Published 29th October 2012
The repatriation of the LNER ‘A4s’ from North America has been well covered and is a popular story on this website.
The first reunion with an operational member of the class took place at the National Railway Museum Shildon on Friday October 19 when No. 60009 Union of South Africa travelled from York to Shildon. The recently returned to service No. 60009 steamed along the racing stretch of the East Coast Main Line with many people watching as it made its way to join Nos. 60008 and 60010.
Next year this line-up will be joined with No. 60019 Bittern and No. 60022 Mallard – arranged by Steve Davies.
The outgoing National Railway Museum Director, Steve Davies and locomotive owner, John Cameron travelled on the footplate of the engine for much of the trip. Mr Davies gave a long loud blast on the chime whistle going through Northallerton, close to where he was stationed in his Army days, and had a boyish grin across his face!
The arrival at Shildon was greeted by a huge crowd who watched as the engine was parted from its Support Coach and joined the line-up in sequential order. Each engine weighs in at around 165 tons and has a 40 square foot firegrate to provide heat for the boiler.
Classmate No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley has had a difficult year having undergone many repairs but is now back in service ready for the Winter steam services. Unfortunately not enough funds could be raised for this engine to join the line-up at Shildon. The owner of 60009, John Cameron, generously waived steaming fees to enable his engine to visit Shildon for the weekend.
The Railway Touring Company is running two steam charters each using both engines. The first is ‘The Tynesider’ running on November 24 using No. 60007 from Newcastle to York and then by 60009 from York to London. (The return journey of this tour will be diesel hauled to allow passengers sufficient time in London).
The train leaves Newcastle and calls at Durham, Darlington and York before passing through Doncaster, the birthplace of the A4s. The next historic location is just after Grantham where the train climbs Stoke Bank. As the train runs down Stoke Bank, it passes the spot where classmate “Mallard” broke the world speed record for steam when it achieved 126mph near Essendine at Little Bytham.
On December 1, ‘The Christmas White Rose’ runs from Cambridge to York and back using No. 60009 outwards and No. 60007 on the return journey. The train calls at Ely, March and Peterborough before heading north on the engine’s former main route. Again, the train goes through Grantham and Doncaster at speeds up to 75mph.
Both trains feature Father Christmas and his Elves who will be visiting passengers on the train during handing out presents to all children on board.