In which I continue my third year at Reading University. Not much diary as I study hard for the final exams.
Monday 1 April
I had about half an hour on Worksop station this morning - not a great deal to see. The most interesting thing was a goods train from the Retford direction. The signal was pulled off a long time before I saw the exhaust which was being thrown high in the air. The engine, 2-8-0 No. 63925, was really working hard up the gradient and through the station. On their way through the station the driver shouted something to a porter. Steam was then shut off and they drifted down the slight gradient. Presumably, this allowed the fireman to get his fire straight after the pasting it had taken. As the guard's van came slowly through the station the porter handed the guard a packet of sandwiches. The sight and sound of that engine was something the diesels can never replace.
Tuesday 2 April
I went home to Orpington today from Worksop. I caught the afternoon steam train to Nottingham hauled by 2-6-4T No. 42618. We were on time in spite of a lengthy stay at Mansfield Town to take on a vast consignment of parcels, mostly for Marks and Spencer. I had quite a long talk with the driver at Nottingham Victoria (we arrived four minutes early). The timing required quite a bit of lively running and we topped 50 m.p.h. I caught "The Waverly" which was non-stop to London St. Pancras - 120 miles in two hours. We would have been on time had it not been for a strange occurrence at Wellingborough. We were approachingg the station at about 60 m.p.h. when the driver made an emergency stop - slapped everything on. We screeched to a halt but, even so, we ran through a signal at the London end of the station (which was on) by about half the length of out "Peak" class diesel. We were signalled on by hand from the signal box but it took some time because the vacuum must have been lost almost completely.
I very much enjoyed the journey. I had a window seat and followed the route on my Gradient Book. The weather was quite sunny and the countryside was quite pleasant. I was entertained as the rest of the compartment were all bookies.
Monday 29 April
I went up to London. I let the 12.57 diesel-hauled train go and caught the 13.14 steam-hauled train. I was most surprised to see a clean Stanier black five 4-6-0 No. 44859 in place of the usual Castle 4-6-0. The trip to London was not too good - we had two signal stops. the engine didn't do too badly but from the sound it was working harder - especially through Sonning Cutting. The second time we stopped I thought I recognized the fireman as he was carrying out rule 55. It turned out to be Fireman Dennis from Worcester with whom I travelled on the footplate from Oxford to Worcester 21 November last. He told me that an engine had failed and this one was substituted at the last moment. he spent three years in the class 5s so it was no new experience for him. He said that they were pretty good engines, not as good as a Castle, of course, and they were much hotter than the Castles.