Ton ups – then & now

Like many of you, I dare say, I watched the programme about No.60163 Tornado doing a ton on the ECML, and, for the telly, it wasn’t a bad effort. By coincidence the programme was broadcast exactly 52 years after my own ton up moment on the LSWR main line on the night of May 15th 1965, with locomotive No.35005 Canadian Pacific.

The first, and probably most notable difference was there was no day long fitness to run exam;  No.35005’s exam was made by the driver in the course of oiling up. There were no special preparations of any sort, it was a regular turn, the 21:20 Waterloo – Weymouth mails. Driver, Gordon Hooper, wasn’t my regular mate and he never said a word about record setting or doing the ton – we did both.  However, some things were very similar, both engines rode well at speed and though I didn’t have a second fireman, I did have Inspector Brian Smith working the fire doors for me.

There wasn’t an invited audience, Press pack, or camera crew but, there were a number of performance loggers riding in the train; no GPS either, back then, it was all done with stop watches, tablets were what the bobby or the doctor gave you. We didn’t get three chances to reach the ton, just the one before we had to slam the brakes on to stop at Winchester.  By this point we were less than half-way through our working day. We worked the train forward from Winchester to Southampton where we were relieved – and then worked back to Waterloo. Just another day at the office – well not quite!

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

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