An historic main line steam locomotive that headed the last British Rail steam train 50 years ago is hauling passenger trains between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross, Herston and Swanage this week during the Half Term week.
Built in 1945, the powerful 74-ton London Midland and Scottish Railway Stanier ‘Black 5’ class No. 44871 is operating on the Swanage Railway from Saturday, 20 October, to Saturday, 27 October, 2018, inclusive. And on Sunday, 28 October 2018, No. 44871 will be hauling the Swanage Railway’s popular ‘Dorsetman’ Sunday lunch train.
The main line certificated 4-6-0 wheel arrangement steam locomotive – which is based on the East Lancashire Railway and hauls excursion trains on the national railway system – took part in the Swanage Railway’s recent three-day, eight locomotive Autumn Steam Gala which attracted visitors from across the country.
‘Black 5’ No. 44871 made history 50 years ago when it helped to haul the famous ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’ end of steam train between Liverpool, Manchester and Carlisle in August, 1968 – the last steam-hauled passenger train run by British Rail – with tickets costing 15 guineas.
Between Saturday, 20 October, and Saturday, 27 October, 2018, inclusive, No. 44871 will be hauling six trains a day in each direction – six trains from Norden station and six trains from Swanage station – with the Swanage Railway’s blue timetable being in use.
The ‘Black 5’ will be hauling trains from Norden station at 10.40am, 12.00 noon, 1.20pm, 2.40pm, 4pm and 5.20pm with No. 44871 departing Swanage station at 10am, 11.20am, 12.40pm, 2pm, 3.20pm and 4.40pm.
Swanage Railway Company executive chairman Trevor Parsons said: “It is very exciting to have such a special piece of national railway history from half a century ago haul passenger trains on the Swanage Railway.
“We are very grateful indeed to the locomotive’s owner – Riley and Son (E) Limited – for allowing us to continue to use the ‘Black 5’ after its popular appearance at our recent Autumn Steam Gala. It is a lovely locomotive and it is a real privilege for our footplate crews to work on her.
“Fifty years ago, No. 44871 was one of the steam locomotives that hauled the last British Rail-operated steam train in the country – the ’15 Guinea Special’ that ran between Liverpool, Manchester and Carlisle in August 1968.
“That last British Rail steam train 50 years ago marked the end of an era that had started in 1825 when the first steam locomotive ran on the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
“Back in August, 1968, that summer day was a very sad one as people across the north of England saw main line steam trains disappear into the history books,” added Trevor who is also a volunteer train guard and signalman on the Swanage Railway.
Designed by William Stanier of the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company for hauling both passenger and freight trains, ‘Black 5’ No. 44871 was built at Crewe in March, 1945.
The Swanage Railway’s recent Autumn Steam Gala was staged on the theme of the historic locomotive exchange trials in 1948 which took place on the newly nationalised British Railways network to evaluate different classes of steam locomotives from the previous ‘Big Four’ railway companies.
Drawing visitors from across the country, the successful Gala saw eight steam locomotives in action through the Isle of Purbeck during the three-day event including three visiting locomotives – London Midland and Scottish Railway Stanier ‘Black 5’ No. 44871, 1938 London Midland and Scottish Railway No. 6233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’ and 1954 British Railways Class 4 Tank No. 80078.
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