Huntingdon

69 Visit to Nene Valley Railway Aug 2016

During the August bank holiday weekend a number of us travelled to Wansford for the special “East Coast Revival” weekend organised by the Nene Valley Railway. The main attractions were the presence of two ‘guest’ locomotives which exemplified the sort of locomotives operated on the East Coast mainline by the London and North Eastern Railway company before nationalisation. The days of steam were recalled by the presence of “Tornado”, the modern locomotive completed in2008 and built from scratch to the design of the original “ Peppercorn” Class A1 locomotives . 49 “Peppercorn” locomotives were built in the period 1948/49 but all were scrapped by 1966 with none being saved for preservation. They were not as fast as the A3 and A4 “Pacifics” but being designed for the heaviest traffic could typically haul trains of 15 coaches. The modern “Tornado” has some changes from the original design to take account of modern techniques and materials and is fully equipped to run on the national rail network.
The days of diesel operation were represented by a preserved Class 55 diesel electric locomotive, commonly referred to as a “Deltic”. These were built by English Electric and came into service during the period 1961/62 and were used for the main line passenger services; being very powerful they could easily reach speeds of 100mph. They were used on the ECML until 1978 when they were replaced by the Intercity 125 high speed trains. They were completely withdrawn from service in 1981 and of the 22 built 6 have been preserved.
After short rides on the NVR track being hauled by the “Deltic” and then the “Tornado” we dodged some extremely heavy showers for the sanctuary of the NVR workshops where a “Battle of Britain” class steam locomotive, named “92 Squadron”, was nearing the completion of a very extensive restoration. These were built for the Southern Railway and were used for both passenger and freight traffic. Being lighter in weight than the contemporary “Merchant Navy” class locomotives they had greater access to the rail network; they mainly operated on routes to the south west resorts and in the Kent area. 110 of these locomotives were built in the period 1945/50 and they were operated until 1967. It is hoped to complete the work on “92 Squadron” by the end of the year when it will be leased out to other preserved railways. Altogether a day of nostalgia and a reminder of the skills and expertise of the engineers who designed and built such wonderful machines; the same skills and expertise are now being employed in preserving these machines for our enjoyment.