The "Coalville Cobbler" Railtour, Sunday June 11th 1989
A deserted Leighton station around six thirty on a warm sunny Sunday morning greeted me. From memory i was the sole boarder of 317323 as she arrived right time. Steve Wolverton and Dave J were already aboard the unit's power car and i took care not to sit down on a collapsing seat Bletchley's 317s were so famous for!.
A good run to Euston, "no Sunday morning farces this morning" commentated Steve. We were checked just outside Euston allowing us good views of our booked tour power with blue 33058 atop railfreight grey 33053, "a decent pair".
"Well the farce have started!" was an overheard comment as the 0830 departure time came and went. The stock 11 "Cobbler" Mk 1's were reversed in but alas not by the big pair but just 33058. 33053 having been failed. Would our single Crompton be able to climb Camden bank i joked to wind up Crompton diehard Dave J! Of course 33058 made a good, solid noisy climb up Camden bank and we thrashed along the Southern WCML, 33058 was a "good un".
The tour stock was composed of 4891, 18278, 4980, 4975, 7166, 7219, 4936, 4951, 4873, 5039, 35317.
A ritualistic bellow through Leighton then the usual Northampton totter before turning left at Rugby to take the then rare Coventry - Nuneaton freight line.
We always thought the booked 15 minutes for the 33 to run round at Nuneaton was unrealistic and we lost more time here, big time. This was complicated by the need to attach a pilot engine at Nuneaton as engineering work had closed the normal Leicester line jn route.
The pilot engine which was already waiting impressed few, 31454 was eventually attached to haul the tour half a mile or so to Abbey Jn, where we reversed with 33058 taking over Nuneaton flyover and freight route to the Leicester line. This unexpected bonus although it cost us lost time was a real bonus, possibly the last ever 33 over Nuneaton flyover as it closed not long after. The reopened Nuneaton flyover which had considerably less freight only mileage reopened in 2004 and i assume a "Crompton tour" has now done it again. 33058 gamely thrashed East and North through the rare Crompton haunts of Hinkley and Narborough before turning left at Knighton South Jn for the stagger along the 20mph restricted Coalville branch.
A temporary platform at Coalville Mantle Lane allowed a pretty quick mass bail but we were almost 2 hours down on arrival. The Hertfordshire tour stewards advised of a 2 hour late departure so plenty time was allowed to view the impressive list of exhibits. These included
08788, 20103, 20108, 20186, 20215, 31456, 33058, 37065, 37235, 37504, 37511, 47380, 47522, 56015, 56019, 56062, 58025, 58050, 97204, 97561,
plus preserved 25321, 40012, 45060, 55015.
Several kettles chuffed around Coalville too.
Around 1720 we left Coalville with the rather dull 37504 and 37511 powering the tour Westwards to Burton before rejoining the Midland main line at Trent East Jn. The booked route via Nottingham was caped to make up time with us running direct to Leicester. Problems with the lead coach 4891 (apparently the 37's had wrecked the brakes!) saw it detached at Leicester causing us more lost time.
33058 replaced the 37s at Leicester for a good run to Nuneaton where again we had just 15 minutes to run round. For those aboard the return 33058 provided on load 10 on a sunny Northamptonshire evening was a memorable gutsy Sulzer storm. Rugby PSB kindly gave us the fast Weedon route rather than the booked Northampton stagger and 33058 touched 92.5 mph at Hanslope Jn, thats fast!
The rapid pace continued South and we were only an hour down back into Euston. 33058 had put in a storming, perhaps legendary run but sadly 3 years later she was withdrawn and unlike 33053 which was preserved, 33058 was finally cut at Booths, Rotherham in 1994.
Phots from the day, Sunday June 11th 1989
A detailed loco history of 47522 here