Published 12th June 2012
YORK - The redspottedhanky.com and rail.co.uk sponsored National Railway Museum’s (NRM) Railfest event was in full swing despite gloomy damp weather on June 7. The 10 day event has seen thousands of visitors travel from across the UK to it and who have taken probably millions of photographs between them!
One major star of the show arrived on June 4th after being on Diamond Jubilee duty the previous day in London. The London Midland and Scottish Railway prototype Stanier designed Pacific type locomotive, No. 6201 Princess Elizabeth, had the honour of starting the Thames Pageant while standing on the Chelsea River Bridge by blowing it’s deep Stanier whistle. The crew were delighted when they received a waved acknowledgment from HRH Prince Philip on the Royal Barge.
The engine, named after HM The Queen in 1933, was still ‘wearing’ its discreet ‘Diamond Jubilee Crown’ under the chimney and more Elizabethan decoration over the buffer beam. The engine attracted huge crowds patiently waiting to visit the cab.
The star of the show was originally promised to be the World’s first engine to manage a certified 100mph, the Gresley designed ‘A3’ No. 103 Flying Scotsman but although it was present, it is still far from completing its prolonged overhaul. It was devoid of it’s motion and cab fittings but a nice touch was positioning it opposite Mallard.
A genuine contender for the first 100mph running, but never substantiated, was the Great Western Railway’s 4-4-0 No. 3717 City of Truro which was giving demonstration rides along with English Electric Class 37 diesel locomotive No. D6700. Also giving rides was Palmerstone from the Ffestiniog Railway and several miniature lines within the site.
Post war steam record holder, the iconic streamlined LNER ’A4’ No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley was in steam following lengthy repairs and had huge crowds queuing to visit the footplate. The rival LMS streamliner, No. 6229 Duchess of Hamilton, was outside on display and also had large queues patiently waiting to visit the cab. The World record steam holder Mallard also attracted the crowds and provided a rare opportunity to see it in the open air.
Smaller, but no less historically important locomotives and trains were on display, such as the first engine to be preserved, The Bluebell’s Stepney and Furness No. 20, Coppernob, a Furness Railway engine which celebrates it’s 150th anniversary next year was also on display.
Some important coaches were out in the open such as the LNER ’Beavertail which was an observation saloon carried at the back end of a train affording passengers a grand panoramic view as they sped their way to and from Kings Cross and the north.
Even some former London transport exhibits were present in the form of 1923 built Electric locomotive No. 12 Sarah Siddons and the Vintage Trains GWR Pannier tank in its LT livery as L94.
Several ‘first in class’ 1st generation British Railways diesels were on show such as Class 40, No. D200 and Class 20 No. D8000 and No. 252001, the prototype High Speed Train, all attracting many fans.