Vol 15: The Great Britain Railtour

If someone organised a rail tour from Penzance to Thurso, using steam locomotives, would anyone buy tickets? In April 2007, The Railway Touring Company promoted just such a tour, and all the seats were sold months beforehand. Many more enthusiasts took to the road to record this great railway adventure, including cameramen from Steam Age Pictures & TWR Video. This programme shows you what we saw.

Forgive us if we boast just a little. Here are two unsolicited compliments that we received for this programme. This from a fellow photographer who chased most of the tour:

“DVD received and played on the Big Screen tonight. Mark – 10 out of 10! That is no “amateur” production in my book! Yes there are a couple of tiny glitches but they don’t detract from a splendid  offering overall.”

And this from someone who was on board:

“Just finished watching the DVD. 81 mins of pure nostalgia and pleasure. Well worth the wait, HA HA! Best DVD I’ve seen for a long while. Keep up the good work.”

YouTube play-list: 8 out of 9 days

The tour took 9 days, from Good Friday 6th April to Saturday 14th April 2007, and used 7 steam locomotives, mostly over routes that they worked in steam days:

  • 71000 Duke Of Gloucester,
  • 5051 Earl Bathurst,
  • 6024 King Edward I,
  • 6233 Duchess Of Sutherland,
  • 60009 Union Of South Africa,
  • 61994 The Great Marquess,
  • LMS 8F 48151.

Starting from London, it visited Bristol, Penzance, Plymouth, Exeter, Abergavenny, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Chester, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, Inverness, Kyle Of Lochalsh and Thurso. Along the way it climbed some of the most famous (notorious?) banks in the country, including Hemerdon, Dainton, Llanvihangle, Shap, Beattock, Druimuachdar, Slochd, Luib and County March. (1 hour 21 minutes)

This programme is the first joint effort with TWR Video. It is also the first Steam Age production shot entirely on high definition HDV cameras. However, because I was still running a fairly old computer, it was edited in standard definition and output to DVD only. One day I hope to re-edit it in HD from the orignal tapes and produce a Blu-ray; just don’t hold your breath!

Good Friday 6th April.
Paddington–Badminton–Bristol. 71000 Duke Of Gloucester. Uffington; Hullavington. (2:34)  YouTube clip.

Saturday 7th April.
Penzance–Exeter–Bristol. 5051 Earl Bathurst & 6024 King Edward I. Burngullow; Coombe Fishacre; Burlescombe. (3:59)  YouTube clip.

Easter Sunday 8th April.
Bristol–Hereford–Chester–Preston. 71000 Duke Of Gloucester. Narroways Junction, Bristol; Coton Hill, Shrewsbury; Dee viaduct, Cefn bychan. (03:09)  YouTube clip.

Bank Holiday Monday 9th April.
Bristol-Didcot. 5051 Earl Bathurst, light engine. Uffington.
Preston–Shap–Beattock–Glasgow. 6233 Duchess Of Sutherland. Shap Wells; Beattock summit; Cleghorn. (7:17) YouTube clip.

Tuesday 10th April.
Glasgow–Perth–Inverness. 60009 Union Of South Africa & 61994 The Great Marquess. Blackford (61994 light engine); Kinbuck; Blackford; Murthly; Edendon signalbox; Kincraig; Slochd; Slochd Mor; Inverness. (11:38) YouTube clip.

Wednesday 11th April.
Inverness–Kyle Of Lochalsh–Inverness. 61994 The Great Marquess. Fodderty; Achterneed; Garve; Corriemoillie summit; Loch Chuilinn; Achnasheen; Luib summit; Atterdale; Kyle of Lochalsh; Achmore; Stomeferry & Loch Carron from Strome Castle; Glen Carron; Achnasheen; Loch Chuilinn; Rogie. (26:14)  YouTube clip.

Thursday 12th April.
Inverness–Thurso. LMS 8F 48151. Dingwall & Cromarty Firth; Evanton; Lairg (three locations); Brora; Loth; Strath of Kildonan; Kinbrace; Thurso. (13:28)  YouTube clip.

Friday 13th April.
Thurso–Inverness. LMS 8F 48151. Halkirk; Marrel near Helmsdale; Lairg summit; Conon Bridge. (4:16)

Saturday 14th April.
Inverness–Perth. 60009 Union Of South Africa & 61994 The Great Marquess. Inverness; Findhorn viaduct, Tomatin; Aviemore; Dalwhinnie to Balsporan Cottages; Dunkeld & Birnam station. (8:50)  YouTube clip.

Friday 13th April.

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