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The 15 Guinea Special
IT was August 11, 1968 and the end of an era. The night before, the last regular train to be hauled by steam had pulled into Liverpool.
That day the “15 guinea special” would run, so called because that was the price of a ticket, and steam haulage was due to disappear from our railways.
It was hauled by a Black 5, 45110, that had been built in 1935 at the Vulcan Locomotive Works. The special was then hauled by “Oliver Cromwell” from Manchester Victoria to Carlisle and back, over the Settle and Carlisle route, and 45110 hauled the train on its final leg from Victoria back to Liverpool Lime Street, over the route built by George Stephenson which was opened in 1830, and revolutionised the world.
In 1869, just 39 years after that opening, a railway service crossed America from coast to coast, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
A year after that mighty challenge, a rail link was opened between St Helens Shaw Street and Huyton so we could now travel by train to Liverpool!
We can’t blame the Council because St Helens was only created by Act of Parliament in 1868, and that was to deal with the health, drainage and sewage issues.
The photo of 45110 in Earlestown was not taken by famous local railway photographer and railway historian Eddie Bellass, but by his wife Margaret!
Eddie dropped me this line about the photos included in the August issue of my newsletter: “Nick Dodson Coleman's article on the last British Rail steam train reminded me that my wife Margaret and myself took pictures of it passing through Earlestown on both the outward and return journeys. (We couldn't afford two tickets at 15 Guineas each!)”
45100 was thankfully preserved, although it is off the rails at the moment, being in Barrow Hill for detailed restoration work to make it fit for main line running. You would need it too when you are 77 years old and not quite so full of running.
Actually, all I want to do at the moment is to stay in undisturbed and watch the Olympics (I watched us winning our first two Golds).
This August 11th, the anniversary, I am actually on the railways, travelling for a day trip to London to see the Captain Scott Exhibition at the Natural History Museum, as part of my researches for an event I am planning at the Citadel next year as a sequel to the Titanic event.
It’s amazing that the scheduled time between London Euston and Warrington Bank Quay is less than two hours on both runs. It’s fast!
Ah, I will be in the Olympic City during the Olympics, and home in time for the day’s highlights.