Published 5th August 2013
The Severn Valley Railway has deleted No. 70000 Britannia from its September 20-22 Autumn Gala line up. The decision was made in early July amid concerns over whether the ‘Brit’ would be ready to return to steam in time for the event. The SVR has been surprisingly reticent over publicising locos for this event in recent months, but having confirmed this visit was ‘on’ a couple of months ago, now says it needs to be certain as to whether locos will be attending or otherwise.
The guest list for the SVR’s event now stands at, the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre’s Metropolitan Railway 0-4-4T E class No. 1 which itself had to be repaired in the Steam on The Met event as white metal in an axle became displaced. It is understood that a discussion was ongoing about workmanship and locomotive handling has taken place on this subject!
The National Railway Museum owned SR No. 850 Lord Nelson (NRM, from the Mid-Hants Railway) and ‘King Arthur’ No. 777 Sir Lamiel (looked after by the 5305 Locomotive Association/Great Central Railway) will be there and a replacement for Britannia is likely to be announced before long.
The gala will also feature a visiting carriage, London Transport Museum’s MR ‘Jubilee’ carriage No. 353 which will join MR E class No. 1. Travel in the vehicle will be available for a modest supplementary fare. We have also become aware of the likelihood of a visiting ‘load’ to be seen aboard a wagon, but the SVR has embargoed publication of details of what will be an intriguing attraction!
No. 70000 Britannia was damaged in a collision incident at the North Norfolk Railway’s March gala and taken to Riley and Son (E) Ltd in Bury for repairs. This work was completed in mid-June but while in the works a check of safety critical areas was undertaken.
This included non-destructive testing of the copper boiler stays, which revealed ‘a percentage’ of stays not in conformance with the correct specification for copper required for this purpose. These stays were fitted by LNWR Heritage Limited during an overhaul completed in September 2010. LNWR Heritage holds documentation certifying the stays supplied to them for fitting met the correct material specification, so plainly are taking the issue up with their supplier.
Britannia’s owners, Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust, confirm LNWR Heritage Limited offered to replace all the affected stays as a matter of urgency, but as yet no date for No. 70000 to return to service has been predicted.
The long-awaited return to the main line of rebuilt ‘West Country’ No. 34046 Braunton, owned by Jeremy Hosking and in broad terms under the same overall care as locos under the wing of the Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust, has finally become reality.
Braunton undertook five days of passenger operations on the East Lancashire Railway in early June. This shook down braking equipment newly fitted after the discovery that components previously supplied to deal with braking issues were unsatisfactory.
The loco then undertook a main line test round the Carnforth – Hellifield - Preston ‘circuit’ on July 18 before moving to Southall.
The apparently successful preservation era main line debut of No. 34046 Braunton is good news for the Mid-Hants Railway. All three guest locos for the Watercress Line’s October 25-27 Autumn Gala are to arrive off the main line at Alton. These comprise A1 No. 60163 Tornado, No. 34046 Braunton and No. 70000 Britannia. Although the Severn Valley has pulled the latter out of its September event, the assumption is that Britannia will be back in action by late October.
Flagship locomotive of the Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust, if only in the sense the trust carries its name, LMS 7P No. 6100 Royal Scot seems unlikely to be in action any time soon.
While under the ownership of Bressingham the locomotive was overhauled at Southall. The locomotive returned to steam with appearances at West Somerset and Llangollen spring gala events in 2009 but all was clearly not well. It was taken to Crewe at the end of April 2009 and been in the works of LNWR Heritage ever since. Ownership of Royal Scot was transferred to the RSL> in the latter part of 2009, the trust being understood to have taken responsibility for much of the £1million (plus) overhaul costs from Bressingham museum.
Numerous problems were uncovered at Crewe and with the loco not having steamed for two years, in mid-2011 the decision was made to lift the boiler for a full examination of the firebox and foundation ring with a view to securing a new boiler ticket. Although it was said at the time the lift was solely in relation to boiler inspection and no further mechanical work was needed, this seems not to have been the case.
Answering our enquiry about progress, Peter Greenwood, speaking on behalf of RSL> commented simply, “Royal Scot is now being worked upon, we are not leaving any stone unturned this time around and when it comes back out it will have a new boiler ticket and will be in the very best condition that we can possibly achieve.”
Written by Cliff Thomas