Locomotive Performance

Steam through Preston

  This page covers the West Coast Main Line north of Crewe. It also includes the lines to Blackpool and the Lakes, and some of the journeys described start or finish at Stafford, Wolverhampton, Dudley Port, or Birmingham.

My mother came from Lancashire, and had relatives at Blackpool, and in my early years, visits were frequent: mainly by car, but occasionally by train. Then in 1951, another visit was certainly by rail, for I remember seeing ex LNER locos around Wigan. But thereafter there was a gap until 1961, when mother visited her aunt, and my sister, brother, and myself accompanied her for the 5 day stay. What to do in Blackpool for 5 days in September?. My brother and myself had it all worked out. 1) Blackpool shed, and 2) Train to Preston, then another to Carlisle. There was also Blackpool v West Ham one evening.

So on Monday 4th September 1961, we travelled from Dudley Port to Stafford on 45599 Bechuanaland, and D297 on to Crewe. There we joined the 6.40am Euston to Windermere to Preston with Black 5 no 45237, then changed on to a local service from Colne for the final run to Blackpool South on Stanier 2-6-4T no 42652. That same evening myself and my brother caught a Tram down the promenade, walked up Rigby Road, and "did" Blackpool shed.

The (poor) picture above is of 46223 "Princess Alice" at Carlisle. See 5th September 1961.

  4th September 1961: 45237 Crewe to Preston: We got off to a splendid start. With an 11 coach train, 45237 ran vigorously throughout. We were up to 79 mph by Hartford until a p.w.slack intervened. More excellent work followed, and the sounds from Wigan up to Standish were most impressive.  [view log of 45237]
  4th September 1961: 42652 Preston to Blackpool South: At Preston we joined a local service from Colne, for the run round the coast. From the railjoints I timed 55mph after Kirkham, then from Lytham we stopped at all stations. [view log of 42652]
  5th September 1961: 44767 Blackpool South to Preston: Next morning, Tuesday, it was "Carlisle" day. Black 5 no 44767 (Stephensons motion) was on the 9.00am Blackpool Central to Liverpool Exchange. There were 6 intermediate stops, and we took 44 minutes to reach Preston. Max speed was 56 mph at Lea Road, with load was 6.  [view log of 44767]
  5th September 1961: 46102 Preston to Carlisle: At Preston we had the choice of the Manchester to Glasgow, with Jubilee 45628 Somaliland, or 46102 on the Liverpool to Glasgow. No contest!. 46102 Black Watch was the most sought after Scot for us Midlanders. The Liverpool train followed the Manchester, and we suffered delays at Scout Green and awaiting a platform at Carlisle. But 46102 looked and sounded well (66A locos were always well turned out). Net times totalled 100 mins (Schedule 105), but we were 14 late into Carlisle. [view log of 46102]
  5th September 1961: 46227 Carlisle to Preston: After almost 4 hours trainspotting at Carlisle (I copped 46223, only one "Semi" left, 46255) we were on our way back. We were hoping for a "Clan" or another 66A "Scot". But what we got, amazingly, was 46227 Duchess of Devonshire. Timings on the 1.45pm Glasgow to Liverpool were easy, and the load only 10, so no fireworks were expected.  The preceding Perth-Euston service had departed with D2, a brand new Peak (46226 had worked in from Perth), and when we came to stand at Burton on Holme, we learned that D2 had failed. It caused us an 82 minute late arrival at Preston. But what a fabulous day. I wouldn't mind doing that again. [view log of 46227]
  7th September 1961: So we did do it again: 44743 Blackpool South to Preston:  The 9.00am Blackpool Central to Liverpool was this time a "Caprotti 5", and a load of only 5. A check outside Preston made us 1 late in.  [view log of 44743]
  7th September 1961: 72002 Preston to Carlisle: We had the same choice of trains as Tuesday. This time the locos were 46104 and 72002. It had to be 72002 since I had never had a Clan. I had read that they were only modest performers, and so it proved. Only 33 mph up Grayrigg, and we stopped at Tebay for a banker up Shap."Clan Campbell" was 10 late into Carlisle, of which at least 6 minutes were down to the loco. [view log of 72002]
  7th September 1961: 72001 Carlisle to Preston: This time, we walked to Kingmoor. At the bottom of the driveway to the shed, we were told by a friendly railwayman that it would be unwise to try a "bunk", so we didn't. But we saw a fair amount in the yard, including the two stored "Princess Royals". So it was back to the station for more spotting, then back south once again on the 1.45pm Glasgow to Liverpool. Another Clan, this time 72001. "Clan Cameron" confirmed once again what we had learned earlier in the day, that the "Clans" were indeed modest performers. This time we dropped 5 minutes, arriving Preston 8 late. [view logs of 72001]
  8th September 1961: 45205 Blackpool Central to Crewe: Our journey home started on the 9.55am from Blackpool Central, an 8 coach load hauled by 5MT 4-6-0 no 45205. There were four stops on the coast line, then it was Preston, Warrington, and Crewe. Easy schedules meant that no hard work was necessary, but 45205 ran competently, arriving Crewe 2 minutes early. [view log of 45205]
  8th September 1961: 45547 Crewe to Dudley Port: At Crewe we changed to a Birmingham service hauled by Unrebuilt Patriot class 4-6-0 no 45547, an un-named member of the class. With load 6, it was easy work, although signal checks, and a 5 min late departure from Crewe, meant we were 9 late into Dudley Port. [view log of 45547]
  6th August 1962: 44888 Birmingham to Carnforth: A memorable family day out. We were dropped at Windermere, and returned home from Lakeside in the evening. Saltley based 5MT 4-6-0 no 44888 ran Birmingham to Carnforth. Surprisingly, for a Sunday, there were few checks, and we ran competently. Max speed was 72 at Moore. [view log of 44888]
  6th August 1962: 45696 Carnforth to Windermere and Lakeside to Carnforth: 45696 Arethusa took over from 44888 at Carnforth. The loco was towards the end of her days, but the crew treated us to the sort of sounds that only a Jubilee can make. Up the 1 in 80 from Staveley to Windermere at a steady 26 mph with 370 tons, the sounds that came from Arethusa were as good as I have ever heard from a steam locomotive (well, top equal with 45733 on the Lickey). In the evening Arethusa ran from Lakeside to Ulverston tender first, reversed, and ran round the coast over the estuary bridges in the evening sunshine. A perfect end to a perfect day. [view log of 45696]
  12th July 1964: 46251 Stafford to Carlisle: The first leg of the SLS "Three Summits" Railtour (Shap, Ais Gill, and Standedge). There was some good running, 81 mph at Betley Road, and 86 mph at Southwaite. But we struggled over Shap after a water stop at Tebay. My thanks are due to Alastair Wood for the use of his log that has enabled me to fill in a few gaps. The loco was condemned 2 months after this run. [view log of 46251]
  24th October 1964: 44837 Wolverhampton to Blackpool North: There are two reasons for including this log, despite the fact we ambled along most of the way, and only once reached 60 mph. Firstly it illustrates the working of excursion services, which were modestly timed, and yet often ran late. But secondly, it brings back happy memories of a day, and evening, with my 1964 "Girlfriend". I wonder what happened to her. Well, I have it on high authority that in early 2004, we shall celebrate our 39th Wedding Anniversary. But sadly, her trainspotting days finished many years ago.  [view log of 44837]
  28th November 1964: 45018 Carnforth to Carlisle: Another railtour to Carlisle, this time the WRS, which also had Ais Gill and Standedge in the itinerary. The locos were Britannia no 70052 "Firth of Tay", 46160 "Queen Victorias Rifleman", 45647 "Sturdee", and 70000 "Britannia". But 70052 failed and 5MT 4-6-0 no 45018 took over at Carnforth. The hastily summoned engine made a splendid job of it. Never have I heard a "Black 5" sound better, and the crew finished things off with an 82 mph at Southwaite. [view log of 45018]