fredag 3 augusti 2018

Today - a sad Golden Jubilee

The last timetabled steam train on British Railways ran exactly fifty years ago, Saturday 3rd August 1968. That evening, Preston station was packed with enthusiasts and general public alike to witness the departure of the last two ordinary, timetabled steam hauled trains. The Blackpool train had already left at 20.50 behind 45212. Everyone now waited for the very last one of all, the 21.25 Preston (ex Glasgow) to Liverpool Exchange leave with LMS Class 5, 45318 at the head of a packed train. The driver of the train, Ernie Heyes died on 25th June 2010, aged 75. RIP.

The following week, Saturday 11th August, ran the famous 15 Guinea special, and that was the end. British Railways enforced a total ban on steam, which in the event, and entirely unexpectedly, lasted for only three years, with the running, in the autumn of 1971, of a special train headed by the Great Western locomotive King George V.

So disappeared as characteristic feature of the English landscape as the hedgerow elms. The demise of steam in Britain was a shameful story of waste and political interference driven by an absurd concern for ‘image‘, an issue which continues to get in the way of good decisions in almost every sphere of business and industry.

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