A Visit from the Viking

Class 37 No.37057 / D6757 waits at Gunnislake Station on 6th Feb 2017 (iPhone) – © 2017 Steven Draper

It was a rainy evening close to midnight when my wife suggested that our dog might like to go for a walk… …which I was reminded a few moments later is a higher priority than checking the latest eBay listings !

Finding my shoes and coat I ventured into the cold misty Cornish air and immediately wondered, what’s that rumble?

At first I thought it was the Coastguard helicopter on route to Derriford, but this late and in the fog…  and it was pretty constant, like a heavy generator or tractor ticking over. Just to add to the confusion it seemed to be coming from the direction of the Railway Station.

Now that perked the excitement receptors up, but the last DMU trundles out just before 22:30, and there had not been a polite, neighbourly notice from the Network Rail guys informing me that overnight work was taking place. Therefore the station should be empty. Eventually I got to a spot where I could see part of the platform and low and behold, carriage lights confirmed my suspicions that something unusual was happening.

A peak inside the cab of Class 37 No.37057 / D6757 at Gunnislake Station on 6th Feb 2017 (iPhone) – © 2017 Steven Draper
Some of the computers and recording equipment (iPhone) – © 2017 Steven Draper

Although I knew there might be consequences, the dog walk finished quickly as I dashed back home to grab my iPhone. 100 yards down the hill later I was at the entrance to Gunnislake station. At first all I could see were the carriage lights, but then in the gloomy night air the chuffed to bits wow feeling arrived on realising that there in the platform was Colas operated Class 37 No.37057 with its split headcode boxes and fabulous BR Green heritage livery. Although the name plates were removed, many still refer to this loco as ‘The Viking’ as it was officially named for part of its life.

A class 37 is really a bit big for the tight curves around Calstock and too heavy for the viaduct that crosses the Tamar there, but special permission had been given, not for some midnight heritage running session, but to check the tracks – the three banana yellow Network Rail test carriages being filled with computers, sensitive measuring equipment and other important supplies.

I wasn’t the only person braving the night, a couple of others were enjoying the excitement, taking photos with more elaborate cameras and getting ready to dash down to Bere Alston which although is just over 4 miles miles down the Track, is separated by the RiverTamar River making it is quiet a drive – especially in the fog ! A quick chat revealed that they help run a Facebook group caller South West Railways and Heritage, and I made a note to request permission to join – which you can too if you click the picture of the FB site !

Back to the Class 37, Viking was built in 1962 and has the strange situation to be classified as ex-Preservation, Colas buying four 37’s from heritage lines in 2013 !

While my Drakewalls OO project is really a blend of reality and imagination,  the Vikings visit has shown my own eyes that big Loco’s do fit up the little branch, and also provided the basis to model another real working, capturing this little piece of history in miniature form 8^)

If you saw the test train or have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below.

Another view of Class 37 No.37057 / D6757 waiting at Gunnislake Station on 6th Feb 2017 (iPhone) – © 2017 Steven Draper


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