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We are delighted to be able to offer a day of double track steam action featuring the mighty British Railways Pacific No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, at the head of the Great Central Railway's fine rake of Travelling Post Office vehicles in the morning followed by a more traditional pairing with the lines Maroon MK1ís in the afternoon.
With grateful thanks to both the GCR and the TPO set's owners, Railway Vehicle Preservations based at Rothley, we can recreate the spectacle of a Mark I Travelling Post Office set of the 1950s and 1960s being hauled by a very famous British Railways Standard Pacific.
The first TPO was introduced as long ago as 1838 when railways began to take over from horse-drawn road coaches as a faster and safer method of transporting the mail. One of the most famous evocations of the service came with the highly-acclaimed documentary film Night Mail, filmed in 1936 mid-way through the GPO Film Unit's relatively short existence (1933-1940) with music scored by Benjamin Britten and including the poem Night Mail, written by W H Auden. More than anything, this depiction of carrying mail by rail has permeated the public consciousness and immortalised this important but often overlooked aspect of our railway heritage. The service was discontinued in 2004 as the continuing trend towards modern road transport wrought its revenge, bringing over 150 years of this part of railway history to a close.
Due to its part in the final weeks of British Railways main line steam in 1968, Oliver Cromwell achieved a somewhat iconic status amongst enthusiasts who gathered on 11th August 1968 to witness the last rites (or so they thought) of steam on the national network. The Riddles-designed Pacific was one of four locomotives which hauled the Fifteen Guinea Special, the final steam rail tour under British Railways auspices, with 70013 hauling the Manchester to Liverpool leg of this trip.
On the day following the special, the locomotive moved under its own steam to Norwich and from there on to Diss where it was transported onwards by road the short distance to Alan Bloom's Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens where, as part of the National Collection, it was preserved. The locomotive was maintained in working order until the 1980s, after which it was on static display at Bressingham. In 2004, moves began to return 70013 to working order in time for the fortieth anniversary of the end of British Railways steam. Since 2008, the loco has regularly performed on main line specials but is now close to the end of its boiler ticket.
Our day will start at Quorn station at 07.30 where we will gather for our customary but very important safety briefing. Oliver Cromwell will face South for our charter. We will be able to travel by train today and will run for a full day with a short break at lunchtime for a crew change and loco servicing. We are investigating whether we can incorporate a demonstration of the TPO apparatus in action first thing in the morning at Quorn and Woodhouse, though this will not be confirmed until nearer the time.
With Oliver Cromwell now entering the last few months of its boiler certificate, opportunities to charter the locomotive are few and far between. We are grateful to have been offered these Autumnal dates with 70013 and hope that many of you will wish to join us as another steam legend enters its twilight months in traffic.
Event cost £80.00 per person.
Lenses- suggest bringing lens lengths between 16-200mm
Basic to advanced
Low - Medium
Appropriate outdoor clothing and walking footwear