The National Railway Museum at York has imported many locomotives and rolling stock of all types for its major Railfest 2012 in the South Yard. Whilst keen enthusiasts will applaud the promotion of the railways to a wider audience, they wonder how they can get their pictures without being overwhelmed by ordinary punters wanting to inspect the hardware at close quarters. Hence I seized on the offer of a restricted event where, in exchange for a hefty additional fee, one would be competing with a maximum of 399 other snappers.
So I arrived just before 6.30 pm for this session, where the sun was still shining strongly from the west. Cloud gathered during the evning, solving some problems and creating others. I decided in the limited time to restrict my attention mostly to the standard gauge steam exhibits, where there was indeed plenty to go at. Four LNER-designed Pacifics and two LMS ones headed the roster, but there was plenty more to interest the visitor.
First encountered were Tornado and Sir Nigel Gresley, soon followed by the railway star of the Diamond Jubilee pageant on the Thames the day before, the LMS Pacific Princess Elizabeth. Next encountered was the NRM flagship Mallard, perfectly positioned in the evening sunshine with the LNER dynamometer car behind it. Then came LMS Jubilee 4-6-0 Bahamas, etched in the memory of north-west enthusiasts from its Dinting days, and much missed. Its paint job now aged over the last 20 years, it looked just like the Millhouses, Holbeck and Kentish Town Jubilees I grew up with in the 1950s. Next came the engine I first saw as No 60103 on the South Yorkshireman at Sheffield Victoria, the ill-fated Flying Scotsman. In its matt black paint job and unfamilair number, it is clearly some way from completion as its rods were missing, but at least we could see it!
All the time I had been walking round, I had kept glimpsing a fine sight, but had not managed to find the right camera angle to capture its full crimson and gold majesty. The restreamlined LMS Princess Coronation Pacific Duchess of Hamilton looked most impressive with its matching Coronation Scot coach, and I set out to capture its various aspects and moods, waiting patiently for many of the 399 to allow me a clear view.
There were many other treasures to enjoy, but all too soon the light was goingand the time was running out. What was my highlight of the evening? None of the many distinguished visitors: it was joint top place to the NRM's own top stars, Mallard in glorious sunshine, and Duchess of Hamilton, its beautiful golden stripes picked out by the setting sun. If we must have a crimson Duchess, let it be sleekly and sturdily streamlined, with its golden rays highlighting its massive grace!
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures