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Peter Maynard has been busy recently: two trips with Cromwell, plus his day job and he still found time to write us up a report of both trips, Thanks Peter!  And thanks also to Jim Street for most of the photos in the article.  In addition, tom Jones, another of our support crew has added several photos of the 6th of August to his fotopick site at 


Summer means days out with Oliver Cromwell – lots of them. Our fine locomotive has plenty of work, and after her tour de force on the Devon banks on 25 July, she came back to Southall to work a Steam Dreams job to Portsmouth, not via Guildford and the Direct line, but via Redhill, Hove and Chichester (for Goodwood races).

The day before, the loco was still warm after her light-engine run from Bristol a few days earlier so, with a fire inside her, it wasn’t long before she started to make steam. After the usual cleaning and other preparation jobs, and Dave Wright’s arrival with a new right-hand side lubricator drive rod (the original having given up the ghost after close on 60 years) we were able to get something to eat and get some sleep in anticipation of a 5.30 departure from the depot. 

Our usual platform, number 2, at Victoria station is on the wrong side to get to the Brighton lines directly, so we went via the Battersea reversible and the quaintly named Pouparts Junction. And of course, we were on pretty busy pieces of railway from there on, especially on the south coast line from Hove – plenty of stations and plenty of trains stopping at them. Thus our progress was quite often hesitant, but we did get in some fast running once past Gatwick and Three Bridges as far as our water stop at Preston Park. 

The return run was rather a mirror image of the outward but we did manage some fine climbs up to Clayton and Balcombe tunnels followed by splendid dashes down the other side. Again, though, proximity to London gave us a series of double yellows and yellows. Our hoped-for dash through Gatwick, for example, was merely an amble – but we did treat the station and the airport to a long blast on Cromwell’s mellifluous chime whistle – and thereafter we trundled back to Victoria. 

Been there

OK, so this hadn’t been a day of high speeds and heroic performance but once again No. 70013 had performed faultlessly over around 200 miles and the support crew had had a smooth day. All in all, rather satisfying.


Our prep day at Southall on the 5th started badly. A lorry fire on the M1 and the M40 transforming itself into a car park delayed our lads travelling from the north, and then two coal deliveries thwarted attempts to start preparation of the engine. Things were further complicated by the need to drain the boiler as part of our water treatment programme; by the time we had replenished it sufficiently to light the fire, time was getting on. Nevertheless, we had time to lavish some care on our fine locomotive, treating her to a wax polish in readiness for her sortie to Bristol the next day. Serious locomotive cleaning is hard work and sometimes tedious – but stand back at the end and admire the fruits of your labour; Oliver Cromwell always looks a treat.

Our route was interesting: not the classic GW main line from Paddington but from Waterloo (usual detour via Richmond and Virginia Water), via Basingstoke, Salisbury and Westbury. So we had some fast running after Woking and on to Overton (quick splash of 1,500 gallons in the tender) and Salisbury where we gave Cromwell a proper drink. We feared that a late-running Portsmouth-Cardiff dmu would hold us up but it showed us a clean pair of heels and we had a brisk run to Bath where we set down and then to Bristol Temple Meads for servicing in Barton Hill depot after a turning move via ‘the Rhubarb’ (so nicknamed after the pub by the spur between North Somerset and Dr Day’s Junctions). Once again we were in company on Barton Hill with Tornado, which was being prepared for ‘The Tamar Tornado’ two days later. 

An audience with Driver Pete Roberts

Our return run was dampened to some degree by some serious rain that forced a measured climb of Upton Scudamore bank to avoid slipping. But the monsoon weather kept down the dust in the tender and didn’t get in the way of some sustained fast running up the South Western main line from Worting Junction as far as Farnborough where we were held to let an electric gain the fast line ahead of us. But we quickly recovered from that and, after the Woking stop, were back at Waterloo almost on time after being held for signals just short of the station throat.


By Info | Monday, August 10, 2009 | Tags : 70013

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