The Cotswold Venturer – 21st August 2021

This trip was unusual in many ways:-

Because of the lack of time between the two trips, there was a lot of work to do in a short time. Some of the support crew, and some other helpers, started work on the Thursday morning. Some crew members didn’t even get the chance to go home between the two. Despite the fact that the engine was still hot, we had to clean out the firebox and smokebox, and empty the ashpans. We always give the engine and coach our own Fitness To Run examination prior to the official one. We had to load several tons of coal, and fill the tender tank with several thousand gallons of treated water. We had to start again on the lubrication. And there is always a lot of cleaning and polishing to be done.

By Friday afternoon, all was ready. Because the tour was starting from Paddington early on Saturday morning, we spent the night at our erstwhile home of Southall, thanks to West Coast Railways. Even then, the support crew had to be up by four o’clock in the morning, with the people looking after the fire even earlier than that.

Everybody at Southall made us very welcome.

We left Paddington more or less on time, and picked up more passengers at Slough, Reading and Didcot.

Clan Line at Culham – Photograph by Thomas Shrimpton

After stopping for water at Oxford, we were delayed by signals a couple of times, and eventually reached Worcester Shrub Hill about half an hour late.

Clan Line at Finstock – Photograph by Thomas Shrimpton

While the passengers had the opportunity to explore Worcester in the rain, we serviced the engine. This involved the usual jobs of cleaning the fire, oiling, and replenishing the tender. We were then able to make use of the triangle to turn the engine while the support crew waited in the rain. Thank you to West Midlands Trains and Network Rail for their help and hospitality.

We left Worcester Shrub Hill on time at 16:32, and had a good climb of Sapperton.

Clan Line at Frampton Mansell on the climb of Sapperton – Photograph by Thomas Shrimpton

We stopped at Kemble for water, and to pull coal forward. We could have easily got to Paddington with the water taken at Kemble, but we had to get back to Stewarts Lane after the trip, so we had a precautionary top up at Milton Junction.

We dropped off our happy passengers at Didcot, Reading, Slough and Paddington, before being towed back to Hanwell Bridge Loop. After detaching from the coaching stock, we made our way back to Stewarts Lane, where we disposed the engine in the usual way. The support crew had been up and about for over twenty hours, though most of them did manage to catch some sleep during the day.

During their time with us, all the West Coast Railway crews handled our engine with great care and respect. They wanted this to work as much as we did, and so did The Railway Touring Company.

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