Tag Archives: Ilfracombe

Going Wells


Once upon a time ago when the Oxenhope deviation was still a part of the L&SWR route to the West Country, we see Bulleid West Country Class 4-6-2, No.34092 City of Wells, coasting through a p-way slack approaching Haworth, with an Exeter – Ilfracombe service – yes I’m making it up. That’s the thing about ‘daydreams’, they’re not reality, they’re not meant to be – in this instance they’re not even in real space – only here, amongst the noughts and ones, in cyberland, where the Google knows all.

In reality, quite some years back, when the photograph this scan was taken from was taken, No.34092 City of Wells was, somewhat unusually, facing down hill towards Keighley, so, with the judicious use of the bridge and the line out of Haworth MPD, it was possible to make things look like a twin track main line route – but probably not Exeter – Ilfracombe, sadly.

The annual Winter Gala, at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is now only a couple of weeks away and the fresh from overhaul No.34092 City of Wells will be in ‘volcanic’ action, pleasing the crowds and upsetting the neighbours, probably. The real treat for me at the Winter gala will, however, be another freshly restored long time K&WVR resident, BR Standard Class 4MT No. 75078, an engine I worked on many times during her service days with British Railways Southern Region. One turn in particular stands out, the 04.40 Waterloo – Salisbury, ‘the Salisbury papers’. Not everyone’s favourite turn, starting time for the crew was to book on at Vauxhall at 03.43 and travel pass to Waterloo. No, the reason the turn stood out was that if I was with my regular mate, I almost always got to do the driving from Woking to Andover and these Standard Class 4s were regularly put to use on this duty.

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Once a Knight


The disc being carried by No.30777 Sir Lamiel, is probably meant to signify that she is hauling a stopping passenger service. In her Southern days it would have indicated something rather different. It could have indicated that No.30777 Sir Lamiel, was working Victoria – Dover via Chatham, a turn she would no doubt have been familiar with, or Woking – Reading via Virginia Water west curve, a route she might have taken less often, or even Exeter Central – Ilfracombe, amongst several other possible routes. The essential thing, I suppose, is that the disc gives the signalman important information about the train, just as the tail lamp, or lack of one, does.

No. 30777 Sir Lamiel is part of the National Collection and is, as a result, in the custody of the National Railway Museum. In practice however, she is cared for, on a day to day basis, by the 5305 Locomotive Association at Loughborough. No.30777 Sir Lamiel is also part of the pool of engines certified for use on the main line and has, over many years, put in some fine performances, particularly on the Settle – Carlisle route and her old stamping grounds on the LSWR routes from London Waterloo to Weymouth via Southampton or Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury, both routes I know from my own footplate days.

For most of their independent existence the Great Western and the London South Western / Southern Railway were bitter rivals in almost everything from the carriage of Atlantic Mails, to milk traffic and summer specials full of holiday makers. Having worked for BR Southern region I know a little about this rivalry at ground level,  so there’s always this little frisson when I see sights like one in the photograph, Southern engine, chocolate and cream rolling stock, and on GW metals. However, Sir Lamiel, or to give him his full title Sir Lamiel of Cardiff, obviously had some GWR in his veins, as he  does look quite at home with the rake of GWR stock, approaching Leigh Lane crossing on the West Somerset Railway between Williton and Crowcombe Heathfield.

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