‘THE FIFTEEN GUINEA SPECIAL’

11th AUGUST 1968

Other than the, arguably ‘half-hearted’, quick trip to Southport on 4th August 1968, it had not escaped the notice of many that

BR itself had organised very little in the way of an appropriate send-off to steam. That wasn’t exactly true, of course, for,

apart from the high-profile ‘15 Guinea Special’ (which, essentially, had precious little to do with the end of steam in Lancashire),

the Preston Division had made the token effort, during the final few days, to present an exhibition of locos in one of the

East Lancs line platforms at Preston station. (See picture on a previous page.) There was a Class 40 present  - and even a

25KV AC electric, although the catenary hadn’t reached quite that far north yet - with Lostock Hall’s No 45305 heading up the convoy to represent the steam era.

On an even more local level, officially, no plans had been made to mark the closure of Lostock Hall MPD after its fullsome 86 years of life and the only recognition appeared to have been a few rather half-heartedly written paragraphs within a small feature in a Preston newspaper. It was all, indeed, a far cry from the events and gatherings that came to be planned locally, both by enthusiasts and former enginemen alike, 25 and 40 years in the future!

“THE END” was a fact that had been so poignantly proclaimed on the impromptu headboard of 10D’s No 45318, which, standing at the buffer-stops of Liverpool’s Exchange Station on the evening of 3rd August, had been surrounded by massive crowds.  After nearly a century and a half of loyal service of steam to the nation, it was all over …. there would be no more …. Not REAL steam, anyway!

Whether or not an attempt to ‘upstage’ the significance of those other 6 commemorative workings organised for 4th August, having made their proclamation that this was the date that steam was to end, the British Railways Board HQ from its ivory tower in Marylebone Road then announced that they were to organise their own event – to run 7 days later. Many critics became quite incensed by this, developing arguably jaundiced views that the railway societies had, perhaps, been ‘cheated’ in some way and that BR had taken unfair advantage in taking such a step. Whatever the ‘pros and cons’ of any reasoned argument, certainly such an occasion would somewhat tone-down the adverse publicity surrounding that massive effect felt locally in the North West one week previously, with the closure of the final 3 steam sheds and the hundreds of redundant steam men who had now found themselves unemployed, if not unemployable!

That said, the reader of these lines can make whatever further assumptions he wishes, but it was a clear fact that the men of Lostock Hall shed had no place in the operation of that final special, other than, that is, a few of the associated light-engine movements.

The following list is, therefore, included merely for completeness in information:

 

10th August 1968

Light engine Carnforth - Lostock Hall

Motive power: Class 7MT 4-6-2 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell (10A)

Carnforth crew. Footplate Inspector: Frank Watson

 

11th August 1968

Light engine: Lostock Hall – Liverpool Lime Street

Motive power: Class 5MT 4-6-0 No 45110 (10D)

Lostock Hall/Preston crew - Fireman:

Light engines: Carnforth-Hellifield (reverse)-Carlisle.

Motive power: Class 5MT 4-6-0 No. 44871 (10A) & Class 5MT 4-6-0 No. 44781 (10A) – double-headed.

44871 - Driver: Willie Pape (ex-Carlisle man) / Fireman: John Gorst (both of 10A) / Acting Loco Inspector: Frank Watson.  44781 - Driver: Charlie Wilson / Fireman: Jeff Beattie (both of 10A) / Loco Inspector: Bert Moore (Carnforth)

 

1T57 the British Railways organised “Fifteen Guinea Special”

Liverpool (Lime Street) to Carlisle and return:  10 coaches

Stage 1: - Liverpool Lime Street-Earlestown-Manchester Victoria

Motive power: Class 5MT 4-6-0 No 45110 (10D)

Driver: Jack Hart (8A) / Fireman: Brian Bradley (8A)

Stage 2: - Manchester Victoria – Bolton – Blackburn Hellifield – Settle- Carlisle

Motive power: Class 7MT 4-6-2 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell (10A)

Driver from Man. Vic to Blackburn: Harry Bolton (10D) / Fireman: Tommy Gorman (Preston). Guard: Derek Warburton

Driver from Blackburn to Carlisle: Bob Grogan / Fireman: Raymond Watton

Guard: John Weal / Loco Inspector: Chief Inspector John Hughes

Stage 3: - Carlisle – Settle – Hellifield – Blackburn.  

Motive power:  Class 5MT 4-6-0 No. 44871 (10A) &  Class 5MT 4-6-0 No. 44781 (10A) – double-headed.

44871 - Driver: Norman Ashton / Fireman: Tony Helm / Loco Inspector: Chief Inspector John Hughes.

44781 - Driver: Ray Grimshaw / Fireman: David Greenhalgh / Loco Inspector: Bert Moore (Carnforth).

Guard: John Weal

Stage 4: - Blackburn– Bolton – Manchester Victoria and then light engine back to Carnforth

Motive power: Class 5MT 4-6-0 No. 44871 (10A) & Class 5MT 4-6-0 No. 44781 (10A) – double-headed.

44871 - Driver: Ted Fothergill (10A) / Fireman: Malcolm Thistlethwaite (10A) /  Loco Inspector to Manchester: Chief Inspector John Hughes.  44781 - Driver: Jack Simpson (10A) / Fireman: Ian Thistlethwaite (10A) / Loco Inspector: Bert Moore (Carnforth). Guard: Derek Warburton

Stage 5: - Manchester Victoria – Earlestown - Liverpool Lime Street

Motive power: Class 5MT 4-6-0 No 45110 (10D)  

Driver: Fred Smith (8A) / Fireman Stephen Roberts (8A) / Loco Inspector: John Hughes.  Accompanied by Driver: Ken Mason (10D) / Fireman: Roger Owen (10D).  Guard: William Boardman.

Light engine: Lostock Hall – Manchester Victoria and Liverpool Lime Street – Wigan – Lostock Hall

Motive power:  Class 5MT 4-6-0 No 45110 (10D)

Driver: Ken Mason (10D) / Fireman: Richard “Roger” Owen (10D)

Light engine: Carlisle – Settle – Hellifield – Blackburn - Lostock Hall

Motive power: Class 7MT 4-6-2 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell (10A)  

Driver from Carlisle to Blackburn: Bob Grogan / Fireman: Raymond Whatton / Acting Footplate Inspector: Frank Watson (Carlisle-Lostock Hall-Accrington)

Light engine: Loco went onto Lostock Hall depot for servicing & then straight to Norwich via Doncaster - Healey Mills crew

Motive power: Class 7MT 4-6-2 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell (32A)

 

Certainly, 1T57 did come to earn a place in the history books, but not immediately to be recalled as “The Final Steam Train Of All”, but more so under the unfortunate sobriquet, “The Fifteen Guinea Special” (relating to the excessively high fare being charged, which few at the time could afford) and the fact that there were about 50 seats that went unsold on the day might have intimated something, to more than a few, in that particular context.

BR seemed to have had decidedly mixed feelings about its initiative anyway, but then it had spent the previous few years systematically purging its network of steam power. Notwithstanding all of that, it was also an undeniable fact that some considerable effort had been put into the ‘behind-the-scenes’ organisation and planning, in order to ensure that the event really was a success. Although, for very valid operational reasons, just about every tour organiser in previous months had been permitted only to use steam on a severely restricted number of routes (these essentially within the environs of Lancashire), the major selling-point for many was that this final working would traverse that ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of lines – the Settle & Carlisle Railway – in each direction AND with steam all the way!  

Preparations for 1T57 had been considerable; not least of which was the fact that 5 operational steam locomotives had to be retained on the books until week-ending 17th August 1968. This being merely a technicality, neither before nor after the event, were they to perform any other duties.  It was, therefore, indeed all the more fortunate, despite all the few remaining personnel not made redundant having been transferred ‘on-paper’ to Preston Station signing-on point the previous Monday morning, delays in coming to an agreement on some of the arrangements meant that Lostock Hall Motive Power Depot nominally remained ‘open’ for about a further week. Naturally, diesel-refuelling and maintenance were planned to continue anyway for some time, but the coaling and watering facilities were still in-situ and operational.  Likewise, at Carnforth, that depot was to remain in BR ownership and usage for some time to come, so a similar situation prevailed thereat.

Behind the scenes, special commemorative tickets and brochures were being printed, special posters, headed 'British Rail Runs Out Of Steam', were distributed and restaurant car staff were asked to work overtime on a Sunday to serve the at-seat service of lunch, high-­tea and other refreshments. Finally, footplate crews were rostered to work with steam for one more time. The crews from Lostock Hall, were, of course, men now transferred to Preston Station signing-on point.

With the various light-engine movements of the previous Sunday evening, of those 5 engines still in service, ‘Black 5’s 45110 and 45305 were sat at Lostock Hall and sister engines 44781 and 44871, along with ‘Britannia’ 70013 Oliver Cromwell, were now back on their home depot of Carnforth.

On Saturday 10 August, 70013 was lit up again at Carnforth and during the evening, following completion of all the necessary checks, it started to make its way light-engine to Lostock Hall, where it would again be coaled, watered and made ready to depart the following morning.  The two ‘Black Fives’, 44781 and 44871, were also lit-up during the day in order to play their own part in the operation.  

Fortunately, perhaps with the hindsight gained the previous Sunday, on the day prior to the event, two engines had been lit-up by steam-raisers at Lostock Hall. Although the fully lined-out and immaculate 45305 had been the preferred machine of choice, it was soon observed that its grate had collapsed, causing ‘stand-by’ 45110 (equally well-presented and in lined-out livery), to be rostered in its stead.  In the gathering gloom of that Saturday evening, they were soon joined by No 70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’, and, surrounded by lines of cold and lifeless hulks, stood waiting their final hours of glory and the opportunity to earn their places in history.  

 

[ABOVE] Lostock Hall shed on 10th August 1968 Rows of eerily silent withdrawn locomotives fill the shed roads, never to turn a wheel again in anger.On No 6 Road, however, there are signs of life to relieve the depression.  No 45110 has been lit up in preparation for its part in the ‘final steam train of all’ working, organised by British Rail.

[ABOVE] Having journeyed light from Lostock Hall to Liverpool Lime Street and now crewed by Edge Hill men, Lostock Hall’s No 45110 with its train of 10 coaches weighing 364½ tons net, begins the very difficult cold start at 1 in 93 up to Edge Hill, attaining 14 mph towards the summit.

 

[ABOVE]  Rainhill - 11 August 1968. A scene such as this would, in 2009, cause apoplexy in certain quarters!  Given the sea of freely and aimlessly wandering spectators and passengers, it is little short of a miracle that the scheduled photographic stop was reduced to a mere eight minutes.

[ABOVE] No 45110 in full cry. Exiting the short tunnel near Kenyon, in a location where none of the thousands of observers,who turned out  to view the passing of 1T57, appear to have congregated, heads for Manchester Victoria along the stretch of track where the story of railways had all started some 138 years previously.  

And so it was that, at 05.38 the following morning, 45110 set out light-engine with a Preston-based crew, heading via Wigan for Edge Hill Depot, where it arrived at 07.20.  At 08-36, another Preston crew moved 70013 off shed, heading in the direction of Manchester.  The senior loco inspector accompanying the train was no less than John Hughes, Chief Inspector for the British Railways London Midland Region and this gentleman had arranged to supervise operations from one or other footplates throughout the day.

1T57 was to cover 314 miles during its 10¾ hour journey and special stops for the benefit of photographers were made during the first stage at Rainhill, where the original ‘locomotive trials’ were held by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1829, and at nearby Parkside, where the Rt. Hon. William Huskisson MP, was killed in an accident following the opening ceremony of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway on 15 September 1830.  In order to witness such a uniquely historic event, crowds lined the trackside at both locations.

Upon arrival at Manchester Victoria, 45110 left the train and, there now being no operational steam facilities remaining in the Manchester Division, it had to run light back to Lostock Hall shed for servicing.  70013 was waiting and backed onto the other end of the train to take it forward for the remainder of its journey. The route now lay via Bolton, Blackburn, Hellifield and Settle and thence over the ‘Long Drag to Carlisle.  The driver working the stage to Blackburn was a Preston man, Harold Bolton and his fireman was Tommy Gorman of Preston with guard was John Weal. As 1T57 passed the sidings at Agecroft Power Station, one of the C.E.G.B. RSH 0-4-0 saddle-tanks was in steam and whistling its own farewell.  

Assurances having been provided during the previous week by Blackburn station staff, that platform-end watering facilities were still in full working order, proved to be ill-founded and, upon arrival, the ‘Britannia’ now had to be removed from the train in order to access a much faster-running supply nearby.  This unexpected additional movement caused a massive delay, however, and the Blackburn crew now in control, driver Bob Grogan and fireman Raymond Watton, now found themselves needing to make up some time.  This was assisted somewhat by a decision to omit the water-stop scheduled to occur at Blea Moor.

Word of the trip had clearly been well-publicised and, at the lineside, it seemed if the entire population of the North of England (and elsewhere) had turned out to bid their farewells. Blackpool on a Bank Holiday weekend was nothing on this! Cars parked erratically absolutely everywhere, station platforms and line over-bridges packed with humanity, even the sheep presumably no longer felt safe! Surveying the number of cars jam-packed right under the arches (and in the shot), the view of Ribblehead Viaduct from the slopes of Whernside might have suggested that a new Battymoss branch of ‘Tescos’ had just opened and that everything was free for the day!

Arrival at Carlisle was some 30 min late, but by cutting the station-time down to about 15 minutes, some of the lateness came to be reduced and, now with 44781 and 44871 at the head, 1T57 set out again to retrace its route back to Liverpool.  The driver of 44871 was Norman Ashton and the fireman Tony Helm with Chief Inspector Hughes accompanying them. Aboard 44781 were driver Ray Grimshaw and fireman David Greenhalgh, with footplate inspector Bert Moore. These Preston crews had travelled up to Carlisle ‘on the cushions’ by means of the morning Manchester-Glasgow express. With 2 engines in perfect mechanical condition, along with the sultry conditions that afternoon, very little exhaust was evident as the train bowled along at something approaching 50mph all the way to Ais Gill Summit.

‘Cromwell’ returned light-engine some 15min behind the train, heading to Lostock Hall for servicing. Still crewed by driver Grogan and Fireman Watton, ably assisted by acting Footplate Inspector Frank Watson (who did some of the firing), these men worked the engine through to Blackburn.

After 1T57 had passed on its way, those few at the lineside who lingered for a while on the hillsides and road verges in the vicinity of Mallerstang Common - perhaps reflecting upon the fact that they really had just witnessed the end of an era - could not help but to notice just how insignificant the ‘Britannia’ appeared, as it almost silently passed through the glorious valley in the hazy afternoon sunlight.  Dramatic scenery certainly, but without a steam engine working hard against the gradient, not even the noisiest of diesels could ever come even close to exuding that so unique atmosphere.  Most of us thought this was our last time here, we wouldn’t return.  Many didn’t.   

No 70013 took on coal and water at Lostock Hall as planned, after which it departed at 21.30, running to Doncaster shed via Blackburn, Copy Pit, Todmorden and Wakefield, now with a Healey Mills crew and a Leeds locomotive inspector. Although this movement was supposed to be a secret, everyone knew that the locomotive was en route to Bressingham Gardens in Norfolk for preservation.

For the Blackburn– Bolton – Manchester Victoria leg and, afterwards, to return the light engines back to Carnforth, on 44871 driver Ted Fothergill (of earlier “Belfast Boat Express” fame) took over. He was accompanied by fireman Malcolm Thistlethwaite, one of Carnforth’s celebrated Thistlethwaite brothers. The other brother, Ian was also present, firing 44781 for Carnforth driver Jack Simpson and accompanied by loco inspector Bert Moore.

For the final stage, onwards from Manchester Victoria, via Earlestown, to Liverpool (Lime Street), 45110 had leisurely returned from coaling and watering at Lostock Hall with Lostock Hall’s driver Ken Mason and fireman Dick “Roger” Owen in control.  Once back at Manchester Victoria, Edge Hill driver Fred Smith and fireman Stephen Roberts took over to work the final leg.  The Lostock Hall men travelled on the loco to Liverpool and then took the light engine back to Lostock Hall for final disposal.

 

[RIGHT] A view from 1T57, taken as the special arrives back at Manchester Victoria.

Having returned from Lostock Hall after servicing and then turned on the Miles Platting triangle, No 45110 stands alongside Exchange Station, waiting to back onto the rear the special ready to return it to Liverpool Lime Street.  

The Lostock Hall crew who had brought the light engine back to Manchester stand in front of the loco. Driver Ken Mason is on extreme left and fireman Dick “Roger” Owen is third from left.  The other two men on the footplate are Edge Hill driver Fred Smith and Fireman Stephen Roberts, who took the train on its final leg.

The Lostock Hall men will travel with the train to Liverpool and then return No 45110 to its home depot (albeit now formally closed to steam!)

 

After the ECS had been removed at Lime Street, 45110 lingered at the buffer stops of No 5 platform for some time, as though reluctant to depart the scene, finally moving very slowly out before a strangely-silent throng of observers. As it drew away, it was believed to have been Roger Owen who shouted, “No more dirty hands!”  The engine returned light directly to Lostock Hall, withdrawal from service and, as believed at the time would inevitably occur, that inevitable last journey in convoy to the scrap-yard.

 

Former 10D fireman ‘Tom’ Jones reckons that he must have been the last man to drive a steam loco at 10D - his final task at the shed being to put No 45110 to bed on the evening of 11th August 1968.  Dropping the fire over the ash pits, he then moved the engine into the shed yard. Time-wise, there are currently some discrepancies in the actual arrival time back on shed, but, nevertheless, it would appear that No 45110 was the most likely contender for the honour of being the last loco in BR service to return to shed.

Unfortunately that’s all we have in this section for now, so before you continue on to the next page, please do consider the following.

 What you have just been reading is, of course, only a small part of the story of Lostock Hall MPD ….  all of it  having been gratefully received from the mere handful of contributors who have so generously assisted us to-date.   There are obviously many more stories out there just waiting to be told … only these haven’t as yet been passed on to us!  Therefore, in order to start filling-in many of the missing pieces in the, still very incomplete, jigsaw, please do now consider making a contribution of your own.  Items of information and scanned photographs would be most welcomed. Alternatively, you might wish to share your footplate experiences by meeting up for a pint and a natter in pub, or, failing that, through merely participating in our “Discussion Forum” (as many already have done). Regardless of how you make contact and irrespective of whatever manner you feel you may be able to assist, please DO get in touch!  

 

NOTE: All information contained within these pages is original material - prepared specifically for the Lostock Hall MPD Website (www.LostockHallMPD.org.uk) and which remains strictly the express COPYRIGHT of the website administrators. Likewise, all photographs used remain the COPYRIGHT of the photographers identified. No item must be reproduced, or quoted from (in whole or even in part), in the absence of express prior permission being granted.  (Please refer to the “Get In Touch” page in order to obtain the contact addresses of the administrative team.)