Posted by: wrha | May 2, 2020

The Scottish Lowlander

001_ticketTicket from the railtour. M.G.Stoddon Collection

On 26th September 1964 the Railway Correspondence & Travel Society railtour “The Scottish Lowlander” set out from Crewe at 0915. The tour travelled north to Carlisle behind Duchess 46256 Sir William A Stanier FRS, where 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley took charge for the run north over the Waverley Route.

Not without incident, the tour was initially announced incorrectly at Carlisle as the 0930 Manchester to Glasgow, the rear three coaches being for Edinburgh, and this may have been partly to blame for the stray passenger who boarded.

What he witnessed, however, after an initial wrong routing and set-back at Carlisle No.3 signal box, was one of the most explosive northbound runs over the Waverley Route. The performance of Sir Nigel Gresley on that ascent of Whitrope was described as simply magnificent, an all-time record for the Waverley Route with the load of 450 tons. Even nowadays it is difficult to comprehend such a feat.

Timed for twenty-one minutes from Newcastleton to Whitrope, the actual time was reduced to fifteen minutes for the ten miles up the constant grade with only three minutes taken for the two miles to the summit from Riccarton Junction. From Hawick, where a water stop was made for ten minutes, the tour continued to Niddrie West Junction. Here 60009 Union of South Africa took over for the run back to Carlisle via Glasgow St John’s and the Glasgow & South Western.

At Carlisle 46256 once again took charge, for its final ever run over Shap, back to Crewe. It was then withdrawn and scrapped. The fate of 60007 & 60009 was quite different. 60007 is currently under overhaul at the National Railway Museum in York; 60009 has just retired from mainline duties and is spending its final year in traffic at the East Lancashire Railway.

The following is an extract from the Railway Correspondence & Travel Society’s railtour report.

We set off from Crewe at 0915 with 46256 Sir William Stanier F.R.S. hauling twelve bogies of 416 tons tare and 450 gross. On the short runs to Warrington and Preston the engine displayed a liveliness that promised well for the sterner tasks to follow.

Tebay was passed at 60mph and speed increased on the initial 1 in 146 to 61mph at Tebay North I.B.S. This involved an estimated drawbar horsepower (e.d.b.h.p.) of 2400. Shap Summit was passed at 38mph in 6¾ minutes from Tebay. With 450 tons such a time is worthy of a Duchess at its best. The descent to Carlisle was delayed and restrained but the net time of 90½ minutes for the 90.1 miles from Preston was excellent.

002_carlisleHaving come off the train at Carlisle Citadel 45256 Sir William Stanier FRS heads through platform 4, whilst 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley waits in platform 3 to take the tour north over the Waverley Route. Photo EN Bellas / M.G. Stoddon Collection

The sensation of the day was still to come, however. 46256 was very appropriately replaced by 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and the train set off six minutes late and was promptly put on the wrong road at Carlisle No.3. After setting back we restarted passing Canal Junction 12½ minutes late.

003_carlisle60007 simmers at Carlisle Citadel waiting time. Photo EN Bellas / M.G. Stoddon Collection

003b_carlisleAfter being wrongly routed onto the main line to Glasgow at Port Carlisle Branch Junction the train ground to a standstill and after a short delay was reversed until clear of the junction and then restarted on the correct route, seen here. Photo Geoff Plumb

There were gloomy forebodings on the train as 450 tons was a heavy unaided load for the Waverley Route and anyway wasn’t an A4 a flyer rather than a climber?

Rounding the curve just north of Penton, 60007 puts on a fine sight as it heads north. Photo Geoff Plumb

Seen from the train, 60007 is blazing away just north of Steele Road on the climb to Whitrope Summit. Photo Geoff Plumb

Again seen from the train, 60007 passes Riccarton North signal box. Photo Geoffrey Robinson

2020-05-06-0001Just after milepost 65, 60007 is about to cross bridge 203 on the climb between Riccarton Jct and Whitrope. Photo Paul Riley / M.G. Stoddon Collection

We thought we could hardly hope for much recovery but how wrong we were! 60007 ran like an engine possessed and was 7½ minutes early at Niddrie Junction after a ten-minute stop at Hawick.

A recorder travelling alone could hardly expect others to accept a net time of 58½ minutes from Carlisle to Hawick, and 15 minutes 14 seconds from Newcastleton to Whitrope Siding. It was as well that this was a rail tour with many confirmatory timings.

It is safe to assume that the e.d.b.h.p. was in the 2000 to 2100 range and the effort was sustained for fifteen minutes! This would appear to be the highest power output ever recorded by an A4 in this particular speed range and is as great a tribute to the designer’s masterpiece as this same engine’ many high speed exploits.

In the whole history of steam railroading is there any other major incline where the heaviest published unaided load also made the fastest recorded ascent?

Driver Maclaren and Fireman Whiteman of Kingmoor are to be congratulated on proving that, even at almost the eleventh hour it was possible to write another brilliant page in the history of steam.

The photographers made full use of the Hawick stop where 60007 stood blowing off against the background of a stormy sky. Then good running continued with an ascent to Falahill nearly as notable. There have been slightly faster climbs up the Gala Water but never with such a load.

Photographers swarm the tracks at the north end of Hawick station whilst 60007 takes on water. Photo M.G.Stoddon Collection

008_hawickSimmering away at Hawick, 60007 takes a well-deserved rest following its record breaking run. Photo M.G.Stoddon Collection

A long engine change at Niddrie West Junction delighted the photographers but used up the early arrival. Our new engine 60009 Union of South Africa negotiated the Edinburgh Suburban Line at a moderate pace. As we took the Glasgow line we had distant views of the two Forth Bridges, the comparisons favouring the railway bridge (was there some bias here?).

Some passengers were delighted to get a number of Claytons in Scotland, but one member who thought that a Clayton was a steam wagon (one of which still exists in Norfolk) was bitterly disappointed! A special stop was made at Lenzie Junction to set down a passenger who had joined at Carlisle in mistake for the Glasgow train behind us. Perhaps ordinary trains at Carlisle always disgorge 200 stampeding photographers!

In 1937 when these classes were new, Mr. C.J. Allen wrote that the speed contest had reached the stage of “honours easy.” We could ask for no better assessment of the hill climbing contest dated 26th September, 1964.

009_timingsTimings of the record-breaking run, as reported in the RCTS journal, The Railway Observer.

This article was originally published in the WRHA members’ journal “The Waverley” issue 12, spring 2008. It has been reproduced here together with additional material as part of our historical articles series during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Written by Matt Stoddon, with thanks to the Railway Correspondence & Travel Society for the railtour report, Geoff Plumb for the use of his photos and Dave Smith for additional info.
Further observations from the day can be found online at
More of Geoff Plumb’s photos can be found at

Copyright WRHA 2012 & 2020. Photos copyright of the respective photographers. No part of this article may be reproduced without express permission.