|7903 and 2807 slumber on in the dark|
It wasn't just Foremarke Hall that was running on Sunday, 2807 was down to haul the dining train. As mentioned earlier, the weather forecast promised all sorts of unpleasantness and the rather exposed footplate of 2807 is not the best of places to be in a downpour. Jonathan greeted me with an offer of swapping engines when he arrived. I declined. Not only was Foremarke Hall's footplate much better sheltered than 2807, my loco was already clean, and this was likely to be my last opportunity to ride on Foremarke Hall before her boiler ticket runs out. She is only booked down for turns for the rest of this week, and after that, will probably only run if one of the other locos fails. There is rumour and counter-rumour as to whether or not she will run on the first day of the Christmas Cracker gala, which is the final date of her boiler ticket.
Jonathan may have been keen to swap, but the Andy, the fireman for 2807 when asked about his views on the deluge to come and the lack of shelter in the cab seemed quite undaunted:
|Andy ready to face all that the British weather could throw at him|
I'm leaping ahead of myself though, Paul and Jonathan got into a lengthy debate about the relative virtues of LMS, Southern & GWR locos. Foremarke Hall listened on in a dignified silence:
|Paul and Jonathan|
|Foremarke Hall's nameplate|
|Steve getting a caffeine fix before we set off|
|Second round trip, setting off from Toddington|
|Entering Greet tunnel|
|Spot the signal|
|A broom with a view|
|Passing 2807 and her bedraggled crew at Cheltenham|
|The lair of the camera shy signalman|
|Photo courtesy of Neil Carr|
Occasionally the fireman is permitted by the drivers to drive the loco on the run round of the stock. Paul had a go at Laverton:
|Coming back into Laverton loop|
|Fat man's agony|
|Approaching Stanway viaduct|
|Entering Toddington from the north|
|Once more off down the line...|
|... and through Greet tunnel|
|Two members of the Foremarke Hall group|
|Jim Clark of the Foremarke Hall Group|
Two more people on the footplate means that there is no room left for the cleaner, so for the first time in ages I got to travel on the cushions.
|If you're going to be in one of the coaches, you might a well do it in style|
I rejoined Paul and Steve on the footplate at Laverton. Once we'd got back to Toddington and unhooked from the stock, Steve said "well let's see if Ray know's how to do it". Apparently that was my cue to drive Foremarke Hall from platform one onto the ash pit for disposal. Part of fireman training these days includes knowing how to stop the train in a station, just in case the driver has become incapacitated whilst the train is running. It hasn't formed part of my formal fireman training yet, but no doubt it will do sooner or later. It's taken for granted that you won't want to try to revive the driver, mouth to mouth resuscitation would be an extremely unappealing prospect, so the next best thing is knowing how to stop the train safely. I surprised myself by mostly getting it right (opening the large ejector while the brake air valve was still open wasn't a good start). I even managed to stop her in the right places, but that's probably not too difficult when you're light engine and running at slow speed. The important thing is that I stopped her on the pit with room to get under and empty the ash pan rather than ploughing on into the machine shop. All in all a cracking way to remember what will almost certainly be my last turn on Foremarke Hall in her current boiler ticket. Not many people get to fire, drive and travel first class behind an engine all on the same day.
It will take some while before she returns to traffic with another 10 years on her boiler. If you'd like to help the Foremarke Hall owning group, they will always be grateful for financial donations to help bring that day a bit closer. I have no doubt that they'd be keen for more volunteers to help with the work as well.
|2807 and Foremarke Hall on shed at the end of the day|