The first run of Stanier's rebuilt 4-6-0 No 46100 Royal Scot on the Torbay Express was not to be missed, and at 7 am Bristol Temple Meads station was bathed in beautiful sunshine.
We made a punctual and steady start along towards Bath, my first time with steam, and reached 55 at Keynsham and 56 before the Twerton tunnels. After Bath we turned south into the beautiful Avon valley and reached 57 under the Dundas Aqueduct and continued in the 50s until the Bradford on Avon stop. Our progress via Trowbridge was more leisurely and we were five minutes late into Westbury.
Out on the main line the running was brisker, reaching 51 by Clink Road junction and running on in the 60s, apart from a drop into the 50s as we approached Brewham summit. Then we were into the 70s soon after Bruton and through Castle Cary with a maximum of 74 around Charlton Mackrell. Speed slackened as we approched Taunton but we still arrived twelve minutes early.
We had expected that on leaving, No 46100 would put on a sprint ready for Wellington bank, but not so. 49 was the maximum we managed after Norton Fitzwarren and then our speed dropped right away to 39 at Wellington, 35 at Westwood and 18 at Beam Bridge. We came to a halt at Sampford Arundel. After a pause for a blowup we set off very surefootedly, entering Whiteball Tunnel at 13 and leaving at 21. Then we roared downhill in the 60s and 70s, reaching 76 at Tiverton Junction and not slowing until after Stoke Canon.
We were 12 minutes late through Exeter and reached 57 at Exminster bbut then our passage along the coast was designed for sight seeing rather than speed enthusiasts, with a maximum of 60 at Dawlish Warren. We were 13 minutes late through Newton Abbot at 25 mph, but then accelerated to 46 at Aller Junction, and our speed over the top only dropped to 36. Arriving 14 late in Paignton we took on the local crew who nursed the Scot expertly up to Churston without a slip.
After watching the shunting at Kingswear I took a ride on the local service back to Paignton. Sitting in the Devon Belle observation car with No 7827 Lydham Manor barking up the bank only feet from your face was a knockout!
On the return with the Scot, the 1 in 50 climb from Torre was at a minimum of 18 but the speeds round the coast to Exeter were only in the 40s and low 50s. This performance continued until we were looped at Tiverton Junction to let past the trains we were delaying. The stop must have helped the crew bring the boiler round,, as we topped Whiiteball at 40 and then whizzed on to Taunton in the sixties,,hitting 70 a couple of times. Despite this we were soon advised that the loco's problems were not over: it had been declared a failure and a diesel loco was to be brought a couple of miles from Fairwater yard. By this time we were an hour late and I had a four hour drive home to follow, so I jumped on an XC HST and reached Bristol in half an hour.
I love the Scot and she has had some good runs, but overall this was not one of them. I hope that, whatever its problems may have been, they get sorted soon and she does better on the next two Torbays.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures