Over the Easter weekend the Bluebell Railway was host to a particularly famous locomotive, Number 4472 ‘Flying Scotsman’. Appearing in its BR guise and numbered 60103 the Bluebell advertised the event under the title “Flying Scotsman Flying South”. The Claude Jessett Trust was approached by the railway to provide two steam road engines to form part of the display in the loco’ yard at Sheffield Park. They particularly wanted a showmans engine so the 1913 Aveling and Porter ‘Southern Queen’ converted by Claude Jessett and Owen Mitchell in the 1960’s fitted the bill and it was backed up by the Tasker roller ‘Little Giant’ originally built as a light haulage tractor in 1909 and shown as such at the Royal show at Gloucester in that year although later converted to a steam roller.
The two engines were crewed by Trust volunteers and back-up crews were also provided so that the engines could be under supervision at all times through the 4 day period as large crowds were expected. The engines and their living vans left for Sheffield Park on Thursday afternoon so as to avoid the worst of the holiday weekend traffic and, once on site, a display was set up to advertise Tinkers Park and give out information on our 2017 events.
Our engines enjoyed pride of place in the locomotive yard at the Bluebell right alongside the Flying Scotsman itself. Our volunteer crews were provided with special passes enabling them to use the facilities provided for Bluebell loco’ crews such as the tea room, toilets and showers. There was plenty of opportunity to get acquainted with the Scotsman and its crew at the end of the days work when we all went for a meal together and a well earned pint or two.
Wether or not you are a fan of Flying Scotsman it is undeniable that it is probably the most famous railway locomotive in the world and it certainly attracted the crowds. I am told that around 2,500 people attended each day at Sheffield Park station alone during its visit and every time it arrived in the yard at the end of a trip up the line the public thronged in to see it and take pictures. This gave plenty of opportunity to give out information on Tinkers Park and talk to the many people who showed an interest in our engines.
As we were appearing next to the star of the show particular attention was paid to the appearance of the two TP engines and no stray spot of oil or dust was left uncleaned! The sun shone for virtually the whole weekend and it was a tired but satisfied set of crews who finally packed up and set off for home on Easter Monday evening. For all who took part this certainly was an auspicious start to what promises to be a good 2017 rally and event season.