35003 Royal Mail

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35003 Royal Mail

Post by Bryan Benn on Wed May 20, 2009 6:45 pm

OK. I hope this is the first of 30 such threads in this Forum dedicated to individual Merchant Navy class pacifics.

Pretty obvious why I've chosen 35003, "Royal Mail". Very Happy And it's not because I want my post on time every day. Rolling Eyes

This is an extract, somewhat modified, of an article I wrote for the LCGB magazine after my 5th May 2002 run behind German pacific 18 201 when we reached 102 mph.

It was also a privilege to travel every night during that wonderful week very near the end of Southern steam in 1967 when the late Fred Burridge, who had not previously been timed at over 85 mph, decided, for whatever reason, to let rip on the last up Weymouth train, (22.56 into Waterloo), between Basingstoke and Woking. On 26th June 1967 Merchant Navy pacific 35003, “Royal Mail” reached 106 mph on the Monday of that week which I think is the highest speed ever fully documented behind a rebuilt Bullied pacific. I was the junior in the band of "elite" timers, and was low down on the list of those selected for a footplate ride by Les Kent, who organised such things. That first night of Fred's week on the train I was allowed onto the footplate because Fred had never been timed at much over 85 mph before. "We won't get much over 85 mph, so Bryan can ride from Basingstoke to Woking", was the gist of what was said!

So I was on the footplate standing right behind driver Burridge that Monday night, as he opened up the big pacific to around three quarters regulator and a max of 27 per cent cut off after we had got into speed. I just watched as the speedometer needle hurried round the face of the clock to way past the 100 mph mark on the descent of Winchfield bank. An event I have never, and will never forget. Especially seeing the fireman walking over from the right hand side of the footplate and giving the speedometer a very long and hard look. I doubt he believed how fast we were going. But I did know how fast as despite the incredible speed I was still noting down the times, and all the speeds were later confirmed by the twenty or more “stop watch” enthusiasts standing in the corridor of the front coach of the train behind the loco.

Taking account of the tsr to 68 near Farnborough, and a signal check entering Woking the net time was seventeen and a half minutes for the twenty three and a half miles. A net start to stop average of 80.5 mph. In all my considerable research into worldwide fast steam loco running I have yet to find any other net 80 mph start to stop steam runs over such a short distance.

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by 35005CP on Tue May 26, 2009 4:47 am

If everyone is ok, I am going to move this into the relevant section that I have created for Bulleids.

Many Thanks

Andy

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by Bryan Benn on Tue May 26, 2009 4:48 am

A very good idea Andy!

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by Bryan Benn on Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:21 pm

A photo of a very young Bryan Benn talking to Reubens Hendicott who was on the footplate of 35003!

It couldn't have been much later after the shot was taken, that I was standing close to where Tony Leaver is, watching Fred Burridge get the speedo round beyond the 100 mph mark, (up to 106 mph), on this lovely loco.


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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by donbenn on Sun Jun 07, 2009 11:45 pm

Also in the picture, 'Doze' Thompson and Les Kent, but who is the other guy? Tony hasn't changed at all. Reuben was one of the most consistent thrash drivers. Wonderful shot Wedgie.

Don

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by Bryan Benn on Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:09 am

Of course it's a good shot Don, you took it!

The other guy is "Clackers"!

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by johnc on Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:48 am

The other one looks like Les Kent

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by donbenn on Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:27 pm

Don't remember Clackers but Doze of course used to sleep through the best runs!

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by 34017 Ilfracombe on Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:52 pm

Nice picture of Reuben Hendicott Bryan. You must have picked a bad day, Reuben always had a roll up fag, hanging out the side of his mouth. Dont see it on this occasion
Laughing

I dont recognise his fireman, it must have been, one of the newbies whom arrived from Banbury, the last 6 months of Steam? Or is On Loan.

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by Bryan Benn on Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:46 pm

34017 Ilfracombe wrote:Nice picture of Reuben Hendicott Bryan. You must have picked a bad day, Reuben always had a roll up fag, hanging out the side of his mouth. Dont see it on this occasion
Laughing

I dont recognise his fireman, it must have been, one of the newbies whom arrived from Banbury, the last 6 months of Steam? Or is On Loan.

Oh, the fireman! LOL!

It's Tony Leaver, (for a long time now, a driver on the Bluebell). One of us enthusiasts, not the booked foreman who must have been on the correct side of the footplate. Tony will probably tell us he was firing that day as well!

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35003 Royal Mail

Post by Holland Afrika on Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:57 pm

"Clackers" is Andrew Clark from Reading; a regular on the Bomo line. My key recollection of him was on the return Sunday excursion one evening when the running was pretty poor. You will recall it did not stop at Basingstoke but we were checked on the approach (now there's a surprise) and Andrew, having to get home to Reading, suggested he may be able to get off and save himself an hour plus. We slowed to about 15 mph, "Clackers" opened the door and, as we began to accelerate, jumped for it. He just managed to keep his feet and I closed the door!!!! It is is different era from today's sliding doors.

Also a question. Tony how did you get on the footplate in your overalls in broad daylight??

35023

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by Bryan Benn on Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:25 pm

I remember that exit from the train John! I'd forgotten you were party to it!

Reminds me of the day some of us left the 17.30 ex Waterloo as it went under the footbridge at Southampton, got the starting time of the 19.15 as we ran over the footbridge, jumped on the already moving 19.15 and then looked across to get the stopping time of the 17.30 as it slowly pulled up to the water column! These days, if it could be done, there would be several hanging offences there!

Don't worry Mods. I'll get back to topic very soon with some logs of 35003!

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by 35005CP on Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:53 pm

I thought I recognised the Fireman!! Which shed was Tony Leaver based at? And how long was he on steam for!? Tony really should get on here!!! A lot of good stuff is being spoken about! Smile
Bryan, you are more than welcome to discuss anything....

Thanks

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by donbenn on Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:55 pm

Tony worked for the old Midland Bank, hence his nickname. Somehow he managed to find his way onto the footplate more than most, perhaps because he used to dress the part. He nearly came to a sticky end on the footplate of 34087 with Bill Anderson on the last Weymouth. We were going for the record at Roundwood starting from Winchester when the engine slipped and there was a blow back, badly burning Tony who spent some time in hospital. Don't know how that was explained. Speed at Roundwood was 83 from memory (bash books packed for the move).

Don

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Re: 35003 Royal Mail

Post by 35005CP on Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:22 am

Midland Bank? Where is that?
I too have had a blowback on 34007 on the MHR at Medstead - And very frightening it is too! Poor Tony! My old Fireman recently has been burnt from a blowback at the MHR..

Thanks

Andy

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