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Monday 27th September 2021 Great Central Railway, Swithland Sidings, Swithland, Leicester LE7 7SE

A rare chance to photograph a train of up to seven tanker wagons at the GCR hauled by BR No.73156

Join us for a rare opportunity to photograph a 1950s goods working comprising up to seven tanker wagons and brake van at the Great Central Railway hauled by black-liveried British Railways 5MT Class No.73156


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About this event

With grateful thanks to the owners of No.73156, the Bolton Steam Locomotive Company Limited, and our hosts the Great Central Railway, we are delighted to offer an unusual opportunity to photograph a steam-hauled tanker train similar to those seen in the 1950s with a consist comprising a barrier van next to the locomotive, followed by up to seven tank wagons (depending on how many are passed fit to run in April) and with a brake van at the rear. We think this is the very first time a tanker consist of this length has been put together in preservation, so we can offer something completely different for these two days of charters.

Numbers on this charter will be limited to 30 photographers only. We will start the day from Swithland so please drive direct to Swithland - there is some parking within the yard and plenty more at the roadside, though please park sensibly as this is a busy road. We will have our very important safety briefing prior to photography getting under way.

We expect the Butler Henderson Cafe to be open at Quorn during the day and we will be able to take advantage of this facility around mid-day when the locomotive returns to Loughborough for servicing.

No.73156 was one of 172 Standard Class 5 locomotives, of which 130 were built at Derby Works and 42 at Doncaster Works, from where 73156 emerged new in December 1956. As such the locomotive was amongst the last few hundred of the steam types built. No.73156 was intended for use on passenger and goods services and as such was ʻmixed trafficʼ power class 5. During the course of its service with British Railways, the locomotive saw extensive use on express passenger, local passenger, parcels trains, long distance fast freight services and more humble duties. Originally allocated to Neasden Depot to work services out of London Marylebone, other sheds included Leicester Central, Woodford Halse and Leamington Spa. Withdrawal came from Bolton Depot when the locomotive had been in service for just eleven years, having accumulated only 325,000 miles in traffic.

The return to steam of No.73156 in August 2017 was the culmination of a thirty year long project that has seen the locomotive, a rusting hulk devoid of a tender, steadily reassembled from scrap yard condition back to her former glory as an express engine. No.73156 was one of the locomotives to have its tender removed and sold. With no tender and an increasing number of components removed and sold to purchasers restoring other locos, plus the effect of the prevailing weather and salt air, 73156 presented a very sorry sight. The fact that the design characteristics of the standard locomotives resulted in inter-changeable components was working against it; part by part, it was gradually disappearing.

It was seventeen years before a group of enthusiasts determined to preserve a locomotive with connections to the North West of England raised sufficient cash to purchase the ex-Bolton engine for preservation. After removal from Woodham Brothers scrap yard, 73156 moved to Bury on the East Lancashire Railway in late 1986, the fifth member of the class to be rescued for preservation. Around the mid-way point in the work, the decision was taken to move the locomotive to the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire; the Railway was keen to welcome the engine to the line, particularly as it had been shedded at three depots along the route of the former Great Central route during its working life for British Railways. The locomotive is now a regular and reliable performer on the preserved Great Central Railway and should make an excellent sight at the head of a tanker train reminiscent of the 1950s.

We hope you will wish to join us for what promises to be a great day of steam action utilising a most unusual train formation and which is bound to be extremely popular.

Images are for illustration purposes

Event requirements


  • Camera
  • Lenses
  • Camera protection - rain covers etc

Other things you should bring

  • Snacks


  • All levels welcome


  • Low

Other essentials

  • Sturdy outdoor shoes
  • Warm clothing
  • Wet weather gear

Event location

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