Find out more about the Duchess' plans to possibly return to the main line.
Sir William Stanier’s iconic ‘Duchess’ locomotive class has not been seen in main line action since October last year when No. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland was withdrawn for its heavy general overhaul. Behind the scenes, the owning Trust, The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust (PRCLT) have been working flat out to get the engine back in service.
The PRCLT spoke to Rail.co.uk in mid July and hinted that the engine could be set for a return to the main line this year on its test run. If this is achieved, it would be a little over a year since its last main line run on October 10 last year between Derby and Kings Cross and back.
By mid-July work on the chassis work had pretty much been completed and the restoration team waiting for the boiler to return from Crewe. Most of the work required on the boiler has been completed including retubing, fitting new superheater elements and Flue Tubes.
Current work underway is fitment of the Crown Stays and when completed, the boiler will be returned to the PRCLT’s base at Butterley, expected by August. This is very fast progress as the boiler was only taken out of the frames on December 10 last year.
By May, just six months later, the frames were re-wheeled following completion of the many checks and out of sight engineering tasks such as servicing the coal pusher, cleaning and repainting the frames.
Readers are reminded that they can vote on-line at www.prclt.co.uk as to their preferred livery. The choices are between the four that the engine carried in regular service and has not already been decided as claimed by David Wilcock in a monthly heritage railway magazine. The PRCLT stressed to rail.co.uk that contrary to this report, the vote is most definitely open, fair and not already decided!
Should a test run be completed this year, it would allow time for the chosen livery to be applied before the steam season starts in Spring 2012.
You can help to maintain the momentum of the speedy overhaul in several ways: Two fund raising charter trains have been arranged by the PRCLT and all profits made will be allocated to the overhaul.
The first train is ‘The Cumbrian Coast Express’ on September 24 pulled by Ex LMS ‘Royal Scot’ No. 46115 Scots Guardsman. This commences diesel hauled from Leicester and calls at Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Uttoxeter, Stoke and Crewe to Preston where the Stanier classic ‘Scot’ joins the train for the run to Ravenglass and back.
The second fundraising train, ‘The Royal Scot’ uses another Stanier classic locomotive, the Ex LMS ‘Princess Royal’ Class No. 6201 Princess Elizabeth between Crewe and Carlisle via Grayrigg and Shap in each direction on October 15. This train is diesel hauled from Milton Keynes calling at stations via Northampton, Rugby and the Trent Valley to Crewe.
There are also a couple of DVDs available featuring No. 6233. One has nearly two hours of footage looking at the last 15 years from 1996 when the first overhaul took place. The engine is shown in its various liveries running charter trains and in use on the Royal Train. This costs £19.95 and is available by calling 01773 743986.
The second DVD, ‘On the Northern Fells’, lasts an hour and is priced at £14.95 and features No. 6233 on the northern hills and can be obtained from the same number.
The overhaul can be followed by visiting http://www.prclt.co.uk/index2.html