With over 160 members, shareholders and invited guests (that included some of the team working on fellow Merchant Navy Pacific 35011 General Steam Navigation that us currently being restored uniquely to original air smoothed condition complete with Bulleid’s chain driven valve gear) board, many enjoying picnics, we had the entire wonderfully scenic Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway to ourselves. 35006 hauled a complete round trip from Toddington – Cheltenham Racecourse – Broadway – Toddington, with its splendid views of the Cotswolds and the Malvern Hills, in the warm evening sunshine.
The slogan is ‘ Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day – 3rd September’
As per my post here, to commemorate 100 years of the Merchant Navy, and in remembrance of all those from various countries throughout the world that served in the Merchant Navy and who lost their lives during wars, conflicts and campaigns, Merchant Navy Locomotive 35006 ‘Peninsular & Oriental SN Co’ will be running today on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway on Merchant Navy Day.
She was be suitably decorated for the day with a specially commissioned ‘Merchant Navy’ headboard (see left) and flying the Red Ensign flags for the occasion. The day started with a brief remembrance service at 9.30 am for members of the Merchant Navy Association, at Toddington station, before pulling the 10am departure for Cheltenham.
Following their service in the First World War, King George V bestowed the title of “Merchant Navy” on the British merchant shipping fleets, in 1928 he gave Edward, Prince of Wales the title of “Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets”, more recently this title has been held by our current Queen Elizabeth II.
When the United Kingdom and the British Empire entered the Second World War in September 1939, George VI issued this message:
“In these anxious days I would like to express to all Officers and Men and in the British Merchant Navy and the British Fishing Fleets my confidence in their unfailing determination to play their vital part in defence. To each one I would say: Yours is a task no less essential to my people’s experience than that allotted to the Navy, Army and Air Force. Upon you the Nation depends for much of its foodstuffs and raw materials and for the transport of its troops overseas. You have a long and glorious history, and I am proud to bear the title “Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets”. I know that you will carry out your duties with resolution and with fortitude, and that high chivalrous traditions of your calling are safe in your hands. God keep you and prosper you in your great task”.
Britain’s merchant fleet was the largest in the world during both world wars. In 1939, a third of the world’s merchant ships were British, and there were some 200,000 sailors. Many merchant seamen came from parts of the British Empire, such as India, Hong Kong and west African countries.
No. 11, 35011 is curently being ambitiously reurned to original condition by the General Steam Navigation Society of which, like for No.6, I am also Sharehlder.
Although this post has given me the chance to share a few pictures of Bulleid Merchant Navy class locomotives and models, it is primarily to recognise and commemorate the sacrifices made on our behalf by merchant seafarers ‘We Will Remember Them’.
Locomotove No.6, which was built in 1941 for the Southern Railway and formally named after the shipping company P&O in 1942 – with the unveiling of a grand nameplate on the side of the locomotive, is based at Toddington station on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway which runs between Cheltenham Race Course and Broadway in the Cotswolds.
No.6 will be suitably decorated for the day with a specially commissioned ‘Merchant Navy’ headboard and flying the Red Ensign flags for the occasion. It is intended to have a brief remembrance service at 9.30 am for members of the Merchant Navy Association, at Toddington station, before pulling the 10am departure for Cheltenham.
Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘island nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports.
Yesterday evening, 13th July, saw the annual members day event with a dedicated special train purely for members and shareholders of the 35006 Society. It was a chance to ride behind 35006 Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co on a private train after No.6 had been in service on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway during the day.
I was also fortunate as Shareholder to have the chance of a ride in the cab, see video below, for the part of the trip.
She certainly looked splendid and powerful in the evening light with the wonderful patina of having worked service trains during the day. Once coaled and coupled to the members train she ran non stop to Cheltenham racecourse station. Having run around she took the train tender first, again back past Toddington to the wonderfully recreated, Broadway station.
I was lucky enough to ride in the cab between Toddington and Braodway. The evening ended as the sun set returning to Toddington. The 14 miles end to end gives a nice 28 mile round trip, and a couple of nice gradients thrown into the mix, with some great views across the Cotswolds.
I was able to take a few pictures from the cab, getting a few reflections in the glass and tender sides (as we were running tender first for that part of the journey) hence the title pun of this post.
It also gave the chance to experience the views from the impressive Stanway Viaduct, just to the North of Toddington, this viaduct is approximately 210 yards long, crosses the valley at its highest point at just over 50 feet and each of the 15 spans are 36 feet. It is on a gentle 1 in 150 gradient heading north and on a gentle 80 chain curve.
The reputation for Bulleids to make steam was certainly evident with a low fire of good quality welsh steam coal, steam pressure was easily maintained, as it never dropped below 235 psi for the duration of my cab ride, despite the relatively full train, of members and shareholders, made up of eight BR Mark One coaches.
The safety valves were just feathering for most of the trip despite the fireman keeping topping up the boiler to its near full limit. The ride was very smooth, albeit at an average of around 25mph showing on the speedometer, on the still pretty new excellent permanent way to Broadway
It was certainly a great evening, including the cab ride as well, enjoying a picnic on board with my Mum and Dad. No.6 looked great as always and was running superbly and a credit to the 35006 Locomotive Society and the running staff of the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway
It was also great to be able to get up close to 35006 and hopefully some of the pictures illustrating this post shows the impressiveness of her and also the impressive level of restoration and continued maintenance that has gone into this complex piece of engineering Bulleid Brilliance (with a little bit of Jarvis thrown in, I will concede).