By Robin Jones
The second weekend of the Great Central Railway’s special gala to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of BR steam not only saw BR Britannia Pacific No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell in action hauling a ‘remake’ of the legendary ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’ – but for one train only, it carried the same reporting number headboard that was used on the original train on Sunday, August 11, 1968.
The historically-priceless headboard was acquired by West Coast Railways’ commercial manager James Shuttleworth several years ago – and on August 11 it was carried on one of three main line 1T57 commemorative trains, as highlighted in News, pages 14 and 15.
However, the following day, James brought it to Loughborough and exchanged it for the replica reporting number carried by No. 70013 on Oliver Cromwell’s last train of the day (the replica used by West Coast on its 2008 re-run of the train).
The 2.30pm from Leicester North arrived into Loughborough at 2.56pm, proudly displaying the seminal piece of railway history on its smokebox.
Starting at 11.30am on the Saturday of the event, Oliver Cromwell’s owner, the National Railway Museum, staged a unique live broadcast from the footplate of the locomotive as it hauled a service from Leicester North to Loughborough. The broadcast, featuring TV presenter and railway historian Tim Dunn, was streamed live on the museum’s Facebook page and the exercise was repeated that afternoon. The broadcast featured interviews with passengers, the train crew and NRM curator Anthony Coulls, along with film footage of the original ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’.
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