The other week, President Obama was on his way back from the NATO summit in South Wales, when he spotted Stonehenge beneath him and asked the pilot to let him stop by somewhere he'd apparently always wanted to visit. "Knocked it off the bucket list, right now!", he told reporters
as he wandered amongst the stones and posed for 'selfies' with bewildered tourists.
It seems that more and more people are contemplating making a list of things they want to do with their life before they 'kick the bucket', and it's set us thinking.
To say that 45305 has had a quiet year is a painful understatement for those of us who care for the locomotive. For a variety of reasons, the 'Five', despite being mechanically fit, has accrued not a single main line mile, in a year neither we, nor the engine, can get back. The national network is becoming ever more crowded, and whilst main line steam might have the right to be there, that right doesn't confer space on the planner's graph for trains we might wish to haul. Just as we would never have imagined in 1968, or even in the 1980s, the opportunities which 'open access' has given us, we can take nothing for granted now.
The association to which 45305 gave its name wants to ensure 2015 doesn't become another 'lost' year for the 'Five'. We're thinking carefully about this - and we want to hear from the locomotive's supporters and friends as we do so.
We'd like to know: 'What would you love to do with 'Black Five GTi', whilst you still can?'.
Maybe there is a particular place you want to visit, or a stretch of line you'd like to traverse, rare or otherwise. It might be a big hill, a bleak moorland or a seaside town. It might be somewhere 45305 was shedded or ran regularly, or breaking new ground for the locomotive.
Edge Hill, 1968
Do you have happy memories of a tour, say from '68, or the early days of preservation, that you've wished you could re-live at least elements of? Maybe one you missed first time around? It could be a lunchtime trip, or an epic adventure.
We've already started to hear your views about how you'd like the 'Five' to look as and when we take a paintbrush to it. That might matter to you.
Of course, we have to balance the books, but if it's viable, we'll look at it.
45 years after Lostock Hall's finest came within a brick arch of bringing the curtain down on the 'Fifteen Guinea Special' and steam on British Railways, it was with great pride that 5305LA took 45305 into Lime Street with the headcode '1T57' and crossed that off the top of the list. We have a fabulous locomotive, a main line ticket, and a team with the will to make things happen. We'd love you to join us.
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What should we put on our 'Black Five Bucket List'?
Here are some of the suggestions so far...