4th August 1968

Railway Correspondence and Travel Society
End of Steam Commemorative Rail Tour

Locos Used D1624, D7513, E3183, 45407, 48476, 70013 'Oliver Cromwell' & 73069
Stock Used 13 coaches

Route : 1L50 throughout

Loco(s) Route
E3183 London Euston - (via WCML, Weedon & Trent Valley) - Norton Bridge - Stone - Stoke-on-Trent - Stockport Edgeley
D1624 Stockport Edgeley - Reddish South - Miles Platting - Manchester Victoria
48476 & 73069 Manchester Victoria - Thorpes Bridge Jn - Oldham Mimps - Milnrow - Rochdale - Bury Knowsley Street - Bolton - Blackburn
45407 & 73069 Blackburn - Clitheroe - Hellifield
45407 & 73069 Hellifield - Skipton
45407 & 73069 Skipton - Colne - Nelson - Burnley - Accrington - Oswaldtwistle - Blackburn - Hoghton - Lostock Hall
70013 (1) Lostock Hall - Euxton Jn - Chorley - Bolton - Salford - Manchester Victoria - Miles Platting - Reddish South - Stockport Edgeley
E3183 Stockport Edgeley - Crewe - Norton Bridge - (reverse of outward route) - London Euston

Notes :
(1) Banked Manchester Victoria to Miles Platting by D7513.
This railtour, run alongside several others on the last 'regular' weekend prior to BR's final steam hauled railtour, suffered very badly with delays, it being a Sunday did not help matters. The three hour schedule to Stockport was exceeded by 71 minutes caused by a whole variety of operating problems. In changing locomotives at Manchester Victoria the lateness increased to 90 minutes. A false track indication on the line to Oldham caused further delays, Oldham being reached 120 minutes down. Further wrong line working and an alleged leaking tender on the 8F, requiring a water stop, brought the lateness to 170 minutes at Blackburn. The locomotive change here over-ran the allotted time, a train sent ahead of the tour induced further delays caused by the long Sunday block sections. Arrival at Hellifield was now only 225 minutes late and with it came decision time, the tour was intended to visit Liverpool Docks and traverse the historic Liverpool - Manchester line. The decision was made to curtail the tour, by the time of the last steam locomotive change at Lostock Hall, the tour was over 240 minutes late! Over thirty minutes was lost at Manchester Victoria whilst attempts were made (unsuccessfully) to water the dining car. Lateness here had actually been reduced to 210 minutes because of the curtailment of the planned route. A watering stop of thirty minutes was made at Crewe, however the wrong vehicle was initially watered! The delays encountered on the ride north on the WCML were still well and truly in evidence, with final arrival at Euston being some 270 minutes late.

Source : David Hills (compiled from contemporary reports)

Tour Review
(from RCTS Railway Observer October 1968 issue)


For many it was a day of farewell to their beloved steam engine. For many it was another pleasant reunion of friends. For all it was a very long day. The six hundred passengers in the Society's end of steam tour will not forget their experience in a hurry!

Euston on a dull Sunday morning at 08.35 with E3183 at the head of thirteen blue and grey coaches was the modern setting for the start of the tour. And Euston in the chill dark of Monday morning at 02.15 saw E3183 bring the tour to an end, 4 hours behind schedule.

Criticism abated a little when the loudspeakers announced special motor coaches had been provided to take passengers to all London termini, but there were many who lost their beauty sleep that night! In addition everybody lost thirty miles of tour by the major diversion between Lostock Hall and Manchester-of which more anon.

Our special carried reporting number 1L50 and Inspector Phillips accompanied the train throughout.

The high speed new-image section of the tour was over the 181.71 miles between Euston and Stockport Edgeley via Stoke and the schedule of 183 minutes gave adequate time for stops to pick up passengers at Watford and Rugby and for "working purposes" at Stoke. In fact we took exactly 254 minutes, 71 minutes more than the scheduled time. This needs some explanation. Almost as soon as we topped Camden bank there was a stop for signals. Hot axle box detectors were being fitted along a length of track north of Leighton Buzzard. Another signal failure was the reported reason for a stop at Kilsby but there were further checks and delays at Nuneaton and Atherstone and wrong line working for track repairs took place at Kidsgrove. Quite obviously the timetable did not allow for these operating problems.

From Stockport D1624 took over and we ran into Manchester Victoria via Droylsden just 1 hours late to be greeted by the welcome sight of our steam motive power, Cl. 8F 2-8-0 48476 as pilot to the train engine Standard 5 4-6-0 73069. Both were in splendid external condition, which helped restore the morale of most passengers and cameras were immediately very busy indeed.

Within a few minutes of our arrival at Victoria we were able to admire Ted Baxendale's excellent replica nameplates prepared for 70013 Oliver Cromwell. The Britannia, coupled to Black Five 44781 ran in to take over the L.C.G.B. tour from St. Pancras which ran into another platform. Meanwhile another down passenger train was allowed to block our exit to the east and the effort of changing engines finally took twenty-six minutes instead of the ten allowed.

It was worth waiting for the stirring sound of our departure from Manchester Victoria up the L. & Y. main line to Thorpes Bridge Jet. We really did think our tour had started at last! But no! Signals stayed resolutely at danger at the junction at the top of the bank and we stopped. It seemed there was an indication on the diagram in Thorpes Bridge Jet. signal box that there was "something" on the five miles of track to Oldham. A permanent way trolley was suspected and we were eventually allowed to proceed under caution, now two hours late!

Again it was a great sound as the doubleheaded train climbed past the cotton mills with exhausts slamming back from the tall buildings, the 8F's hooter contrasting with the shrill whistle of 73069. Sunday afternoon siestas in the sunny back gardens were disturbed and people waved friendly farewells. Games of bowls and tennis were interrupted by the spectacular sight and sound of progress of this long train with its two great engines hammering away up the bank to Oldham. Another delaying wrong line working was necessary between Heap Bridge Jct. and Bury where the Cl. 8F took water after a run of less than 22 miles! The tender was reported to be leaking but 73069's crew swore they were pushing the 2-8-0 as well as pulling the thirteen coaches!

At Bolton our special turned north on to the Blackburn line and made another gloriously vociferous climb up to Entwistle witnessed by about the largest concentration of railway photographers and tape recorders ever assembled on one line of track!

When Blackburn was reached, two hours and fifty-one minutes late, it became necessary to extend the ten minutes allowed for engine changing to thirty minutes. 48476 came off and was replaced by a substitute Black Five 45407 which was in disappointing external condition, had only one injector working and had no smokebox door number plate or cabside numerals on one side. 45110 had been promised, but we had already seen this at Manchester in a very presentable condition, and it was later discovered that this engine was used in place of failed 45305 on British Railways own special train from Manchester to Southport during the afternoon. During our sojourn at Blackburn station we were able to witness an up main line train with D406, a d.m.u., run round and the arrival and departure of Dl964 on a diverted down main line passenger train. This train proved to be a real nuisance for although we followed it at a reasonable interval we were stopped at Clitheroe for twenty minutes waiting for it to clear Hellifield, thirteen-and-a-half miles ahead. Nevertheless it was a lovely run up the Ribble valley and both 4-6-0's were very energetic and whistled at all and sundry.

When we rolled into lonely Hellifield threeand-threequarter hours late, the exercise of running round took place; while up on the Carnforth line 45390 and 45025 on the L.C.G.B. special were waiting patiently to come in on their return journey to Blackburn and Lostock Hall.

On our train there were grave decisions to take. Should we press on to complete the tour or not? The factor which determined the choice of return by the direct Chorley line from Lostock Hall was made largely because we did not Wish to be stranded in darkest Lancashire where signal boxes might have been switched out; remembering we were, by now, nearly four hours late!

After our tender first run over the eleven miles to Skipton and another run round we were away again on the interesting section through Colne high above the chimney tops, to Nelson and Burnley. To many Burnley meant Rose Grove and the steam depot closing on that day. As we passed the shed and its Cl. 8F's, all laid aside, we were pleased to pass 48773 coming in light having returned home from working the L.C.G.B. special to Carnforth.

Our special rolled on through Accrington and Oswaldtwistle to reach Blackburn once again. We had taken exactly three hours for the 63 miles via Hellifield and Skipton! Although we were not booked to stop we did! This was to allow another steam-hauled rail tour, 1T80 with 45156, to leave for Manchester ahead of us!

Undaunted, and by now over four hours late, our two engines set out to show their paces in their last lap to Lostock Hall and it was a thrilling climax to tear through Hoghton at 60 m.p.h. with whistles sounding and spectators waving. All our passengers must have imprinted on their minds this final run down to Lostock Hall.

We stopped in the gathering dusk outside Lostock Hall and welcomed the sight and sound of 70013 Oliver Cromwell as it backed on to the train. The rows of derelict Cl. 8F's, Black Fives and the solitary Ivatt 2-6-0, 43027, at the shed were passed and then, within fifteen minutes the two pairs of Cl. 5's which had worked the S.L.S. specials from Manchester to Huddersfield and back were seen running tender first to their depot for the last time. For the record these were 44871 with 44894 and 44874 with 45017.

And then, apart from 70013 on our train we Jeft the era of steam and ran south past Euxton Jct. on to the L. & Y. 1841 route past Horwich Fork Jct. to Bolton and then on to the Manchester and Bolton Railway of 1838. Salford was passed in the gloaming at 21.20 and four minutes later we were back at Manchester Victoria.

The problem at Victoria was how to take water for the dining car for doing the washing up! For nearly half-an-hour abortive attempts were made with a vintage mobile tank and hand pump. Eventually it was decided we should go without or else 70013 would need water instead! So, a mere three-and-a-halfhours behind time. (the improvement being due to the cut off route adopted), 70013 climbed Miles Platting bank in fine style assisted no doubt by D7513 at the rear and thus our special had its final run behind steam to Stockport. There after changing to E3183 we saw the gleaming Britannia glide tender first back through the station and disappear into the night.

Departure from Stockport was at 22.30. At Crewe arrangements had been made fOJ the necessary replenishment of the restaurant car water tank. After a quarter-of-an hour it was found the buffet car tank had been filled instead! So we spent half-an-hour enjoying the night life of Crewe station. However, morale was remarkabJy high and one member was busy inviting passengers to take their seats in the dining car for the first sitting of breakfast! Delays by permanent way work at Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard and north of Watford tunnels brought forth the comment that perhaps we had lost our path! All good things come to an end. For a dozen or more a speciaJ stop to set down only was made at Harrow shortly before 02.00. For most of us it was the welcome special motor coaches at Euston which completed the tour and ended a historical day-the day we bade farewell to steam. (J.R.F.)


The object of this contribution is to put the organisers' point of view on this tour and to mention briefly the action taken to secure such redress for the participants as circumstances permitted.

As usual when a tour goes wrong, the Rail Tours Committee came under heavy criticism from a minority of those taking part, though, as on similar occasions in the past, these criticisms tended to cancel one another out.

To set the record straight, two points require particularly to be made. The route of this tour was not the committee's first choice or even its second. (The favourite which would have taken us to Carlisle and would incidentally have been even longer was turned down ostensibly on the grounds of lack of water facilities, but the true reason was painfully clear when B.R. announced its own tour for l1th August). Having regard to what was available, the plans of other promoters (known or suspected) and the necessity to share Oliver Cromwell, the committee even now feels under no obligation to apologise for its choice of route. Nobody has demonstrated that the train could not have followed the route planned and arrived back at Euston on or near to time, given even normal Sunday operating conditions. That it did not was due soleley to the errors and omissions of L.M. Region.

The decision to curtail the tour, which was taken most reluctantly at Hellifield after having been rejected at Blackburn, was occasioned by the further appalling delay there and then at Clitheroe.

The committee deliberately planned the run over the Liverpool and Manchester line as the highlight of the tour and it was not lightly sacrificed, but it must be remembered that when the decision was taken there was a strong prospect that even if we succeeded in negotiating the Liverpool docks line we should be traversing most if not all of the vital stretch in darkness which would have impaired the experience considerably for many, perhaps most, of the passengers. We tried to get the train re-routed direct from Farington Jet. to Crewe via the main line which would have given a rather better chance for Oliver Cromwell to show its paces and would, of course, have saved up to one-and-a-half hours over returning the way we did, but this request was turned down.

Needless to say a very full and detailed account of what happened to the train was sent to London Midland Region and as a result of this protest Messrs. Faithfull and Platt had a long interview with Mr. Metcalf, the London Divisional Passenger Manager, on Wednesday, 21st August. Mr. Metcalf in effect pleaded guilty to the whole indictment. He said how very disturbed he and his colleagues responsible for selling passenger travel were at the increasingly rough deal that the Sunday passenger was receiving on the Region.

The bulk of the long discussion which followed centred on what alternative redress the Region should offer. Mr. Metcalf disclosed that several passengers had written to him claiming refunds of out-of-course expenses incurred by them as a result of the train's late return. He stressed the fact that, as every true railway enthusiast should be well aware, however much he may deplore it, British Railways, like the individual companies it superseded, is excused by statute from any legal liability whatever resulting from late (or non-) running of any train. However, it appeared that he was prepared to contemplate meeting such claims on what he considered to be their merits, but if he did so this would preclude any general recompense to passengers as a whole. The Rail Tours Committee had already decided after a long and thorough debate that this latter was what it should aim for and it was finally agreed that the Society should be left to handle any question of refunds but that L.M. Region would reduce the hire charge of the train by an amount sufficient to enable 1 per head to be refunded to all passengers. It has also been decided that this refund should be supplemented by a sum of ten shillings for each adult passenger out of the Society's profit on the tour.

It is hoped that this approach to the question will commend itself to the majority of passengers on the ill-fated train. If it is any comfort to anybody (and, judging by some of the comments made on the train and in correspondence since, it should be!), this solution which, Mr. Metcalf informed us ruefully, more than wiped out B.R.'s profit on the tour, is certainly a good deal more expensive to the Region than meeting (even in full) any claims made by passengers either direct or through the Society since, for a variety of reasons, only a small minority of people ever actually make claims on occasions like these.
The Society, like British Railways, is satisfied that it has no legal liability to passengers but it accepts a degree of moral responsibility, albeit far less than the railway's, and it hopes that passengers will feel that it has suitably and sufficiently discharged that responsibility.

Photo Review

'The Long Wait' at Manchester Victoria.
(photo: Bob Bishop collection - from cine film by John Simons)

From The John Debens Ticket Collection
(originally supplied by Andrew Fairholm)

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Terry Jackson, Jim Arkell & Bruce Nathan)

M.C Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Euston 08.35d 08.35   21.47a 02.15 560.28
5.30 Willesden Junction 08/42 08/45   21/40 ? 554.78
17.34 Watford Junction 08.52a ~ 08.56d 08.54 ~ 08.56   21.28a ~ 21.30d ? 542.74
31.53 Tring 09/07 09/14   21/17 ? 528.55
46.52 Bletchley 09/18 09/32   21/06 ? 513.56
62.22 Blisworth 09/29 09/50   20/54 ? 497.42
82.43 Rugby Midland 09.57a ~ 10.00d 10.13 ~ 10.15   20.37a ~ 20.39d ? 477.65
97.09 Nuneaton 10/12 10.35 ~ 10.36   20/23 ? 463.19
110.01 Tamworth 10/21 10/55   20/14 ? 450.27
116.21 Lichfield TV 10/25 10/59   20/10 ? 444.07
127.12 Colwich 10/33 11/07   20/02 ? 433.14
133.44 Stafford 10/40 11/16   19/57 ? 426.44
138.75 Norton Bridge 10/46 11/23   19/53 ? 421.33


M.C Location Booked Actual
142.56 Stone 10/46 11/30
149.67 Stoke-on-Trent 11*01 ~ 11*04 11.38 ~ 11.39
156.16 Kidsgrove 11/10 12/03
169.72 Macclesfield 11/21 12/15
179.44 Cheadle Hulme 11/34 12/44
181.71 Stockport Edgeley 11L38 ~ 11L51 12.49 ~ 13.04
186.60 Denton Jn 12/00 13/15
188.34 Droylesden 12/04 13/18
191.51 Miles Platting 12/10 ?
193.09 Manchester Victoria 12L15a ~ 12L25d 13.29 ~ 13.55
194.02 Cheetham Hill Jn 12/29 14/00
195.42 Thorpes Bridge Jn 12/33 14/37
199.71 Hollinwood 12/38 14/45
200.62 Oldham Mumps 12/44 14/57
207.78 Rochdale 13/00 15/14
214.71 Bury Knowsley Street 13/12 15.43 ~ 15.49
220.59 Bolton 13/21 16/01
227.43 Walton Sidings 13/31 16/20
230.36 Darwen 13/36 16/26
234.49 Blackburn 13L44a ~ 13L54d 16.35 ~ ??.??
245.34 Clitheroe 14/14 ?
258.74 Hellifield 14.34a ~ 14.46d ?
270.09 Skipton 15.02a ~ 15.14d ?
281.25 Colne 15/32 ?
287.61 Gannow Jn 15/44 ?
292.74 Accrington 15/54 ?
298.13 Blackburn 16/06 ?
307.38 Lostock Hall 16L20a ~ 16L30d ?
308.33 Moss Lane Jn 16/32 ?
318.36 Burscough Jn 16/44 ?
321.03 Ormskirk 16/48 ?
328.26 Aintree Sefton Arms 16/58 ?
328.71 Sefton Jn 17/01 ?
330.31 North Mersey Jn 17/06 ?
330.66 Marsh Lane Jn 17/09 ?
332.09 Bootle Jn 17/11 ?
336.42 Edge Lane Jn 17/19 ?
337.08 Olive Mount Jn 17/25 ?
338.01 Broad Green 17/28 ?
342.32 Rainhill 17*37 ~ 17*47 ?
346.29 St Helens Junction 17/52 ?
349.19 Earlestown 17/56 ?
351.16 Parkside Jn 18/00 ?
353.28 Kenyon Jn 18/04 ?
360.10 Barton Moss Jn 18/11 ?
364.16 Cross Lane 18/15 ?
366.09 Manchester Victoria 18w23a ~ 18w33d ?
367.47 Miles Platting 18/38 ?
370.64 Droylesden 18/44 ?
372.38 Denton Jn 18/48 ?
377.27 Stockport Edgeley 18L56a ~ 19L04d ?
379.54 Cheadle Hulme 19/07 ?
383.38 Wilmslow 19/11 ?
397.59 Sandbach 19/25 ?
402.27 Crewe 19*36 ~ 19.38 ?
410.33 Madeley 19/46 ?

Timings continue in first table.

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