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Royal Duchy 2019

Discussion in 'What's Going On' started by 1020 Shireman, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. 854tiger

    854tiger New Member

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    Walking through that coach, despite staff efforts to clean the mess off, the view through the window was indeed badly affected.


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  2. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    As it was the final Royal Duchy of the year and no-one has posted any times or speeds, I thought I'd post a report on how the Duchess did on Sunday.

    Before I do that, on behalf of everyone who travelled on the train, I'd like to express our thanks to PRCLT's engineering team for their efforts in removing the damaged part from the outside middle cylinder at Crown Point Norwich swiftly, and then, against the clock, getting the parts repaired, machined, returned and refitted inside a week to pass the FTR exam to allow the big loco to move back to Southall in preparation for the Duchy.

    Failures like this are costly to rectify and the PRCLT are asking for donations towards the unexpected expenditure. I happily made a decent one on the day as a personal thank you for ensuring we had steam on the final Duchy. If you are a fan of the Duchess and you have any spare cash, please consider sending a donation to them, however small. Every little helps. And before anyone asks I have no allegiance whatsoever to the PRCLT.

    Royal Duchy 15th September 2019

    The final of 4 Royal Duchys of 2019, all with 6233 Duchess of Sutherland. Another sunny and dry day in Bristol and a good forecast for the day for both Devon and Cornwall. Everything went like clockwork at Bristol for once. When we wandered onto Platform 6 that used to be the regular departure platform for the Torbays and Duchys, we saw that Coach F had been vandalised in the yard overnight. Not in the middle where our seats were fortunately. Les and Nick tried to remove the paint from the windows and did in part, but some passengers were moved into the brake's compartments.

    On the front of the train the Duchess looked like a locomotive in service, just as I like. As we looked around the running gear, there didn't seem to be much thickness left in the tyres so we guess they'll probably be in a queue for tyre fitting at Buckfastleigh during the winter maintenance period.

    The Outward Journey

    We were mid way in coach 8 on the outward. I had a guaranteed timing side seat again as on all 4 I'd booked 4 seats 'across the coach', not around a table for 4. Andy Taylor was our driver; Simon Scott of the PRCLT our fireman. We left RT behind the 0844 XC to Plymouth; so no fireworks with Flax Bourton summit passed at only 48. Nice run across the level after our Yatton pick; 64 by Worle Jn and 72 over Uphill Jn. Livelier than the 1st, with 74 through Highbridge and 72 through Bridgwater, then a max of 75ish at mp155. Speed fell to 66 as we climbed the 330r over the Berks and Hants mainline; then 68 at Cogload Jn itself. We ran in the mid 60s until the brakes were applied at mp162 to drift into Taunton Station. Elapsed time for the 32 1/2 miles from Yatton to Taunton was 32m 36.57, again not quite an even time.

    What of 6233's final attack on Whiteball of the season? A shade slower over the 322r, 35.1 at mp164; and 49.2 on 724r at mp165. Then 54 on the 369r at Victory LC; 56.8 on 222r at Bradford and Tone LC; and a max of 58.9 on the level at Wellington. So far close to 2mph slower than the 1st. 52.2 at mp171 3/4 at the end of the mile of 90r; then faster, holding 52.2 at mp171 3/4, end of 3/4m 86r. Then even 7 1/2 back we felt a longish slip that dropped our speed to 44.1 at mp173 on the 80r; then 42.9 into Whiteball Tunnel on the 127r. Out of the tunnel and only 43 at mp174, end of 203r, the summit. A very ordinary climb. Elapsed time from Taunton to the tunnel: 13m 21.48s.

    We had time at Exeter to pop to the Great Western and this time they had Orkney Brewery's Dark Island, one of my all time favourite ales o0 a hand pump. Plenty of time to quaff a brace. We wandered back to the station for a chat with Andy. The Destination Panel showed that the PAD-PNZ was 15 down so we had a clear road to Plymouth.

    Not a rapid start, St Thomas 34.3; but once past mp196, 496r, 57, Andy meant business and we roared past Exminster, mp198 3/4, lev, at 72.8. Then we had a fast run in the low 70s to Star Cross, lev, 70.7. The brakes came on to check our progress through Dawlish Warren, 320f, 67, then it was the usual sub 60, the line speed on the sea wall side. We ran through Dawlish, lev, 57; Teignmouth, lev, 58. Our speed stayed below 60 for the 4 miles to Newton Abbot approach, mp213, lev, 60. We could see the green signals as we rounded the curve through the station, mp214, lev, at 59.7, a decent speed to take onto the mile+ to foot of Dainton.

    Out of the station confines we passed mp214 1/4, 259r, at 61.6; then oddly speed fell a little as we passed mp215, lev, 59.8. On through Aller, mp215 1/4, lev, 60.6; then mp215 1/2, 502r/247f, 61, a tad slower than the 1st. Onto Dainton bank proper now and the quarters went: mp216, 98r/57r, 56.2; mp216 1/4, 57r, 52.6; mp216 1/2, 57r, 49.6; mp216 3/4, 71r/46r, 45.4; possibly after a short slip, mp217, 46r/56r, 40.5; then after a longish slip mp217 1/2, 41r/49r/36r, 33.2. That lost us momentum and the Duchess suffered three short slips before mp217 3/4, 36r/44r, 23.3. We climbed into Dainton Tunnel, 84r, at 22.7. Time from NA: 4m 47.66s, only 4 secs slower than the 1st.

    Out of the tunnel and down around the reverse curves through Combe Fishacre and on to Totnes Approach; mp220 1/2, 227r/120d, 50.4; mp221, 205r/78d, 52.3; mp222, 254f/lev, 56.7. 6233 roared through Totnes on the middle road on the level, at 60.4, the same speed as on the 1st. Then under the bridge onto Rattery Bank. We passed mp223, 66r, at 59.2; mp223 1/2, the end of the 3/4m 66r, at 53.2, where, just as on the 1st, 6233 had a long slip. Then as the climb continued and steepened with a plenty of noise drifting back, speed fell as the bank took its toll: mp224, 47r, 45.9; mp224 1/2, 47r/50r, 35.6; mp224 3/4, 50r/56r, 30.4 with the safety valves lifting. Tigley Spire came into view and we passed mp225, 46r/57r, at 27.3; then at the site of Tigley Box, mp225 1/2, 52r, 20.7. We hadn't felt a slip but the speed drop suggested there had been one. 6233 recovered to 21.7 at the start of the 90r; then we passed mp226 1/2, 90r, at 27.3; and mp227, 95r/65r, at 27, close to the 270f gradient post. We passed mp227 1/2, 200r, at 36.1. Elapsed time from Mp233 to mp227, 7m 37.7s. Would have been very good but for the early slip.

    We'd lost a fair bit of time though and by mp227 had taken 39m 54.5s from Exeter. To get inside the hour we'd need to cover the remaining 19 miles to Plymouth in 20 minutes; very unlikely.

    Speed rose on the easing 200r/131r into Marley Tunnel, 37; then over the gentle climb to Wrangaton; Aish Emergency Crossover, 123r/243r, 55.8; mp231, 400r, 56.8; Wrangaton Tunnel, 199r/119r, 56.7; Mp232, summit, 470r/120d, 58, in an elapsed time of 46m 10.3s; 14 miles in under 14 mins was never really on. We passed Hemerdon GF at 58 with a max of 68 down the 42f. Speed picked up to 76 as we passed mp241; 5 miles to go; 5 mins to beat the hour. Then the brakes brought us down to 57 as we passed Tavistock Yard and further braking after Lipson Jn left us passing mp245 1/4, 34, with Mutley Tunnel in front of us, the sands of time had tipped over the hour by 2s. Then we were came to a stand at the signal outside the tunnel for almost 12 minutes as an IET had failed in the station. We finally arrived in Plymouth P6 in 75m 30.37s. It was chaotic for most of the time we were there but we left behind 47802 pretty much on time and got to Par RT.

    The all important lunch

    For the last time this year we went to Charlestown and had lunch in the Rashleigh Arms. I was the only one of our party of 4 who didn't have the Carvery option and had to wait 20 mins for my Mussels Starter and Grilled Mackerel main while they scoffed their roasts and vegetables. Didn't mind too much as I had an excellent pint of Proper Job IPA to quaff. The seafood dishes were well worth the wait. The Carvery was good too. After a second drink and waiting for me to finish my lunch we went for a wander down to the harbour before queuing for the first bus back to Par.

    The Return Journey

    2 1/2 coaches back now and we were looking forward to the sound of a Duchess in anger on the banks. and bound to be noisy. We had the same crew as on the 1st, Driver Bill Monteith; Fireman Nigel Barber. Much slower and more cautious start as the Duchess had slipped badly in the sidings. We passed mp281 1/2 on the lev/84r at 20; mp281 on the 84r at 20.2; mp280 3/4, 84r/109r, at 23.5; mp280, on 109r/62r, 27.2, then mp279 1/2, 62r, 26 and into Treverrin Tunnel, 64r/85r/62f, at 27.4. Decent start. Out at 41, then through Lostwithiel, lev, at 43.5. The long climb to Doublebois starts around mp277 1/4, lev/160r, 42.3. it got noisy up front as 6233 attacked the bank. By mp276, 3/4m into the 389r, speed was 51.4; after 1/2m+ of 389r, we dived into Brownqueen Tunnel, mp275, 71r, at 51.5. Bit of falling grade so Bill had to ease 6233 around the speed restricted tight curve through Bodmin Parkway, lev/65r, 47.8. From there it was all climbing. The speeds on the changing gradients were: mp273 1/2, lev/148r, 49.3; a mile from mp273 1/4 to mp272 1/4, 80r/81d/94r/69r, on at 48.9; left after Pendalake Viaduct, at 46.2; then to mp271, Derrycombe viaduct, 58r/68r/426r/58r, 40, to mp270, 3/4m 70r then short 265f, 36.7; then mp269 3/4, 159r, East Largin, 36.8. that took us onto St Pinnock viaduct, mp269 1/2, 90r, 36.8; followed by 1 1/2m of 90r/lev/62r/162r to mp268, the summit, passed at 39.8. A good climb again but as it was slip free we didn't expect speed to fall below 40 on any section.

    The rest of the run to Plymouth is over benign gradients. For the record the station speeds were: Liskeard 49; Menheniot, 60; St. Germans, 53. We crossed Forder Viaduct at 62 before sharp braking to run through Saltash, 15. Once over the Royal Albert Bridge with mp251 on, 15.7. we ran through St Budeaux Ferry Road at 43; on the 68r, Keyham at 40; then on the 170r, Dockyard, 37.3; and after a short 76r, through Devonport at 33.6. we ran over Cornwall Viaduct at 22 and drifted into North Road for our pickup and water stop 4 early.

    Again low water pressure meant we left 6 down. No worries as the 1934 PNZ-PAD was late and wasn't due into Plymouth for another 25 mins. Even with an attempted gentle start from Plymouth North Road we suffered slip after slip; we counted 6 in all; before we got going. We passed mp245 3/4, just 1/4m out, at 4.5, having taken 4m 14.78s to get there! Into Mutley Tunnel at 4.0 after 6m 10.77s. Big wheeled Pacifics can be troublesome but not usually on bone dry rail. Once away Bill got the big loco going well. We roared past mp245 1/4, 72f/83f, at 40; Lipson Jn, mp244 35c, still on 83f, 56; at over Tavistock Jn and past the Yard, lev/740d/lev, to mp242 3/4, 60.1. Low 60s to mp242 1/4, 660r/111r, 63.6 where the 1/2 mile of 41r, the steepest part of Hemerdon Bank is. We came off the section at mp241 3/4, at 660.4, slower than on the 1st. We then passed mp241 1/2, 47r/42r, at 55.6. Very good so far...

    Onto the 42r: mp241 1/4, 50.7; mp241, 46; mp240 3/4, 40.9; mp240 1/2, 37.3; mp240 1/4, 33.1; then mp240, 29.5. The gradient changes over the next 1/4 in 2 stages, first to 1in51, then to 1in89 and over this 1/4 we dropped to our lowest speed, 26.5. By mp239 3/4, the gradient eased to 630r, 27.6; then to 630r/197f to mp239 1/2, 27.8. A decent climb. Across the top in the high 40s/low 50s with a bit of a climb from Ivybridge to Wrangaton, averaging 175r, mp232, 51. Then down the bank to Totnes and the spectre of a final climb of the other mighty bank, Dainton Eastbound with the reverse curves at Combe Fishacre and the very tricky and steep final 1/2 mile to the tunnel.

    6233 charged through Totnes at 58; but then we lost speed on the level to pass mp222 at 53.8. The bank starts with 3/4m of gentle gradients, lev/254r/118r/153r to mp221 1/4, 49.5. Then to mp221, 153r/78r, 49; and mp220 3/4, 205r/120r, 47.4, onto the bank proper. There are numerous changes in gradients over short stretches. We roared past mp220 after 3/4m of 78r/205r/120r/227r/86r, at a decent 49.5. Then a mile of lev/206r/76r/105r, to mp219, 48.7. This took us onto the seriously steep mile and a bit to the tunnel. Very noisy from the front as we passed mp218 3/4, 55r, at 41.8; mp218 1/2, 65r/38r, at 35.7; mp218 1/4, 38r, at 28.4 before 6233 slipped quite badly a few times to only pass mp218, 43r/37r, at 19.7 and struggle into Dainton Tunnel, 130r, at 19.1. What might have been.

    Elapsed time from Totnes to the tunnel was 6m 34.2s. After the slippery start from Plymouth, our elapsed time was already 40m 25.41s so no chance of anywhere near 60 mins to Exeter. A lot more slipping today and thoughts that the wheel balance might be in need of adjustment.

    We passed Aller at 53.1 and Newton Abbot at 55. Not as fast as the 1st but still decent acceleration on the level to pass mp212 at 64.5. That was the last milepost I saw and had to revert to using the odometer on the GPS. We slowed for Teignmouth, 55 then ran through the tunnels in the mid 50s before easing for Dawlish, 49.3. We hoped for a good run after we left the sea wall and got one. We roared through Dawlish Warren, 62.3 and then as on the 1st there was some serious noise and acceleration on the level. 6233 blasted through Starcross, mp204 1/2, at 71; passed mp200, at 71, and Exminster at 72. The brakes came on as we climbed to Exeter Railway Jn, 68. By St Thomas we were down to 28.3 and arrived at St Davids almost 68 mins after leaving Plymouth.

    The water stop took the full allowed time and we left 2 minutes down. Too dark to see mileposts so I sync'd the GPS at mp193 3/4, one that can be seen. Any milepost references hereafter are mostly approximations. A gentle start and we passed Cowley Bridge at 37.5; but it had taken us 4m 26.4s to get there. Then on a mile and a half of 620r to mp191 1/4, passed at 50. That was better. Then 1/2m on the level, and on short 310r/217r to just before mp190, we crossed Stoke Canon LC at 55.6. plenty of noise in the dark on the mile of 217r to mp189 1/4, 56.8. Mixed gradients for a couple of miles, averaging 350r, past mp187 at 61.7. Then we hit a mile of 243r/219r, to mp186, 62.8. Bill used the 3/4m 313d/534d/lev to pick up some speed and we crossed Hele and Bradnich LC at 65.

    Then 6233 really responded well and over the 3 1/2m averaging 400r ish to Cullompton, speed rose to 71. Most locos, even the big ones, lose speed to the 1 1/2m at 155r and sure enough we were down to 65 at approx. mp179 3/4. Another break in the climb, 3/4m+ at ave. 300f to mp179, a visible one, left at 70 that took us back onto the climb. 6233 was really making her presence felt over the 1m+ at 216r, and we passed mp177 3/4 at 69. Then on the 405r through Tiverton Parkway at 69.3; then 3/4m 242r, and 1/4m 162r, to close to mp176 1/2, passed at 70.3. We were beginning to wonder if we'd manage a 70 into the tunnel.

    Before that there was the no small matter of 2 miles at 115r to climb. We roared past mp176 at 70.2; mp175 at 67.5; then the definite mp174 1/4 on the Trestle Bridge where the gradient changes to 212r, 66.6; and finally to mp174, the summit, at 66.5. Down less than 1/4m of 203f we shot into the tunnel at .... 69.2. Missed 70 by a few turns of the wheels!! A strange climb and an elapsed time from Exeter St Davids to Whiteball Tunnel of 22m 42.58. A climb of 2 halves; ordinary to Hele and excellent from there to the summit and tunnel.

    No rapid running down the bank as there was no point with the Taunton situation. We ran through Wellington at 69; over Bradford and Tone LC, 71; Victory LC, 71, before drifting into Taunton. Time elapsed from Exeter St Davids was 34m 7.4s, almost a minute quicker than the 1st. At Taunton Bill was as entertaining as ever and said he held the Duchess back as there was little point in getting to Taunton too early with the PNZ-PAD closing on us.

    Control were asked if we could leave Taunton as soon as we'd set down passengers but they refused. On reflection it might have been allowed if the request had been made at Exeter with the caveat that we would only be stopping at Taunton for a set down as the PNZ-PAD was still running 18 down, and the PLY-PAD via BTM wasn't due until 20 minutes after we were due to depart.

    Just like every Duchy of 2019, the return to Yatton behind the 2136 TAU-BRI all stations was dire; an exciting 44 through Bridgwater and 46 through Highbridge with a max of 47 at Worle. After our set down we left Yatton 5 down and hoped for a flourish to end the day and the season of Royal Duchys. We didn't really get one. We left the old fun challenge, Flax Bourton Tunnel East at 60 at a bit under, 57.4, and passed the summit at 60 ish. Speed was held to the Freightliner Terminal, 59 after a max of 62.6 down through Long Ashton. We arrived at Temple Meads 4 mins down at 2248. 'orrible return times but not even DB could find a better path on the Summer Cornishman.

    As my fellow timer Bill said when I mused that it was a bit of an ordinary run: 'Well we didn't sit down on any of the banks; didn't hold up any services; and kept good time'. He's right of course; and it was a Duchess over the South Devon Banks, something that had been a rarity until 2016 & 2019. Hard to please we seasoned enthusiasts. Been there; done it at higher speeds and in shorter times...but we keep buying tickets and supporting the locomotive groups to hopefully make sure we get more in the years to come.

    Many thanks to RTC for running the Royal Duchys. The train was virtually full again which was really good to see. Many thanks to: the PRCLT for letting 6233 tackle the South Devon banks again; their support crew who had another long and hard day out. Hope the raffle sales went well and a decent amount was collected towards the repairs; to WCR for their train management and for the provision of the usual excellent footplate crews and for the stock; and to Network Rail for a day of timely regulation. Pity about the lost opportunities at Exeter and Taunton to get us an earlier return; but it was always going to be a bit of a risk to them.

    We heard on the return that Spike Hodges is hanging up his driver's hat at the end of the year. We hope he changes his mind as we've enjoyed many good runs with Spike in charge.

    I'm sure everyone who travels on them hopes to see at least as many Royal Duchys next year. Andy divulged that he's working very hard to prise a Great Western Castle out of a certain Midland Shed to provide authentic motive power on the route for the first time in a number of years. Fingers crossed.
     
  3. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Was really interested in this report but tried to read it on a phone. 18 pages must be a record of the wrong sort for me. So it'll sadly have to wait for when I'm in front of the right kit and I've got the time.

    Sometimes less is more. Sorry - just a view.
     
  4. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Well I enjoyed reading it. Not the poster's fault that you accessed it with a phone. If making posts "phone friendly" is to be the norm then all we'll get is sound bites.
     
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  5. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    Agree with that. Somewhere between one extreme and the other is the balance but I've no idea where that is. My problem therefore.
     
  6. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Resident of Nat Pres

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    The shortcomings of a phone when accessing any even moderately lengthy article. The BBC news app can have some in depth articles that run to several pages on a smart phone. The same article on a laptop is easier to read but not exactly convenient to lug your laptop around with you all the time of course.
     
  7. 6026 King John

    6026 King John Member

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    Well I for one enjoy Mr Shireman's reports even the details of his lunch! Must consider doing a Royal Duchy again sometime. If a Castle could be produced to do the honours that will certainly twist my arm.

    Sorry to hear that Spike may be retiring but not surprising really - he's no spring chicken! Unfortunately a number of the regular steam drivers at WCRC are getting on a bit now. I wonder whether there are enough new faces coming through to replace them?

    Spike will certainly be missed - he seems to crop up with great regularity anywhere from Cornwall to Kent!
     
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  8. Leviathan

    Leviathan New Member

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    Many thanks to @1020 Shireman for the fascinating reports on this and previous tours.

    The propensity of 6233 to slip is clearly constraining performance on the Devon Banks and I wonder what is causing it. Back in 1939 when sister locomotive 6234 recorded the record maximum power output (2,500 dbhp) for a British steam locomotive (with a 20 coach load), adhesion was clearly not an issue. So, what has changed?

    Are flange lubricators the culprit? Reluctance to use the sanders? Condition of the tyres? Unequal weight distribution? Or as mentioned, perhaps an issue with wheel balance?

    Whatever, the prospect of a GWR 4-6-0 returning to this route is a tantalising one. If it happens, I would not hesitate to make a booking!

    Nick M.
     
  9. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    Apologies for the phone thing Al. I love the Duchys and perhaps put too much detail in trying to show how the loco reacts to the many changes in gradients and how the crews approach them. For fun I might go through the timings and put together the best Duchy that never happened!!
     
  10. Midland Red

    Midland Red New Member

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    Interesting and enjoyable report. So 6024's Plymouth to Exeter time remains unbeaten for another year. Hopefully we might see her out before too long pounding the Devon banks yet again - certainly been a shortage of ex-GWR 4 cylinder beats in recent years.
     
  11. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    Nothing since 1Z48, May 2014; 9th 5029 both ways then 10th 5043 one way PLY-BRI non-stop. Think 6024's last run over the banks was 1st May 2010. Long time.
     
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  12. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator

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    ....but over Whiteball in March 2012. It's still a long time though.
     
  13. 1020 Shireman

    1020 Shireman Well-Known Member Friend

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    True but for we western folk "The Banks" are the South Devon Banks, Dainton, Rattery and Hemerdon.
     
  14. Jeremy English

    Jeremy English New Member

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    Combined footage of two "Royal Duchy" turns behind 6233 this summer can be found here:

     
  15. lil Bear

    lil Bear Member

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    Good job you don't work for RYTC as PR-man...

    The Graffiti was well onto the window, and when seated was a major obstruction in seeing outside. Mel C (the guard) did his best to remove what he could off the window in the short stops we had a Bristol, Taunton and Exeter (with the very basic tools he had, including a kitchen car spatula). Sadly even this only really allowed the light in, the actual views were still distorted / ruined by the smear left behind. As I say though, RYTC were absolutely spot on and moved those affected around. I hadn't realised some people had ended up in the BSK though, that's still on my bucket list of riding in a compartment on the mainline...
     
  16. AnthonyTrains2017

    AnthonyTrains2017 Member

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    Which GWR 4-6-0 please?
     

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