Locomotive Performance

L.N.E.R Pacifics

In the 1950's and 1960's, my family, so far as holidays and outings were concerned, always headed south, west, and north, but rarely east. Thus the only opportunities I had for travelling behind ex L.N.E.R locomotives was to use the Great Central line between Rugby Central and  Marylebone, or to head eastwards from Birmingham to either Peterborough or Grantham, and to use the ex Great Northern line to or from Kings Cross.

In the 1960's, the use of L.N.E.R locomotives on Rail tours, usually A4 pacifics, or A3 no 4472 Flying Scotsman, became widespread, particularly in the south of England. But the tours invariably suffered delays, particularly those that ran on Sundays.

So below are the details of virtually almost all of my L.N.E.R Pacific runs.  

27th March 1957: Returning from a morning business appointment in London, I returned to the Midlands on the "Heart of Midlothian", 2.00pm from Kings Cross, as far as Peterborough. Up front was A4 no 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley. With a heavy 13 coach, 448/480 ton load, we were into Peterborough in 77 mins 28 secs, or 72.5 minutes net. Top speed was 85 mph at Arlesley, and again at Connington. Excellent! [view log 60007]

20th April 1957: Three weeks later, I was travelling south for a "Schools" weekend at Tonbridge, and headed over to Peterborough. I just missed the 4-6-4 no 60700, and the next Kings Cross service was an up Newcastle, hauled by 60014 Silver Link. With huge amounts of recovery time included in the schedule, it was a matter of killing time, and so the run was devoid of interest. Top speed was 70 mph at Connington and again at Tempsford [view log 60014]
8th March 1958: A trip up to London in the snow. Up from Leicester to St Pancras, and back from King Cross to Grantham, then across to Derby Friargate. I caught the 1.00pm from Kings Cross, the Northumbrian, which was first stop Grantham. A3 class 4-6-2 no 60050 Persimmon, had a load of 12, 400/425 tons. The climb up to Potters Bar was completed without falling below 51 mph, thereafter the running was steady. Top speed was 77 mph near St Neots, and we went over Stoke summit at 51 mph. But also remember the delight of travelling through a quite heavy layer of snow in brilliant sunshine. We were 3 minutes early into Grantham, where 60050 came off [view log of 60050]
24th October 1960: A weekend Yorkshire "shed bash" included in it's itinerary a trip both ways on the York to Darlington "Racing ground". I had A3 class 4-6-2 no 60036 Colombo northbound, on the 9.15am Leeds to Glasgow, the "North Briton". With one modest p.w. slowing (only to 60 mph) we were in Darlington in 43 min 12 sec, 42.5 mins net, arriving 4 mins early. Top speed was 72 mph [view log of 60036]
24th October 1960: The return from Darlington was on the 9.55am Newcastle to Kings Cross, a heavy 13 coach train of 428/460 tons headed by A4 class 4-6-2 no 60015 Quicksilver. We were up to 82 mph at Sessay, but a 20 mph p.w. slowing intervened, and 4 mins late from Darlington became 8 mins late into York. Net time was 39.5 mins [view log of 60015]
6th June 1964: On the excellent L.C.G.B "North Briton" railtour, A3 class 4-6-2 no 60051 Blink Bonny was on the final leg from Leeds to Kings Cross. With a modest 316/340 ton load, we were up to 94 mph at Essendine. But it was final section from Peterborough to Kings Cross that was the gem. 70 mins 50 secs, an excellent time. The loco may have been nearing the end of her days, but she ran splendidly, with sounds to match. And a good A3 was well worth listening to  [view log of 60051]
16th August 1964: A long day out on "Scotsman". This was the Warwickshire Railway Society "Swindon and Eastleigh" tour. I joined at Saltley, and initially the running was dreadful. We hardly reached 60 mph. But a Gloucester South, a crew change resulted in a transformation. The running (and sounds) up the Golden Valley from Stroud to Sapperton was the best I have ever had with 4472. At Swindon, an extra coach was added to the train, making it load 10. On to Eastleigh. and there was more fine running between Salisbury and Romsey. After the Eastleigh Shed and Works visits, there was a good climb up to Litchfield summit, but after the crew change at Reading West Junction, the running deteriorated, though we were right time back into Small Heath [view log of 4472]

4th September 1965: On the Warwickshire Railway Society "Pennine Railtour", A1 class 4-6-2 no 60145 St Mungo ran from Saltley to Leeds, and return. In the northbound direction , from Sheffield, it was all pitfall slacks and signal checks. But from Saltley and from Derby,  there was some good running, a feature being the hard accelerations from starts. The evening run back to Saltley is not included since the running was dreadful  [view log of 60145]
4th September 1965: On the continuation of the "Pennine Railtour", class A3 4-6-2 no 4472 Flying Scotsman took over at Leeds for the runs to Carlisle and back. Northbound we travelled via the Ingleton line and Shap, and southbound via the Settle and Carlisle route over Ais Gill. With an 11 coach load the running was a prelude to what would become the norm for 4472. 18 mph over Shap summit, and 28 mph at Ais Gill. Top speeds were 76 mph at Calthwaite northbound, and 74 mph at Selside coming south  [view log of 4472]
11th December 1965: The Warwickshire Railway Society "Waverley" tour ran into trouble with a coaching problem at Leeds, and by the time class A2 4-6-2 no 60528  Tudor Minstrell was ready to depart from Carlisle, we were 47 minutes late. So with a 10 coach, 340/360 ton load, would the A2 pull back any time. The answer was in the negative. All we could manage past Steele Road and Riccarton was 20/23 mph. So we were no less than 75 mins late into Edinburgh. But at least I travelled over the Waverley line, even though most of it was in darkness  [view log of 60528]
11th December 1965: The next stage of the "Waverley" tour was with A4 class 4-6-2 no 60034 Lord Farringdon. But the time lost previously now had some serious repercussions. A rapid loco change meant that we were ready for the "Right away" at 5.08pm. But Waverley would not risk putting us out in front of the EE type 4 hauled 5.12pm to Leeds. So we had to follow it. The problem was that the Leeds service had intermediate stops at Dunbar and Berwick. There was no point in any attempted time recovery. So the run on to Newcastle was modest, though it could be called good enginemanship [view log of 60034]
26th March 1966: The L.C.G.B Victory Railtour had Haymarket (64B) based class A4 4-6-2 no 60024 Kingfisher throughout. With a 10 coach late we ran satisfactorily from Waterloo until p.w. check intervened at Farnborough and Hook. But we did get an 86 mph past Shawford Junction. After the Eastleigh stop, running was modest until the Hamworthy stop. Thereafter we struggled up to Bincombe Tunnel at 14 mph and were 16 late into Weymouth. The return was via Yeovil and Salisbury, and the running was still a disapointment. We did reach 80 mph near Dinton, but from Salisbury up to Waterloo we would not have kept the 82 minute schedule, even without a p.w.slowing and a couple of signal checks. So we ended up 11 late. A disappointing day from a performance viewpoint  [view log of 60024]
1st October 1967: 60007 (4498) Peterborough to Leeds and Carlisle: This was my final BR Steam run before the "Steam ban". Sir Nigel Gresley was now privately owned. The tour ran steam hauled between Peterborough and Carlisle, and return. In theory at any rate. But 7029 Clun Castle spoiled the party by failing at Leeds on the return with injector problems. 4498 ran satisfactorily throughout, with good running on the East Coast Main line, and an excellent climb from Settle Junction up to Blea Moor  [view log of 4498]
If any conclusion can be drawn from the above, it must be that I should have made a greater effort to head east in the late 1950's and the early 1960's. The few runs I had during those years were generally good. But the experiences on the railtours I travelled on from 1964 onwards were very mixed. Some good, for example 60051 from Leeds to Kings Cross in 1964, and some poor, 60528 on the Waverley route, and 60024 on parts of the Victory tour of 1966. But I relish the thought of the new A1, currently under construction.