Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cinderella Goes to the Ball

Eight coupled freight locos are very much the Cinderellas of the steam preservation world, very much in the shadow of the 'sexier' pacific or 4-6-0 classes.  This is something of a shame,  I personally find them in general to be wonderful machines.  They are of course designed for slow heavy freight trains, rumbling along at low speeds, which makes them ideal for the type of work that they get on heritage railways.   I was very pleased then to be able to facilitate what is I think the first ever photo charter (certainly on the GWSR if not anywhere) for the rather lovely Churchward 2-8-0T, 4270. 

Anyway, the 30742 Charters event with 4270 ran on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, we forgot to book the sun, so all the photos that I took look best in B&W.  As the sun was hiding and showing absolutely no sign of appearing, we started off by heading south instead of the more usual north (Stanway and Didbrook photograph best in the mornings if the sun is out)

We started off with a few runs past on the Cheltenham side of Greet tunnel:
The headlamp code is for a partially fitted freight

From there we moved on to Dixton cutting, you'll note what a wonderful job the lineside clearance team have made of keeping the undergrowth in check.  There were even a few clumps of primroses and daffodils in places to add a splash of colour (yes, I know, that doesn't stand out too well in B&W).

A little further down the line at three arch bridge:

Gotherington station is a highly photogenic spot:

The station building at Gotherington is a private house, so the platform on that side is usually out of bounds.  On this occasion, we had an agreement with the owner who kindly granted permission for us to use it. 
Gotherington station from the wrong side of the track

Another advantage to Gotherington, is that the loop does a fair impression of a section of double track if you get it right.
Double track effect
After that, it was down to Cheltenham to run round the stock and run up to Toddington for lunch and a few runs past there.
4270 nicely caught where its exhaust obscures the modern TV aerials on the houses in the background
Jack Boskett is more at home behind a camera rather than in front of one, but somehow he was sweet talked into dressing up in something passing for period costume and looking like a passenger awaiting a train.

Jack Boskett
After that, we went up to Stanway viaduct.  At Dixton cutting, we had been buzzed by a couple of very low flying Hercules aircraft, when we were at Stanway, it was the turn of a low flying Lynx helicopter to buzz overhead. 
I bet they got a great view from up there.
 Jack had brought along a couple of boxes of oily rags to dispose of in the firebox with a view of creating a bit of clag.  Thus far the effect had been hard to discern, however on the final run across Stanway viaduct, we finally got to the rags with the good stuff on them:
That's better

We closed the day off with a few runs past at Didbrook, before heading back to the start point at Winchcombe.
Didbrook is a nice open location (again, many thanks to the lineside clearance team) and a very handy location for getting a pan shot.  I found myself alongside a small group of people all trying to achieve the same thing, earnestly discussing optimal shutter speeds. For the benefit of any who might be interested, I always shoot these at 1/15 Second, using my 100-400mm lens at the 100mm end of the scale and the image stabiliser in mode 2 (stabilises in vertical, but not horizontal plane).
Mark enjoying the view ahead
There is a slight element of cheating in the above photo, I Photoshopped out the telegraph wires in the background as I found them rather distracting, but the panning gives a nice illusion of speed, even though 4270 was only chuffing along at line speed.

Many thanks indeed to all involved in making this day such a success, from the organisation, the preparation of loco, freight train and lineside and the crewing/guarding/signalling on the day itself, as well as of course the participants who came along to support the day.


  1. You need a longer rake!

    1. Should you happen to have some suitable wagons that you would wish to add to the rake, then do let me know.