Rail Report 2015

ECCE EBOR!

Departure, arrival and changing stations and haulage in bold.

As predicted last year, my 2015 break was mid week and not to the seaside. Instead, Windermere became the start and recovery point for a road trip to York via Sedbergh, Garsdale, Hawes, Leyburn and Bedale.  The return jouney was via Cattall, Knaresborough, Skipton and Kirkby Lonsdale.

Firstly however – as was the case in 2014 – I reached Windermere by way of Manchester.

Tuesday 4 August 2015 saw me leave Platform 2 of Cheltenham Spa at 0942 in seat D52A of Arriva Cross Country Voyager unit 220 009 for Birmingham New Street via the Camp Hill line.  

Before departure,  Arriva Cross Country’s 221 119 left Cheltenham Spa for Bristol Temple Meads as did First Great Western’s 150 125 and 150377, having arrived from Great Malvern.

Platform 7 of Birmingham New Street was reached at 1023 and yielded the sight of this busy station in an advanced state of refurbishment.  Trains seen included 153 364/170 503 (London Midland) 170 513 (also LM and pictured with Arriva Cross Country's 220 009) 221 138  323 213  350 262  390 128 "City of Preston" and 390 130 "City of Edinburgh"Platform 7 of Birmingham New Street was reached at 1023 and yielded the sight of this busy station in an advanced state of refurbishment.  Trains seen included 153 364/170 503 (London Midland) 170 513 (also LM and pictured with Arriva Cross Country’s 220 009) 221 138  323 213  350 262  390 128 “City of Preston” and 390 130 “City of Edinburgh”.  I then departed Birmingham New Street for Crewe at 1101 from bay Platform 4c aboard London Midland’s Desiro unit 350 116.

En route I noticed a new cutting to the west of WCML noted being dug, apparently to bypass Norton Bridge Junction and arriving at Platform 11 of Crewe station at 1156 I was able to have noted down 37 218  37 604 153 308  175 007 (Arriva Trains Wales) 221 107  221 118  323 327  350 111 390 011 "City of Lichfield" and 390 046 "Virgin Soldiers".  It was particularly nice to see the English Electric Type 3 Co-Cos still at work and in this instance each one was carrying a different variation on the Direct Rail Services "Compass" livery.En route I noticed a new cutting to the west of WCML being dug to bypass Norton Bridge Junction and arriving at Platform 11 of Crewe station at 1156 I was able to have noted down 37 218  37 604 153 308  175 007 (Arriva Trains Wales) 221 107  221 118  323 327  350 111 390 011 “City of Lichfield” and 390 046 “Virgin Soldiers”.

Ebor_2015_Crewe_37 604It was particularly nice to see the English Electric Type 3 Co-Cos still at work and in this instance each of the Carlisle Kingmoor based 37s was carrying a different variation on the Direct Rail Services “Compass” livery.  37 218, pictured above, was in the latest deep blue and aquamarine markings which are also being applied to Direct Rail Service’s new Class 68 Bo-Bos while 37 604 coupled just to the south of it was in the slightly older DRS Revised livery of dark blue, light blue and green.

I then left Crewe from Platform 4 at 1211 bound for Manchester Piccadilly in seat C 01 of Virgin train’s Pendolino 390 129 “City of Stoke on Trent”.  Arriving at bay Platform 7 of Manchester Piccadilly I then had a nearly two hour stopover before resuming my journey north at Platform 14 at 1446 aboard Northern’s  156 426/466 “Gracie Fields” which took me as far as  Preston.

Like many great British cities, Manchester is full of surprises and returning from the centre towards Piccadilly Station my eye was caught by this impressive arched entrance to the new car park, leisure, office and residential development at the end of Ducie Street.  The area around this part of the formerly unnavigable Rochdale Canal was bought some years ago by Leeds property developer Arnold Ziff and now includes the five storey BDP Architects, Engineers and Designers office, the first in Britain to feature a "living roof" designed to encourage the breeding of rare black redstart birds of which there are only an estimated 100 breeding pairs in the UK.Like many great British cities, Manchester is full of surprises and returning from the centre towards Piccadilly Station my eye was caught by this impressive arched entrance to the new car park, leisure, office and residential development at the end of Ducie Street.  The area around this part of the formerly unnavigable Rochdale Canal was bought some years ago by Leeds property developer Arnold Ziff and now includes the five storey BDP Architects, Engineers and Designers office, the first in Britain to feature a “living roof” designed to encourage the breeding of rare black redstart birds of which there are only an estimated 100 breeding pairs in the UK.

Also seen at Manchester Piccadilly were 158 777/158 788  158 847 “Lincoln Castle Explorer” 158 858 (all East Midlands Trains in Stagecoach livery)  175 006 ( Arriva Trains) while Northern liveried 150 150 was seen at Bolton.

Between Manchester and Bolton much electrification work was being carried out in and around the Farnworth Tunnel with one bore being opened out to create room for two tracks and associated catenary equipment.  More information can be found here

Platform 1 of Preston station was reached slightly later than the planned 1538, necessitating a rapid move to Platform 5 to catch the 1546 to Lancaster formed by Trans Pennine Express Desiro unit 185 103.  Also noted, once aboard, were TPE’s electric Desiro 350 409 and Virgin Trains Pendolino 390 151 “Virgin Ambassador”.

The final leg of the journey from Lancaster was, in the planning stage of this journey, to be completed by road, but in fact 185 103 appeared again at Lancaster at 1829 to take Mark and myself to Windermere.  390 001 “Virgin Pioneer” noted at Oxenholme.

 

Setting out by road from Windermere on Wednesday 5 August 2015, Mark and I were lucky enough to arrive at at Garsdale  in time to see 46115 “Scots Guardsman” heading north from Settle towards Carlisle with the regular Fellsman train of Mark 1 carriages.  In 2015, Statesman Rail ran The Fellsman every Wednesday from27 May to 26 August, picking up passengers at Lancaster, Preston, Blackburn,Clitheroe and Long Preston near Settle.

Built in 1927 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow as London Midland & Scottish Railway number 6115, Royal Scot class 4-6-0 "Scots Guardsman" went on to feature in the famous 1936 film "Night Mail".  In 1947 it also became the first of its class to be rebuilt with a tapered Type 2A boiler and was the only Royal Scot to operate with smoke deflectors before Nationalisation in 1948.  Withdrawn by British Railways in 1965, it was one of only two class members to be preserved - along with 46100 "Royal Scot" - and carried the Olympic Flame in 2012.Built in 1927 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow as London Midland & Scottish Railway number 6115, Royal Scot class 4-6-0 “Scots Guardsman” went on to feature in the famous 1936 film “Night Mail”.  In 1947 it also became the first of its class to be rebuilt with a tapered Type 2A boiler and was the only Royal Scot to operate with smoke deflectors before Nationalisation in 1948.  Withdrawn by British Railways in 1965, it was one of only two class members to be preserved – along with 46100 “Royal Scot” – and carried the Olympic Flame in 2012.

Garsdale station itself opened with the rest of the Midland Railway's Settle to Carlisle line in 1876 and due to there being no separate church in this remote location the waiting room was once used for Anglican services.  The turntable at Garsdale was also famous for having a wall of sleepers built round it to stop locomotives being spun round by the wind and just along the line at Ling Gill were the highest railway water troughs in the World.Garsdale station itself opened with the rest of the Midland Railway’s Settle to Carlisle line in 1876 and due to there being no separate church in this remote location the waiting room was once used for Anglican services.  The turntable at Garsdale was also famous for having a wall of sleepers built round it to stop locomotives being spun round by the wind and just along the line at Ling Gill were the highest railway water troughs in the World.

Another more modern feature of Garsdale station is the bronze statue on the southbound platform of Graham Nuttall's Border Collie Ruswarp. Graham Nuttall was one of the founding members of the group set up in the 1980s to save the Settle-Carlisle Railway from closure but disappeared while walking in the Welsh mountains on 20 January 1990. His body was found on 7 April 1990. Ruswarp had stood guard over his owner's body for 11 weeks. The sculpture by JOEL is a memorial to both Graham Nuttall and Ruswarp and was unveiled on 11 April 2009, 20 years after the line was saved from closure. The station buildings, previously out of use due to leaking roofs, were also reopened to the public as part of the ceremonyAnother more modern feature of Garsdale station is the bronze statue on the southbound platform of Graham Nuttall’s Border Collie Ruswarp.  Graham Nuttall was one of the founding members of the group set up in the 1980s to save the Settle-Carlisle Railway from closure but disappeared while walking in the Welsh mountains on 20 January 1990. His body was found on 7 April 1990.  Ruswarp had stood guard over his owner’s body for 11 weeks. The sculpture by JOEL is a memorial to both Graham Nuttall and Ruswarp and was unveiled on 11 April 2009, 20 years after the line was saved from closure. The station buildings, previously out of use due to leaking roofs, were also reopened to the public as part of the ceremony.

Garsdale was originally known as Hawes Junction, being  - from 1878 until 1959 - the place where the Midland Railway's Settle to Carlisle route met the line from Northallerton on the North Eastern Railway which was built through Wensleydale via Bedale, Leyburn and Hawes.Garsdale was originally known as Hawes Junction, being  – from 1878 until 1959 – the place where the Midland Railway’s Settle to Carlisle route met the line built in sections from Northallerton on the North Eastern Railway which through the historic cheese making district of Wensleydale via Bedale, Leyburn and Hawes.

The railway in Wensleydale is in fact a remarkable survivor. Having lost its passenger services in 1954, and almost half its route mileage by the early 1960s, the line survived until 1992 by carrying limestone to the smelters on Teesside. When that traffic finished, the Ministry of Defence decided to use the line for the occasional transport of military vehicles and this traffic kept the line alive long enough for the Wensleydale Railway Association (formed in 1990) to build support and eventually form a company to take a 100 year lease on the 22 miles of line from Northallerton to Redmire.The railway in Wensleydale is in fact a remarkable survivor. Having lost its passenger services in 1954, and almost half its route mileage by the early 1960s, the line survived until 1992 by carrying limestone to the smelters on Teesside. When that traffic finished, the Ministry of Defence decided to use the line for the occasional transport of military vehicles and this traffic kept the line alive long enough for the Wensleydale Railway Association (formed in 1990) to build support and eventually form a company to take a 100 year lease on the 22 miles of line from Northallerton to Redmire.

The line reopened to passenger traffic from Leeming Bar to Leyburn (pictured above) in 2003, and the following year the section to Redmire was also opened. In November 2014, a station was opened at Northallerton West which gave the Wensleydale Railway a first, temporary, presence in the county town. Thus, the line now serves Northallerton West, Leeming Bar, Bedale , Finghall Lane, Leyburn and Redmire, a distance of 22 miles. An intermediate station at Scruton is in the process of restoration although services will not be able to call there until a length of modern full height platform is built to augment the current original low height platform which cannot be used.The line reopened to passenger traffic from Leeming Bar to Leyburn (pictured above) in 2003, and the following year the section to Redmire was also opened. In November 2014, a station was opened at Northallerton West which gave the Wensleydale Railway a first, temporary, presence in the county town. Thus, the line now serves Northallerton West, Leeming Bar, Bedale  (level crossing pictured) , Finghall Lane, Leyburn and Redmire, a distance of 22 miles. An intermediate station at Scruton is in the process of restoration although services will not be able to call there until a length of modern full height platform is built to augment the current original low height platform which cannot be used.

In the longer term, the Wensleydale Railway intends to rebuild the line west of Redmire to Castle Bolton, Aysgarth, Hawes and eventually to Garsdale.  Indeed, our first taste of what will hopefully be a through East-West railway route again in the not too distant future came at the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes which is based at the former North Eastern Railway station and features its own platform and train of carmine and cream liveried British Railways Mark 1 carriages.  At the head of this is Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 0-6-0T 7845/1955 - formerly of CEGB Hams Hall power station - representing G5 4-4-0T 67345, once a familiar locomotive on the line.In the longer term, the Wensleydale Railway intends to rebuild the line west of Redmire to Castle Bolton, Aysgarth, Hawes and eventually to Garsdale.  Indeed, our first taste of what will hopefully be a through East-West railway route again in the not too distant future came at the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes which is based at the former North Eastern Railway station and features its own platform and train of carmine and cream liveried British Railways Mark 1 carriages.  At the head of this is Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 0-6-0T 7845/1955 – formerly of CEGB Hams Hall power station – representing G5 4-4-0T 67345, once a familiar locomotive on the line.

Meanwhile, having taken a quick look at Leyburn station, stopping for a pub lunch in the delightful town of Bedale also gave us the opportunity to watch a Wensleydale Railway diesel multiple unit - powered from the rear by Pressed Steel railcar 121 032, pictured above, pass through en route to Leeming Bar - which we also checked out on our eventual way to York.Meanwhile, having taken a quick look at Leyburn station, stopping for a pub lunch in the delightful town of Bedale also gave us the opportunity to watch a Wensleydale Railway diesel multiple unit – powered from the rear by Pressed Steel railcar 121 032, pictured above, pass through en route to Leeming Bar – whose resident Class 37, 47 and other diesel locomotives and hauled rolling stock we also later checked out on our eventual way to York.

With three examples still in revenue earning traffic, the 1960 vintage Class 121s are now Network Rail’s longest serving diesel multiple unit vehicles and most of the class have been preserved. 121 032  – which only arrived in Wensleydale in May 2015 – retains  Arriva Trains Wales livery from its time from 2006 to 2013 working the Cardiff Bay Shuttle.  It was coupled next to fellow Pressed Steel Linwood product Trailer Composite Lavatory 59509.

 

Also of interest at Bedale Station was the 00 gauge model railway in the waiting room.  Built by the Cleveland Model Railway Club it represents the changing architecture from Bedale in the lowlands of the Vale of Mowbray to Upper Wensleydale, typified by a characteristic Dales field barn.  Mark and I had seen many similar structures from the road east of Sedburgh and this was a particularly fine rendering.Also of interest at Bedale Station was the 00 gauge model railway in the waiting room.  Built by the Cleveland Model Railway Club it represents the changing architecture from Bedale in the lowlands of the Vale of Mowbray to Upper Wensleydale, typified by a characteristic Dales field barn.  Mark and I had seen many similar structures from the road east of Sedburgh and this was a particularly fine rendering.

Once in York, Mark and I checked into the Elmbank Hotel, The Mount, before walking along Blossom Street and through Micklegate Bar into the walled City  in search of an evening meal.  On the morning of Thursday 6 August 2015 a similar route was taken but just short of Micklegate Bar we turned left along Queen Street to the railway station.  This currently has free access to the platforms without ticket barriers and so we were able to walk right through, over the footbridge - noting Arriva Cross Country Voyager unit 220 014 - and take the short cut down the steps to the National Railway Museum.Once in York, Mark and I checked into the Elmbank Hotel, The Mount, before walking along Blossom Street and through Micklegate Bar into the walled City  in search of an evening meal.

On the morning of Thursday 6 August 2015 a similar route was taken but just short of Micklegate Bar we turned left along Queen Street to the railway station.  This currently has free access to the platforms without ticket barriers and so we were able to walk right through, over the footbridge - noting Arriva Cross Country Voyager unit 220 014 - and take the short cut down the steps to the National Railway Museum.On the morning of Thursday 6 August 2015 a similar route was taken but just short of Micklegate Bar we turned left along Queen Street to the railway station.  This currently has free access to the platforms without ticket barriers and so we were able to walk right through, over the footbridge – noting Arriva Cross Country Voyager unit 220 014 – and take the short cut down the steps to the National Railway Museum.

Obviously the NRM is a treasure trove of mind-expanding historical items, but among those that caught my eye formated on the themes of the Southern Railway and Preston.  Within the former paradigm, the most impressive display was that of the Bulleid Battle of Britain Class pacific 34151 "Sir Winston Churchill" coupled to the baggage car which conveyed the wartime Prime Minister on his final journey from Waterloo station to Oxfordshire.Obviously the NRM is a treasure trove of mind-expanding historical items, but among those that caught my eye formated on the themes of the Southern Railway and Preston.  Within the former paradigm, the most impressive display was that of the Bulleid Battle of Britain Class pacific 34151 “Sir Winston Churchill” coupled to the baggage car which conveyed the wartime Prime Minister on his final railway journey from Waterloo station to Hanborough, Oxfordshire on 30 January 1965.

Although it could have been argued that Paddington was a more logical departure point for the former Great Western line between Oxford and Worcester, legend has it that Churchill himself insisted that his funeral train depart from Waterloo as a parting shot aimed at his old sparring partner General Charles de Gaulle.  Indeed, had Sir Winston Churchill died before 1958, his funeral train could have steamed north of Oxford before taking a westerly turn at Kidlington for the branch terminus at Blenheim and Woodstock, even closer to his eventual grave at St Martin's Church, Bladon.Although it could have been argued that Paddington was a more logical departure point for the former Great Western line between Oxford and Worcester, legend has it that Churchill himself insisted that his funeral train depart from Waterloo as a parting shot aimed at his old sparring partner General Charles de Gaulle.  Indeed, had Sir Winston Churchill died before 1958, his funeral train could have steamed north of Oxford before taking a westerly turn at Kidlington for the branch terminus at Blenheim and Woodstock, even closer to his eventual grave at St Martin’s Church, Bladon.

As it was, Driver Alf Hurley and 22 year old fireman Jim Lester, wearing new hats and overalls for the occasion, began their solemn 90 minute journey from Waterloo at 1328 on 30 January 1965.  Jim was later to recall "It was very poignant because there were thousands of people lining the route at every station, standing on bridges and in the fields along the line.  At Ascot, in particular, the platform was packed.  Elsewhere old soldiers came out in their uniforms.  I noticed that no-one waved as we went past - they just stood in silence.  When we got to oxford every church bell in the City was ringing."As it was, Driver Alf Hurley and 22 year old fireman Jim Lester, wearing new hats and overalls for the occasion, began their solemn 90 minute journey from Waterloo at 1328 on 30 January 1965.  Jim was later to recall “It was very poignant because there were thousands of people lining the route at every station, standing on bridges and in the fields along the line.  At Ascot, in particular, the platform was packed.  Elsewhere old soldiers came out in their uniforms.  I noticed that no-one waved as we went past – they just stood in silence.  When we got to Oxford every church bell in the City was ringing.”

Once Churchill's coffin had been taken by hearse to Bladon, Jim was allowed to drive 34151 back to Nine Elms depot to join other Battle of Britain, West Country and Merchant Navy pacifics of both rebuilt specification and those still as Southern Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer O.V.S. Bulleid designed them.  Not far away in the Great Hall of the National Railway Museum was another distinctive six coupled Bulleid locomotive from the Second World War, Q1 Class C1.Once Churchill’s coffin had been taken by hearse to Bladon, Jim was allowed to drive 34151 back to Nine Elms depot to join other Battle of Britain, West Country and Merchant Navy pacifics of both rebuilt specification and those still as Southern Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer O.V.S. Bulleid designed them.  Not far away in the Great Hall of the National Railway Museum was another distinctive six coupled Bulleid locomotive from the Second World War, Q1 Class locomotive C1.

Although most famous in peacetime as a high density suburban passenger network, World War II found the Southern Railway having to move unexpected amounts of heavy freight.  Bulleid's solution was to take the 1938 vintage Class Q 0-6-0 design of his predecessor Richard Maunsell and strip it of all superfluous features.  The resulting locomotive - the most powerful 0-6-0 ever to run in Britain - was built from a minimal amount of raw material and - at less than 90 tons - could operate over 97% of Southern Railway tracks.Although most famous in peacetime as a high density suburban passenger network, World War II found the Southern Railway having to move unexpected amounts of heavy freight.  Bulleid’s solution was to take the 1938 vintage Class Q 0-6-0 design of his predecessor Richard Maunsell and strip it of all superfluous features.  The resulting locomotive – the most powerful 0-6-0 ever to run in Britain – was built from a minimal amount of raw material and – at less than 90 tons – could operate over 97% of Southern Railway tracks.

Also getting freight into hard to reach places was unique experimental LMS diesel mechanical shunter 7050.  Built in Preston in 1934 by the Drewry Car Company as its works number 2047, the 160 bhp Allen powered locomotive spent six years shunting in Salford Docks before being loaned to the Air Ministry in 1940.Also getting freight into hard to reach places was unique experimental LMS diesel mechanical shunter 7050.  Built in Preston in 1934 on behalf of the Drewry Car Company as its works number 2047 (English Electric 847), the 160 bhp Allen powered locomotive spent six years shunting in Salford Docks before being loaned to the Air Ministry in 1940.

In 1943 7050 left LMS stock and became War Department 224, subsequent numbers being 70224 in 1944, 846 in 1952 and 240 in 1968.  By the time the locomotive was preserved in 1979 it had been re-engined with a Gardner 6L3 diesel and was being used by the Royal Navy at Botley, Hampshire.  It was displayed at the National Army Museum in Beverley until closure in 2003.In 1943 7050 left LMS stock and became War Department 224, subsequent numbers being 70224 in 1944, 846 in 1952 and 240 in 1968.  By the time the locomotive was preserved in 1979 it had been re-engined with a Gardner 6L3 diesel and was being used by the Royal Navy at Botley, Hampshire.  It was displayed at the National Army Museum in Beverley until closure in 2003.

Also built by a company associated with English Electric was Vulcan Foundry KF Class 4-8-4 number KF7, delivered from 1935 to work the new Chinese Government Railways line from Guangzhou to Shaoguan.  As this route featured steep gradients, tight curves and weak bridges, Vulcan's Colonel Kenneth Cantlie designed the KF Class with a high tractive effort but a low axle load and incorporated superheating and other mechanical devices to improve steam production without enlarging the boiler.Also built by a company associated with English Electric was Vulcan Foundry KF Class 4-8-4 number KF7, one of 24 delivered from 1935 to work the new Chinese Government Railways line from Guangzhou to Shaoguan.  As this route featured steep gradients, tight curves and weak bridges, Vulcan’s Colonel Kenneth Cantlie designed the KF Class with a high tractive effort but a low axle load and incorporated superheating and other mechanical devices to improve steam production without enlarging the boiler.

Less than 30 years later, Vulcan Foundry was producing the Class 37 Co-Co diesel electric locomotives which, as can be seen above, are still playing an important role on British railways in 2015.  The first of these, D6700, is now preserved and could be see in in another part of the Great Hall along with another classic English Electric design, Class 20 Bo-Bo diesel electric D8000.Less than 30 years later, Vulcan Foundry was producing the Class 37 Co-Co diesel electric locomotives which, as can be seen above, are still playing an important role on British railways in 2015.  The first of these, D6700, is now preserved and could be see in in another part of the Great Hall along with another classic English Electric design, Class 20 Bo-Bo diesel electric D8000, seen here with Royal Train headcode discs.

After visiting some old haunts in the centre of York, Mark and I drove out to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington, passing the Art Deco Terry's factory which produced its last Chocolate Orange in 2005 and is now being turned into apartments.  Covering 22 acres, The Yorkshire Air Museum is the largest independent air museum in Britain and also the largest and most original World War II air station open to the public - its three concrete runways having been added to the original grass field in 1942.After visiting some old haunts in the centre of York, Mark and I drove out to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington, passing the Art Deco Terry’s factory which produced its last Chocolate Orange in 2005 and is now being turned into apartments.  Covering 22 acres, The Yorkshire Air Museum is the largest independent air museum in Britain and also the largest and most original World War II air station open to the public – its three concrete runways having been added to the original grass field in 1942.

Like the National Railway Museum, it deserves several web articles all to itself but among the highlights of our visit was Gloster Javelin F(AW)9 XH767, one of the first Mark 9 Javelins to be delivered to the RAF.  After spending most of its operational career with 11 Squadron at RAF Gielenkirchen, XH767 was retired in 1967 and arrived at Elvington in 2001.Like the National Railway Museum, it deserves several web articles all to itself but among the highlights of our visit was Gloster Javelin F(AW)9 XH767, one of the first Mark 9 Javelins to be delivered to the RAF.  After spending most of its operational career with 11 Squadron at RAF Gielenkirchen, XH767 was retired in 1967 and – after being an Air Training Corps asset, a museum piece and a gate guardian – arrived at Elvington in 2001.

After the Second World War, the RAF and the then British Overseas Airways Corporation were in need of vehicles to transport passengers between airports and city centre terminals. A design specification was drawn up by the Ministry of Supply for a vehicle to accommodate 20 passengers carrying their maximum 60lbs of luggage. This led to the 1½ deck observation coach design with 180 cu ft luggage space. A total of 375 (later modified to 315) vehicles was ordered from the Park Royal Coachworks based on the well established Commer Q4 Commando chassis.After the Second World War, the RAF and the then British Overseas Airways Corporation were in need of vehicles to transport passengers between airports and city centre terminals. A design specification was drawn up by the Ministry of Supply for a vehicle to accommodate 20 passengers carrying their maximum 60lbs of luggage. This led to the 1½ deck observation coach design with 180 cu ft luggage space. A total of 375 (later modified to 315) vehicles was ordered from the Park Royal Coachworks based on the well established Commer Q4 Commando chassis.

The Museum’s vehicle, XAT 368, was delivered to the RAF in April 1947 and served at various Yorkshire airfields until 1957, when it was bought by Hull Cricket Club who found it slow, causing the team to frequently arrive late for matches! From 1959 it was used first as a staff bus, then as a commercial coach by two operators until, in June 1962, it was bought by The British Automobile Motor Club and converted for use as a race control vehicle. In this role, it appeared at the Harewood Hill Climb, Castle Howard, Scarborough, RAF Church Fenton and Silverstone until 1972.

In 1978, a new owner, David Hardcastle, planned to restore the vehicle but eventually donated it to the RAF Benevolent Fund in 1993, in recognition of the help received by his mother from the Fund when her first husband was killed in a flying accident in 1937. The bus was then moved to RAF Cottesmore where restoration finally began.

Thanks to the volunteers at RAF Cottesmore and the most recent owners, the Panton brothers at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby, the Museum’s Crew Bus, believed to be one of only 5/6 still to survive, is fully serviceable with just some interior work outstanding.  My connection with this vehicle is the Oxford Die Cast models in 00 and N gauge which are either on display at the Jet Age Museum or are about to be!

The CG-4A was a wartime troop or cargo-carrying glider made by the Waco Aircraft Company in Ohio, USA. It was named Hadrian when in service with the British forces. It was the only American built troop-carrying glider to be used by the allied forces in the airborne invasions of Sicily and France.Meanwhile, the CG-4A Hadrian provided another link between the Yorkshire Air Museum and my modelling, in this case as one part of the presentation Goes Like A Rocket.  The wartime troop or cargo-carrying glider was made by the Waco Aircraft Company in Ohio, USA. It was named Hadrian when in service with the British forces. It was the only American built troop-carrying glider to be used by the allied forces in the airborne invasions of Sicily and France.

Including the two pilots in the hinged nose, it could carry 15 fully armed troops or a jeep with its crew, or an Army 75 mm howitzer with crew and ammunition. It could carry a total military load of around 3,500 lb and could land in a field 660 feet by 200 feet surrounded by 50 feet obstacles at a loaded stalling speed of 50-60 mph.

The fuselage of the Hadrian was 6 feet 5 inches wide and made of a steel tubular framework covered with fabric on wooden formers with a wooden floor. The wingspan was 83 feet 8 inches and the wings and tail unit were made of wood with a plywood and fabric covering. The training undercarriage consisted of independent wheels, with shock absorbers and hydraulic brakes. The operational undercarriage could be jettisoned by parachute and was a simple cross axle with brake-less wheels. The glider then landed on skids.

The Yorkshire Air Museum’s fuselage is based on an original steel frame and is under restoration at present.

As both Sir Frederick Handley-Page and Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris were both born in Cheltenham it was similarly interesting to see examples of both Halifax and Victor bombers at Elvington.

The Handley Page Halifax was first flown on 25 October 1939 from RAF Bicester and entered service with 35 Squadron in November 1940. The first Halifax raid by the squadron was against le Havre, France, on 10 March 1941.The Handley Page Halifax was first flown on 25 October 1939 from RAF Bicester and entered service with 35 Squadron in November 1940. The first Halifax raid by the squadron was against le Havre, France, on 10 March 1941.

The Halifax I and II aircraft were powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines and the Halifax III was powered by Bristol Hercules engines. Apart from the role as a heavy bomber, the Halifax III and later versions also served in Coastal Command and in paratrooping and glider towing roles with the Airborne Forces. Halifax production totalled 6,178, the bomber versions flying a total of 75,532 sorties in the Second World War.

Yorkshire was the home of 4 and 6 Groups Bomber Command and three Halifax Squadrons were based at Elvington, first 77 Squadron, then two French Air Force Squadrons, 346 (Guyenne) and 347 (Tunisie).Yorkshire was the home of 4 and 6 Groups Bomber Command and three Halifax Squadrons were based at Elvington, first 77 Squadron, then two French Air Force Squadrons, 346 (Guyenne) and 347 (Tunisie).

The Museum’s Halifax reconstruction is based on a section of the fuselage of Halifax II, HR792, which carried out an emergency landing on the Isle of Lewis in 1945. A crofter, Mr McKenzie, purchased the fuselage section for use as a hencoop. The wings came from Hastings, TG536, at RAF Catterick. The reconstruction is named “Friday the 13th” in honour of Halifax, LV907, which completed 128 operations with 158 Squadron, and is representative of all examples built.

The Handley-Page Victor K.2 tanker evolved from the original Victor B.2, ‘V’-bomber, which entered service with the Royal Air Force in October 1961. The first K.2 flew at Woodford on 1 March 1972. It had a crew of five, and was powered by four Rolls-Royce Conway turbofans of 20,600 lb thrust each. It had a maximum speed of 640 mph (Mach 0.92) at 40,000 feet, a ceiling of 59,000 feet and a range of 3,500 miles.The Handley-Page Victor K.2 tanker evolved from the original Victor B.2, ‘V’-bomber, which entered service with the Royal Air Force in October 1961. The first K.2 flew at Woodford on 1 March 1972. It had a crew of five, and was powered by four Rolls-Royce Conway turbofans of 20,600 lb thrust each. It had a maximum speed of 640 mph (Mach 0.92) at 40,000 feet, a ceiling of 59,000 feet and a range of 3,500 miles.

One of two bombers designed around Specification B.35/46, the Handley-Page H.P.80 - later named the Victor - was the last of the V-bombers to enter service with the Royal Air Force. The Avro Vulcan, to the same requirements, had become operational in mid-1956. Both aircraft were designed to operate fast and high - above virtually all known defences - but when the first Victors entered service in 1957, some Soviet fighters and missiles were capable of interception at their designed operating altitudes.Victor K.2s made a substantial contribution in the Falklands War, flying over 3,000 hours and making over 600 air refuelling sorties from Ascension Island, in support of the Vulcans, Nimrods, Hercules and Harriers. They also flew in the Gulf War, refuelling the Tornado and other allied aircraft. The Victor’s outstanding versatility and advanced design enabled it to have the longest service of all the ‘V-bomber’ generation.

XL231 joined 139 Squadron on 1 February 1962, returning to Handley-Page for conversion to a B(S.R) Mk 2 in November 1963 and joining the Wittering Wing in July 1964. It was converted to become the prototype K.2 Tanker on 23 January 1972 and saw service in the Falklands War, in support of the ‘Operation Black Buck’ Vulcan raid on Port Stanley, and later in the Gulf War. It was flown into retirement at Elvington in November 1993. The aircraft is kept in ground operational condition by Andre Tempest and his ground crew.

Staying with the bomber theme - and continuing the Preston theme from the National Railway Museum - was the cockpit of English Electric Canberra B 2 WH903.  Like the Hawker Hunter cockpit preserved at Gloucestershire's Jet Age Museum, this original feature was saved when the rest of the aircraft was modified.  In the case of WH903, the rest of the 1954 vintage B2 became the basis for a conversion by Boulton Paul to a Canberra T11 in 1964.  This in turn was upgraded to T19 standard in 1966 and when the main part of the aircraft was relegated to fire training duties in 1977 its T19 nose was also preserved.Staying with the bomber theme – and continuing the Preston theme from the National Railway Museum – was the cockpit of English Electric Canberra B 2 WH903.  Like the Hawker Hunter cockpit preserved at Gloucestershire’s Jet Age Museum, this original feature was saved when the rest of the aircraft was modified.  In the case of WH903, the rest of the 1954 vintage B2 became the basis for a conversion by Boulton Paul to a Canberra T11 in 1964.  This in turn was upgraded to T19 standard in 1966 and when the main part of the aircraft was relegated to fire training duties in 1977 its T19 nose was also preserved.

Finally at Elvington, considering that 6 August 2015 was the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bombing raid on Hiroshima, I took a moment to examine one of only two hydrogen bombs on display in museums in Britain.  The Hunting Engineering WE177 Type B was delivered new to RAF Cottesmore in 1966 and on withdrawal in August 1998 it was Britain's last air-dropped free-fall nuclear weapon.  After this date the Royal Air Force had no nuclear capacity whatsoever.  The thermonuclear WE177 was 30 times more powerful than the fission weapons dropped on Japan at the end of World War II and is seen here alongside more modern - and conventionally armed - Sea Eagle and Martel anti-ship missiles.Finally at Elvington, considering that 6 August 2015 was the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bombing raid on Hiroshima, I took a moment to examine one of only two hydrogen bombs on display in museums in Britain.  The Hunting Engineering WE177 Type B was delivered new to RAF Cottesmore in 1966 and on withdrawal in August 1998 it was Britain’s last air-dropped free-fall nuclear weapon.  After this date the Royal Air Force had no nuclear capacity whatsoever.  The thermonuclear WE177 was 30 times more powerful than the fission weapons dropped on Japan at the end of World War II and is seen here to the left of more modern – and conventionally armed – Martel and Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles.

With our time in York over it was time to drive back to Windermere via Harrogate and Skipton - although our journey was delayed when we decided to stop at Hammerton station on the line between York and Harrogate.  This gem of old world rural railway charm with points and signals controlled not by a conventional box or ground frame but some levers in a lockable cupboard on the platform.With our time in York over it was time to drive back to Windermere via Harrogate and Skipton – although our journey was delayed when we decided to stop at Hammerton station on the line between York and Harrogate.  This gem of old world rural railway charm with points and signals controlled not by a conventional box or ground frame but some levers in a lockable cupboard on the platform.

Noticing that the upper quadrant semaphore signals were set for a York bound train, Mark and I stayed to watch the arrival and departure of diesel hydraulic multiple unit 150 204.Noticing that the upper quadrant semaphore signals were set for a York bound train – and that the signalman was manually opening the level crossing gates – Mark and I stayed to watch the arrival and departure of diesel hydraulic multiple unit 150 204.  Like all the passenger services to Hammerton, which serves the villages of Kirk Hammerton and Green Hammerton, this BREL York built Sprinter unit was in the markings of train operating company Northern Rail and was part of an hourly service pattern to York and Leeds respectively.

 

150 204 comprised of a Driving Motor Standard Lavatory and a Driving Motor Standard vehicle, both of which were made of steel in the mid 1980s and both of which were powered by a Cummins NT855R5 engine yielding 285 bhp at 2100 rpm.150 204 comprised of a Driving Motor Standard Lavatory and a Driving Motor Standard vehicle, both of which were made of steel in the mid 1980s and both of which were powered by a Cummins NT855R5 engine yielding 285 bhp at 2100 rpm.  This torque in turn was transmitted to the wheels by a Voith 211r hydraulic converter acting on a cardan shaft leading to a Gmeinder GM 190 final drive.  British Rail Engineering Limited at York was also responsible for building the prototype Class 150 two car diesel hydraulic multiple unit as well as sub classes 150/1, 150/2 and First Great Western’s 150/9.

Having enjoyed this twilit idyll, we continued by car to the other end of the double track section at Cattal.Having enjoyed this twilit idyll, we continued by car to the other end of the double track section at Cattal.  Here we did find a more conventional ground frame, just opposite a signal post with both starting and distant semaphores.  Also remarkably new  – to my eyes at least – was the arrangement of wooden fence, gate and “cattle grid” on the slope of the platform to inhibit access to the track.  Also, unlike Hammerton, the level crossing gates themselves, while still manually operated, were more like the gates to a farmer’s field rather than the more traditional railway pattern.

Cattal station, like Hammerton, was opened in 1848 by the North Eastern Railway and we stayed long enough to see the passage of diesel hydraulic multiple units 144 006 and 150 137.Cattal station, like Hammerton, was opened in 1848 by the North Eastern Railway and we stayed long enough to see the passage of diesel hydraulic multiple units 144 006 and 150 137.

 

 

 

 

 

After a packed two days on the road, TPE’s 185 121 took me from Windermere to Oxenholme at 0756 on the morning of Friday 7 August 2015, pulling in to Platform 3 at 0816.  Moving under the tracks to the southbound Platform 1 I was able to watch the arrival and northward departure of 390 010 ” A Decade of Progress” before 390 151 “Virgin Ambassador” left at 0823 bound for  Platform 6 at Preston.  From seat C 02 I  also noted 350 402/403 and Plasser & Theurer tamper DR 73109 at Lancaster.

Arriving at Preston at 0856  I had time to photograph some of the vinyl embellishments to 390 151 and also see Northern's 158 907 as well as 390 016 ""Virgin Champion"and 390 141 "City of Chester" before boarding Virgin Super Voyager 221 105 "William Baffin" to Birmingham New Street at 0917 from Platform 4.Arriving at Preston at 0856  I had time to photograph some of the vinyl embellishments to 390 151 and also see Northern’s 158 907 as well as 390 016 “Virgin Champion”and 390 141 “City of Chester” before boarding Virgin Super Voyager 221 105 “William Baffin” to Birmingham New Street at 0917 from Platform 4.

A 4 coach Class 220 Virgin Voyager unit was coupled on to the front of this Class 221 Super Voyager at Wolverhampton to replace a shortfall in capacity.  Presumably this service was to have been formed of two Class 221s or a 221 and a 220 north of Preston but one unit had failed.

In any case, the train was full of passengers unhappy not to be sitting in their reserved places.  I had to move twice, once out of B 26, then out of the way of a Scottish couple with a sense of humour bypass going camping, but ended up with a socket to charge my mobile phone.  This was still an improvement on my journey from Preston to Lancaster aboard 185 103 where I was prevented from reaching my seat by a large gathering of Orthodox Jews, their children and assorted pushchairs.  However, for such a short journey I was prepared to stand.

08 507  66 772 and 221 116 were seen at Crewe with 170 631  and 350 262 noted at Wolverhampton.

Arriving at Platform 1 of Birmingham New Street at 1105 I had time to reach Platform 12B to catch the 1130 Nottingham to Cardiff service via Cheltenham formed by 170 102 and still see 43366 (Arriva Cross Country) 323 241  and 323 313 before taking seat C51A and reaching Cheltenham at 1210.Arriving at Platform 1 of Birmingham New Street at 1105 I had time to reach Platform 12B to catch the 1130 Nottingham to Cardiff service via Cheltenham formed by 170 102 and still see 43366 (Arriva Cross Country) 323 241  and 323 313 before taking seat C51A and reaching Cheltenham at 1210.

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