One might argue that this locomotive, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was the final outcome of the Locomotive Exchange Trials, held 70 years ago this month, so far as express passenger designs are concerned. In a class of one, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester, was, sadly, never entirely successful during her BR career, and gained a reputation for being heavy on coal and water, as well as being an indifferent steamer, at times. Her construction, at Crewe Works, in 1954, came at almost the same time as a number of major changes to the railway industry, which meant there was little enthusiasm to resolve the issues and less than a decade after entering service, in 1962, she was put out to grass.
Rescued from Barry in 1974 The Duke returned to steam on the Great Central Railway in 1986. The preservationists not only restored a locomotive thought to be beyond repair, by many, they also delved into the steaming and coal eating issues too. The subsequent modifications, especially to the draughting arragements, improved matters substantially. And some of her performances, during rail tour appearances, particularly on the Appleby – Aisgill climb and over Shap were a revelation.
No.71000 Duke of Gloucester is also the last engine I travelled behind, as an invited guest, on a tour in June 1990, over the Settle – Carlisle line. The occasion formed part of celebrations for the Middleton Railway’s 30 years in preservation. I recall spending some time, with my head out of the window, listening to the racket being made by The Duke – a very different sound to the Bulleid Pacifics I had worked on during my own footplate days.
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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751