Royal Scot Class 46115 Scots Guardsman enters the Eccles loop at Patricroft to take water while working the Cotton Mill Express. The weather was terrible for a July morning, heavy rain showers, which continued for most of the day. This loco first worked this train on 30 Jan. On this occasion after the train had only gone about 30 miles the loco failed with vacuum brake problems. A re-run was scheduled for the 13th February. This time, the loco got as far as the location shown above before suffering a serious failure to the middle cylinder. Following this, the loco was out of service for some time while heavy repairs had to be carried out. It re-emerged in mid-June and worked some railtours without missing a beat.
The Cotton Mill Express was then scheduled for this date in July. After a wet start all appeared to be well. Problems started en-route, however. Although this time, the tour had got much farther than on the previous attempts, the loco failed yet again. This time the middle piston rod packing had disintegrated. The tour was cancelled and repairs, lasting two or three hours, were carried out trackside. Eventually, the loco and carriages returned to their base, less passengers, who had to make their own way home from Manchester. Whether another attempt on the tour will be made is unknown at the moment. It is ironic that this most reliable of locos suffered three failures attempting to work the same railtour. Is there some message somewhere? On another point, to the right of the train is the site of the former Patricroft Loco shed, closed in 1968. An important LNWR shed for Manchester, there were over 70 steam locos based here in 1961.