Highlight for many enthusiasts on this Bank Holiday weekend was the open weekend being held at the English, Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS) depot at Toton near Derby. Whilst I was interested in visiting the depot, I found the railtours going to them on each of the two days a bit more attractive. On the Monday there was then the chance to sample Deltic D9000 "off the beaten track", Anglia Railways having hired the loco for the day to haul an additional service from London Liverpool Street to Great Yarmouth and back.
So, 3 days off work and all of them would be spent "on the rails"!
An early start had me at Cheltenham for a little before 8.30am, plenty of time to pick up Pathfinder Tours "The Totoniser" which was scheduled for Class 58 haulage both ways, with the addition of a freight Class 47 on the return leg from Saltley in Birmingham. I met up with one of my days travelling companions and a few minutes early in rolled 58029 with our train. Time for a photograph and wander back to our seats in coach J near the back. A further three friends joined at Worcester which kept the conversation flowing until around midday when, just a few minutes late, we rolled into the temporary platform at Toton depot. Our group split up at this stage and I elected to walk around all the locomotives on display then once I had seen everything on display, I went round again getting photographs. For some the presence of 4 Class 66's (all the fleet currently in the UK) was a bonus as 3 of them had only arrived on British soil late on the Wednesday night prior to the event.
As well as the many railway sales stands run by the trade and preservation groups, at 2pm and 3pm there were ceremonies held to name locomotives. The first, which did not find favour with many enthusiasts when first announced, was 37417 which was named "Rail Magazine". Original plans to rename (and repaint) 37408 "Loch Rannoch" were dropped as the locomotive could not be finished in time. The second naming was 56091 which was christened "Stanton". 60083 was noted with covered nameplates, ready for its ceremony on Sunday. Our tour left Toton just after 4.30pm behind 58032 and we had a good run back, pausing at Saltley to change engines to 47200 and 47363 in multiple. Our whole group left the train at Cheltenham as I had arranged to deliver three of my colleagues to Banbury station on my way home, in time for them to bash 47051 on the 1814 Bournemouth - Manchester.
A slightly later start was on the cards for Sunday, day 2 of the Toton open weekend and by 9am I was at Kings Cross in time to see 47726 "Manchester Airport - Progress" draw the stock (load 12, all in green) into platform 6. At the rear of the train was 60068 "Charles Darwin", as predicted. Hertfordshire Railtours "The Toton Pole" was ready for departure.
With a 60mph top whack, we enjoyed a very sedate ramble to Peterborough, thence onward via Grantham and Nottingham to Toton. Arrival at the temporary platform at 12.52 was 23 minutes early (wow! an extra 23 minutes to kill before escaping again...). Having been on the Saturday I was not really looking forward to another afternoon spent being shouted at by "anoraks" insistent that absolutely no-one should be seen in their photographs, taken mostly on compact cameras with very wide angle lenses. Anyone who was at Toton will know keeping out of everyone's way was simply impossible! Good news was that the Foster-Yeoman and ARC 59's had been moved and were now easy to photograph. 56091 "Stanton" and 37417 "Oh No, Not Another Locomotive Named Rail Magazine" were also both in good positions to be snapped, their spots now being occupied by 58050 and 60083. The former was being "re-dedicated" as "Toton Traction Depot" and 60083 was named "Mountsorrel". I seemed to spent most of the afternoon bumping into people I knew, so at least it went quite quickly. My impression was also that Sunday was a bit less busy that Saturday - more families and less spotter-types.
Our departure time of 17.10 came and went with little sign of activity other than our coaches heading off northwards behind 47976 "Aviemore Centre". Soon though the stock reappeared with Mainline blue 60044 "Ailsa Craig" at the head. Despite setting off 15 minutes down, we gained time throughout out the return journey via Loughborough, Oakham and Peterborough and by Potters Bar (time for me to get off) we were 16 early.
My overall impression of the open weekend - Excellent and certainly well organised. My thanks go to all at EWS who helped organise and run this open weekend. It should also be noted that many local charities will benefit from this event.
After a bit of thought, I decided to abandon any ideas of driving towards London on the Monday - getting there would be easy, but heading back up the M1 on a Bank Holiday Monday evening?? So, at 8am I was at my local station (Northampton) and being charged £17.60 for the privilege of getting to London (maybe next time I will go by car...and never mind the Bank Holiday Traffic!).
A more detailed description of our foray into East Anglia with D9000 can be found on Anglia Railways Deltic to the Sea.
I eventually got home at a quite respectable 8pm, rather exhausted after my 3 days of travelling around by rail - tired, yes - but happy!
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