The Talisman was one of the iconic East Coast steam flyers of the 1950s and 60s and, thirty years later, was adopted by the A1 Trust as the name for its annual fundraising steam run from London to Darlington. The Trust is 25 years old this year, so The Silver Jubilee Talisman was marketed as something very special.
Sadly there was nothing to be jubilant about in the schedule. Nothing like the original back in the day, and very little like the pacy schedules Graeme used to prise out of Network Rail for special runs in the late ‘noughties’.
So we ambled north from Kings Cross, stopping once for passengers and twice for signals, with 72 through Hatfield the only highlight. On restarting from Langley Junction however the A1 at last had a chance to show her paces. We reached 76 just after Hitchin, 74 at Arlesey, 74 at Biggleswade, 72 at Sandy another 76 through the Offord curves and reached the Holme water stop in even time start to stop.
The climb from Peterborough really only began at Helpston Junction but we reached 62 at Essendine before slowing a little into Stoke tunnel. Out at 66, we reached 75 before the brakes went hard on for us to crawl through the loop at Grantham for no apparent reason. Then a short sprint, reaching 75 before our next splash at Claypole. Another sharp getaway saw us reach 75 at Gamston and continue around the limit right through Retford and Bawtry to the outskirts of Doncaster, through which we then crawled again. We reached Fenwick at 70 and hit 75 shortly after Temple Hirst Junction, continuing thus right through to Copmanthorpe on the outskirts of York.
Of the following run along the racing stretch to Darlington there is little to say as we moseyed along the slow line in the fifties, only remembering who we were with a brief 67 at Eryholme Junction. Another spurt after Newton Aycliffe saw us reach 72 at Tursdale Junction and 76 in the dip at Sunderland Bridge. The climb to Durham slowed our 13 coaches to 65 but we then had a fast run down through Chester le Street (76) slowing only as we reached Birtley.
The return run from Newcastle was very disappointing, with two long pathing stops and a maximum of 65 until just before Darlington, when we managed a spurt up to 72 into the dip at Croft Spa. We only breached 70 once more before Danby Wiske, followed by another dreary plod down the slow lines.
Over an hour from Darlington to York is rubbish by any standard, especially for those of us who remember that glorious run with Bittern. The silver jubilee of the A1 Trust would have been the ideal opportunity for Tornado to put ‘over 90’ onto the books officially, but it was sadly missed. Is there really no more excitement before the P2 arrives?
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures