By Don Benn
My theme this time is steam out of Marylebone in the 1960s and 1980s.
I didn’t cover the Great Central line in its heyday; only when it was in serious decline in the mid-1960s, and then as a change from the South Western main line.
In September 1964, the ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ finished as the Western Region took over the lines west of Salisbury and gradually ran them down and so I looked elsewhere for steam action, even though there was plenty left on the Southern.
In early September I had my first venture to Scotland, followed on the 26th of that month by a trip out of Marylebone behind LMS ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No. 44932, now preserved and back on the main line, though currently awaiting overhaul and a new boiler certificate.
Run One covers the section as far as Brackley where unaccountably I alighted to wait for the 5.15pm from Nottingham Victoria back to London. I had intended to catch the 4.38pm so not sure why I didn’t stay on the earlier train to Rugby. While killing time by walking in the nearby countryside I was very annoyed to see across the fields that a rebuilt ‘Scot’ was on the 4.38pm train. However the running on the 2.38pm was competent enough with the by then usual four coaches for 145 tons and sectional times were kept throughout.
Particularly good was the noisy climb up the 6.4 miles of mainly 1-in-105 from Rickmansworth to Amersham where speed settled down at a steady 43mph, tending to rise slightly. My notebook states ‘utterly thrashed’ and although this was without doubt exaggeration the engine was certainly being worked hard.
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