1st & last


‘The present now Will later be past’ …’ for the times they are a changin’ – these words were being sung by Bob Dylan, at a time, when I was a fireman on engines like these two ‘big beasts’ of the main line, the Pacifics, Bulleid’s in my case, on the LSWR routes to Weymouth and the West Country. In a curious way this photograph blurs the lines between past and present.

The class, to which the pilot engine would have been allocated, began construction in 1945, the train engine, No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester, was constructed in 1954. However, the pilot engine was actually put into traffic in 2008, not a rebuild of some scrapyard hulk, but a brand new, from the nuts up locomotive, albeit to the 1945 design by AH Peppercorn, with a few added mods to improve efficiency, safety and comply with current regulations.

No. 71000 Duke of Gloucester was not only rebuilt from a hulk but a hulk with some important bits ‘cut off’ by the gas axe, before her rescuers arrived.  Like No.60163 Tornado, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, picked up some ‘mods’ which made her more efficient and improved her performance – you might say, that in the Duke’s case, ‘the past now has been made present’. Though in typical fashion, for all things railway, both locomotives are currently inactive, No. 60163 Tornado is under going a major overhaul and will be back. No. 71000 needs major repairs and her future is somewhat less than assured – maybe she’s on someone’s letter to Santa and the money and manpower will ride to her rescue – again.

There’s even a past present link to the location of the photograph. The site is Summerseats viaduct which was a popular photographic location alongside the East Lancashire Railway between Summerseats and Ramsbottom. However, the site has now become so overgrown that the shot of the locomotives on the viaduct has gone, all that remains is the very tight head on shot. You can just see the viaduct safety rails below the exhaust from No.60163 Tornado.

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