The formula for this third grand tour of Great Britain was very similar to its predecessors, but in the days before the start, loco availability and the threat of a strike by signallers forced a number of late changes. Although the tour didn’t visit Penzance, Shrewsbury or Dumfries, and 30777 Sir Lamiel, 34067 Tangmere, 6100 Royal Scot and 46115 Scots Guardsman couldn’t take part, there were some very acceptable substitutes. Day three included a double-headed run up the Lickey Incline, 44871 worked from Plymouth to Stranraer over four days, and 6201 Princess Elizabeth hauled the penultimate leg from Edinburgh to York. Most notable was 70013 Oliver Cromwell, which hauled the train from Plymouth to Inverness and back to Edinburgh on five out of seven days. Passengers renamed the tour “The Great Britannia” in Ollie’s honour!
In Part 1: London to Bristol, Plymouth, the Devon banks, the Lickey Incline, Birmingham, Preston, Shap, Carlisle, Beattock, Glasgow, Ayr and Stranraer. Featuring 5029 Nunney Castle, Black Fives 44871 & 45407, and 70013 Oliver Cromwell.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD.
(1 hour 27 mins)
A castle on the Great Western main line. 5029 hurries through the Vale of the White Horse at Steventon, Baulking and Uffington.
Wed 7th: Plymouth-Bristol
After two nights at Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway, 70013 & 44871 are prepared for duty then take their support coaches up to the mainline. Meanwhile, D1015 Western Champion passes Dainton with the outward leg of the tour. 44871 & 70013 pass Totnes and Rattery with their support coaches (44871 apparently doing most work), then take the tour train over the South Devon banks at Hemerdon and Combe Fishacre. After a water stop in Exeter, they cruise up the Culm valley past Stoke Cannon, Rewe and Killerton Park.
Thu 8th: Bristol-Cheltenham-Bromsgrove-Walsall-Stafford-Crewe-Preston
This was the day most affected by the threatened signallers’ strike. The tour was diverted over the main Midland and LNWR route via Birmingham, which includes the 1-in-37 Lickey Incline. 70013 Oliver Cromwell & 44871 take the tour out ofBristol past Narroways and Horefields. After a report of coal falling from the tender, the train was stopped for checks at Standish Junction. Highlight of the day, the climb of the Lickey Incline, is followed by views on the West Coast Main Line at Millmeece north ofStafford and Dayton Viaduct over the River Weaver.
Fri 9th: Preston-Shap-Beattock-Glasgow
For the third day in a row, 70013 worked the train, but this time alone. We see the climb of Shap bank all the way from Greenholme to Shap Wells. Shorter shots in the flatter countryside at Plumpton north of Penrith and Quintinshill near Gretna are followed by three overlapping views of Beattock Bank. Finally, the train leaves Abington and accelerates down the Clyde valley past Roberton. As a bonus, 44871 & 45407 passed Roberton with their support coaches just 10 minutes behind the tour. 45407’s overhaul was completed just days before, so this was her running-in turn!
Sat 10th: Glasgow-Stranraer-Glasgow
With sharp curves and gradients as steep as 1-in-50, the single line from Ayr to Stranraer is hard work for locos and their crews. 44871 & 45407 proved to be more than capable. After a gentle canter past Barr Loch and Kilbirnie Loch in the morning, the climbing starts at Ayr and continues at Girvan and Barrhill. On the return, with the locos running tender first, there’s more hard climbing through Glen Luce to Glenwhilly, and again to the tunnel at Pinmore. After a final water stop, the train leaves Girvan against a backdrop of sunset over the islands.
Sun 11th – Wed 14th April are covered on Steam Age Pictures Vol. 34.