Our “Steam Still at Work” series of films features the steam scene after the end of main line steam on British Railways in 1968. The series continues until the “Return to Steam” tours on BR in October 1971. In this third part we discover that whilst BR main line steam did indeed finish in August 1968, enthusiasts could still find their cherished ‘Iron Horses’ at work around the country during 1969.
That bête noire of 1960s railways, Dr. Richard Beeching, proved that a leopard can change its spots, as in April 1969 he reopened a line – the Dart Valley Railway.
London Transport was still using steam for things like permanent way trains with ex-GWR pannier tanks doing the job. Whilst we would have to wait until October 1971 before 6000 King George V removed the main line steam ban, in 1969 this magnificent locomotive could be found at Bulmer’s cider factory, Hereford.
Dedicated steam hunters could also venture over the water, and we follow the RPSI two-day tour from Belfast to Cork. “Flying Scotsman” was the exception to the ban on main line steam, as owner Alan Pegler had secured a contract with BR allowing him to do so. There was also narrow-gauge steam, and we visit the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway in Kent during May 1969. In the same month a trip is also made to the Talyllyn Railway.
At Didcot the Great Western Society had moved in during 1967 and were preparing for their first open day in May 1969. Another first open day was the Steamtown Railway Museum, Carnforth on 1st. June 1969.
We cover the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire in detail – David Shepherd is present for the naming ceremony of 92203 and famous engine driver Sammy Gingell helps with 35028. WD 2-10-0 “Gordon” is seen hauling a BR special around the system during July 1969. By now the Keighley & Worth Valley in Yorkshire had been operating for one year and we see this delightful line basking in the summer sunshine.
Industrial steam is not forgotten – the Walkden system near Manchester featured North Staffordshire 0-6-2T “Sir Robert”, and the British Oak Coal Disposal Point near Wakefield used “Jinty” 47445. Another trip in the summer of 1969 was to the Cricklewood open day with 7029, 5593, 5428, and the legendary “Kestrel” – the 4,000hp diesel later sold to the Soviet Union.
Filmed entirely in colour, a detailed commentary plus authentic sound track complements this nostalgic look at steam after August 1968.
Produced by - B & R Video Productions
Running time - 60 Minutes
Released - July 2015