Some of my earliest railway memories are seeing the ‘Golden Arrow’ as I was coming home to lunch from infants school. In those days, it was steam-hauled, a 4-6-2 ‘Britannia’ and Pullmans to follow. Some years later, my first solo train spotting expeditions were to the same spot, but in the early evening after school. If I timed it right I could spot the return run of the ‘Golden Arrow’ back from Dover to London Victoria. No Britannia, though, but the train was still Pullmans and headed by a Class 71 electric locomotive.
Despite their rather plain appearance, the Class 71 has always been a firm favourite of mine. After the demise of the Golden Arrow, a train journey up to London past Hither Green yard and depot would usually turn up one or two locomotives. They survived to carry the BR blue livery, but having only electical third rail power (plus a pantograph), once passenger work diminished (and heath and safety increased) they were of limited use for goods trains and could not operate on cross-London freight services. They were withdrawn in full working order and replaced by that other favourite of mine, the Class 73 electro-diesel.
Why this post? The Hornby web-site has an interesting article on their new OO gauge Class 71. Pity it’s OO. (Anyone for an N gauge model – not just an announcement of a model in 5 years time? Perhaps an Arnold version of this model – they have all the design information.) However, there’s some interesting prototype information, and also some insights on how a modern model is produced, from laser scanning to production.