George Hinchcliffe, who died late last year, was one of the pioneers and stalwarts of British steam preservation. Right hand man to Alan Pegler in preserving Flying Scotsman, he will be best remembered by many northern fans as the supremo of Steamtown Carnforth in the halcyon days of the 1970s and 80s.
So it was fitting that his memorial special should be one of the new Winter Cumbrian Mountain express series, with scheduled loco Stanier Black 5 4-6-0 No 45305 joined by sister loco No 44932, a long standing member of the Carnforth stable. They took 13 ex-BR coaches from Carnforth over Shap to Carlisle, then back south over George's beloved Settle - Carlisle line.
They made a rousing start from Carnforth, reaching their maximum of 60 mph by Burton & Holme and maintaining speed around this figure until the start of the climb to Grayrigg. Still blasting through Oxenholme at 47, they powered on up the hill in the 40s, speed only dropping to 39 just before the summit. Back at their maximum through the Lune gorge, they tackled Shap with similar vigour. 50 at Greenholme, 42 at Scout Green and 35 at Salterwath were respectable figures, and they went over the summit at 31 before a rollicking run at maximum speed all the way down to the outskirts of Carlisle.
Returning over the S&C, they blasted out of Appleby to reach 58 at Great Ormside, but then slowed to only 38 at Kirkby Stephen and 33 at Birkett. Then, amazingly, they accelerated up the 1 in 100, reaching the mid forties and maintaining this right up Mallerstang, dropping only to 41 just before the summit.
On their final climb from Whalley to Wilpshire, they crossed the viaduct at 42 then plugged away through Langho in the mid thirties, only dropping below 30 near the top of the climb with a minimum of 27.
So ended a fine day out with two impressive engines on excellent form with a full train of 13 coaches over two of the best lines in Great Britain. George would have been happy, and proud.
Categories & Keywords
Keywords:44932, 45305, Black Five, George Hinchcliffe, Settle, Shap