Yesterday, I made the trip up to Bo’ness for the Summer Diesel Gala. After a week off spent largely on tasks at home (more of which in a forthcoming post), I felt a wee change of scenery was in order and this provided as good an excuse as any.
For sakes of variety I drove up the A7 to Tweedbank in order to take the train up The Waverley Route (sorry Scotrail, that’s what it’ll always be to me, whatever expansion of the route takes place!). Having been a vocal lobbyist for the restored route, I feel a certain obligation to use the Waverley as much as possible. A scenic run regardless of the season, the Gala Valley certainly looked good in the cloudy but bright weather conditions.
In due course, I made Bo’ness and met up with an old mate I used to go photographing trains with in the ’80s. We hadn’t really had a proper meet up in nearly 20 years so the afternoon was as much spent having a crack and catching up as enjoying the interesting heritage traction.
Star of the show was unquestionably the Prototype HST locomotive 41001 and her attendant coaches all in 1970s Pullman style livery as the entire train operated during her extensive testing in the early-mid 1970s.
Throughout the day, she operated in tandem with various guest locomotives including 40 135 as illustrated here. 40 106, which accompanied 40 135 north for the gala is well known in the enthusiast world as the last big mainline BR locomotive to wear its original green livery, which it did in increasingly rough looking condition until 1978 when it entered Crewe Works for overhaul and emerged in a fresh coat of green, giving it a genuine celebrity status for the rest of its working life in an era when the 1966 model corporate Rail Blue livery was universal on the UK’s publicly owned railway. There are not-really-substantiated rumours that ‘106 was already in the process of receiving blue paint when the decision was made to return her to livery she had carried all her life. I imagine a forensic analysis of ‘106’s paint strata would be able to draw a line under that theory; has it already been done?
Another rare visitor to Scottish metals was this Class 33 which had been providing opposite-end power to the trains as they ran the return leg of their journey to Manuel. The duty was passed on to a DRS Class 37 later in the day.
A wander around the Museum and shed complex resulted in an invitation to check out the workshop where the Railway’s ex BR NBL shunter was being repainted and one of the Class 27s was in the throes of pretty comprehensive cab end repairs which resulted in our having a very interesting view of the cab ends and sides reduced to their basic framework as total cab-end re-skinning takes place.
It would have been a shame to have come all this way and not have done a trip on the line so later in the afternoon we boarded a departure for Manuel with the HST piloted by two Class 20s, 20 189 and 20 205. Both of these locos spent part of their BR service in Scotland with ‘189 having been seen operating the yard at Fort William, while one of my early recollections of railways in 1977 is of 205 at East Kilbride, shunting wagons in Archie Kanes coal merchants’ yard in the old Caley goods yard which was then still operating. Because of that and similar recollections, blue Class 20s occupy a special place in my heart so here are some nice shots of ‘189/’205 looking very smart in Rail blue.
All in all, it was an enjoyable day spent in the company of an old mate from days gone by and some classic diesel traction. It provided an interesting subject for a new blog entry which was admittedly long overdue but I hope to make up for the recent lack of activity with some more postings this week.
I’ll round the entry off with one final image of the Prototype HST heading off, assisted by 40 135
Cheerie for now! 🙂