Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Great Central's Winter Steam Gala...

Hi all. The Great Central Railway at Loughborough: being one of the bigger preserved railway players: holds their annual Winter Steam Gala at the end of each January. I attend every year as a good show is always on offer. For the 2014 event, I was joined by Eddie for the day and it was another enjoyable outing. The three-day event yet again boasted a fabulous roster. This year there were 10 locomotives on the bill, headlined by visiting BR Riddles 9F 2-10-0 No92214, of the NYMR. Joining the 9F were two other visitors: 0-6-2 56XX Tank No5643 and Hunslet Austerity No22. With the three visitors being joined by the seven operational locomotives of the home fleet, the event could offer a brilliantly intensive timetable and there was always something going on. An example of engines from each of the "Big Four" companies and even three Standard Class engines as well as an industrial seemed a mighty fine display! Myself & Eddie arrived at Quorn & Woodhouse station at just before 9am, with the first train due at about 9:10. We immediately purchased our tickets and joined the first standing-room-only train, hauled by 70013 "Oliver Cromwell". The noisy Britannia took us to Leicester North via Rothley, before returning us to Quorn. The attractive guide for the event was now our map for the day...
We hung around at Quorn station for a while as it is always a good place to catch the action. Trains were already passing through with only a few minute intervals between them. On this cold & windy morning, we were soon treated to the sight of the star engine: 92214. I don't think I'd ever seen a 9F in steam prior to this, and what a machine. Built by BR in 1959, the engine only worked for 6 years in service prior to retirement. This was obviously a criminal fact, but it happened with most of the Standards. 92214 was today looking resplendent in BR Black with Mixed Traffic lining. She now carries the inauthentic name "Cock O' The North" and of course the inauthentic lining as a 9F is truly a heavy freight engine. Indeed, the 'rivet counters' in the crowd were voicing their opinions: "its ridiculous", "its unnatural", "its silly". My reply: "well, its not that silly really, she looks very smart. Furthermore, if you own an immaculate 9F and operate it to a high standard, then its choice of name and livery should be yours". She looked lovely...
"9F 2-10-0 No92214 Cock O' The North"
After a noisy departure by 92214, the little GNR-liveried N2 0-6-2 Tank arrived. She was to be turned on the Quorn turntable as part of the demonstration. Carefully, she was edged onto the turntable...
The attractive engine was turned by her footplate crew with relative ease: once they got the weight moving!...
"A Good Fire in the Box of The N2"
A highly appreciated little tank engine: in my eyes anyway: is the well-kept 3F Class 'Jinty' No47406. I think myself & Eddie were eyeing up the 'Jinty' as the perfect engine for Shackerstone! The 'Jinty's are powerful, economical, easy to drive & fire and attractive...they have everything you need in a tank engine! 47406 was on her way to Rothley when I took this shot...
Having had a cuppa' at Quorn, we joined visiting 56XX No5643 aboard the 'Local Train' to Rothley only. The 0-6-2 was 'looped' at Swithland as a Leicester North bound express hauled by "Sir Lamiel" roared by. The 56' was, in the meantime, joined at the rear of her train by the N2, which tailed to Rothley ready to work the return leg of the 'Local'...
"5643 Is Uncoupled at Rothley"
Having left the 'Local' train at Rothley, we clambered up the station steps and across the road to reach Rothley Embankment. This is a popular spot for budding photographers as you can see the engines at work. The little green N2 put on a nice display leaving Rothley with the Loughborough-bound 'Local'...
With the line clear, the 'Duch-Eight' (an 8F in Express Passenger Red) No48624 was sent light engine towards Loughborough having brought up a freight train...
Below, BR Standard Class 2 No78019 descends into Rothley with a well-heated 6-coach train for Leicester North...
After watching a few more moves, including the 'Jinty' running light and a departure by "Oliver Cromwell" and 5643, we returned to the platforms. The 'Jinty' was waiting at the top end of the Loughborough-bound platform...
"Time for some tea & cake now". I think Eddie had queued from the outskirts of Leicester to reach the counter in Rothley!...
Having had our cake & eaten it, we caught the slightly late running next train to Loughborough, behind 777 "Sir Lamiel". Regular readers may remember that I had an exhilarating footplate ride on "Lamiel" a couple of years ago during a Winter Gala (see post). The King Arthur took us swiftly back to Loughborough and we arrived in good time to see 5643 at the head of a pretty, mixed freight...
Leaving 5643 awaiting the 'Right Away' in the Goods Loop, we walked down towards the locomotive sheds. "Sir Lamiel" was waiting near the shed area ready to be called for her next duty. Built by the North British Locomotive Company for the Southern Railway in June 1925, the Arthur worked until October 1961. It was never intended for immediate preservation, with sister locomotive "King Arthur" being the obvious candidate for the National Collection. "King Arthur" was kept in storage awaiting a preservation restoration but due to a subsequent lack of a Drummond-style water cart tender for her, she was duly scrapped. Preservation plans then turned to "Sir Lamiel" who has been part of the NRM's collection ever since, working both on preserved railways and main line tours. I must admit, it is a very attractive engine in its own way, and it looks beautiful in Southern green...
"King Arthur Class 777 "Sir Lamiel" of 1925"
Wandering past the tall 6ft 7" wheels of the Arthur, we soon reached the Empress Road bridge over the shed area. Just outside the bridge stood what would have been locomotive No10 in the service roster. However, due to a mudlid fault, Austerity No22 had been failed on the Friday and never made service during the weekend. This was a real shame for us industrial fans but the stricken locomotive did make a nice little sight in the yard...
"The One That Got Away - Austerity No22"
A rarity during a visit to the GCR nowadays, the shed was open for viewing. Due to a spate of thefts this area is usually closed off, and rightly so. However, today, with stewards on guard, we were allowed access to the shed as long as we gave a donation. There are many engines in the shed, all but one incomplete. The only complete locomotive, though out of ticket, is the wonderful NRM-owned GCR 8K/LNER 04 No63601: a venerable old freight engine. At the back of the shed was recently arrived Standard 2 locomotive 78018. Clearly the sister to GCR resident 78019, the engine is coming along nicely during her first restoration in preservation, with the majority of the work having been carried out already at a site in Darlington. The engine will be completed at the GCR and will remain to see out around 10 years work. The engine, formerly based at Shackerstone in the early preservation days there, will be a fine sight once completed...
"78018 - Getting There"
Elsewhere in the shed were various engines including an Austerity, 8F 48305, West Country "Boscastle", "Witherslack Hall", a Standard Class 4-6-0 and a very tired looking Black 5. Everything seems to be making slow but steady progress here. Through a crack in a partition door we spotted the Epping Ongar's Hall Class 4953 "Pitchford Hall", which is here for a swift but heavy overhaul. Whilst we were in the large shed, the heavens opened and the thunder, lightning and pouring hail and rain lashed down. It was quite a storm and we were lucky to be inside at the time. This change in the weather called for a second lap of the shed!...
When the rain eventually slowed up, we ventured back up towards the platforms and caught sight of 92214 again. "Cock O' The North" was at the head of the Windcutter Rake of Mineral Wagons: a once common sight on GCR metals. We later learned that 92214 was sold to the GCR on the approach to the weekend and will now remain here for the foreseeable future. A large and very powerful locomotive at Class 9, it was a pleasure to see her...
"The Power of Nine"
Myself and Eddie then caught the late-running 4pm train back to Quorn behind a fine sounding 5643. Leaving the train there, we watched a few more passes as we anticipated the Grand Finale, consisting of "Oliver Cromwell" and the TPO. Though she was late, she certainly did not disappoint and put on a fine display of acceleration and power. To see one of the many Youtube videos of the pass, click here. The engine certainly put on a good show and it was a great end to a grand day out. Cheers guys, Sam... 

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