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I promised you news as & when it was available, well this is from an unexpected source: Philip Weston from the South Devon Railway has sent us this report of the National Railway Museum’s Britannia No. 70013 “Oliver Cromwell” visit to Buckfastleigh. For those of you who haven’t yet visited the SDR it is a charming and friendly line well worth a visit, even without the added attraction of 70013!

Philip’s report reads: By way of an explanation we live in Northamptonshire but also have a house in Brixham in Devon. My wife and I are both friends of the GCML and members of the SDR and as such we visit both Loughborough and Buckfastleigh fairly regularly. Indeed we were scheduled to go from the GC Gala to SDR Gala over the Easter weekend! We were very excited to see that due to the proposed rail dispute both 700013 and 44871 would visit the SDR during their Gala.

We spotted both engines hauling the trip to Penzance on Saturday approaching Totnes. The engines arrived at Totnes on Sunday top and tailing their support coaches.

On moving on to SDR lines 700013 was scheduled to haul the next service train from Totnes back to Buckfastleigh together with the two support coaches.44871 remained at Totnes to bring a later service train and then head the last round trip of the day.

The SDR runs alongside the river Dart all the way to Buckfastleigh.

The next picture shows Cromwell just after leaving Totnes and I'm only sorry that I didn't have a video camera with me - The sound that Cromwell made all along the route was fantastic. The exhaust bark and the famous chime whistle could be heard all along the way up to Buckfastleigh and the arrival there was something very special. She was greeted by a huge crowd probably one of the largest ever seen at the railway who are only used to seeing panniers and tank engines with the occasional goods engine!

As well as Cromwell,  44871 also visited the SDR. She too was welcomed at Buckfastleigh and there was a full train for the last round trip of the day. Unfortunately there was a minor incident on the way down to Totnes and Cromwell saved the day by recovering the train back to Buckfasleigh.

Monday was the last day of the Gala but instead of being hidden away in the engine shed Cromwell was on display and accessible to all the Gala visitors. The crew even provided steps so you could access the footplate and indeed you were encouraged to do so. All of the crew were a credit to the association in that going about their duties they gave time to answer questions in a warm, friendly and informative way which resulted in a large queue waiting to access the engine. A masterpiece in PR - they did a brilliant job.

All too soon it was time to leave for the mainline and both engines and support crews were are a sad loss to the railway but the contributed greatly to the success of the weekend. Will there ever be the opportunity for a revisit?

The last picture shows both engines at the head of the Great Britain on the climb up the banks and onto Newton Abbott.

Cromwell is still out & about on the GBIII.  Latest reports have her in Scotland on the last day of the marathon effort.  Over the last few days she has tackled the South Devon Banks, the Lickey, Shap, and Beattock what a machine! 


By Info | Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Tags : 70013

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