I recently came across an article from a 1903 newspaper which I though might be of interest, describing a trip over the Settle and Carlisle line. Just about a month ago the cables reported that a new express passenger engine, belonging to the Midland Railway Company of England (of which Mr. Mathieson, late Commissioner for Railways in Victoria, is general manager), had the phenomenal record of 80 miles an hour. A Journalist privileged to ride on the engine whilst running one of her famous trips thus writes of it:— One mile in 47 seconds! Only those who have ridden in the cab of a locomotive at this speed can realise what it means—and understand the exhilarating pleasure that accompanies such rapid transit. A few weeks ago the writer of this article rode on the footplate of No. 2632, the new compound locomotive of the Midland Railway Company, between Carlisle and Leeds, a distance of 113 ¼ miles. The engine in question was built under the superintendence of Mr. S. W. Johnson, and it is the proud boast of the Midland Railway officials that there is now no engine in the world to equal it. It is one of the advantages of the compound class of engines that speed is very quickly attained, and before Scotby, three miles distant,was reached, the mail train was covering the ground at 45 miles an hour. An engine-driver and a fireman have plenty to do en route. The former seems to be constantly jerking the regulator, and twisting, turning, and squeezing a mixed-up mass of brass wheels, pipes, and levers. He does it all with a quiet smile, affectionately caresses The Vacuum Brake with his right hand, and, in some mysterious manner, keeps one eye on the lookout for signals, and the other on the doings of the fireman. Now James Sherwin, who stoked No. 2632 on this journey, is a typical Yorkshireman— a veritable Hercules as regards shoulders and biceps— and an expert at coal-shovelling. No sooner was Carlisle left behind than he started operations. Seizing a tremendous shovel, with the accuracy of a trained marksman he transferred large amounts of coal from the tender to the furnace in a way only possible to himself and his kind. Scarcely once did he deign to open the furnace door to its full width, preferring, instead, to shoot the black mass of fuel through the narrow slit in the door, and always with the greatest success. For the first 45 miles or so the track is an almost continuous incline, with here and there a short level run, or "a bit of a dip." A small post with two arms showed as the engine tore through Cumwhinton, five miles from Carlisle that the gradient was 1 in 134, yet the good pace of over 60 miles an hour was being accomplished. “She’s finding her stride,” was the comment. But as Cotehill was neared the distant signal was Seen to be at Danger. An ugly look came over the driver’s face as he applied the brake, and as the “home” signal came in view, and was found to be at danger, too, with a sigh of resignation he brought his engine to a standstill. “What’s the matter?” he yelled, as a man with a red flag seemed to emerge out of the side of a towering redstone cliff. “Landslip - clear in a minute!” And so it was. A few hundredweight of redstone had fallen from the side of the cliff on to the rails, but, as is always the case, had been immediately discovered by a vigilant staff and cleared away. This little delay made No. 2632 15 minutes behind scheduled time. In less than five minutes she was well into a 60-mile-an-hour gait, and at this pace Armathwaite Tunnel was entered. The man who enters a tunnel for the first time in his life on the footplate of an engine receives a shock. There is a prolonged shriek from the whistle, a roar from the smoke-stack as the belching steam hits the roof, and a terrible glare at once shoots out of the furnace, giving one the impression that the whole of the train is on fire. If, as was the case in this tunnel, the stoker plies his shovel with might and main, one pictures him as the premier imp of an inferno; while the many shadows thrown on the roof of the tunnel help the imagination to see the fearsome congregation of mocking sprites. A desire to shriek is felt; but somehow before anything more occurs, with what seems to be a mighty leap and a bound and a crash, the engine darts out into the pure country air again. The terrible vision is gone, and instead of a demon one finds a very stout, laughing stoker rubbing his hands with cotton waste. “Now she feels it,” and by the time Laxonby, 17 miles out, is reached the watch recorded a pace of over 75 miles an hour. As Ais Gill was approached a surprise was in store. No. 2632 rushed headlong into a snowstorm. At a height of 1200ft. above sea-level, a vast panorama of changing scenes was opened up. Below in the valley the green meadows and woodlands were seen, while everything on the same level with the train was snow-clad. A mail train gives nobody time to study artistic effects, and on the level stretch to Dent Head, eight miles away, an average of 65 mile an hour was made. Good news was announced, too. Five minutes of that lost time had been recaptured. On the Leeds side of Bleamor Tunnel a descent starts for the lowlands. The “dip” to Settle Junction is about 1 in 100 all the way, and the distance 15 miles. After the junction another sensation for the guest of the journey. Rattling along at 65 the hour, the stoker apparently committed suicide by bolting suddenly over the side of the engine. But the driver reassured the palpitating journalist that his mate had only gone to “oil up.” And this proved to be so, for in five minutes’ time that worthy appeared with a 2ft. oil-can, and smilingly peeped his head up on the opposite side of the engine from that on which he had made his exit. He had, in fact, taken a walk right round the engine while the speed was between 70 and Eighty Miles an Hour ! Seven more minutes were regained of that lost time when Skipton Junction was passed, and then on the level stretch to Keighley, ten miles away, No. 2632 put her best wheels foremost. Starting at a mile a minute, the pace increased rapidly until a speed of nearly 80 miles was attained, and when at last the engine slowly steamed into Leeds she was exactly five seconds in front of schedule time, late starting, stoppages, and other delays notwithstanding. The entire distance of 113 ¼ miles had been covered in 1h. 53min., exclusive, of course, of hinderances, and ranks, probably, as the record “one engine – platform to platform – performance of the world, all things considered.” -“Daily Mail” World’s News (Sydney), Saturday, 18 April 1903, p7. Midland Railway Compound 4-4-0 number 2632 - Any other examples of historic reports of railway happenings from newspapers are welcome to be added to this thread.