This is eye witness account by Tony Sinclair of the lift of GNR 2701 out of the Boston Rail yard.
I was pleased to read the article relating to GNR Compo 2701 in November's Heritage Railway. Glad to see that it
will be restored, as was indeed the belief when I somehow got involved in its retrieval from its slumbering place
adjacent to West Street signal Box (Boston) some years ago. I laughed when I read that its recovery from the
Heanor site had been somewhat difficult-shades of its earlier rescue.
I had known of this coach for some years after moving to the Boston area, and was best mates with the son of one
of the two railway painters who had use of the coach as a store/mess room. Members of the local model railway
society were approached to provide additional manpower by the then landlord of The Plough, at very short notice as
I remember, and I arrived on that Saturday morning to find about six or eight other members, along with the lorry
driver (a man mountain who looked like he could lift it), and two cranes from a local firm (A + P Crane Hire). I knew
Buck and Paul from A+P, as they did all our cranage at my place of work so I knew we would be in safe hands. I
remember Buck making a beeline for me to ask my guesstimate of weight, he too had been approached very late in
the day, and had scant information to work on. I didn't really have a clue, body probably around the 10 ton mark,
bogies a couple of tons each. He snorted and said he had been told around six tons total! After building two large
stacks of sleepers parallel to the coach, the body was slowly lifted from its bogies, and sat upon its temporary
supports, before the bogies were craned onto a flatbed trailer, and chained down, now for the tricky bit.
The professionals had already worked out that the angle of entry into Boston's West Street would in no way cope
with the length of the body, so the coach would have to be lifted over the fence into the adjacent East Midlands
Electricity depot, and onto a long girder trailer, before using their wider exit onto the road.
Having finally managed to stretch the reluctant trailer (obviously not been used at this length for quite some time) by
towing it around the yard with the brakes on, the body was craned aboard for a short shunt adjacent to the fence,
before the sleeper stacks were re-positioned and the trailer withdrawn. The trailer was now shortened again, moved
next door, and opened up-although it did move easier having been greased before being folded up again! The
cranes now picked the body up before doing a tandem lift, and slewed over the fence. As the cranes began to jib
out to reach the trailer, both alarm bells were heard to start ringing, oh dear. Having seen Buck at work many times
before, I was not too surprised when the bells were promptly silenced, they were making clear communication
between the two men impossible, and I watched as they "felt their way" to complete the lift. The body descended
perfectly onto the trailer, and was very securely chained down (well, as securely as you can chain down something
not really designed to go onto a lorry trailer!) Buck and Paul began to pack away, with Buck chuntering away about
why he shouldn't let himself get talked into such madcap stunts. The lorry driver (who's name sadly eludes me) now
began the slow crawl to pull out into one of Boston's main thoroughfares, and hope that there was just enough room
to swing the lorry cab round without demolishing EME's gates or the garden walls of the houses opposite. He made
it (of course), and having caused mayhem for about five minutes, disappeared up Sleaford Road towards