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On St George’s Day 70013 “Oliver Cromwell” worked from Liverpool Street to Norwich on a Cathedrals Express job for Steam Dreams ( As usual, the support crew had spent plenty of time before the trip cleaning, oiling and generally making the engine ready for the trip, this included the washout which was done the weekend before, and two days preparation and steam testing. So by the morning of Thursday 23rd April 2009 when we went off shed the engine was shining with polish and slick with oil where it matters (and not where it doesn’t – it’s surprising how much excess oil and grease gets thrown about by the motion when the engine is ticking along at 75mph – we even find splashes at the top of the tender!)

Thursday dawned beautiful but cool; the driver and fireman arrived for duty and we duly made our way to the top of the yard to attach engine and support coach to the rear of the train ready to be pulled out by the diesel at the other end. This gave us an unusual view of Southall yard as we drew slowly out of number 4 road. 

We then made our way across London via Greenford, site of Cuneo’s famous painting “Greenford Signal Box – On Early Shift”, and we did pass the box on early shift! 

Thence to Liverpool Street passing the Olympic Site on the way, which is a hive of activity and a forest of cranes. 

Driver John Daniel and Fireman David Wright were the crew for the outward journey, with Mick the Conductor, we had a good run out of London for a few miles

But then hit yellow signals and were diverted onto the Ilford Down Avoiding Line (another inked in section of line for Cromwell’s map of “unusual sections of track I have worked”). We stayed on the avoiding line all the way to the foot of the Brentwood Bank, where luckily we were put back on the main and given some green signals so that John could let the Brit have a bit of a leg stretch.

Greens at last!

The engine sounded fantastic thundering through the stations, with crowds of people and cameras waiting to see her go through. At one point we saw a whole class of primary school children sitting cross-legged in rows on the playing field watching us go through – what a memorable lesson that must have been!

When we arrived at Colchester, our friend John of Bells and Two Tones ( had the hoses lined up ready for watering as usual. Having the hoses laid out ready makes quick work of watering, as does the powerful pump on the fire-engine, Thanks John!

At Norwich we had a crowd waiting for us, and a train full of happy passengers all wanting a look at the engine, including at least two retired steam drivers who both knew 70013 in the old days and were very happy to see her again in such surroundings.

We had the usual servicing jobs to do at Norwich: water, coal, clean the fire and empty the ashpan. We also took the opportunity while we were in the stone yard (on the site of 32A), well away from the running line, to give Cromwell a quick brush-up and get rid of the dirt and debris which had been deposited on the boiler on the way out. Because we were in the stone yard, both the coal lorry and the fire engine could get alongside to re-supply the loco. 

On the way back from the yard we had to shunt through a carriage washing plant, which, luckilywas not turned on, but we did get a close up view of the inner workings! 

For the journey back we had the same Conductor with Driver Tommy Farr and Fireman Les Perry. When we arrived at Colchester for the water stop (and a cup of tea for John the Tanker Driver) we heard that there were multiple signal failures at Marks Tay and we would no doubt suffer some delays. We Did. But once through the problem area we had a clear road and Tommy was able to give Cromwell a good run. So good that when we got back to Liverpool Street several people were moved to make donations to the associations funds in appreciation: The Treasurer was very pleased to accept the money on behalf of the engine. Many other people came and expressed their appreciation verbally as well, and wanted to take photos of the engine and the crew. While one passenger was taking Tommy’s photo he let slip that it was his birthday. When asked whether he’d enjoyed it he replied “I couldn’t have asked for a better day, - on my best engine as well – John [Daniel] was welcome to Brentwood Bank that was a great trip back” Happy Birthday Tommy!


By Info | Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Tags : 70013

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