The Tyseley team broke more new ground by taking their magnificent Castle 4-6-0 to Plymouth, hauling nine coaches solo over the Dainton, Rattery and Hemerdon banks. The train was diesel-hauled from Birmingham to Bristol Temple Meads, where No 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe took over at the head of the train.
The Castle got away very smartly, reaching 71 mph by Nailsea and continuing close to maximum speed all the way to the outskirts of Taunton, passed 7 minutes early. We reached 65 by Wellington and lost speed only slowly on the climb to Whiteball, entering the tunnel at a minimum of 50 mph. Due to the late arrival of the water bowser we were 17 minutes late away from Tiverton loop, and suffered further delays through Exeter. A brisk run along the Dawlish sea wall saw us reach Aller Junction at 65, at the foot of the climb to Dainton. The gradient took its toll but we managed to enter the tunnel at 36. We ran through Totnes at 57 and the climb of Rattery took us down to 34 at Tigley. We recovered to enter Marley Tunnel at 44 and exited at 36 after cresting the summit. We rattled down into Plymouth, arriving only ten minutes late.
Just before we began the return journey, the Castle had its blower full on and safety valves lifting as it prepared for the immediate climb to Hemerdon. The 1 in 42 took its toll, slowing us from 57 at Plympton to a minimum of 17 at Hemerdon. Then from Totnes at 57, the eastbound climb of Rattery brought us down to 30 at the tunnel entrance. The heavy climbing was over, and the Earl had acquitted itself well.
A minumum of 61 on the climb to Whiteball was followed by a rollicking ride down to Taunton, where a pathing delay lost us all the time we had made up, and more. But a last burst across the Somerset levels got us into Bristol only a few minutes late, after another triumph for Tyseley's Castle flagship.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures