Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today's Train of Thought- Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Jubliee)

In honor of the Queen's diamond jubilee this week, I thought it would be worthwhile to look back at some of the technology that helped Brittania hold out during the dark days of the early 1940s when she stood alone against the totalitarian menace that had already consumed much of Europe.

The British remain convinced that railway preservation is almost exclusively the domain of the eccentric and cite the high number of restored and operational steam locomotives as evidence [although using that metric, South Africa- of all places- is no slouch- NANESB!]. This is seconded by songwriter, producer, rugby club owner and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman- who has a fairly extensive private collection of restored rolling stock and locomotives himself. Working as a gravedigger, apprentice at GE and railway clerk, Waterman began pursuing a career in music through building a collection of imports from the USA after the depot closed. After parlaying a successful stint as a DJ into a record label with Peter Collins in the late 1970s, Waterman's Loose Ends label signed such acts as John Travolta, Bananarama, Donna Summer and Dead or Alive [say what you will 30 years later, but they made Waterman a wealthy man at the time- NANESB!].

Waterman's commercial success in the music industry allowed him to enthusiastically pursue his passion of railroading. In addition to building his burgeoning collection, Waterman revived the dormant London & North Western name for his heritage railway as well as a car repair shop and charter excursion outfit.

Of course, preservation in England isn't limited exclusively to Pete Waterman.

Here, BR Swindon-built 2-10-2 'Black Prince' #92203- dubbed 'The Black Prince'- cools its heels at the station in Toddington, Glouchester as the engineer cranes his neck to get a better look at the RAF formation as it soars overhead. The flight consists of an Avro Lancaster, Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane.

Despite all outward appearences, this amazing scene was not an image captured at the height of the Battle of Britain, but rather a June 2008 image snapped by user Robin Coomes. The Black Prince is actually a few years newer than the RAF planes flying overhead. Now owned by the East Somerset Railway, the sleek 2-10-2 was built in 1959. The RAF flight shown is part of the Battle of Britian Memorial- the flyby was a favor from the flight crew in return for an afternoon on the ESR.

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