Oliver Cromwell boosts crowds for Last Hurrah

Oliver Cromwell – the named star of the ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’ which marked the end of BR steam-hauled passenger trains half a century ago – sent attendances soaring at its final Great Central Railway mini-gala appearance.

BR Britannia Pacific No. 70013 headlined ‘The Last Hurrah’ on November 17/18 – with visitor numbers 30% up on the corresponding event last year.

Many were hoping to ride behind Cromwell for the last time, before its boiler ticket runs out on January 1.

LMS 8F 2-8-0 No. 48624 departs from Swithland sidings with a van train on November 18. BRIAN SHARPE

However, the locomotive may be rostered for GCR Santa trains, and there is also the possibility that it could run a ‘last’ train under its current boiler ticket.

Meanwhile, discussions are taking place between the GCR and No. 70013’s owner the National Railway Museum about a potential fast-track overhaul.

Despite a steam ban after the ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’ of August 11,1968, No. 70013 moved under its own steam to its old shed at Norwich the following day and then, on August 13, to Diss from where it was transported by road to Bressingham Steam Museum, where the late Alan Bloom had given it a bolthole.

At Bressingham, No. 70013 provided footplate rides until the 1980s, before retiring into the museum exhibition.

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