Disappointing Duchess

Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to see 6233 “Duchess of Sutherland” in action on the main line, on the “Great Britain XII”. But today she’s coasting, and the sun’s gone in. As the long train disappears under the bridge, we can hear the exhaust as the driver opens the regulator, and when a couple of service trains pass, not many minutes later, the sun is shining.

“While we’re out here, let’s go and look at the Central Wales – there’s a train due soon”. The former station building at Hopton Heath is no longer in railway use, but still looks good beside single-car 153 327 as it pauses briefly on its long journey to Swansea.

The Duchess in Shropshire

46233 “Duchess of Sutherland”, that is, hauling the return “Cathedrals Express” from Crewe, via Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, back to London. There haven’t been many Duchess pacifics in Shropshire recently. Sister locomotive 46229 “Duchess of Hamilton” was active in the area perhaps 30 or more years ago, and 46233 has been to the Severn Valley, but I don’t think there can have many occasions – ever – when one of these Stanier locomotives has pulled a train along this line. Shame about the weather… and the exhaust. The train was heavy enough – eleven and a diesel at the back – but the Duchess had shut off steam when it passed us, already running a minute or two early.