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Railtour articles are like buses, it seems, none for ages, then two come along at once!  Peter Maynard has very kindly sent in this more detailed account of 70013's exploits over the weekend of the 13th of June 2009 to compliment Dave's brief essay yesterday.

Well not quite, even though this was RTC’s ‘The Dartmouth Express’ on 13 June. The GWR had a presence at Dartmouth, but you had to cross the River Dart by ferry to Kingswear before you could get on a train. So Kingswear was No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell’s destination. But it wasn’t that simple…

After its last trip, the engine was at Eastleigh works, so two of us journeyed there on the Thursday to prepare, being joined by Dave Wright who arrived in the evening from the West Somerset Railway where he had been keeping a watchful eye on Tornado. Near us on the works was unrebuilt BB No. 34070 Manston which had received some attention at the works and was being investigated for a RHS valve problem.

 Manston and her support crew  A view of both locomotives outside Eastleigh Works

Next morning it was off the works at 9.40 and then a pleasant amble with our support coach through Southampton, Romsey, Salisbury and Westbury to Bristol along a road we are getting to know quite well. By the end of the afternoon, after the efforts of a team that by now was six strong, No. 70013 looked a picture – and if we had one we would have posted it with these notes.

Saturday promised to be a reasonably easy day – off Barton Hill depot at 8.30 and back there about twelve hours later. And so it proved. We had a cracking run to Bridgewater with our 12-vehicle train but from there had a succession of slowings and dead stands until being held near Norton Fitzwarren for two HSTs to pass. Once given the road we attacked the continuous climb to Whiteball in fine style, entering the tunnel at 42 mph.

Cromwell stands in Tiverton Loop

After a water stop in Tiverton loop it was downhill to Exeter and then on to Newton Abbot via the classic Dawlish sea wall where we delighted all the onlookers – main line steam, at speed and in a lovely setting.

 Cromwell on Dawlish Sea Wall.

Having diverted from the West of England main line at Aller Junction we arrived at Paignton where the support crew bade farewell to its engine; Cromwell was to visit Kingswear but not us. For operating reasons our loco was to take the train there, return to Churston for turning, come back to Paignton for servicing… and reverse to Kingswear to bring the train back. For the same operating reasons our support coach went with the train – taking our cameras etc with it, which is why we have no accompanying photographs for you.

The return run was trouble-free and highly satisfying: solid slog up to the summit beyond Torre, cantering along by the sea, a superb, suitably noisy climb up to Whiteball Tunnel sustaining speeds in the 60s all the way, and then a steady loping run across the Somerset Levels from Taunton back to Bristol with speeds in the early 70s, spoiled only by a dmu turning ahead of us on to the Weston branch at Worle Junction and a points failure just outside Temple Meads.

As we headed away to Barton Hill to stable and dispose, the platform was thronged with smiling people, many thanking us for all our efforts. Well, it had been an absolute pleasure for us too.


By Info | Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Tags : 70013

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