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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 these "Wilderness years" when main line steam was officially banned from British Railways after the end of steam in 1968. The ban ended with 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.
Here we follow how a typical enthusiast could find steam again, mainly in Great Britain. Its 11th August 1968 and we see Pacific 70013 "Oliver Cromwell" with that last BR steam hauled train on the Settle & Carlisle, followed by the last leg into Liverpool with Black 5 No.45110. Later the Pacific is seen running light engine to Norwich and into preservation at Bressingham (see Part 2 for footage there). Earlier in 1968, 9F 92203 is seen en route to Longmoor for preservation along with 75029. This was the first steam on the Southern since July 1967. At Woodhams scrapyard at Barry there are rows and rows of mostly now preserved steam. But at Cashmores none survived and at Cohens Yard, Kettering, the scrap man is busy with his cutter!.
However hundreds of engines could still be seen at work on industrial sites. We feature many scenes including unique Beyer-Garratt "William Francis" and 0-6-0STs fly-shunting at Hadley Colliery. We even see some ex-BR tank engines such as 3F 47745 at Williamthorpe Colliery and ex-GWR Panniers both at South Wales collieries and in daily use on London Transport. We visit Northern Ireland to see "Jeep" 2-6-4Ts on passenger and motorway construction trains.
Overseas also became a popular destination, especially when as close as Calais and Boulogne where Pacifics still hauled trains including the GOLDEN ARROW. There were years of steam traction left in Germany and most of Europe; even behind the Iron Curtain for the adventurous few. Further away was South Africa for main line double headers and Garratts!
In the UK, a few preserved railways had started up and there is rare footage of the early days on the Bluebell, Keighley, Middleton, Severn Valley and Dart Valley railways. Over on the Lochty Private Railway, we see A4 60009 "Union of South Africa" and a matching beaver-tail observation coach! We tour the various narrow gauge and miniature lines with a variety of scenes including a BR blue liveried Vale-of-Rheidol, the Talyllyn with "Dolgoch" and the Ffestiniog with "Prince" hauling trains.
Back on the mainlines, 4472 "Flying Scotsman" still had a further year to go before the start of its infamous USA trip and occasionally other preserved engines strayed on to BR tracks if you knew about it. Our series is an in depth look at all of this. Part 1 is only an introduction to memories of steam from over 40 years ago. We close with one of those "Return to Steam" specials in October 1971 with newly restored 6000 "King George V" hauling the Bulmers Pullman train , 4472 at Kings Cross and, for contrast, 45110 hauling last BR steam train on 11th.August 1968.
Please note this DVD was formerly called "Return to Steam Part 1".
It has been renamed and now has a different cover photograph but the content is mostly the same.
Cover Photo:- 3F No.47289 at Williamthorpe Colliery, May 1969.
Part two of the series can be found here:
Steam Still At Work (after August 1968) Part 2
All text is © Wolverton Rail
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