Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Castle To The Seaside: The Llandudno Adventure...

"Under The Wires, Returning Home" (Pic - T.Massey)
Hi there everyone. Today involved another Tyseley outing. This time our destination was the Welsh seaside resort of Llandudno, up on the north-west coast. I arrived at the former 84E at around 5:30am, having collected the now traditional McDonalds breakfast on route. Stomach replenished and having changed into my overalls, I wandered down the yard to find 5043 crackling away at the back door. Preparations for movement were taking place on and about the locomotive and so I continued with my cleaning tasks from yesterday. A dust and polish of the running boards resulted in a very clean looking 5043 and at 6am sharp we rolled her over onto the waiting stock. The morning air was filled with damp as the 1936-built 4-6-0 edged carefully forwards, expelling reams of condensate from the steam circuit. Its amazing just how much condensation can collect in a lengthy circuit containing many yards of superheater elements. 5043 dropped down gradually to couple up to the GUV (water carrier) in readiness for our 6:30am departure for Wales. The Castle would be tailed by the Class 47 to aid turning at Chester...
These steam days out on the main line really are adventures in their own right and its always a pleasure to be involved in them. Departing Tyseley on time, the Castle strode easily towards St Andrews junction, no doubt being aided in the climb from the yard by the Class 47. You couldn't help but notice how smooth the Castle was in operation at speed when not having to work overly hard. However, starting at the climb up onto the Sutton Park line, the Castle got the bit between its teeth and from then on was working very hard. After a sprint along the usually freight only Sutton Park line, the Castle was held briefly outside Walsall before sneaking through the station...
"5043 Creeps Through Walsall" (Pic - J.Whitehouse)
Leaving Walsall behind, the Castle joined the route to Wolverhampton. The engine was under the wires from here until Crewe and put in a superb performance. It was amusing to watch several Wolverhampton residents running to the windows in awe to find out what was making such a row before 8am on a Saturday morning...
"Flying Along" (Pic - D.Chandler)
Leaving Wolverhampton, the Castle got back into her stride as she steamed towards Stafford. After Stafford came Searchlight Lane junction. This is part of a new formation designed to ease congestion at the crossing of the Crewe and Manchester main lines. The engine was certainly tearing along. At a good pace, the Castle continued towards an operational stop at Crewe...
"Searchlight Lane Junction" (Pic - J.Whitehouse)
Leaving Crewe, the engine then rushed towards Chester, free of the overhead wires until the return run later in the afternoon. Its hard to shake the thought of instant death (25kv) hanging only inches from the top of the cab! At Chester there was another operational move before the 47' took over the train. By traversing a triangle of running lines the Castle became the tail engine and the diesel took over the haulage tasks. The 47' would haul the train along the North Wales Coast line to Llandudno, with 5043 taking it easy at the rear of the stock. The reason for this operation was that usually the steamer would have to run further in the Holyhead direction in order to be turned and then return later on. Using the diesel allows the steamer to be the right way around in preparation for the return trip straight away. It was quite nice, if breezy, to be out today, waving at the countless individuals at the lineside who were not only surprised to see the 47' but then the valiant steam locomotive hanging off the back! We even enjoyed a whistle salute from a Barnes Atlantic standing proudly on the adjacent 15" gauge line at Rhyl...
"Diesel In Charge" (Pic - C.P.Hobson)
The diesel hauled the train easily to Llandudno Junction before crossing over onto the line to the town station - a further two or three miles from the junction. Our arrival at the seaside town was welcomed by a crowd of camera bearing onlookers. The Castle was photographed to within an inch of her life, whilst we amongst the Support Crew attempted to coal the tender with the various bags stored aboard the GUV. The coaling procedure is always hot & sweaty work as the dust finds its way to literally everywhere! With the coaling job complete, the engine continued to be admired before we departed back towards the junction. The engine would be watered here...
With the tender replenished with both coal and water we had the opportunity to explore the Victorian Festival around Llandudno. The town is pretty much overtaken by stalls, fairground rides, vintage vehicles and folks in period costume during this event. There were some lovely steam road locomotives around...
Standing in the hub of activity, next to its shed-mate steam carousel, was the Fowler Showmans Engine "Renown", built in 1920. This is an absolutely beautiful engine and it was a pleasure to see her generating quietly in front of crowds of excited onlookers. The engine is immaculately kept and is owned by the Howard family...
We had a bag of chips and then an ice cream. It was very pleasant to see the show and stroll on the promenade. I must admit, it really completed a great day out. I shouldn't wonder that our passengers found plenty to see & do...
Returning to the station, 5043 was still simmering away under the control of her main line crew. The engine would work the entire return journey back to Tyseley...
For the return journey I enjoyed the usual activities aboard the Support Coach: supping tea, joking around and generally putting the world to rights! One thing you always notice however is an underlying watchfulness amongst each and every member of the crew. If something is heard that is out of the ordinary, everyone seems to pick up on it all at once. The general welfare of the locomotive at the head of the train (in this case 5043) is never far from the forefront of everyone's mind...
"Through The Support Coach Window"
The return journey took the same route as the outward apart from adding an additional stop at Birmingham New Street. A steam engine emerging from the numbing gloom of the tunnels there always seems to stir up excitement amongst the waiting passengers of 'normal' trains. At 9:17pm we pulled right on time safely back into Tyseley...
The usual process then took place. The passengers alighted, the diesel (in this case the 47' and not the 08') shunt released the engine and then the Castle was turned on the table prior to disposal. Thus, once again, we came to the end of another fantastic day out. Its always an adventure with Tyseley and its a pleasure to be involved, helping on & around marvellous machines like 5043. The sight & sound of a main line express engine working hard with a real train on a real railway is something to behold. It was my dream to experience it and I'm proud to say its done. I must thank Tyseley for another great experience and of course the various photographers who have kindly sent in images for use in this seaside post. All the best, Sam...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really enjoy reading your blog - its really informative and your enthusiasm really comes through .

Sam Brandist said...

Thank you for your words and your comment :)

Choo Say said...

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