On Friday December 7th 2018, the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society were given the honour of hauling the Royal Train, with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales on board. Preparations for this trip had started weeks, if not months, before the event. These included extra physical checks of the locomotive and support coach, as well as a thorough examination of all our documentation.
After the usual preparation duties, we left Stewarts Lane on Thursday evening, hauled by a Class 67, for East Usk Junction Yard, Newport, where we were booked to be stabled overnight. When we got there, the plan was changed, and we moved onto Alexandra Dock Junction Yard, on the other side of Newport. Of course, this meant diverting the booked water tanker, footplate crew and the security services at short notice.
Those of the support crew who had got to bed were up again at four thirty on Friday morning. Being towed by a diesel means that there is not such a strong exhaust as usual to lift the smoke and soot clear of the loco, so the engine had got dirty again. The weather hadn't helped, either. We did what we could, in the dark, to get Clan Line as clean as possible, before coupling up to the Royal Train, which had joined us by now.
The journey to Cardiff Central was only about twelve miles, but, in that time, the weather improved and the sun came out. On arrival at the station, we were met by a large gathering of people, led by the Lord Mayor of the City of Cardiff, Councillor Dianne Elizabeth Rees.
The Royal party came to the front of the train to meet and thank the support crew, and to visit the footplate, before leaving for the city. We were then joined by other people who had come to greet Prince Charles, including a group from The Prince's Trust.
We eventually left for Stewarts Lane, hauled by a diesel for most of the way, and started work on preparing Clan Line for a Belmond trip on the following day.