The History of “The Great Britain” railtour and ancillary workings.

The Great Britain railtours are the brainchild of The Railway Touring Company who are based in Kings Lynn in Norfolk.

The toursbegan in 2007when 6024 “King Edward l l ” and Castle class 5051 “Earl Bathurst” powered this part of the first tour from Penzance to Bristol.

Unfortunately I can’t find any pictures that I tookof the occasion, presumably I was away on holiday.

The toursconsist ofa nine day circular trip around mainland United Kingdom starting and finishing in London.

This year the tour comes down to Penzance before making its way north to Wick at the very top of Scotland.

Some yearsthe tour operates theopposite way round with Cornwall being towards the end of it.

It is intended to be an all steam hauled tour but invariably diesels have to fill in somewhere when for various reasons steam locomotives aren’t available.

On Tuesday the 26th April the loco’s rostered for when it passes through Dawlish are LMS 46100 “Royal Scot” and LMS Black 5 44871.

All being well they will pull into the platform at Dawlish Warren at 2.43pm to allow the Glasgow -Plymouth Cross Country Voyager to pass and then continue on their way to Plymouth at 2.55pm.

The diesel that is taking the tour on to Penzance from Plymouth will follow on shortly after. Times are subject to change of course so if you can check with the day!

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This is the first year that number 46100 “Royal Scot” has been seen on Britain’s main line railways since it was withdrawn from serviceat Nottingham in 1962. It was bought by Billy Butlin and given a cosmetic restorationbefore beingdisplayedon a plinth atthe Butlin’s Holiday Camp at Skegness.In 1971 it then went on loan to the Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk where it was put back into steam to do short rides in the park until 1978 when it became just a static exhibit again. It was sold to Bressingham in 1989.Twenty years later it was purchased by the Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust which is chaired by Jeremy Hoskin, who owns several steam locomotives, and moved to the LNWR Heritage works. It was planned to come back for main line use in 2009 but after appearing at the West Somerset Railway gala it was discovered all was not well with the overhaul it had justbeen through and it returned to the workshops at Crewe where it languished foranothersix years before completingits latest overhaul, which rectifiedthe fault that occurred in the assembly of the previous one.The picture shows the Crimson Lake LMS livery it carried at the West Somerset Railway. It has since been repainted into the green livery it had when it ended its days with BR.

For it’s partner on the tour, this will bethe Black 5’s third time of use on the Great Britain.


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The tour didn’t run in 2008but was resurrected as”The Great Britain ll “in 2009 andsaw Tangmere & Oliver Cromwell doing the honours, seen here approaching the Rockstone footbridge on the Dawlish sea wall.

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GB3: In 2010,because of some threatened industrial action, the tour was diesel hauled on the way down from Bristol by D1015 Western Champion masquerading as long gone D1009 “Western Invader” which was scrapped in 1978.The other diesel locomotive accompanying itwas West Coast Railways class 47 number 47760.

They areseen here suffering a short signal delay at Dawlish Warren.


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Video 1Here is the video.Shame about the raised voices and yapping dog but that’s life when you use a camcorder!

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The steam engines had been prepared at the South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh and were the subject of much interest as they prepared to leave for Plymouth in the morning whilst the diesels were bringing the train down. 44871 looks like it has been polished to within an inch of it’s life! Note the canvas flap between the cab and tender.


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In the video that follows, in trying to stop the shower of soot falling on my camcorder, I inadvertently got my hand in view but as you will hear I wasn’t the only one who suffered the grit storm!

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In the next video clip they can now be seen on the actual express racing round the bend at Langstone Rock and nearing Dawlish Warren station en route from Plymouth to Bristol.

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GB4: A similar pairing this year was ofa differentBlack5, number 45305, with 70013 “Oliver Cromwell” making a fine sight as they charged along the sea wall.


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GB5: in 2012 there was a return of the 2009 pairing of Tangmere and Oliver Cromwell and I went out to the Exe estuaryat Powderham to record them passing by at speed.

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GB6: 2013 This time it was two Black 5’s with 44871’s 2nd appearance paired with 45407 first seen on the down run, and then the return passing Cockwood Harbour, a little further along the line from Dawlish Warren.


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45407 has received the name of “Lancashire Fusilier” in preservation times. Only four of the 842 Black5’s were named whilst in BR ownership.

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GB 7: in 2014 brought another diesel appearance when Class 52 Diesel hydraulic D1015 “Western Champion” and Type 47 Diesel Electric 47773took the tour down to Truro on the Saturday. For the first time it wasovernighted in Cornwall rather than Bristol as it always had previously. In lovely weather I captured the immaculate pair passing Dawlish Warren station.


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47773 was in the original BR colours of two tone green and looked very smart.



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These were followed down by the steam locomotives that were to haul the tour the next day up from Cornwall. Firstly 5029 Nunney Castle went through Dawlish station with it’s support coach.


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And a little later nearer high tide Southern Region 34046 Braunton came by with it’s support coach unfortunately running in reverse.

This was at the time when the sea wall was under repair and on occasions like this you can see why the work to complete the repairs was frequently delayed.


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The return on Sunday started from Falmouth andwas a miserablewet morning when Rebuilt West Country Class 34046 Braunton was coupled behind GWR 5029 Nunney Castle and I had to take cover from the rain on Dawlish station to see them pass through on their way to Bristol.



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GB8: in 2015 I was away, but I’m sure I would have been disappointed to see a bog standard 66122 in EWS livery replacing theloco which had come from London to Exeter behind 70000 “Britannia” for the rest of the journey to Penzance. This wasbecause oftherestrictions put on WestCoast Rail after their steam train (Tangmere) overrana signal near Badminton almost causing a dreadful accident.The next day Britannia was allowed to join the train at Plymouth on it’s return to Bristol but was piloted by the class 66 diesel all the way to Bristol. The rest of the tour to Scotland and all the way back to London was all diesel hauled. My son Nick captured a rushed shot of Britannia and its support coach heading for Plymouth running alongside the River Teign at Shaldon Bridge.

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Let’s hope that the weather is fine on Tuesday and Wednesday.I appreciate this isn’t all taken on the Dawlish sea wall but that you have found it interesting nevertheless.

Colin Campbell

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