LAMIEL DEFIES THE ELEMENTS
We had a server crash earlier in the week which meant that I was not able to post this report on the day it arrived, many apologies to anyone who has been frustrated by not being able to access our website for the last couple of days. Normal service has (hopefully) now been resumed, thanks to Andy our webmaster / tech wizard who sorts out the nuts & bolts of our internet access.
This report was sent in by one of the support crew who was on last Wednesday's trip, his email included the message: "Report on yesterday's trip attached. Sorry but no photos. If you'd seen the weather you would know why!"
Another splendid run with 30777 took place last Wednesday, the 25th August. This was the third return trip on the Dorset Coast Express that Lamiel would be undertaking in the summer season. The loco had been stabled at Yeovil Junction for the week previous, following its outward journey on the 18th August.
Rob and James had been down from Loughborough on Monday and Tuesday to attend to a few weeping tubes and their efforts left Lamiel with a tubeplate "as dry as a bone". The support crew of Tom, Nick, Bill, Simon and Gerry arrived on Tuesday prepare the engine. The nice people at the Yeovil Junction Steam Centre had coaled the loco beforehand from the pile of Daw Mill delivered on the earlier instructions of West Coast Railways. (Lamiel doesn't really like Daw Mill as it tends to clinker in its firebox but there was no choice but to use it.)
Preliminary work was carried out on the oiling and cleaning on Tuesday afternoon and the "Tesco run" into Yeovil completed by bus - this to provide sustenance on Wednesday's trip. In the evening all repaired to the local Wetherspoon's for a meal and refreshment.
Wednesday turned out to be a foul day weatherwise. It started off with light rain but turned into the heavy variety and later on to torrential. The loco is stabled in the open at Yeovil, so the preparation activities were not pleasant to carry out - but carried out they were. With the engine passed as "fit to run", the West Coast crew of Pete Roberts and Mel Cox arrived to take Lamiel to Weymouth. The storm sheet was put up to protect those in the cab for the tender first run down to the coast with support coach 14099.
Arrival at Jersey Sidings found 60019 Bittern in place, having worked the Dorset Coast Express down from London Victoria. Driver Dave Hewson and fireman John Shaw took over on the footplate. 30777 watered and placed the support coach on the back of the stock (which would become the front on departure from Weymouth). This took place in Buddleia Siding (aka Jersey No 2). Guard Mark squelched his way through all the shunting moves in his usual cheerful fashion. The steam heat was connected up to 14099 in order to dry the coach out. Then it was time for 60019 to drag the train into the station with 30777 at the rear. The bedraggled passengers boarded and the spectacular part of the day commenced. This is where the outward loco (60019 in this case) banks the return loco (30777) on the 1 in 50 climb to Bincombe tunnels. Such was the foulness of the weather that there were very few spectators willing to brave the elements to view the departure. On the steep lineside bank between the two Bincombe tunnels, where a gaggle of photographers normally gathers to photograph the train, there were precisely none.
The storm sheet had been taken down to enable free movement in the cab and so all on board were subject to regular dousing. 60019 came off at Wareham, from where Lamiel was on her own. Timekeeping throughout was pretty good and the climb of Parkstone bank at Poole taken well, with sanders put on at the bottom. There was not even the hint of a slip, with driver Dave Hewson doing a superb job. Watering at Eastleigh was done in further torrential rain. With only 11 minutes allowed, John Boxhall of Bells and Two Tones was ready with the hoses and 3,500 gallons were put in the tender in about seven minutes. The train arrived two minutes late and left one minute down, a testament to the slick operation of all concerned.
Further water at Brookwood saw Mike Hebbard officiating. This time only 7½ minutes were needed against the booked 10. The run into Waterloo sees the train routed on the fast line from Weybridge and so the trip ends in a lively fashion. The usual severe signal check was encountered outside the London terminus because a service train occupies platform 16, which the Dorset Coast Express runs into, until only about a minute before the DCE is due to arrive. Consequently arrival was three minutes late. Once again the train was full and a large group of admiring passengers surrounded the engine and made many complimentary comments.
The loco performed very well in atrocious conditions and everyone involved had worked hard to achieve another good run.
Meanwhile, at Crewe, work continues on Oliver Cromwell (No. 70013, the NRM's other engine in our care) the expected date for completion of the boiler work is still October.