If it’s Monday it must be The Mersey Moorlander
45305 was fresh from a spell at the GCR where she’d had a number of maintenance jobs done, including a fresh coat of varnish and the attentions of “Tone the Clean” on the bright work so most people thought that she already looked the business when we arrived in Carnforth at the weekend – we didn’t agree and, as always, spent every daylight hour polishing, cleaning, oiling & checking so that WE were happy that when she left Carnforth shed at 6am on Monday she looked good.
Yesterday saw the first in a series of regular weekly trips for 45305 – taking the Mersey Moorlander from Preston to Hellifield, then over the S&C and back to Preston via Shap. The passengers arrive on the train from Liverpool to meet the engine & support coach which has come down from Carnforth and watered in the platform at Preston earlier that morning.
We were a trifle surprised yesterday to see that the train which arrived in Preston had 11 coaches, which meant that we had a total of 12 including the support coach – a load which is right on the limit for a Black 5, particularly over such a hilly route.
The heavy load meant that we lost time here & there on the uphill gradients, but luckily there was enough recovery time built in to the downhill sections plus some snappy hose-work at the water stops, that we were able to pick up the minutes again overall.
It was a heavy load, even for a great engine like 5305: she sounded superb and performed well, but was clearly held back by the weight of the train. We hope that next week’s trip will have only 11 coaches so that the passengers get a livelier (albeit quieter) run.
After chopping off from the train, we had to wait time at Preston – so Albert Seymour took the Duke of Wellington’s advice to “Take every opportunity to make water” (although I don’t think that 1500 gallons extra in the tender was quite what the Duke had in mind!). Then a gentle evening canter up the West Coast to Carnforth to bed the engine down and get a few hours kip before we were briefly woken by the sound of another Stanier engine leaving (48151 bound for Wales at 5.30am), then up in the morning to do a proper disposal, a final check round by Tom and back down the motorway to our day jobs.