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The Silver Jubilee

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1938-39

The final phase, when an extra carriage was added by converting the twin at the north end from BTK-TK into a triplet: BTK-TK-TK. Surprisingly few pictures were taken of the new 8-coach formation, here are three. Not all the pictures are dated but would have been either 1938 or 1939:

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No 2510 Quicksilver was repainted blue in May 1938 and given nameplates, in which condition it has the Down train near New Barnet. The new triplet is behind the tender. Photo: Rev. Eric Treacy.

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In this view the A4 in charge was built in bue in 1937: No 4492 Dominion of New Zealand and is seen at Harringay in 1938. Photo: G.R. Griggs, c/o Colling Turner, later Photomatic.

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And finally, a marvellous going away view of the "Silver Jubilee" at Ganwick behind an unidentified blue A4. The new triplet was at the far end. Note how the roofs had been cleaned as far as the staff could reach from the sides and ends. Photo: Author's collection, ER Wethersett, LNER TS62.

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Introduced in 1935, Clive and I described how this express evolved in the book but could only offer two illustrations. For a while it must have been the most photographed train in the world, and being so photogenic, here are more views and how the images were treated. There will be several parts, beginning with the original train and A4s as-built.

1935-36

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An LNER official view of the new train being delivered by A4 No 2509 Silver Link. I have yet to establish the location except to say that it's on the four-track and the train is carrying ECS lights and may have been posed. So many steam-era pictures were adjusted and in this case the upper cab was burned in to conceal the driver leaning out of the cab. I have tried to correct the worst of this but the man remains an unidentifiable black shape. Photo: author's collection, LNER TS 29.

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This picture was taken on Friday 27th September 1935 near Potters Bar by ER Wethersett and rates as one of the finest of all from the steam era. We used this picture in the book and I show it again here so that it can be compared with the view that was released as a postcard by The Locomotive Publishing Co. Ltd., shown below. The lineside fencing in those days was perfunctory and many people climbed over to stand by the track to see the flyer race by, including mothers and children. The guard is returning the many waves. When I was relatively young myself I knew the photographer and regret never having been able to ask him about this picture; such is life. Photo: E.R. Wethersett.

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The version produced as a postcard by LPC differed from ERW's in a couple of ways. All the people by the lineside were tactfully taken out. More interestingly, the heavy exhaust over the train was toned down, cleaned-up, you could say and it's certainly a more dramatic picture, especially with the caption underneath. The social side of the event may have been lost but, there we are, and both versions may be enjoyed today. Photo: LPC.

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The Up "Silver Jubilee" in July 1936 behind A4 No 2509 Silver Link was captured at Ganwick by H. Gordon Tidey and this is his signed print. It's a landscape style view that was rare at the time and the silver train not only contrasts with the British countryside but its relatively short length may just be detected. The photographer may have tried to show this deliberately for pictures taken here of the Flying Scotsman with 15 carriages show a train stretching far back along the curve in the distance! Photo: H. Gordon Tidey.

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A relatively modern print on resin coated paper carries the file ref of "T8700" and the crop is more conventional, giving a modern telephoto lens feel to the picture. The letter "T" was used by Real Photographs to indicate an H. Gordon Tidey picture. Photo: Cliff Parsons collection.

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The final view from this sequence is dated 1936 and shows the front coupling still in its pocket. In July of that year it was relocated further out and the straight handrail was curved down at the cab end. These changes form a second period (to follow). No 2509 Silver Link was captured racing through Welwyn Garden City with the regulator open prior to the final, six-mile ascent to Potters Bar and its ruling gradient of 1:200. The photographer seems to have struggled with the speed of the train!

This time I have made some adjustments, correcting the tilt and trying to show the exhaust. Photo: R.S. Carpenter collection, Neg. No 1277.

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Second part added:

1936-38

It's unfortunate that most of the next series of pictures are not dated although they are known to have been taken between July 1936 and 1938. A visible change to the locos took place after a fatal accident when a man was crushed between one of the streamlined A4s when trying to couple up: the front coupling pocket was promptly filled in and longer buffers fitted. This took place in July 1936 (2509-11) and October 1936 (2512). Some other relatively small changes also took place and these are described in the captions.

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When No 2509 Silver Link entered service the handrail along the boiler was straight all the way to the cab and was not curved until about July 1937. The original layout can be seen as, with the main line signals off and the train still looking sparklingly clean, the Down "Silver Jubilee" sweeps through Welwyn Garden City station on the two-mile ascent at 1:200 between Hatfield and Digswell Viaduct. Photo: A sepia postcard by Dr. T.F. Budden, LPC.

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No 2512 Silver Fox has the Up train near Greenwood. A number has yet to be painted on the front. Photo: Ken Nunn Collection, LCGB.

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The fireman is clearly busy as No 2510 Quicksilver (with a front end number in small letters) emerges from Hadley Wood Tunnel in the middle of the eight-mile ascent at 1:200 between Wood Green and Potters Bar. Photo: LPC.

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A Valentine's colour postcard showing the train at an unknown location with Gateshead's No 2511 Silver King in charge. Cards like this were often based on an actual photograph but I have yet to find it; there is a Potters Bar feel to the view.

The loco has gained a number on the front although the pale blue lamps with red spectacles are a bit of artistic licence. The carriages appear to be in the original condition with a silver roof. It seems that at some stage it was decided to paint the roofs white. This shows quite clearly on many of the photographs but confirmation from LNER records has yet to be found. Author's collection

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No 2510 Quicksilver has the Up service and has just passed under the footbridge over the cutting which leads to Potters Bar Tunnel. The hard work is over and the last dozen miles are nearly all downhill. 4th August 1936. Photo: Ken Nunn Collection, LCGB.

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My apologies for showing this picture again (previously used in "LNER Flyers from the Air" in Back Track) but it is rather good and shows No 2510 Quicksilver in summer 1936 with the Up train on Digswell Viaduct. LNER Press Section TS/43, Author's collection.

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No 2510 Quicksilver again, this time near Potters Bar. The loco is spotless but the carriages are are in dire need of a wash! Photo: Author's collection.

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A rare view of the A4 allocated to Gateshead, No. 2511 Silver King, deputising for a King's Cross loco on the Up train, passing Peterborough North. There's either a leak or the chime whistle is being blown. Photo: T.G. Hepburn, Rail Archive Stephenson.

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No.2512 Silver Fox acquired larger letters for the front-end number in late summer 1937 and is seen laying smoke on the ascent near Potters Bar. Photo: Author's collection.

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New picture added:

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In another view from 1937, with twelve miles to go, No 2509 Silver Link is speeding down the 1:200 out of Potter's Bar Tunnel, also now carrying the larger letters on the nose. Photo: Author's collection.

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