By Cedric Johns
It was meant to be a celebration: a Britannia Pacific working a train from Liverpool Street to Norwich, replicating the 1950s when class members were rostered to work East Anglian express services to and from London.
No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, the only member of its class in steam at present, was just weeks away from its main line ticket expiring.
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Organised by Steam Dreams, at the request of the 4-6-2’s Loughborough-based team led by engineer Tom Tighe, the firm’s director, Marcus Robertson alerted the media to what in many people’s eyes was an historic event, on Thursday, February 22.
Departing Liverpool Street restricted to 20mph by an engineering restriction as far as Stratford, the ‘Cathedrals Express’, began its journey in earnest, with more than 350 passengers on board.
The train was three minutes early passing Ilford but had dropped time passing Shenfield and Chelmsford two minutes down. Colchester was reached three down, station platforms and bridges crowded with people all anxious not to miss the occasion which made the front page of the town’s Daily Gazette.
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