Friday, 26 December 2014

Boxing Day With An Eight Freight...

Hi there all. Here's hoping you all had a great Christmas: ate too much, drank too much, watched several repeats of old comedy shows and so on. Today a few of us who operate the steam locos at Shackerstone went on a local outing to the 'railway over the hill': the Great Central. The GCR was running its Christmas Holiday Trains, with two locomotives in steam. Operating the normal train service was the affectionately dubbed 'Duch-Eight': an 8F in Duchess' clothing: No48624. The last surviving Southern built 8F, completed in 1943 at Ashford Works, 48624 wears a form of BR crimson livery, much to the upset of some die hard enthusiasts. However, if you own a loco you should be able to have it whatever colour you want! One of 852 members of the Stanier 8F Class, 48624 carries the unique pedigree of LMS performance and power. Stanier developed the eight no doubt from the GWRs own 2-8-0s, as he was a Swindon man initially. The LMS 8F turned out to be a brilliant performer and was heralded as the engine that helped win the war. They worked both at home and overseas during the conflict, and at least 15 are known to have found a place in preservation, whether straight from service with BR or following repatriation from overseas. We caught 48624's train at Quorn at 11:22, and rode the steam-heated stock to Leicester North, where the 8F duly ran round...
4ft 8.5" wheels, a 225psi boiler and 18.5" x 28" cylinders come together to provide an engine capable of churning out 32,440lbs of tractive effort, though that is interestingly 3000lbs less than the GWR 2884 class...
The locomotive is spotted here, having run round, drawing forward onto the waiting stock...
Another capture of 48624: the 'Duch Eight'...
Having recoupled to the stock, 48624 duly departed. These 8's do make all the right noises. As much as I like a Great Western beat, the Stanier's have a dull sound all of their own. They almost roar whereas the GWR type tends to bark. Riding back to Loughborough the 8F certainly got some chat on, a liberal 24.9mph me thinks. One thing you do notice quite characteristically with the 8's is that their snifting valves always rattle when shut-off. No doubt the engine would be in drift position on the screw reverser, but the snifters still chatter. You often tell an eight like that by sound. Having stuffed the face with a sausage, bacon and egg cob from the buffet car on the run, we left the train at Loughborough to have a wander around the yard. 48624 was just backing up having overshot the water column...
In the sidings at Loughborough there is always some interest. One engine that I always feel is unheralded in the preservation world is "Sir Lamiel": Southern Railway No777. Owned by the NRM and based at Loughborough, the 1925-built N15 4-6-0 always seems to live a quiet life, and today was spotted stood behind D123. Her huge 6ft 7" wheels must give her some real speed on the main, and I have footplated this engine in the past with the help of a GCR pass. Click here for that post...
Down outside the loco shed, cold and waiting for new tyres so we hear, was the impressive bulk of another NRM gem: 70013 "Oliver Cromwell". These Brit's are, to say the least, bloody big! Built at Crewe in 1951, 70013 would later gain fame hauling the last steam railtour for BR in 1968: the "Fifteen Guinea Special"...
Another shot of 70013 "Oliver Cromwell": an impressive beast...
Meandering your way around the various relics on the shed front is most enjoyable. As well as complete engines there are boilers galore, notably ones from West Country Pacific "Boscastle" and 8F 48305. After our wander we joined 48624 again with the 1pm departure from Loughborough, arriving at Quorn not long after, where I detrained...
It was a pleasant morning out on the GCR and now its off home for another Xmas party. Thanks to Pockets & Carl for the invite and thank you all for reading. All the best, Sam...

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