The pioneer BR Class 7MT 4-6-2 No 70000 Britannia stood in on this Pathfinder excursion for Tornado (late returning from overhaul) but the Standard did not disappoint with its excellent performance, marred only by problems with a preceding steam train!
We were late away from Crewe as the late-running WCRC train was allowed to keep its path ahead of us. We passed Winsford at 66 and reached 74 before Weaver Junction: the rest of our first leg was slower but we did reach 71 at Euxton Junction. After taking water at Barton and Broughton loop north of Preston, we were back up to65 by Garstang and touched 70 before slowing for Lancaster. Flying past Carnforth at 64 we reached 74 before Milnthorpe and were still doing 51 as we passed Oxenholme.
Then our troubles began, with a succession of yellows from the train ahead, now headed by Jubilee 4-6-0 No 45699 Galatea. After crawling for several miles in the 20s, we had a short spurt up to Grayrigg, passed at 36. Further adverse signals plagued us as we descended into the Lune Gorge, with a maximum of 65 before passing Tebay at 49 as further signals at caution confirmed that Galatea was struggling. As we rounded the curve at Greenholme at 21 mph, we saw huge plumes of black smoke ahead, hanging almost stationary in the sky. We crept along behind, passing Scout Green at 21 and Shap Wells at 17, then barked away up the final stretch up to Shap Summit, reached at 26 mph. We flew down towards Carlisle, passing Shap Station at 65 and running down at over 70, with frequent brake applications, all the way to Carlisle where we took water on the goods lines at Upperby.
We ran briskly southwards to Appleby with speeds in the 50s most of the way and a 62 just short of Lazonby. Then came the main climb to Ais Gill, with no traffic ahead to impede us. We reached 45 at Ormside viaduct, 49 at Smardale, 38 at Kirkby Stephen and 40 at Birkett. After the tunnel we started to blast up Mallerstang, reaching 51 at one point and staying in the high forties to the summit, topped at 46 before a lively run down Ribblesdale.
Later, after passing Whalley at 25, we plugged up the hill past Langho at around 30, then up as high as 34 before entering the tunnel at 34 and passing Ramsgreave and Wilpshire station at 36. We were early out onto the main line at Farington Junction and stormed away, passing Euxton Junction at 61, Boars Head at 71, Wigan at 72, Winwick Junction at 76, Warrington at 72 and Acton Bridge at 73. With a 25 minute early arrival at Crewe, this was a rousing end to an excellent day behind a fine locomotive.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures