If it’s Thursday it must be a Steam Dreams job for Oliver Cromwell. On 13 August we went to Oxford, not via the Great Western main line – that’s not a proper day out – but from Victoria via East Croydon, Redhill, Guildford and Reading.
Ash shovelling at Southall
A full wax polish the previous day ensured that on leaving Southall depot at 0645 our trusty steed looked absolutely gorgeous. The relatively late start meant that our customary lengthy sojourn in Acton Lane Reception Sidings was cut to a mere 45 minutes, but still plenty of time for a decent breakfast and a change into best footplate togs.
The ‘Surrey Hills’ line between Redhill and Guildford is aptly named, traversing as it does some marvellous English countryside and featuring some stiff gradients that are a genuine test for steam. No problem, though, for No. 70013 and her crew who combined to put in a sparkling performance. Between Guildford and Reading the road is a bit easier, and from the latter point we were favoured by the gentle topography of the Thames valley and Brunel’s superb engineering, making for some fast running.
Cromwell & Admirers at Victoria
At Oxford, after servicing in First Great Western’s Up Carriage Sidings we had a break in the glorious sunshine while Cromwell went to turn on the triangle of lines at Didcot. And at around 1730 we picked up our throng of passengers and took them home the way they came and in much the same style as on the outward run.
More Ash shovelling, this time in Oxford carriage sidings, clearing up after the engine left to go and turn
70013 meets 66013 at Didcot as we wait for the road
It had been a relatively easy day for the support crew. The only black mark was a literal one. Our coal for the outward journey contained a liberal amount of dust which, despite frequent hosing from the slacker pipe, blew out of the tender on to the footplate and its occupants, making us absolutely filthy. Still, what’s a bit of dirt against a day of hands-on mainline steam?
By Info | Friday, August 21, 2009 | Tags : 70013