back at Scarborough station the Duchess had been coaled, watered and turned in readiness for the return sprint, wearing her "Yorkshire Coronation" headboard proudly displaying the White Rose of the House of York...
Speaking to the driver at Scarborough he expressed that the Duchess was in immaculate condition both cosmetically and mechanically and went like a dream...no surprise really...
"A Big Lizzie At Scarborough"
We reboarded our Pullman Dining coach and enjoyed a drink...
The Duchess left Scarborough on time and raced towards York...
Best View on the Train
The evening meal was served once the train left Scarborough and included a fabulous soup, sumptuous duck & vegetables and a desert course of sticky toffee pudding followed by, yes you've guessed, a cup of tea!...
Below, we cross the river into York station and can see the Minster in the left foreground...
From York there was another water stop in the same loop before racing to Chesterfield and then back via Belper to Derby. The Duchess really did GO(!) on the way back. The pacific really did fly, mile after mile. This is why we pay the money for main line steam...its just fantastic sitting back with your meal in cosy coaches and enjoying the sound of an LMS pacific racing along the main line with 12 coaches behind her. All too soon we were back at Derby and the Duchess slipped away without a murmur as the sun began to set...
Sunset over Derby
With the Duchess gone we retraced our steps back to Leicester via the other joining stations, top & tailed by two Class 47's. It had been a fantastic day and I can thoroughly recommend PMR tours and any main line steam trip. The Duchess was in tremendous condition and went like a whippet with 12 coaches seeming no problem. A really good day. Click HERE to see a video of the Duchess southbound at Colton Junction taken by a line-sider. Thanks for reading guys...Sam...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Didn't it go like a limpet?!!

Anonymous said...

Didn't realise there was a turntable at Scarborough, that's good fortune!

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