In his latest column, Don Benn describes the performance of Ian Riley’s ‘Black Five’ No. 44871 on two main line trips in December 2018 and May 2010 – plus some additional information about Bulleid Pacific No.35028 Clan Line’s on November 24’s ‘The Chilterns & Downs’ tour.

It HAD been some years since I had a run on the main line behind Ian Riley’s ‘Black Five’ No. 44871, so I decided to join the Railway Touring Company’s ‘Sherborne Christmas Carol’ charter for a short spin from Basingstoke to Salisbury on Tuesday, December 11. 

Once again, South West Railway was in meltdown – this time due to signaling problems at Woking – so I wasn’t very hopeful that the steam charter would be able to keep its non-stop 43 minute path for the 35.79 miles from Basingstoke to Salisbury, which would be a tough proposition anyway with a 60mph limited loco. 

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‘Black Five’ No. 44871 arrives at Basingstoke with the Railway Touring Company’s ‘Sherborne Christmas Carol’ charter, which ran between London Victoria and Sherborne on December 11, 2018. DON BENN

No. 44871 was built in 1945 and started its BR career at Longsight and ended it at Carnforth. It was purchased directly from British Railways service for preservation, so never had to be restored from scrapyard condition.

It was one of the locomotives which took part in the ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’ on Sunday, August 11, 1968. I managed a run behind No. 44871 as early in the return to steam era as September 23, 1972, when it worked a special from Carnforth to Barrow-in-Furness and return. With 10 coaches for 370 tons

it did well, running up to 61mph near Cark & Cartmell tender first on the return leg, though the highlight of that day for me was the 110mph maximum speed with AL6 (Class 86) No. E3194 on its late running 470 ton train returning to London in 107 minutes net non-stop from Crewe.

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On the Sherborne trip, at Basingstoke the signalers and train control people were trying to cope with the mounting chaos, mainly by only sending a few trains on towards London, but instead terminating them short and returning them west.

I was also keeping an eye on the progress of 1Z92, my intended train with No. 44871 at its head. 

Read more and view more images in Issue 251 of HR – on sale now!

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Sam Hewitt