Tag Archives: No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland

Railway Royalty

In this photo of, No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland, she has just topped the climb out of Dunblane and is virtually coasting  through Blackford, heading for Perth. Strip out the head board and the beautifully done LMS in the buffers, this could quite easily be the last years of BR steam on the West Coast, before the wires went up. Some of the final duties these engines worked, over this route, were parcels and fish trains, a far cry from the Royal Highlander and further still from the Coronation Scot they were initially constructed to haul, though the Coronation Scot ran to Glasgow, not Perth and Inverness.

Somebody will correct me if I’m wrong but, I’m sure I’ve read somewhere, that back in the days, Perth men worked as far South as Crewe,  a duty which would have seen them tackling both Beattock and Shap; a real test of the fireman’s stamina and abilities. Having done a few years on the footplate of Bulleid’s Pacifics, including a run to Exeter and back from Waterloo, I know what it takes to keep one of these beasts of the main line steaming over long distances and at speed. Having said that, I always fancied having a go at firing a “Duchess” on a Crewe to Perth run, or even one of the Euston – Carlisle runs with the pre-war Coronation Scot – a 299 mile non-stop high speed journey. There’s a real sense of achievement in knowing your skills and effort provided the power to make this happen.

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

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.

 

 

 

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A little patch of blue

A patch of blue sky illuminates the slopes of  Pen-y-Ghent as Stanier Pacific No.46233 Duchess of Sutherland, with Saturday’s Cumbrian Mountain Express, passes Selside. I learned my skills as a fireman on Stanier’s Black 5s and Jubilees and for many summers, during the 1950s, I spent two weeks by the West Coast Main Line watching these beauties hurtling by on the Mid-Day Scot, Royal Scot, and the Caledonian. Some were Green and some Red, the Red ones always seemed ‘special’, just because they were Red.

Later, during my railway career, I did work as a fireman on express trains hauled by Pacifics; Bulleid’s version on the Southern Region between Waterloo – Bournemouth and Salisbury, even to Exeter and back, on one memorable occasion. I was the fireman on the 1st East Devon Rail Tour which was booked to run Non-stop from Waterloo to Yeovil and repeat this on the return leg. The round trip, including the journey from the shed up to Waterloo was some 350 miles – not a bad day’s work. The tour ran on 28th February 1965 and our engine was No.35022 Holland America Line, chosen because it was paired with a 6000 gallon tender, which we’d need to run the 122 and a bit miles to and from Yeovil without stopping.

I worked on over twenty different classes of engine, though sadly never a Duchess – and, of all the classes I didn’t have a go on the one  I would have loved to  fire would have been a Duchess  on the WCML – Crewe – Perth maybe!!

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

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