This day out from Crewe began with a bonus: the departure of Stanier Pacific No 46233 Duchess of Sutherland for an assault on Shap.
The main purpose though was to ride the spare Virgin Mark III set, known as the Pretendolino, on its final service, a tour of North Wales called the Welsh Warrior, in aid of theBritish Legion Poppy Appeal.
My Mark III first class carriage had the big comfortable seats, the wonderful matching windows and updated Virgin upholstery. Underneath however it was worn out, internal doors not working, couplings screeching and grinding, different from the thoroughly refurbished Mark IIIs elsewhere which are still the finest British carriages ever. And the boiler packed up after the first cup of coffee, so fruit juice and a fry-up with no toast or pastries was all we got for the rest of the morning.
However, we had a pleasant ride through Cheshire, with our two 37s taking us on the scenic route to Chester via Sandbach, Middlewich and Delamere , then along the North Wales coast to Holyhead, where the sun was blazing and we saw another rake of Mark IIIs on the WAG train. The return run was a smoother and faster ride with the Class 57 leading, but I had to bail out mid afternoon at Llandudno Junction and head home. At Crewe I found the remaining bits of the Pretendolino in a siding, at the end of an era.
So. Farewell Then Pretendolino
Never really a Virgin
But my friend Keith enjoyed the ride
And so did his Mum
In homage to E J Thribb (qv in Wikipedia)
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures