For the first time an A1 Pacific was setting out for the farthest reaches of the old GWR, to coincide with a visit to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. Out of Paddington we were up to 55 by Old Oak Common, 60 by Acton Main Line and 70 by Ealing Broadway. We stormed on in the mid to high 70s through Slough and Taplow, passing Maidenhead within even time at 76. Despite slowing severely from Sonning, we came to a stand in Reading 16 seconds inside even time from Paddington, start to stop. The running to our next stop at Newbury was also lively: 49 at Southcote Junction, 60 at Calcot, 67 at Theale and 70 at Upton. This speed was maintained until Thatcham when we began to slow for our water stop. Afterwards we were up to 66 by Hungerford and 70 by Bedwyn and cresting the summit at Savernake at 69. We quickly flew up to 75 at Wootton Rivers and after a severe speed restriction through Pewsey we were back up to the mid 70s by Patney. On we pressed, passing Clink Road Junction six minutes early, topping Brewham summit at 64, hurtling through Bruton at 77 and Castle Cary at 76, then passing Taunton eight minutes early. After 52 at Norton Fitzwarren and 65 at Wellington we entered Whiteball tunnel at 47. Within three miles of the exit we were up to 76, and continued in the 70s until Rewe, where we started to pick up signals on approach to Exeter Riverside, our next water stop. Another piece of epic running by Tornado. We reached 66 by Exminster but moseyed all along the Dawlish sea wall at about 60 before being held at Newton Abbot for other trains to pass. From that standing start we reached 44 by Aller Junction but the climb of Dainton brought us down to 20 on entering the tunnel. Through Totnes at 58 the Rattery bank also took its toll, causing us to slow down to 19 at Tigley before recovering to 42 at Rattery and 50 at Wrangaton. We enjoyed a final hurtle down Hemerdon, reaching 76 before slowing for the approach to Plymouth. From there on I confess I was more interested in looking out of the window at the Tamar estuary, the magnificent Brunel bridge at Saltash and the beautiful Cornish scenery, last seen 37 years ago. Clearly Tornado was still performing splendidly on the twists and turns, ups and downs, viaducts, cuttings and tunnels of the wonderful Cornish railway, but I sat back and enjoyed the spectacle (and the amazing soundtrack) rather than recording all the figures for posterity - sorry! All too soon we were at Penzance, then heading back to London behind a freight diesel, so all there was to do was to eat, drink and reflect on another exceptional 'first' with Tornado.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures