Crewe - Preston - Barrow - Carlisle - S&C - Blackburn - Crewe

14 April 2010

Updated 07 November 2013 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xToggle with function key F11 to maximise screen size

NK writes:

Below is an account of the complete tour, which was undertaken by RVR Member, Ted Buckley.


Although I did not personally participate in the on-board tour, I did decide, more or less at short notice,

to pay a nostalgic visit to my hometown of Barrow-in-Furness to observe Tornado,

and try to re-live, for just a very short time, my own memories of steam there from 1938 onwards,

plus a photo shoot on my current home ground after my return to Ramsgeave & Wilpshire.




Tornado, shrouded in steam, about to set off from Barrow after a stop for water (see below)

Photo: N. Kirby



xSteam hauled: XCrewe - Carlisle - Crewe








Weaver Jc


Warrington BQ



Wigan NW



















Dalton Jc



















St Bees



























Low House









Kirkby Stephen






Blea Moor






Settle Jc




Long Preston




















Lostock Hall Jc



Euxton Jc




Wigan NW






Warrington BQ







Weaver Jc








Ted Buckley writes:

The Cumbrian Coast Tornado ran on Wednesday 14th April 2010 from Crewe to Carlisle and back, outward via the spectacular Cumbrian Coast Railway (Grange, Barrow, Workington, Maryport), and return via the scenic Settle & Carlisle Railway, and our very own Ribble Valley Line.

The loco was, of course, the newly-built A1 Pacific 60163 "Tornado", making her first run over the Cumbrian Coast and the Ribble Valley.

Needless to say, the 13-coach train was quickly sold out, but I was lucky enough to secure two tickets as soon as they went on sale.




Wednesday14 April 2010

A personal account by Ted Buckley


Several years ago, I enjoyed a journey along the Cumbrian Coast

from Carnforth to Carlisle via Barrow and Ravenglass on a Northern service train,

therefore covering the same route with the brand new steam loco Tornado ,

was too good an opportunity to miss.


An added bonus was that the return from Carlisle via the scenic Settle & Carlisle,

and, the icing on the cake, our very own Ribble Valley Line.


As the departure from Crewe was to be around 7am,

my friend, from Llandundo, John Davies, and I decided to travel down the previous evening

and stay in a small family-run hotel

just five minutes walk from the station

for a very reasonable £16.75 each.


CREWE HERITAGE CENTRE xx(Previous evening)

Photos: E. Buckley

On arrival at Crewe the evening before,

I learnt that Tornado was in light steam at Crewe Heritage Centre,

which was open for visitors that evening.

The photos show a close-up view of the nameplate and official plaque

commerating Tornado's naming ceremony performed by Charles & Camilla,


and a ground level view showing 'Tornado' ready for the road,

but still on the leash with a traditional "Not To Be Moved" sign,


as displayed on all locos under repair or preparation in 1960s BR steam loco sheds










Tornado was stabled in light steam at the Crewe Heritage Centre,

so we took a short walk round to the adjacent Tesco,

and see if we could take any photos through the fence.


However, on arrival, we found the Heritage Centre opened especially for the occasion,

and, for only £2 each, we were able to spend an hour or so in close proximity of Tornado

with only around a dozen or so enthusiasts and not a yellow jacket in sight!


The other attractions, such as the former Exeter West Signal Box, were also open.


The weather forecast for Wednesday was mixed.

Crewe was to be dull, overcast, with a cold wind, as was Carlisle,

but Barrow and the coast promised “some sunny periods”.


The scheduled departure time was 07:08,

and as we walked to the station at around 06:30,

the forecast appeared correct.


Our train was to depart from platform 12,

located well over to the west of the station adjacent to the once-bustling,

but now derelict and overgrown, postal platforms.


At around 06:40, Tornado , with support coach, backed into the station,

yet there was no sign of our coaches.


After staying for ten minutes or so, to be admired by all,

she steamed off again in the direction of the Heritage Centre!





Tornado stands patiently at the north end of Platform 12,

awaiting the stock, at 7am on Wednesday 14th April,

as the sun rises over the Crewe suburbs,

causing a glint on the front numberplate.




Eventually, diesel loco 67003 appeared from the south end of the station with our empty coaches.

It was already nearly 7am, and it was evident that we wouldn't be leaving on time.

We had been allotted seats in coach A, which we assumed would be at the front of the train,

but it then transpired that it was at the back.


The consist was 3 standard class carriages (A to C), 7 first class and premier dining carriages,

a buffet (for us paupers in standard class!), a kitchen car, and the support coach,

a total of 13 carriages.


The three standard class carriages sported the original Virgin livery

of red and black with white stripes.

I hadn't seen those on a steam special before.


They were 1980s coaches with plain glass windows (no sliding top-lights) and aircon

– but no aircon as no electric loco.


The exchange of locos was fairly smart

and we finally got underway at 07:20, 12 minutes late,

and we had lost our path up the busy West Coast Main Line,

a setback from which we were not to recover.


We were routed via the slow line to Winsford,

and passed by a Pendolino there at around 07:30.

Thereafter, we made smarter progress.




We picked up further passengers at Warrington,

by which time the skies had cleared and the weather improved beyond measure,

and Wigan, and then arrived at Preston at 08:40, 11 minutes late,

for our final pickup and first water stop.


Our train arrived in platform 6 which, despite its length,

meant a walk through three coaches before we could dismount.


Our first water stop at Preston saw Tornado detached from her carriages

and run into the adjacent platform 7 to take water.


The glorious morning sun shines through Preston's overall glass roof,

casting shadows over the loco.


The loco was detached and then reversed the length of platform 7 in order to take water.

This operation took longer than the allotted 28 minutes,

and, after the loco had been re-attached and we were ready to depart,

the signallers let the daily Stobart Rail freight onto the WCML ahead of us!

We left Preston at 09:19, 22 minutes late.



The train picks up speed soon after leaving Preston Station.

Thanks to digital photography,

I could almost be hovering above the adjacent track

in this edited photo,


instead of being safely tucked in the vestibule

with my camera momentarily poked through the train's rear-most window!








Tornado leans into the curve as she storms through Lancaster Station.

Again, it's hard to believe from this edited photo that I'm actually on the train!


We caught up the freight somewhere around Garstang,

and proceeded at a fairly leisurely pace thereafter,

arriving at Carnforth at 09:55, 29 minutes late.


We then had an unscheduled 5-minute stop,

as the service train for Barrow was scheduled to depart at 09:49,

before setting off along the Cumbrian Coast line towards Barrow.



Historical Map






The ride across Arnside Viaduct was spectacular,

and the whole of Morecambe Bay to our left,

and the snow-capped hills of the Lake District to our right,

were bathed in sunshine.






Arnside Viaduct & River Kent Estuary

against a splendid backdrop of the Lakeland Hills & Mountains









Our next unscheduled stop was at Kents Bank,

for we had caught up the service train.


When we got underway again, however, the running was quite spirited,

and the crew was making the best of it under the circumstances.






Viewed from Rowe Head Bridge, Pennington

between Ulverston and Lindal

Photo: D. Walmsley, FLAG







Again viewed from Rowe Head Bridge

Photo: D. Walmsley, FLAG





Historical Map





Our next water stop was Barrow-in-Furness,

where arrival was at 10:55, 39 minutes behind schedule.


We were again allowed to disembark,

but we had around 8 coaches to walk through beforehand

owing to the shorter platform at Barrow.


I was delighted to chance upon

RVR webmaster & FLAG member, Nigel Kirby, on the platform,

who gave me a potted history of Barrow Station in World War 2.

Tornado passing the site (on the left) of Barrow Central South Signal Box before passing under Abbey Road bridge.

Two other lines diverged at this point to form four through lines but the need to strengthen the road bridge necessitated the reduction to the current two. One redundant line was lifted completely (platform 4) and the other truncated to leave the present platform 3.

There was also a spur to a bay platform, used by trains bound for the Piel Branch, closed in 1936, but also as a stabling point for locomotives being attached to through Manchester Vic and London trains on arrival from Workington.


Platform 4 was referred to as the "excursion" platform but was certainly used for the through trains to both Coniston and Lakeside.

However, in May 1941, when the station received a direct bomb hit in WW2 one night, I recall that Platform 4 was immediately brought into use, and a normal service still operated in spite of the former grand Furness Train shed having been demolished nine hours earlier.





Barrow (formerly Central North) Signal Box

with its associated array of semaphores.




The new entrance hall at Barrow, a stark contrast to the bomb-damaged scene in May 1941, which was essentially to remain for very many years before re-building commenced circa 1957.

The Waiting & Refreshment Rooms on the right were only completed in the last year (2009).

Of the former Furness Railway station, only the War Memorial has been retained, visible on the right.

Tornado at rest close to the site of the former water column on platform 1 but receiving a "top-up" from a large tanker.

The signal on the right was originally used for shunting but the demise of steam resulted in trains departing from this platform (no.2) bound for Millom and the north and the top shunting arm was replaced as shown.



The above signals are much as they were in May 1941, when the old Furness train shed was bombed in WW2, although the signal posts were shorter and further apart, and remained that way for many years afterwards.

They were re-aligned a few years ago when it was reported in the press that the gantry was in danger of collapsing!

Freight trains from the shipyard would pass through non-stop as did the daily workers' specials from Barrow Island Road (shipyard station) en-route to Millom.

Tornado, shrouded in steam, sets off again from Barrow

Tornado passing the site of the former carriage shed, whose overall roof suffered extensive bomb-damage during WW2 to such an extent that several years later it had to be dismantled

The sidings were far more extensive than depicted above and shunting seemed to be ongoing most of daylight hours, much to my delight, living opposite to the station.





Photo: D. Walmsley, FLAG


This time, the loco took water without being detached.


The second water stop at Barrow, and Tornado,

having sounded her whistle to tell the passengers to reboard,

shows off her impatience to get going again!




Photo: D. Walmsley, FLAG




We left at 11:20, without dropping any more time,

and enjoyed a fascinating run along the coast.





As will be evident from the above photos,

Barrow is one of the largest UK stations still to boast semaphore signals,

(Blackpool North, Worcester Shrub Hill and Shrewsbury come to mind

as other very strong and highly notable contenders),

sadly now very much reduced in number.


In the above shot, Tornado is observed heading towards the infamous slag-bank

(now landscaped and not as dramatic as in former operational days),

at which point there was a junction with a maze of lines,

originating at the shipyard but today none survive except for two severely-truncated sidings

adjacent to former Salthouse Junction, now reduced to a ground-frame.


In its heigh day, Salthouse Junction was the hub for spurs to

Piel, Stank (freight only - colliery line), Barrow Ramsden Dock Station

(closed in 1915 not long after Heysham Harbour was opened),

Barrow Island Road (used for shipyard traffic and closed in 1967),

the Engine Shed, and the Shipyard.,

where the original Barrow Station in the Strand was located,

and which closed when the current station,

known for very many years as Barrow Central, when there were multiple stations in the town,

was opened.

Photo: D. Walmsley, FLAG





Route North of Ravenglass


Historical Map

To view a larger version of the above area, click here



We had a scheduled stop at Sellafield,

and an unscheduled stop at Maryport (in the tunnel) but in between, we ran well.


There were hundreds of well-wishers and photographers lining our route.


A highlight was as we passed through St Bees, whose little station platform

was packed with the local primary school children and teachers,

all nicely lined up in rows along the platform in their blue school uniforms,

waving union jacks as we passed through!

It was quite moving, I have to say.


After Maryport, we turned eastwards for the final run in to Carlisle.

The Maryport & Carlisle was originally built for single track operation, and subsequently doubled,

so the clearances through bridges are tight, as a consequence of which, all windows are ordered shut

and passengers cleared from the vestibules on steam specials.


It was then that the lack of operational aircon in our paupers' class coaches began to manifest itself,

and by the time we arrived in Carlisle at 13:50, 23 minutes late, we were glad to get out!

Lateness was, all down to that late departure from Crewe.

We had, however, made up 16 minutes on the schedule from Barrow.




The admiring passengers crowd around Tornado at the north end of Carlisle station,

at the end of the outward run.


It looks like she's anxious to be off again!


Following lunch and a good look around Carlisle in warm sunshine and cloudless skies,

we returned to the station ready for our scheduled departure at 16:25,

just 7 minutes behind the service train to Leeds!


Our train was already in the platform, and shortly after 4pm,

Tornado and support coach backed on.


The crew pay especial attention as Tornado backs gingerly over the pointwork

at the south end of Carlisle Station,

on to her awaiting carriages.



The service train left on time, and, 7 minutes later at 16:25, so did we, in our nice hot sauna,

the coaches having been standing for 2.5 hours with all windows shut!


To be fair to the organisers, HF Travel, the proprietor did pay us a royal visit and apologised.

He explained that the intended consist had been marooned at the other end of the UK,

owing to the train planners having concentrated their recent efforts

on emergency timetable planning in the event of a rail strike.


He had been told that he had to make do with a set, which was already at Crewe,

hence the use of these unsuitable ex-Virgin coaches.





The driver gave Tornado her head, acceleration was smart,

and we caught a nice breeze from the vestibules

to cool us down somewhat.

Inevitably, we soon caught up the service train,

and came to a stand before Low House Crossing,

which was passed just one minute late.


The service train must have motored, as we weren't troubled by it further until Settle.

There were several permanent way slacks, one of which was just 30mph near Kirkby Stephen,

and so I thought we would be in for a fairly slow climb to Ais Gill Summit, 1169ft above sea level.

We passed Culgaith 3 minutes late, but Appleby was passed 2 minutes early.


Most steam specials stop here for water,

but not Tornado – she was running right through to Long Preston without taking water.


We passed Kirkby Stephen at 17:29, 3 minutes early, and then the fireworks really started.

Tornado roared up the climb to Ais Gill, accelerating smartly from the slack at Kirkby Stephen,

and only seemed to drop speed during the final mile or so to the summit,

which was passed at 17:41, just 12 minutes from Kirkby Stephen.


We passed Garsdale at 17:45, a full 7 minutes ahead of schedule.


We continued to gain time, and were 9.5 minutes early at Ribblehead.

However, the service train wasn't too far in front,

causing our speed to be checked,

but we arrived at Long Preston at 18:21, 6 minutes early.

As water was taken from a road tanker parked on the over bridge north of the station,

we were unable to alight and stretch our legs.

The operation over-ran by 4 minutes, and we left at 18:53, just 2 minutes early.



Photo: Network Rail


While there has been a station at Hellifield since 1849,

the existing station canopy was constructed in 1880 by the Midland Railway

and is a Grade 2 listed building.


Built of iron and glass, the station was last refurbished in the mid 1990s.


The Pennine weather having taken its toll, Network Rail has begun a £500,000 project

to repair and redecorate the station's structural steelwork and glazing.


Click either photo, above or below, for details


Photo: Network Rail

We were one minute late by Hellifield,

but recovered to 3.5 minutes early by Clitheroe,

after a run of 21.5 minutes from Hellifield.



Historical Map




Photo: S. Clarke


Clitheroe was passed at 19:20.5, Whalley at 19:26.5, Langho at 19:31.5,

and Ramsgreave & Wilpshire at 19:36.


Tornado was driven at a steady speed over Whalley Arches


Photo: S. Clarke



Then the driver really opened her up through Billington cutting.

The acceleration was palpable, and really seemed to continue all the way up the bank.



Photo: S. Clarke

In my opinion, just 4.5 minutes from Langho to Ramsgreave, with a load of 13 coaches,

was exceptional, and this engine is truly magnificent!


The sight and sound of Tornado storming “our” bank, smoke tinged red by the setting sun,

will stay in my memory for a long time.




Tornado, with one head-lamp punctuating the evening sunshine,

noted passing through the former Wilpshire (for Ribchester station)

approaching the current Ramsgreave & Wilpshire station


Photo: N. Kirby





Photo: D. Holden


As we passed the site of the former Chatburn station,

I had managed to bag myself a window on the near side around three coaches from the front,

and stayed there drinking in the sight and sound of Tornado attacking the 4 miles of 1 in 84

until we reached Wilpshire Tunnel, where I swapped sides to once more greet RVR webmaster, Nigel Kirby,

on the DOWN platform at Ramsgreave & Wilpshire,

glimpsed taking a photograph.


Photo: D. Holden


Finally, we breasted the summit south of Ramsgreave & Wilpshire station,

but then - frustration!


Despite there being no service train scheduled in front of us,

we were held at the infamous Daisyfield signal (DS12)

for no less than 7 minutes!


So, we rolled into Blackburn station at 19:53, 8 minutes late.

All the good work had been undone.


Passengers for Preston had to alight here, and use a service train to return.

Quite a few did so, but nevertheless we were smartly away again within the scheduled two minutes.


We were given priority over a Clitheroe-bound service train,

waiting to join the main line just south of Gilbraith's goods depot.


We had a good run to Lostock Hall Junction, where we arrived at 20:10, still 8 minutes down on schedule.


We were held on Farington Curve for 3.5 minutes, and then steamed back onto the West Coast Main Line.


Perhaps the schedule had allowed for a longer stop,

for we passed Euxton Junction at 20:21.5, just half a minute late.


Wigan was reached at 20:33, 3 minutes late, but the 3 minute stop was cut to 2.


Warrington was reached at 20:51, just 1 minute late,

and we were routed into the back of the UP platform.


We were due to be held here for 7 minutes, to allow a Pendolino to pass,

but after just 3 minutes, we were given the road,

so we left at 20:54, 3 minutes early.


Again, our driver opened her up, and we stormed along as far as Weaver Junction,

but had to brake to take the slow line at Acton Bridge.

This slow line extends for several miles almost to Hartford,

and the driver elected to simply crawl along.

The Pendo flashed past, and, at the end of the loop,

we were signalled out onto the up main again.


So, our 7.5 minute crawl along the loop meant that we could accelerate away without stopping,

just 2.5 minutes after the Pendo had passed.

Tornado simmers gently after an exhilarating run up the WCML

on the final stage of the journey back to Crewe.


We then had a very spirited run to Crewe,

where we drew to a stand at 21:33, 2 minutes ahead of time.


It had been a very satisfying run to end the day.

The crew show plenty of signs of their hard graft,

which made for such a great day out for those of us on the cushions.

Long may they graft, bless 'em!!


Many of the passengers thronged around the engine to congratulate the crew on a superb performance,

and I finally took my leave of Tornado at around 10pm...until the next time!


It had been a truly grand day out!

Ted Buckley



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