More than 120 former employees at Lostock Hall Motive Power Depot (LHMPD) and rail enthusiasts gathered at The Leyland and Farington Social Club, to commemorate the end of British Rail Steam hauled trains.
The event was organised by former fireman at the LHMPD depot Eric Jones and Bob Gregson, author of Lostock Hall – A Railway Album.
Wilf Riley, who worked in Leyland Station ticket booking Office until 1968, says: “Many of the lads at the event worked at Lostock Hall Motive Power Depot – the last steam shed in the land.
“Entertainment was provided by Peter Fitton, who enthralled the audience with his slide show of steam engines in the twilight of their lives. Local author and North Yorkshire Moors engine-driving stalwart, John ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, gave a talk about his latest publication, Tales of the Rails.”
The main attraction for the night was an iconic poster of the famous Fifteen Guinea Special, which was the last main-line steam passenger train on August 11, 1968, before the steam ban. It was a special rail tour excursion from Liverpool via Manchester to Carlisle and back, pulled by four different steam locomotives.
The last scheduled steam-hauled passenger services ran on August 3, 1968, from Preston.
Wilf adds: “Show stopper on the night was the 50-year old railway poster for the famous 15 Guinea Special, the last of the Grand Rail specials of the steam era.
“The poster was acquired by Michael Renshaw’s dad, the late Peter Renshaw. Peter worked in the Preston booking office, in 1968.
“This is truly, an iconic railway collector’s piece. Eric kept the event moving, by belting out one of his famous Cabaret tunes. Unfortunately, a scheduled organ recital, by John Burnett, had to be sidelined, due to the organ running out of steam.”
Enthusiasts also took part in a raffle to win railway goodies, including a signed copy of Martin Hilbert’s book, Network North West Images of a Changing Railway and a commemorative souvenir ticket, produced by Adrian Bradshaw.
Guests celebrated Network Rail’s announcement it had granted permission to erect a Heritage Blue Plaque on Preston Railway Station, to commemorate the last days of British Rail steam from 1968.