Photo: Barry Austin
The original date chosen for Duchess of Hamilton’s first public run following its return to steam was 26 April 1980. However, a further fortnight was required to ready the engine, but as can be seen the original date was left on the tickets issued for the train. The ticket also confirms the role played by the FNRM in promoting the event and the fact that 46229 was at the time still in the ownership of Butlin’s.
It must be remembered that at the time the Museum was heavily committed to the forthcoming Liverpool and Manchester Railway 150 event. This involved not just preparing 46229 but also Green Arrow, Cheltenham, Evening Star, Hardwicke, the Midland Compound 1000 and various items of rolling stock all of which had to be on site at Bold Colliery near St Helens by the end of May. Of these Green Arrow and the Compound were to haul a tour from York to Carnforth on 3 May followed by working along the Cumbrian Coast to and from Sellafield on 5 May.
In retrospect it was a considerable achievement that the Limited Edition ran successfully on 10 May. However, to all round relief it did, with the Duchess completing two trips around the Leeds - Harrogate Circle, both fully loaded. The weather was fine and the crowds turned out to witness the spectacle of the first Duchess hauled train for nearly fifteen years, while for 46229 it had been seventeen years since it had been active. There remained a lot to do to bring the engine to top condition and many will recall from that day the persistent noise of the leaking cylinder drain cocks. For the FNRM it was a very special day because without the commitment to support and finance the work on 46229 it would not have returned to steam.
Photo: Barry Austin
The following week on 17 May, 46229 was to begin its passage to the L&M 150 event by hauling a tour from Leeds to Carnforth . The plan was that it would at a later stage accompany newly restored SR 4-6-0 850 Lord Nelson from Carnforth to Bold Colliery. As it turned out things did not quite go to plan as the persistent dry weather meant that the London Midland Region had imposed a steam ban, so from Leeds to Carnforth a diesel would be required to drag engine and train to Carnforth. The ban had not been imposed on the Eastern Region so to ease the disappointment for passengers booked on the train 46229, on leaving Leeds, ran around the Circle via Harrogate and York before on its return to Leeds. Class 40, 40169, was attached to the front for the journey to Carnforth.
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By Rob Tibbits