Deja vu on the Scottish Lowlander 27 September 2014
In September 1964 all the remaining Stanier Duchess Pacifics were withdrawn. The last survivor, No 46256 Sir William A. Stanier FRS, was chosen by RCTS to work a final commemorative railtour from Crewe - Carlisle - Edinburgh - Glasgow - Carlisle - Crewe. The tour also featured A4 Pacifics Nos. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and 60009 Union of South Africa for the Scottish portion of the tour.
Today, fifty years and one day later, RTC and WCRC went to considerable efforts to operate a repeat tour. No 46233 Duchess of Sutherland was a worthy substitute for No 46256, and No 60009 appeared again for the Scottish section. With the Waverley route closed and Edinburgh Waverley station allegedly full with Ryder Cup specials, the route was different through Scotland, but still included the Caledonian and Glasgow and South Western cross-border routes with a tour of South Glasgow in between.
Leaving Crewe just after 6 am, The Duchess started gently with its 12 coaches and a dead Class 47, not reaching 60 until the Weaver Navigation, and passing Warrington at only 62. This speed was not exceeded before Preston, but it was only on the racing stretch to Lancaster that the penny dropped that it was being held in check, doubtless due to the axlebox problems for which it was soon to receive attention. It reached 54 at Barton and Broughton and maxima of 65 around Bilsborrow. Lancaster was passed in another burst of 65 mph, in over 24 minutes for the 20 miles from Preston. It remained in the sixties until Hest Bank where it began to slow for the Carnforth water stop, where the Class 47 came off.
Heading north again, 57 at Milnthorpe was the highest speed reached before the climbing started. Oxenholme was passed at 41 and the climb to Grayrigg was mostly in the 30s, with a minimum of 30 at the top. 63 was the highest speed along the Lune Gorge and only 61 at Tebay where the climb to Shap began. 50 at Greenholme, 41 at Scout Green, 32 at Salterwath and 25 at Shap Summit were far below usual form for the Duchess. We ran down to Carlisle consistently between 55 and 65 all the way.
Here the A4 was waiting on the centre road, several hundred photographers grappled for a view and eventually we set off nearly 15 minutes down. Speed rose quickly to 67 at Floriston and 71 over the Metal Bridge. We stormed through Lockerbie at 76 and still she flew, until hitting the bottom of Beattock bank at 65. Speed dropped to 40 by Middlegill and 26 at Greskine, continuing in the low 20s to the summit, reached in 19.5 minutes for the ten mile climb. Downhill the A4 showed what a greyhound she is, reaching 72 at Elvanfoot and a higher maximum at Crawford before being looped at Abington.
After the Carstairs water stop we ran briskly round the outskirts of Glasgow and down the coast to our water stop on the outskirts of Ayr, then inland to Mauchline where we joined the G&SW main line back to Carlisle. The Nith valley was beautiful in the autumn sunshine and the A4’s speed, though undramatic, was sufficient to get us back to Carlisle five minutes early after a splendid but all too brief visit to Scotland.
The two locos were excellently located side by side for photos, then the Duchess began the southbound climb. We reached 54 at Southwaite before being looped at Plumpton. Passing Penrith at 56, we briefly hit 60 before the serious climbing to Shap began: we stayed above 50 all the way to the summit, reached in just over 13 minutes from passing Penrith. Then we ran briskly down to Carnforth, braking a lot to avoid exceeding 61 mph.
Here we had an unadvertised treat to end the day. How often has a Jubilee been called upon down the years to substitute for a lame Duchess? Well tonight, No 45699 Galatea emerged from Carnforth shed in place of the Duchess, which was staying to have its axlebox issues attended to. We were up to 52 by Hest Bank and still at 52 through Lancaster. The climb out of the city temporarily winded the Jubilee and she was soon down to 38, but recovered to 61 at Bay Horse and continued thus to arrive in Preston within the scheduled time. Thereafter we dawdled for a while, with a brief 61 before Boars head and only 46 through Wigan. Then we began to fly! We reached our highest speed of the day between Golborne and Winwick, and had to slam the brakes on to go through Warrington Bank Quay at 72. Speed scarcely slowed in the climb to the Ship Canal, and our high speed running continued until after Winsford for a rousing finale to an excellent day.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures