Last year, Zelo Street regulars may remember a post about the Railway Touring Company’s marathon Great Britain tour, which had stopped off at Crewe en route from a night stop at Preston to the next evening’s destination, Bristol. Spending nine consecutive days on board a train making its way around the UK behind a variety of heritage steam traction is still popular, as it’s on again this year.
In fact, this is the fifth year of the tour, which at an individual cost as much as £2,800 is definitely a non-trivial expense, but the punters have arrived from across mainland Europe and north America to ensure the train was well filled as it arrived at Crewe late this morning. There was no hostess photo opportunity this time – so no interest for Mail Online – but hundreds braved the rain just to see the train pass.
None of that kind of thing this year
So was it any different this year? Ah well. Those of an anorak persuasion would easily identify the difference in locomotive type for this leg of the tour, with last year’s Castle class loco replaced by Britannia class “Pacific” Oliver Cromwell, part of the National Collection as it was one of the last locos to work a passenger train for BR back in 1968 at the end of steam traction.
The return of Oliver Cromwell
Passengers could stretch their legs and appreciate just how enchanting Crewe station is when the rain combines with a northerly wind, while the support crew wheeled out the hoses and used the Platform 12 hydrant to water the loco (typically, large steam locos go through 40 to 50 gallons of water per mile). The stop, together with pathing the tour, meant a delay of half an hour or so.
Water stop and pundit photo-op
Then, a few minutes after the whistle sounded to tell anyone who was travelling to get back aboard, the signal cleared and Oliver Cromwell blasted out of Crewe with her 420 tonne trailing load, taking the road towards Shrewsbury, Hereford, the Severn Tunnel and then Bristol.
The tour goes from Bristol to Penzance and back tomorrow, and then returns to London on Sunday via Gloucester, Stroud and Swindon. The enthusiastic and the merely curious can see details of the route and the schedule for tomorrow HERE and Sunday HERE. Don’t forget that more or less any vantage point will be occupied with snappers well beforehand.
And on to Bristol ...
But go and have a look anyway if you’re in the area. You will not be alone.