If you haven’t already, please read my previous The Extra Hour post first
Passing towns and stations punctuated the night that stretched out before them. The black chasm of the Manchester Ship Canal passed below, quickly followed by the lights of Warrington and its Unilever soap works. Wigan and Leyland were behind them before Berrow eased his train into Preston for their next booked stop.
Simms stood in the cab door watching the station staff unloading and reloading the train. Throughout the bustle of the stop Berrow remained in his seat – checking his watch and the signal from time to time. As if automatically controlled by the clock all work ceased with less than a minute of the stop to go and there were several shrill blasts on whistles as van doors slammed shut. Simms closed the door and returned to his seat as Berrow checked that he had the road and the Right Away before once again easing the train away from a stand.
The road ahead was much darker now with fewer settlements – Only Lancaster, Carnforth and Oxenholme with any stations of note before Carlisle. Lancaster station was passed on the flat in a blur of lights. “What’s next Marc?” asked Berrow. “Carnforth?…” said Simms then , more sure of himself, added “Yes Carnforth and there’s no restriction through the fast lines so we can continue as we are.”
“I took the Wife to see it twice you know” said Berrow – Simms looked confused. “Brief Encounter – she enjoyed the love story and I loved the engines!” Berrow smiled and Simms grinned as understanding dawned. “That was shot at Carnforth then?” “Most of the railway bits, yes.” “After Carnforth?… What happens then?” Simms, now sure of himself replied “We start the climb up to Grayrigg.” “How steep’s that?” “Average of around 1 in 150?” “That’s pretty good young Simms and Shap?” “1 in 75… I’m sure of that’un” “Think we’ll make it up and over then do you?” asked Berrow. Simms smiled – there was no reply to that question, if they couldn’t they’d have to request a banker at Scout Green.
Berrow went for a good run at the bank with the power handle pulled right back – it would be hard work with around 400 tons in tow but the engine was willing and the speed dropped to a minimum of 53mph at the summit of Grayrigg. They hit the bottom of Shap in the low 70’s and the speed started to bleed away rapidly on the 1 in 75. They passed Scout Green at 54mph… “Half way” yelled Berrow “They’d be lucky to be doing 35 with a steamer!” then “Christ!” he exclaimed “There’s a red!”
A man beside the track was waving a red handlamp back and forth. Berrow shut the power and applied the brakes – full service at first – staring ahead. “Must be a freight that’s stalled” he guessed. With the brakes biting he pushed the handle fully forward into the Emergency position. They could feel Mauritania pushing her shoulders back into the train – showing her stopping muscles – 138 tons of very upset locomotive! The speed slowed quickly on the steep upgrade and they saw another waving red handlamp ahead. Berrow turned on the cab lights – “get the gun Simms and the flags!” “When we stop I want you to go forward to the next box – I’ll go to the guard and see about the rear – and put that handbrake on before you go!”
D211 slid past the second handlamp before halting with a judder. Simms screwed down the handbrake immediately then made for the door… “Not that side you fool” yelled Berrow – “This side – you don’t go down the six-foot when there might be other trains passing, stay lineside” Simms blushed and walked across to the driver’s side door and started to exit the cab….
Part Three to follow…