This coming Saturday 16th September Pathfinder tours are running a diesel excursion from Burton on Trent to Kingswear titled “The Torbay and Dart Explorer. The first part of the journey to Worcester Shrub Hill is booked for a Class 67 but from there, two Class 50 locomotives owned by the Class 50 Alliance will power the train to Kingswear and the return as far as Worcester. This tour was postponed from earlier in the year as the owners were not satisfied with the running condition of their locomotives. Let’s all hope they have a trouble free run on Saturday. The tour is due to pass through Dawlish at 11.35am and return passing at 5.15pm. The nickname of the class is “Hoovers” as when they were first introduced the suction noise of their ventilator fans was similar (but much louder) to a vacuum cleaner. However later in life these were replaced with a more efficient design and not as noisy but the nickname stuck. Having said that the Class 50 does have a very loud throaty exhaust when working hard. The fifty locomotives of the class were primarily introduced to handle the West Coast Main Line express passenger services from Preston to Glasgow and were used until the electrification of the line was completed. With no work for them then they were all transferred to the Western Region and replaced the Class 52 Western. Not being at all popular with the enthusiasts at first as the Western Hydraulics achieved cult status but after time the Class 50 gained more popularity especially when they were being replaced themselves by the HST. They have been an infrequent visitor to this area of late. The feature picture above was taken in 2005 at Cockwood near Starcross. The locomotives were made by English Electric who were the makers of the Deltic loco’s which revolutionised the East Coast services. The original intention was for them to have the same bodywork design as the Deltic but unfortunately, to my mind, it was changed to a flat front. Pictured below at Dawlish Warren station are 50031 Hood and 50049 Defiance held back for a pathing stop earlier in the day that the above photo was taken in 2005. Rated at 2700bhp each there should be no problems for these 100mph loco’s to keep to time.
Moving on to Summer 2018 there is news of next years plans for the Torbay Express of which there are seven. The first four are planned to be powered by SR 35028 Clan Line which handled this year’s two occasions when it was the train loco very well.
For the final three we are blessed with the appearance on the Torbay Express of ER streamlined A4 60009 Union of South Africa. Unfortunately it’s owner John Cameron is putting the loco into his own museum in Scotland in 2019 and it may never grace the main lines again so don’t miss this final opportunity to see this marvellous engine . The A4 is from the same class as world famous “Mallard” which is the holder of the speed record for a steam engine at 126mph.