88 year old Alan Golton gets on-board Gresley class P2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales after an 83 year delay
The team building Prince of Wales was delighted to welcome 250 passengers from ‘The Talisman’ railtour to Darlington Locomotive Works on Saturday 6th May to view progress. On the train, hauled by Tornado, was one very special guest, 88 year old Alan Golton, who had waited 30,290 days to see and hopefully ‘cab’ a Gresley class P2.
Alan Golton, a retired university lecturer and Church of England minister, now residing in Grenoble, France, picks up the story, “On a hot summer’s day in June 1934 I was taken by my father and a friend of his to the London & North Eastern Railway’s open day in the station goods yard at Ilford, Essex. The sun was beating down and the railway yard was full of fine locomotives and teak carriages. The already-famous No. 4472 Flying Scotsman was there, standing close by to No. 8900 Claud Hamilton, which was sporting a dazzling white cab roof and highly burnished steel rimmed smokebox door.
“A brand-new apple-green apparition, with a sleek streamlined front end, complete with a novel sloping smokebox door, was receiving a lot of attention from the crowds. The locomotive was, of course, the first of Sir Nigel Gresley’s class P2 2-8-2 ‘Mikado’ locomotives, No. 2001 Cock 0’ the North. No. 2001 was brand new, only a matter of a couple of weeks out of Doncaster works, and was destined to be the most powerful express passenger locomotive in the country.
“Visitors could go into the cabs of most of the locomotives and we queued alongside the large 6ft 2in driving wheels of Cock 0’ the North eager to cab the P2. But I never got my opportunity to cab No. 2001 – overcome by heat exhaustion I fainted by the locomotive and was taken to a medical tent to be revived by smelling salts before being taken home.
“Living close by to the LNER works at Stratford I got subsequent opportunities to get up close to LNER locomotives. I recall walking through the tender corridor of Flying Scotsman into its cab at another open day. But I never saw Cock o’ the North again. I never did get the opportunity to cab a P2 – or at least, I thought I never would.
“One of my sons, Matthew, works in the railway industry as the Commercial Development Director for Great Western Railway. Through his friendship with Trustees of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, Matthew was aware that a new Gresley class P2, No. 2007 Prince of Wales, is being constructed. Through a very kind invitation from The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust I was offered the opportunity to travel to Darlington and achieve what I failed to achieve in 1934 – to finally cab a P2!
“My wife and I travelled over especially from the south of France where we now live and on 6th May Matthew and I travelled up to Darlington on the Trust’s special train ‘The Talisman’ behind No. 60163 Tornado. It was exciting to take in the front end of No. 2007 at the Trust’s Darlington Locomotive Works. The sloping front door and the streamlined fairing is stunning. I was impressed by the care that it is being taken to create this locomotive – exemplifying the best of British engineering.
“Matthew had tracked down some fine photographs that E.R. Wethersett had taken of the actual open day at Ilford that I had attended all those years ago. He had bought me an enlarged print of Cock o’ the North, complete with the scaffolding staircase to the cab that I never got to ascend. The Trust’s Director of Engineering David Elliott, assisted by fitter Ian Matthews, kindly got me a step ladder so that I could at last get into the cab of a P2. You can see from the photograph the pleasure that this achievement brought.
Alan finally gets to ‘cab’ a P2! – A1SLT