Wednesday, 8 February 2012

COLD, COLD CREWE

It might have been freezing, but the welcome was warm.

BR blue 03073 - a former Birkenhead-based machine - basks in the winter sunshine at Crewe Heritage Centre. Note the bin lid exhaust cover. 


I was lucky enough to spend today at Crewe Heritage Centre - or The Railway Age, as it's also known. I haven't been here for about 7 years and it was nice to be invited on a visit organised by the guys at Hatton's of Liverpool. A full guided tour of the site, by the centre's manager, proved insightful and it was nice to see a few old favourites from my spotting days, including 87035 Robert Burns. Other highlights included 'K4' The Great Marquess, 6100 Royal Scot (in bits!), ex-Merseyrail Class 73 73006 and Crewe-built Class 47 47192. I also enjoyed looking around the former Exeter signal box, rebuilt as closely as possible and full of atmosphere. The job of a modern signaller doesn't really appeal, but those old boxes, with cast iron stoves, oil lamps, comfy chairs and a very cosy feel always capture my imagination. But then, I'm too much of a daydreamer to be an effective signalman!

There's plenty to see here, especially if you're interested in signalling and the iconic APT is worth the admission alone. 
The interiors of most of the cars and one cab are open and we were treated to a look through the cramped confines of the power car. The buffet was an eye opener: not only was the public corridor a bit of a tight squeeze - not for the portly - but the original menus are still pinned up. Anyone for a steak meal, accompanied by a bottle of wine, for fiver? Or a double Scotch for 79p. Those were the days... 

Looking from Crewe North Junc. signal box over the Heritage Centre site. The APT and a Crewe-built Brush 4 take centre stage. The Underground Ernie-style station roof over the miniature railway came courtesy of Tesco; they're surplus trolley shelters!

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