Flying Scotsman

Black Five 45212 and Flying Scotsman

No the title is not an error - Flying Scotsman is tucked in behind the Black Five.

Flying Scotsman was being double-headed on a special on its way north today from London Victoria to Carnforth. The Black Five made spotting her a little difficult but the event was improved by the the sound of a two-cylinder and a three-cylinder working together - they made an interesting rhythm. In the photo the train is passing Ashton in Northants which is not far from Stoke Bruerne. As all Scotsman events the crowds were out even at this rural location.

Waiting for the train

Limehouse and Thames Tideway without Albert

Last week we stayed in Limehouse with our Aussie visitors John & Di and travelled up and down the Tideway by Clipper. Its a very convenient and fast mode of transport in London and, although not the cheapest, it does afford wonderful views. It's a great way to experience the heart of our capital.

We managed to travel upstream to Tate Britain and downstream to Greenwich where we had visited the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.

Staying in Limehouse Basin we had a good view of the arrivals and departures through the lock. It wasn't busy, and the 24 hour moorings we usually unoccupied, but a variety of boats came and went as the tide conditions changed and the lock became available.

Converted Lifeboat arriving from the Limehouse Cut

Heading for the Lee Navigation

Yacht arrives 

Limehouse at Night

Passing Parliament in comfort

Beneath the Cutty Sark's Hull (cafe)

Cutty Sark


Tower Bridge at Night

We also visited The Grapes in Limehouse where Sir Ian McKellen is own of the oweners. It is a treat not to be missed. The Antony Gormley Statue was standing in deep water this time. On our last visit in 2016 it was low tide.

Another Time XVI by Antony Gormley

It was good to revisit some of the places we visited in 2016 on our last cruise through London and also back in 2008 when we took Albert out onto the Tideway. The boating was a bit more tame this time!

Bank Holiday trip to Great Linford

On May 28th we took our friends from Queensland, John and Diane Harden on a short trip to Great Linford. They were staying in England for a couple of weeks and wanted to see the canals again. John reckoned that this was his fourth boating trip with us. We can certainly count three on Albert and I think John also came for a trip on on our first boat. 

The day started misty and damped but the weather improved as the day wore on. We had booked a lunch at The Black Horse at Great Linford. They did us proud with the food and service being good.



Approaching Cosgrove

John and Maggie operating Cosgrove Lock

Crossing the River Ouse via the Iron Trunk

Woods near Wolverton

Black House Great Linford

At the pub on a busy Bank Holiday

Photos courtesy of John Harden (mostly).

Over and Under the Hill with the Ramblers

We have been busy over the last couple of weeks entertaining our friends from Brisbane so posting has been difficult.

In an effort to catch up I will start with the event at Stoke Bruerne on June 2nd. It was another Over and Under the Hill event which includes a trip through Blisworth Tunnel by boat and a guided walk over the hill. My role as a CRT volunteer was to guide the walk. This time the event was part of an event organised by The Ramblers. There were two trips through the tunnel on NB Indian Chief, so bigger groups could accommodated. Heritage Walks around the village were also incorporated. It was part of the 2018 Walkabout Festival.

The event came very soon after the new CRT branding. I got a new blue polo shirt with the new logo and "Making life better by water" across my back and Stoke Bruerne was full on new blue signs. 

Blue is the new black!

I won't join in the debate about the re-branding exercise, the chat rooms can deal with that. I did however meet Richard Parry who stepped off Indian Chief just as I reached Blisworth with the first group of walkers.

Ramblers in Blisworth Tunnel aboard NB Indian Chief

Richard Parry visiting CRT facilities at Stoke Bruerne with the new branding in evidence

The event generated a lot of interest and the walkers appeared to enjoy both the walk and the cruise. A number stayed on until the afternoon for Heritage Walks. They were also entertained by a Morris side, not the more familiar Rose and Castle side from Stoke Bruerne - they were away performing in France, but the Crosskey Clog from Peterborough.

Crosskey Clog outside The Canal Museum

Locomotive with Tom Rolt Connections

On Sunday we had a special day on the Severn Valley Railway celebrating the 70th birthday of Mike Corbett a friend who was involved in the recent restoration of the Flying Scotsman. This involved a leisurely lunch onboard a train pulled by a Great Western 0-6-0 pannier tank. Having lived in Cardiff during the last days of steam, these little engines are very familiar to me since they even carried me to school.

GWR 0-6-0 pannier tank 7714 on the Severn Valley Railway at Kidderminster

The engine on duty to pull our train was 7714. It looked smart in its British Railways black livery, but I was particularly struck by the shiny brass plate on its frame. The plate indicated that the loco was built in 1930 by Kerr, Stuart & Co Ltd., of Stoke-on-Trent. This rang bells with me since I knew that Tom Rolt had been apprentice at Kerr Stuart and his uncle Kyrle Willans was chief development engineer. Willans was at that time also the owner of Cressy the boat Rolt was later to own and make famous in his book Narrow Boat. 

Makers plate

The next stage was to check the chronology to see if 7714 was being built when Rolt was working for Kerr Stuart. A quick check of Rolt's autobiography Landscape with Machines revealed that he was indeed working at the Stoke factory in 1930. Rolt reports that "twenty-five new six-coupled pannier tanks were being built for the Great Western Railway" and points out that the paint shop were not happy with the specification in the contract set by GWR and that it caused "head-shaking".

So there we have it - a preserved locomotive built in the Kerr Stuart factory (California Works) whilst Tom Rolt was serving his apprenticeship. I am sure given Rolt's connections with both railway preservation and canals, he would have been pleased.

GWR 2-8-0 locomotive 2857 crossing the Victoria Bridge over the River Severn near Arley
(courtesy Mike Corbett)

What a shame the River Severn is not navigable up this way. However, it is still possible to navigate under the Severn Valley Railway on the Staffs & Worcestershire Canal near Kidderminster where the railway crosses via the Falling Sands viaduct.

The Falling Sands viaduct
Falling Sands Viaduct 
(courtesy Severn Valley Railway)