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Steam traction was eradicated on British Railways in August 1968. Gone with regret and steam was dead! But was it really?
In our "Steam Still at Work" series of films (formerly called "Return to Steam") we discover that steam never really went away during this period which lasted until the "Return to Steam" tours in October 1971 when steam officially returned to BR with 6000 "King George V". There are six volumes in total covering these often forgotten (but historically significant and fascinating) times of over 40 years ago when main line steam was supposed to be banned.
In this second part, we cover 1968 to 1969 and include some preserved railways that started running in those years. Their early preservation scenes contrast starkly with what we see today! From 1968 to 1971, 4472 "Flying Scotsman" was the only steam locomotive permitted on the main line (due to a unique contract negotiated with BR by Alan Pegler) and so we feature a number of its tours. Yes, it had two tenders!
We begin, on 11th.August 1968, with that last steam hauled train on BR, the "15 Guinea Special" seen on the Settle & Carlisle along with views of the last steam locos at Carnforth. The latter include the locomotives used on the last train plus some now preserved. In the Autumn 1968 we visit the Severn Valley Railway and Keighley & Worth Valley Railway for early preservation scenes plus 4472 on the ECML. Next, a maritime interlude for rare footage of paddle steamers on the BR owned Humber ferry. BR still employed firemen... on these steamers!
Then to the Wallingford & Cholsey line for steam with the GWSs 1466 & auto-trailer. A visit to the Longmoor Military Railway at Liss before it closed for views of blue-liveried 0-6-0ST "Errol Lonsdale" and 2-10-0 "Gordon" in use on service trains. At Tyseley Open Day we see "Clun Castle" and "Kolhapur" on shuttles with 4472 arriving on the main line (I was there!). Count the number of steam whistles on display!
A short trip to France, where steam was still in everyday use, to see SNCF 141Rs on rail tours and service trains. Back to the UK for 4472 on the "Yorkshire Harvester" train from Kings Cross to York and a visit to the old York Museum. At Bath Road Depot Open Day, we see steam visitors & electric loco AL4 E3044! We next visit Bulmers at Hereford to see newly restored No.6000 "King George V" pulling their Pullman train up & down the lengthy sidings. Then off to Bury depot for 5596 "Bahamas" and, despite the ban, its transfer trip (in steam with no diesel pilot) along BR lines to a new home at Dinting!
We visit Northamptonshire for the industrial workings in the quarries and the steelworks at Corby. Some special trains feature including a wagon train of enthuiasts. I bet they were cold!
Then more early views in 1968 of the KWVR and the Bluebell Railway. These are such a contrast to today. At Bressingham Gardens, a "caged" 70013 "Oliver Cromwell" is seen giving cab rides plus scenes of the narrow gauge lines there. More 4472 tours include the Midland (in the snow), ECML, Ely & March. At Finsbury Park Shed, the narrator (Colin White) is seen cleaning 4472s nameplate!
Finally a few visits in 1969 to Dinting, the KWVR (for a glimpse of unrestored 46115 "Scots Guardsman" before its transfer to Dinting), the Bluebell Railway for restored "Earl of Berkeley" and lastly to the newly reopened Dart Valley Railway for auto-train workings of "engine in the middle" (i.e. two 2autocoaches-pannier-2 autocoaches).
Cover Photo:- Colin White, Fairburn 2-6-4T No.2085 at Haverthwaite, L&HR.
Part one of the series can be found here:
Steam Still At Work (after August 1968) Part 1
Buy both Part 1 & Part 2 together and get Part 1 for £14.99 inc VAT!
All text is © Wolverton Rail
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