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Friday 13th - a bad omen?

Certainly not on Good Friday 13 April 1990.

The first public outing of 46229 Duchess of Hamilton following three years of a major overhaul was when she pulled a Friends’ charter train of fourteen fully loaded carriages from York to Carlisle and back via the Settle route. She performed magnificently.

Her return to main line operations was achieved by a joint NRM and Friends project ‘Duchess 90’.

In 1997, 46229 was finally bought from Butlin’s for the National Collection and the Friends accepted the challenge to continue to fund her restoration and operation. The engineering requirements would continue to be masterminded by Friends Honorary CME John Peck with the mechanical work undertaken by the Friends’ sponsored fitters Kim Mallyon, Peter Pickering and Adrian Ashby and the Tuesday night heavy gang of volunteers.

Photo: Roger Bastin

Fundraising took many forms. Income from the ‘55 Club’ volunteers who provided catering on Duchess-hauled trains in the early 1980s pump primed the restoration fund. Sponsor a tube, initiated by Mike Blakemore when the overhaul started, was a worthwhile initial scheme. The £60,000 surplus from the ‘Mallard88’ charter trains was allocated to ‘Duchess 90’. Steam Railways magazine supported a public appeal for partners, and 370 signed up to contribute to a range of packages with benefits. From this emerged the ‘‘229 Club, initially 170 members, who have over the last thirty years been the bedrock for all subsequent Duchess projects. Royalties from the Richard Lucraft sales of the limited edition prints of Terence Cuneo's Duchess on Shap and David Weston’s Duchess in the Workshop are permanent by-products of the appeal.

The final expenditure on getting and keeping 46229 to BR mainline operational standards exceeded £300,000.

So the Good Friday 1990 appearance of Duchess of Hamilton was the outcome of a huge sustained effort by hundreds of people which over the subsequent eight years gave enormous pleasure and lasting memories to thousands.

Read more about Friends contributions here

Frank Paterson


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