Main Line Running?
One matter which has been asked, which can stir emotions or even cause both blood & steam pressure to rise is –
It may be said that main line running could be likened to some-kind of eutopia!
On that thought, who wouldn’t?
The answer would have to be a great resounding YES!
However, returning to the real world of steam restoration by a group of railway enthusiasts mainly of a certain age, with limited resources, main line running has been- a Bridge Too Far.
It’s not necessarily lack of will, or that nobody wants to take the loco to that level of certification, perhaps in some cases this could be the opposite, it’s purely a simple matter of economics.
The fact remains that the initial outlay involved for main line certification, have been beyond past and current financial remit.
The logistics involved of running, planning, maintaining this level of certification are also currently beyond 26B’s capability.
In addition, we must consider the wishes of our shareholders/members.
With a group of owners controlling the outcome of a loco like this, each will have their own thought or ideas about the loco’s future, seeing things differently.
For restoration and maintenance, 26B do not have their own workshop facilities, therefore a heritage railway may prefer to see (4)5337 running locally, opposed to undertaking any heroic main line ventures, whereas the loco would be more useful to remain within the host railway, providing much needed motive power for their own steam services.
There has never been anyone who has ever pushed the idea of Main Line running forward, instead settling for reality and the current status quo.
On another matter, there have been good things said about Black Fives but, in recent times there have been quite a few running on the main line, so there appears to be no great novelty appeal either.
Another Black Five on the main line, may not have the same allure to the all-important fare paying passenger as a shiny named pacific, or other types of gleaming express locomotives.
However, it has been said that regarding ex-main line steam engines, there is only one thing better than a Black Five and That’s more of them!
The LMS and BR must have thought so too, or they wouldn’t have built so many!
After (4)5537s original chimney cracked and proved difficult to repair, a replacement chimney was found at the Bluebell Railway, this was subsequently purchased but under mysterious circumstances. This is because a rumour has been persisting for some-time that this replacement chimney is actually from none other than 44781.
Famed for being one of the three remaining Black Fives pulling the Fifteen Guinea special in August 1968.
After being deliberately run off the tracks in 1969, whilst taking part in the Colombia Pictures film Virgin Solders, the loco was cut up in situ, where she last laid and was scrapped.
The original chimney was removed before filming and replaced with one more suitable for the films setting supposedly taking place in Malaya.
Since then, the original chimneys whereabouts has remained a mystery.
Incidentally, not many years ago an (industrial) archaeological dig of the scrapping area was conducted, (as reported by Steam Railway Magazine) with some of the loco’s parts being unearthed, including a section of the cab.
A good number of years has elapsed since this chimney from the Bluebell Railway was purchased, but a member of 26B who originally involved with the transaction believes recalling stories of its past connection with 44781.
Presently, there is no way of knowing the chimneys true origins as items of this type are not stamped with loco numbers and could be off many other locos, after all quite a few were built.
If after reading this, if anyone can shed light on 44781’s chimney, then please write to us on the contact page.
But if true, then main line running could be an interesting proposition, not only for (4)5337 but to see the return of the chimney (as a figurehead), back over the Settle Carlisle Railway again, thus returning her back to Carlisle where it all ended, or should we say started?
However, it must be concluded that any attraction of main line running, will in all probability, remain as its always been.
Namely – An Unfulfilled Ambition.
Having said all of that, and looking at the world with starry eyes, if only we could all see her out there again on the big railway, for the first time in 55yrs, roaring around the North West, back on those northern fells, or even further afield, then that would be something to be savored, wouldn’t it?
After all a BLACK FIVE is an “Improved Hall” ……is it not?
Have Black five – could travel!