The Great Central Railway Diesel Gala, held at the weekend, proved to be very stressful for 5305LA, with D6535, the subject of intense activity on the eve of the gala, sadly failing just before departure from Loughborough on the Saturday morning. Despite the very best efforts of Tom, Rory and Mark, the electrical fault, which had not arisen during the engine's running on Friday, could not be fixed.
D123 deputised for her stablemate, and other tribulations faced by the organisers on the Saturday led to a 'Spin and win' atmosphere which yielded 'top and tail' 'Peaks' late in the afternoon.
Diesel galas are often characterised by a convivial atmosphere and locomotives often carry headboards of various kinds. A friend of 5305LA very kindly produced for us a new headboard (inspired by the 'Scarborough Flyer' 'boards of old and indeed based on the original BR Doncaster Works drawings), to encourage supporters to follow @5305LA on 'Twitter', which proved a most useful tool for updating the public on progress during the day. Nevertheless sensitive to the aspirations of photographers, we kept the 'board on the north end of the loco (that shaded from the bright sunlight) when hauling trains.
This novel means of promotion was a great success and yielded many new 'followers' and visitors to this website. It attracted much favourable comment for its subtlety and the quality of workmanship employed in its production, with some not realising it was wooden!
The praise was not universal, however, and our creative effort met with the scorn and derision of at least one well known railway journalist, awarding it the accolade of "Most stupid headboard of the year (so far)", accusing us of 'devaluing' the restoration of the locomotive. It was not a popular opinion, but it was priceless in bringing more people to our social media channels to learn about, and hopefully support, our Association's endeavours.
Since we are now met with further costs to repair D6535, and to offer the opportunity for someone to put their money where their mouth is, the headboard's creator has agreed to sell it, for a fair price reflecting the cost of alternative means of promoting our engines, even if that causes it to be destroyed by the purchaser. It can now be found listed on eBay! (Click to view)
5305LA is a group of people dedicated to and passionate about preserving and re-creating the past, for present and future generations - but there are also those days and events which are special, exciting - even moving - in their own right; moments in time worthy of themselves, rather than merely being homages to history.
5305 at York - September 1982 (Photo Courtesy George Woods)
Who would have thought, for example, that people would look back nostalgically on an LMS liveried '5305' heading blue and grey coaches in Yorkshire? Who foresaw that in 2013, the same engine would banish the demons of 45 years before, as it left Liverpool Lime Street proudly bearing the head code '1T57?'
777 passes Ribblehead - October 1982 (Photo Courtesy George Woods)
Who imagined that a 'Scotch Arthur' would become a legend on the Settle and Carlisle twenty years after BR withdrew it, or that more recently 70013 would be released from Bressingham onto the main line once more, and twinned with a 'Roaring Monster' from Germany?
Reassembling 70013 at Loughborough. December 2007 (Photo Courtesy Craig Stinchcombe)
These and so many other moments, some very public, some between us as a group and the locomotives we love, are now fondly remembered in their own right. One day, maybe people will talk nostalgically about how a popular motoring show re-skinned the nose end of D123 having used it to smash through a caravan in front of 350 million television viewers all over the world.
A common perception is that groups like 5305LA live in the past. Make no mistake, we are proud of the care and craft with which we maintain living, breathing machines, faithful to a proud and goodly heritage - but we are still making history.
If you would like to join us in preserving - and making - railway history; whether your interest is in steam or diesel locomotives; whatever your skills or resources, we would be delighted to welcome you as a member. You can download an application form here.