The engine was completed at Crewe in May 1951 at a cost of £20,115 and entered service at Norwich Thorpe depot.
Whilst based at Norwich 70013 was a regular performer on the Broadsman, Norfolkman and East Anglian, the latter being a business train augmented in 1937 which was given a new timetable for the summer of 1951, although the journey times were only trimmed by five minutes. 70013 Oliver Cromwell was not without its problems in running, but this was no more than the average Britannia which were worked hard and gave good service and availability on the Great Eastern express passenger services.
During 1957, it was found that the drive wheels of 70013 had moved in relation to each other; this was caused by the square locking keys, which held the drive wheels in the correct position, being moved and pushed out (ie forced out) resulting in major work being undertaken at Doncaster Works. Towards the latter part of 1960, a substantial crack was noted within the mainframe and this, of course, required immediate remedial treatment, again by Doncaster Works. Only a relative short time later a problem occurred within one of the cylinders; on close inspection it was found that the inner lining had shifted and blocked off the oil supply causing a compression ring failure and consequent lack of power, however this defect occurred four times before actual replacement of the offending cylinder was actioned by Doncaster Works, a delay doubtless caused by austerity measures.
From 1958, diesel-electric locomotives began to replace steam locomotives and by 1961, the influx of new diesel locomotives had taken over many express duties in East Anglia which led to the Britannia class engines working many different trains away from their normal trips to Norwich. Consequently the class was reallocated away from Norwich Thorpe depot to March shed.
BR motive power depot allocations.
|May 1951||Norwich Thorpe|
|January 1959||Norwich Thorpe|
|December 1963||Carlisle Kingmoor|
|February 1965||Carlisle Upperby|
|December 1966||Carlisle Kingmoor|
This locomotive hauled the last BR steam passenger train over Shap on 26th December 1967. The train carried returning Carlisle football supporters back from a match at Blackpool.
70013 was selected by British Railways to haul a number of special trains throughout 1968. In fact, it was in charge of 16 such trains before it was finally withdrawn from service.
Because of this it had been the last main line engine to receive a repair at Crewe, emerging from the Works on the 2nd February 1967 after a prolonged an expensive overhaul (The overhaul which started in November 1966 was deliberately slowed down to ensure that it was the last locomotive to leave Crewe Works). WD Austerity 2-8-0 90281 did return to Crewe Works on 23rd February to have a faulty regulator valve repaired but 70013 has returned twice to Crewe since being overhauled there. It is interesting to note that of the last fifteen locomotives outshopped from Crewe Works seven were 2-8-0 Austerities, four 4-6-0 Black Fives, two 4-6-2 Britanias (the other was 70014 Iron Duke) and two 2-10-0 standard locomotives. Of the fifteen only two have been preserved – 70013 and Standard 2-10-0 92203.
70013 returned to the works in June 1968 for a paint touch up. The second time it returned was in July 1968 to have its front buffer beam straightened after a rough shunt.
Following 70013’s overhaul at Crewe the locomotive was based at Crewe South depot for a week whilst it was run in on parcel train duties between Crewe and its home base of Carlisle. It then returned to its Carlisle Kingsmoor shed from where, following the withdrawal of the last of its class stablemates, it moved to Carnforth in January 1968.
Following this a grand total of 16 Railtours were organised including the infamous ’15 Guinea Special’ on the 11th August 1968, which involved Britannia 70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’ hauling the train from Manchester to Carlisle, with other legs of the special’s itinerary shared by three ‘Black Fives’, 45110, 44871 and 44781.
It was withdrawn from service in August 1968 after hauling the Manchester to Carlisle leg of the Fifteen Guinea Special on 11th August. On the 12th August the engine moved under its own power from Carnforth to Norwich and then on to Diss the following day. After this it moved by road to the Bressingham Steam Museum.
Oliver Cromwell had been selected for preservation by the National Railway Museum as part of the National Collection but because of limited storage space an offer from Alan Bloom to house the locomotive at his Bressingham Steam Museum was accepted.
At Bressingham Steam Museum at Diss it provided footplate rides until the 1980s when it became a static exhibit. Following a very long dispute (about ten years) between Bressingham and the National Railway Museum the long term agreement to loan the engine to Bressingham was terminated and the locomotive left on 21st May 2004, travelling by road to York. It had spent nearly 36 years at Bressingham, compared with a main line working life of 17 years.
70013 was a star turn as a static exhibit at the very successful Railfest held at York before it was moved by road to Loughborough later that summer in line with the agreement concluded with the National Railway Museum that the locomotive should be restored to main line running standard by 2008 for the 40th anniversary of the end of steam.
The locomotive was overhauled at the Great Central Railway (GCR) to mainline standards which included the fitting of the train protection warning system, overhaul of 70013’s automatic warning system and the fitment of OTMR.
In early May 2008 it hauled its first revenue-earning passenger services since being restored on the GCR’s eight-mile route. The locomotive made an appearance at the National Railway Museum’s 1968 and All That event celebrating 40 years since the end of steam.
Its first mainline passenger charter since 1968 was on 10 August 2008 when the locomotive took part in a re-run of the Fifteen Guinea Special. It then went on to operate on the Scarborough Spa Express later in the month.
On 14 March 2009 Oliver Cromwell hauled a special on what was said to be the very last train (of any sort) to use the branch line down to Folkestone Harbour, where main line trains used to meet with cross channel ferries.
In March 2010 returned to Crewe for the first time since 1968 to work on the main line over Shap.
A month later, two years after its previous overhaul, Oliver Cromwell suffered from cracks in the firebox and was moved to the GCR for an inspection which lead to the locomotive being withdrawn from service.
During 2010, 70013 Oliver Cromwell underwent firebox repairs at Crewe Heritage Centre. The cab was removed before the rest of the locomotive was sent for repairs to the boiler. Following these repairs, in December 2010 the locomotive had a successful steam test at Crewe.
On 27 May 2012 the locomotive was involved in a blowback incident near Wood Green in North London on a Railway Touring Company railtour called ‘The Peak Forester’. Two of the three crew on board the locomotive had to attend hospital as a result. See Accidents and Incidents for full details.
In August 2013 70013 worked another Fifteen Guinea Special to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the ending of steam on British Railways. 70013 was in charge of the Longsight to Carlisle leg of the special with the other legs being worked by LMS Black 5s numbers 45305, 45231 and 44932.
In early 2015 it was taken out of service as it needed repairs which were completed to allow 70013 to return to steam in August 2016.
Early in 2017 was out of service whilst its superheater elements were replaced at Loughborough. This is fifty years after its last overhaul under BR ownership at Crewe.
After returning to service on the Great Central Railway 70013 was back on the main line at the start of September 2017. It will be operational until March 2018 when the boiler certificate expires but was hoped that this would be extended.
In early 2018 agreement was reached between the National Railway Museum and the 5305 Locomotive Association which left the locomotive custodianship of 70013 with the Loughborough based group. The 5305 Locomotive Association will carry out another overhaul of the locomotive which will enable it to run on the main line again.
In March 2018, whilst hauling its last main line train before the boiler certificate expires, the locomotive suffered a hot big end. Having melted the whitemetal in the big end and adjoining coupling rod bearings took the train into Norwich at a reduced speed with the power being provided by a diesel on the rear.
The overhaul is scheduled to be undertaken during 2019 and will largely concentrate on the boiler as the bottom end has received considerable attention during the previous operating period.
In March 2018 the boiler inspector gave the boiler a clean bill of health during a cold examination. It was anticipated that this would be followed by a fully functional steam test later that month which would enable the boiler certificate to be extended by nine months. This would enable the locomotive to operate until the end of 2018 but only on heritage lines as it requires a full re-tubing before being allowed onto the national network.
The boiler certificate expired at the end of December 2018.
When the locomotive was taken out of service at the end of 2018 plans for its overhaul had not been agreed by the National Railway Museum although they did state that they planned that it continued to operate on the main line.
In January 2019 the National Railway Museum disclosed that the forty year agreement with the 5305 Locomotive Association would not be extended although the locomotive is likely to remain based on the Great Central Railway at Loughborough.
In March 2019 it was reported that the continued operation of the locomotive was in an agreement that was close to being completed by the National Railway Museum with the Great Central Railway. The National Railway Museum also emphasised that they wanted the locomotive to run on the main line.
Also in March 2019 work began at Loughborough to strip the locomotive down although at this stage the National Railway Museum were said to be unaware that work had started on the overhaul.
The overhaul will include a boiler overhaul which will involve a re-tubing in order to recertify the locomotive for preservation and main line running.
In July 2019 it was announced that an agreement had been concluded between the National Railway Museum and the Great Central Railway (GCR). The agreement provided for the locomotive to be based at the GCR until the end of 2021. Under the terms of the agreement the GCR will submit plans to overhaul the locomotive. Once the overhaul has been completed a second loan agreement will be confirmed to cover the operation of the locomotive.
By December 2019 the frames were placed back onto its wheels – just five months after being lifted off.
In November 2021 it was reported that the boiler had been sent to Tyseley for Overhaul in the previous month.