Monday, 12 July 2010

DRS Crewe Open Day

There was an impressive line-up of DRS traction at Gresty Bridge on Saturday
The DRS open day at Gresty Bridge, Crewe, was a real success; for DRS, visitors and traders alike. Myself, Ben and Rail Magazine's Richard Clinnick manned the Model Rail stand and it was good to catch up with a good many readers. We were also showing off some of our latest limited edition pre-production samples, namely a Network Rail Mk2, a pair of Regional Railways Mk2s and a tasty little black Class 08 with wasp stripes. Thanks to everyone who came to say hello or to pick up a limited edition model.
There was certainly plenty to see at the depot, with a wealth of Class 37s, 57s, 66s and a couple of 20s. As is the case with DRS, no two locos are seemingly the same, so it was a welcome opportunity to survey a number of locos in detail for future reference. I was particularly taken with 37606 which may yet enter the Dent traction fleet. In fact I picked up a bargain off the Bachmann stand (refurbished customer returns at cheap prices), a 37/5 with its DCC sound chip removed for £45. Peter Harvey of PH Designs also gave me some of his new detailing bits to help me out with a DRS nose end conversion. But, more of this project in due course
Newly refurbished 37409 looked superb - a credit to the staff at Barrow Hill.
37409's new name came as a surprise, but the chap in question was an important figure in 20th Century engineering history.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the unveiling of 37409, recently returned to service after years in store. The loco looked magnificent, obviously a lot of time and money has been spent on getting this ETH-fitted machine ready. The naming took place at 1pm, overseen by the ever-genial Mr P Waterman, who had spent the morning chatting happily to the throngs of visitors. The actual name took us all a little by surprise. I know a few people who had surreptitiously tried to feel the letters of the 'plates through the covering beforehand. They'd got their hopes up when the first two letters were L and O... Loch Awe perhaps? But no, there were too many other characters.
When told of the name (I missed the actual ceremony), it did seem vaguely familiar and on the train home later, I seemed to remember that Lord Hinton had something to do with the old Atomic Energy Authority. I did a major study of the Nuclear Power industry as part of my Geography A-Level and his name had stuck. However, having looked up his name, I realised that there was more to his career than I could recall. He'd been responsible for starting the industry in this country, beginning with the first reactors at Windscale, one of which went wrong in the mid1950s, triggering Britain's worst nuclear accident to date. Oooops!
Anyway, the fall out (!) of that minor disaster formed the main part of my dissertation, so explains why I'd remembered the name all these years. Perhaps something that he should not be remembered for? With a name change here and there (another power plant on the site was called Calder Hall, then later changed to Sellafield) saw things get back on track and Mr Hinton was promoted to head of the CEGB soon after, helping to create the National Grid.
Incidentally, there is a minor railway link, in that he served his engineering apprentice at Swindon Works, although the GWR didn't offer him a job at the end of his time. He did, though, become chief engineer at ICI by the age of 29; no mean feat. He was also one of the most honoured engineers of his generation by the time he retired and, to his credit, he seems to have been aware of limiting the environmental impact of the national grid as much as possible. Had he learnt a valuable lesson at Windscale?
There was plenty of opportunities to get up close to the various locos - perfect for those important modelling reference photographs.

The now defunct Fastline group's fleet of 66s is in safe store at Gresty Bridge, offering a little variation to the 'exhibits'.

Just a pair of 'Choppers' were present in the old part of the depot, both stored.

I just managed to catch a pic of 47270 as I stepped from my train at Crewe. It was heading a railtour to Bleanaeu Ffestiniog. 57601 was on the rear.

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