A Lifetime's Hobby
58 Years of Railway Interest, by Steve Marshall. Last update 20-May-2016. All notebooks now added with images.
All text and images are copyright owned by Globe Video Films or the contributing photographer.
Britannia 70014 'Iron Duke' & me at Trafford Park around 1958. Photo Duncan Marshall
My interest in trains started around 1957 in Manchester, when I was 7 years old. My local station of Stretford was a three minute walk away but saw little more than the M&SJR electric units running from Manchester Oxford Road to Altrincham. I do, however, rember seeing the odd 8F 2-8-0 and 'Crab' 2-6-0 pass through with freights.
However, the substantial engine sheds at Trafford Park shed, Manchester (9E) were only a short bike ride away (see photo above) and this is where I spent much time before my family moved South to Paignton late in 1962.
Proper spotting records from 1957 to 1963 didn't really exist because my daily scribblings were discarded once locos were underlined in my Ian Allan ABC. A letter 'P' was written next to the engine if I was pulled by it and a 'C' if I cabbed it. The suffix 'R' for ridden in was required only very occasionally.
Daily sightings on shed at Trafford Park were Jubilees, Scots, Patriots, Brits, black 5s, Crab 2-6-0s, 8Fs, 9Fs, Stanier & Fowler tanks. It was the latter two types that used to pass Trafford Park on CLC trains to Warrington Central and Liverpool.
Diesels started to appear around 1959 with 'Peak' class diesels, D5000 (class 24), and Metrovicks (Class 28). I vividly remember D6 Whernside lurching across onto the double track shed approach roads at Trafford Park Jn next to the football ground. Class 45 and Class 46 Peaks appeared as well - see photographs in galleries.
Saturday trips to Crewe were frequent and always involved the challenge of getting around 5A Crewe North steam shed, sometimes several attempts were required. Plan 'A' was to brazenly walk stright across the footbridge at the north end of the station and into the shed, carefully avoiding the Foreman's office of course. If that failed then Plan B was brought into use which invloved a lengthy walk through Crewe side streets ending up by the high fence surrround to the coaling area of the shed. Miraculously, there was always someone who had previously burrowed under the cinder embankment supporting the fance and so access for a small boy this was relatively simple. 5B Crewe South and Gresty Lane subshed were also visited each trip, but were relatively simple to negotiate. Crewe Works was a massive walk from the station but never-the-less was undertaken many times, often in the faint hope of tagging onto a Works tour party. I think I was lucky only twice, but even without entering the Works one could see masses of locos, many ex-works, accumulating around the traverser are. Frustratingly, some numbers were only partly visible from our vantage point on the footbridge over the Chester line, so we would lean over the fence and shout to workmen pleading with them to read out the number of the offending loco. Amazingly they often entered into the spirit of the thing and duly obliged, even telling us the numbers of ones that we couldn't see, which of course was no use as at all!
For a perios of time around 1959 I regularly used the train from Manchester Central to make my way home from school which was in the middle of Manchester. The train was something like a 5pm Manchester-Buxton, and regularly had a Jubilee up front. I would alight at Chorlton-cum-Hardy and then make my way home to Stretford. It was far from the most direct route but definitely the most interesting. Amongst some of the engines I had on this train were 45600 'Bermuda', and 45690 'Leander'.
Moving with my parents to Paignton in November 1962 naturally brought about a massive change in the railway scene for me. The Western Region had already made great strides in intruducing dieselisation, and my daily diet of black 5s, Scots and Brits was instantly exchanged for diesel-hydraulics with the occasional Hall, Castle or Mugul. I still managed to travel to school by train though and the daily routine from November 1962 until the timetable change in June 1963 was the 08.30 Paignton-Kingswear to Churston with a class 22 on three coaches, returning to Paignton on the 16.10 Kingswear-Taunton, the latter being the last steam-hauled turn on the branch. As a cheeky 12 year old Northerner I was occasionally brave enough to ask the driver for a ride to Paignton and miracoulously this sometimes worked; thus rides in the cabs of ex-GW Halls 4904 Binnegar Hall and 6936 Breccles Hall were recorded from Churston to Paignton. Other locos that worked our school train in that period included 5081 Lockheed Hudson, 5992 Horton Hall, 7909 Hevingham Hall and Moguls 7304 & 7333. The outward train remained the same after that summer of 1963, with either class 22s, class 35 Hymeks or occasionally Warship diesels but the steam had gone forever - well until the Dart Valley Railway took over the line in 1973.
Despite my move to South to Devon in 1962, I frequently travelled back to Manchester with Mum & Dad to vist visit my relatives and occasionally I would even travel alone on the train (even better!) Trains were routed via the North & West route through Hereford in those days and worked by Warship diesels as far as Crewe.
I am presently archiving my notes and even though the early ones are simply a list of numbers, they still hold some interest. As the years progress the records get better, don't worry!
Below are scans of these early notebooks and in time I hope to archive them all. From 1996 onwards the notes are computerised but I will also include these. Hopefully the addition of photos will make the viewing more interesting.
Key to my 1960s notebook hyroglifics:
x = not copped: P or an engined in a frame (or both) means pulled by: Ph = photograph: s = for scrap (though I was less than methodical in noting an 's' all the time as by 1968 all steam were for scrap: ( ) Loco seen earlier on trip: 'B' or 'R' indicate blue or maroon livery. These were notable in the 1960s when most diesels wore green livery, and it's interesting to see how early some diesels gained BR blue livery. Finally, a tick followed by digit '2' would indicate needed for 2nd collection. Warships were, for example, so common, that when I saw the last one I would start again as though I hadn't seen any. I think I completed 13 collections of Warships! It helped to make life more interesting! This certainly applied to Warships, Westerns, Peaks & Brush type 4s.
From 1975 onwards you will be pleased to learn that my notekeeping became more than just a list of numbers, especially when I started to concentrate on the haulage side of the hobby, and during notebook No.5 (1976-77) two letter station codes were introduced, so as to give more detailed of train workings. Most of these will be pretty obvious but should anyone require a full list please email me.
In essence, I stopped spotting on 5th August 1972, when I recorded my last engine - Class 25 No D7626 at Stonebridge Park, Wembley, (many of the last 20 were Class 08s, D3331 of Colchester getting almost to the end). There were of course lots of steam locos never seen - scrapped well before I started in 1957 - and just a small number of early diesel withdrawals that I never saw - D1734, D6983 come to mind, also 8 of the Clayton Class 17s and some of the Scottish NBL Class 21/29s.
The period of hibernation didn't last long however (until 1975 to be exact) when I met Mike Rowe at work, who also turned out to be an enthusiast. Completing the whole fleet for sighting had left a feeling of 'what next' and the void was to be filled by haulage - a hobby that turned out to be better even than the spotting, and luckily I had recorded my haulage from a very early date.This was prompted by a ferocious run from Doncaster to Leeds Central late one afternoon behind A4 60030 'Golden Fleece'. I don't know the date of this run but I do remember 60005 'Sir Charles Newton' was at the blocks at Leeds Central that teatime and that 60075 'St Frusquin' was exchanged for Jubilee 45646 'Napier' at Leeds City on my train back to Manchester Exchange, probably a Newcastle-Liverpool train. The run behind 'Napier' accross the Pennines that night was almost on par with the A4 earlier. My guess is that this was possibly August 1962, but if anyone can put a date to that sequence of events I'd be most pleased to hear from them.
Similarly, if anyone can give me train details to match my 'P' in my notes please email me. Unfortunately I was a bit sparing with information I recorded in those days.
Haulage continued until the early 2000s, and I had spent thousands of hours on trains and stations.
Waiting on Carlisle station in the dead of night for 1S06 to Stranraer, or at Kings Cross for 1S60, 1S72 or 1S79 overnights to Scotland with a 40 or a Deltic were maybe not everybody's cup of tea but I wish I could do it again. Indeed, some of the best trains were the overnights. Who remembers the 1N56 2314 Liverppol Street-Norwich via Cambridge, 1S25 the 2235 Euston-Perth which was always so empty it was like having free lodgings for the night; 1S19 Plymouth-Glasgow, 1E62 0210 Manchester-Cleethorpes or the impossible to board (newspaper staff only) 1E66 0120 departure with a class 40, 1M41 21.50 York-Shrewsbury, the 1W55 2252 Waterloo-Weymouth; 1C00 0114 Bristol-Milford Haven utilizing 3 different Class 37s; 1N12 0002 Kings Cross-Newcastle; and the famous 1E61 1808 Penzance-Sheffield, which I used frequently; and this is just a small number of the overnight trains available in the 1970s and 1980s!
Before we commence, I thought it fitting to give a roll call of just some of the great friends I made along the way were (in no particular order)...... Derek Riley, Phil Bolton, Mike Rowe, Adrian Noel, Colin Moss, Tony Shore, Andy & Phil Butler, Roger Geach, Alan & Alistair Tait, Phil Gardner, Steve Crowther, Steve Woodbridge, Bernard Worrel, John Frood, Jon Price, Roger Griffiths, Ian Ross. Mike Mercer, Dave Harlott, John Wilson (Vut), Reg Renshaw, Phil (Tree) Greenwood, Tony Passingham, Terry Hussey, Peter Watts, The Reverend, John (JT) Turner, Nick Perring, Steve Harvey, Lloyd Guppy, Andy Pearce, Peter Rolestone, Graham Braund, Godfrey, Garry Pike, Robin Odlum, Ron Coulson, 'Douffer' Jeffries, Alan Bayliss, Mark Alden, Brian Winter, Tony Harris, Oakham, Paul Hoare, Andy Stiles, Stuart O'Dell, Andy from Bognor, Barry Bastin, Matthew Burridge, Graham O'Donnel, Pete Bowyer, Andy Mustoe, Keith Gardner, Geordie, Andy Porter, Brian Jones, Doug & Chris Barrow, John Harvey, Bob Stone, Rob Lewis, Mike Rotheray, Steve Huddy, Chris Prior, Pete Rolston, Alister Betts, David Brown, Dave (Welly) Rollason, Brian Godwin, Graham Braund, Andy Braund, Steve Philpott, Rob Fraser, Gordon Lacy, Bob Barlow, Rich Hargreaves, Brian York, Al Pulford, Geoffery Hurst, Martin Walker, Jez Darr, Brian Winter, Dave Harmer, Andy Oliver, Peter Haynes, Trevor Davies, Neil Godber, Arthur Lamble, Tony Wardle, John Sandham, Tufty, Alex Grimes, Ray Rendell, Paul Micklethwaite, Phil Lynch, Mike Millward, 'Lord Lucan', Dave Gray, Malc Cuzick, Richard Hargreaves, Martin Street, Maurice Broadhead, John Mellors, Pete Lea (Squeak), Paul Green, George Gittos, Paul Stanners, Bill Wise, Steve Awford, Dave Marshall, Mark Alden, Richard Mee, John Simmonds, Marcus Haydock, Mark O'Brian, Cliff from Sherborne, Dick Holland, Steve Squires. Paul Furtek, Nigel Fletcher, Wobble Winter, Alan Lea, David Brown, Rab Jacobs, Roger Griffiths, Paul Tucker, Roger Prideaux, Steve Kemp, Chris Parsons, Geoff Lendon, Trevor Gamble, Tom Hayes, Paul Lang, Paul Stanners, Morven & Craig Munday, Mark Ellis, Dave Crook, Mel Thorley, Brian Tucker, Nick Bircham, Alex Grimes, Steve Jones, Derek Richardson, Tim Knight, Chris Short, Les Kent, Mick Parker, Rob Lorton, Tim Proudman, Paul Deacon.
Apologies if I've left anyone out; just email me to jog my memory!
Below, a motley crew at Inverness on 21 July 1992 with left to right Colin Moss, Phil Bolton, me Steve Marshall and Mike Rowe posing with 37285 before a run over the Highland main line with the 10:15 to Edinburgh, only to come straight back with 37156 on the 14:40 from Edinburgh. We were all staying in B&B at Plockton on that trip, but that's another story! By this time all Kyle trains were booked for Class 37s, with 37025 & 37294 covering most of the turns that week.
Anyway - after that long preamble - I'm attempting to list scans from my notebooks from December 1963 onwards.
Scans from notebooks
Simply illustrating all 2000+ individually scanned pages of my 20 notebooks , even with supporting photographs, could produce a mind-numbing sensation, having said that, my early 1960s-1970s notes are now nearly 40+ years old, so we'll start with complete records & see how it goes.
30 December 1963 - 16 April 1965
It seemed strange to have moved from Manchester, where steam was commonplace, to the South-West where it was a rarity. 22nd November 1962 was the date of my move to Paignton. Steam was on it's last legs and the NBL D63xx class 22 diesels and Warship diesels worked most hauled services. I regularly had day trips to Plymouth, walking or bussing to Laira depot, but I remember vividly one occasion passing Laira on the way to Plymouth and in the distance caught sight of a wonderfully handsome cream liveried diesel locomotive. Snow was thick on the ground so buses were out of the question. I arrived at Laira about 45 minutes later to behold the magnificence of D1000 Western Enterprise in desert sand livery - what an absolutely awesome design!
I'm guessing the date of this was December 1962 because of the thick lying snow, but record taking was only in rough notebooks at this point. Laira steam shed was still open (just) but the sight of D1000 had gone a long way to maiking up for the decimation of steam on the Western Region.
Information technology for a 12 year old in 1962 was not what it is now and spotting was very hit and miss. In truth this made it more exciting. Local spotters at Newton Abbot told stories of having seen not only D1000, but even mention of a green Western being seen, though but I could determine no pattern that would help me get another glimpse of these machines. And so it was, a few weeks later one Sunday afternoon on Newton Abbot platform watching Warships, D6300s and the occasional Hymek perform, when in rolled an up Paddington train into the (then) Platform 7/8 with D1007 Western Talisman in charge - and this was in gleaming maroon livery. What a sight! Even better was to follow in a few weeks when returning from my regular trips to Laira. My train back to Newton Abbot from Plymouth stood in North Road station with no locomotive attached - that is until D1048 Western Lady backed onto the stock. I leaned out of the front window all the way to Newton Abbot. Some time later I remember my first sighting on the branch with D1043 Western Duke crossing Paignton Sands Road crossing light engine. Soon Newton Abbot would have it's own allocation of one - D1057 Western Chieftain.
Other highlights in this period:
* 30-Dec-63 Visit to Crewe, including a guided trip around the Works. NB Class 47s & 52 under construction.
* 31-Mar-64 The Paignton to Manchester journey with D827 to Bristol, D824 to Crewe, then E3100 to Piccadilly.
* 8-Apr-64 My only rip to Birmingham Snow Hill in steam days.
* 11-Apr-64 The return trip home on the Manchester-Plymouth train has Patriot 45534 E Tootal Broadhurst piloted by E3052 to Crewe, unknown power to Bristol & D824 Highflyer to Newton Abbot.
* 20 to 24-Aug-64 Bought a great value North-West Rover giving unlimited travel Manchester-Carlisle-Newcastle-York-Manchester. At age 14 this seemed like a taste of freedom at last! Newcastle & York were brilliant with A1s, A3s, Claytons, Deltics etc but I must have picked a particularly quiet time at Carlisle and chickened out of the long walk to Kingmoor shed. That was probably a bad decision, but after an hour of sitting on a postal barrow, D21 rolled in heading for Leeds via the S&C it and was too tempting to let it go.
* 25-Aug-64 Travelled from Manchester to Criccieth with 42282 out & back from Bangor to Afon Wen, with 3208 and 82034 covering the Criccieth legs out and back.
* 13-Mar-65 School trip on the 1X05 01:35 Paignton-Gatwick Airport has D822 Hercules throughout. I seem to have omitted the return journey but my memory tells me it was the same Warship back 2 weeks later (coincidence or bad memory?)
Exeter soon overtook Plymouth as the the destination of choice for spotting trips. Plymouth had Laira and North Road station which produced loco changes for Cornish trains (often a D600 Warship or 2 x D6300s taking over from a D800 Warship). Also there was Southern steam. mostly Bulleid Pacifics. But I had soon seen all the D600s and the same Southern Pacifics could be seen at Exeter. I remember one day visiting both destinations diesel-hauled Paignton to Plymouth and Exeter to Paignton, but for a change I travelled direct from Plymouth to Exeter and when 34110 66 Squadron rolled in on Southern stock on a Waterloo train I decided to hop on. This turned out to be my only trip over the now closed route via Tavistock and Okehampton.
Days at Exeter were not generally spent on St Davids station. It was more fun to travel up to Exeter Central on a Waterloo train - sometimes with two banking engines on the back - and then take a local Exmouth service to Polsloe Bridge Halt with an Ivatt 2-6-2 or an 80000 Standard tank, from where I would wander across to 72A Exmouth Jn depot. I regularly used to sit on the workmens bench near the coaling point and just watch the loco movements for hours on end. Not once was I asked to leave!
20 April 1965 - 30 July 1966
Now that I was settled in Paignton many Summer Saturdays were spent sitting on the wall by Paignton South Box accompanied by Arthur Lamble, waiting for the Old Oak Hymek on the Oxford-Paignton, or in the hope that a Brush type 4 would turn up on an inter-regional; - or we would take a trip by train to Newton Abbot so that the Plymouth & Cornwall trains could be viewed. Also there was the walk around Newton Abbot engine sheds which I must have bashed 100s of times. Arthur and I had literally hundreds of trips to Exeter, Plymouth and other destinations by train, and there was a bit of competition to clear our 'Warships' & 'Westerns' for haulage. My last Warship was D838 Rapid; Arthurs' just missed one - D802 Formidable which always seemed a rare one. My last Western was D1061 Western Envoy but Arthur was unlucky enough again to miss one which miffed him severely. Surprisingly it was D1000 Western Enterprise, a long time Laira resident, whereas the rare ones until later years were always the Cardiff Canton (86A) or Swansea Landore (87E) ones with the batch from D1060 to D1067 seeming particularly difficult (excluding D1065).
D844 passes Paignton South Box c1962 viewed from the wall that Arthur Lambell & I spent many happy hours watching trains in the early 1960s. [P.Gardner coll]
* 22-Apr-65 Another trip from Manchester using the Manchester-Plymouth but with D600 Active+D1003 Western Pioneer double-heading from Bristol to Newton Abbot. This was my only ride behind a D600 Warship though I saw them work west out of Plymouth North Road station on numerous occasions. Duties eastbound from Plymouth were much rarer from my experience though 4M05 Penzance-Crewe parcels had a knack of producing one at Newton Abbot.
* 31-July-65 A day trip to Eastleigh started very early at Paignton station to fine D54 on the Northbound service. Peaks were unknown at Paignton & this may well have been the first ever visit by one. The Exeter-Salisbury-Exeter stint was D803 Albion' in both directions. There was still lots of steam at Eastleigh but the North Devon to Exeter and Exeter to Waterloo routes had by now succumbed to diesel power. Good as the 'Warships' were, my abiding memory of the Waterloo route was a run from Exeter to Waterloo behind 34015 Exmouth. I wish I had managed Ilfracombe and Bude with steam though.
2 August 1966 - 9 August 1967
The All-Line Railrover of August 1966 was undoubtedly the highlight of 1966 and I had vowed to travel to Scotland chasing a second run behind an A4 locomotive after that exhillerating run behind 60030 Golden Fleece in the early 60s. Naturally, up-to-date information was harder to acquire in those days, indeed 'gen' was usually obtained from monthly issue of 'The Railway Magazine'. Unfortunately their reports of A4s being regular power for the famed 17:30 Glasgow Buchanan Street to Aberdeen express wer out of date by the time I turned up at Buchanan Street on Thursday 11 August 1966. Instead I found not an A4 at the head of my train but a type 2 diesel D6101. On the subsequent journey to Aberdeen (via Forfar?) I witnessed several A4s on shed at Perth and Aberdeen Ferryhill but remember none hauling trains I visied Aberdeen Ferryhill shed around 11pm that night and found 60009 Union of South Africa residing, then after a night spent on Aberdeen platforms, watching D3933 and D3935 shunting fish wagons in the yard I decided to cut my losses and head straight back south. From memory, it was the 05:30 departure to Glasgow Buchanan Streer, but the locomotive I do remember - D6101 again ! And so I never acquire another A4 run on the mainline, well not until 2003 anyway which wasn't quite the same!
10 August 1967 - 10 February 1973
Football, 'Led Zeppelin', and girls start to interfere with all my enjoyment! However following Torquay Utd and Manchester Utd around the country gave me the opportunity to travel cheaply on supporters club outings. Hence many coach trips to football 'away' games when I would combine watching the game with shed bashing.
When I got my first car in January 1970 there was no stopping me and my Austin Mini 427 LOD and Morris 1100 TME958F and both toured the whole of England, Wales and Scotland several times.
However in 1973, a fly flew into the ointment! B.R. had started to renumber almost it's entire fleet of it's diesel and electric locomotives. This involved the allocation of a 5 digit serial number for use by TOPS, a computerised control and management system. Suddenly, those familiar or favourite locomotives became anonymous, only identifiable by reference to conversion in books or magazines. For example D1883 of Thornaby - my last Class 47 - became 47 364. Worse was to follow as renumbering of some already renumbered locomotives was undertaken. This diminished my enjoyment of the hobby and as it coincided with my becoming engaged, the hobby was put on hold; so much so that 1974 was almost a non-entity. However, my honeymoon in Wales of March 1975 happened to include a visit to Holyhead shed, and in August 1975, when my new father-in-law casually mentioned that his Austin A40 needed 'a good run' because it sat around all day, I manged to borrow it for a trip to Scottish railway installations and even visited John'O Groats. Strangely my wife preferred the sights in the Scottish Highlands to Grangemouth engine shed - there's no accounting for taste is there!
84007 & E3158 at Longsight 23-Apr-73 45104 (Ex-D59) at Newton Abbot 12-May-73
6 December 1975 - 17 March 1977
1976 was really the time when I re-entered the hobby, prompted by a chance conversation with Mike Rowe, a work colleague who also, it appeared, was also a train nut. We travelled and photographed together for many years but were both shocked to find that less than half of our beloved Westerns were in traffic by the time we returned to the hobby. To compound that, there were only half a dozen Hymeks still left in service at 1st Jan 76. I had been aware that the D6300s had gone and saw the first withdrawal of Warships & Hymeks but to find the Westerns disappearing was a big shock, and so photographing the survivors was a priority. By the summer of 76 we had both started to mix photography with locomotive haulage - ie boarding a train simply because of what was pulling it, as opposed to using it as a service to get from A to B. This was much more challenging because many diesels were nominally freight only locomotives, having no train heating equipment for passenger stock. However, in the summer months, or in emergencies, these freight locomotives could be acquired - if you were in the right place at the right time! This meant that having the 'gen' became more and more important. Summer outings were mainly kept to my Devon locality because the 'Western' class 52 diesels were still around in some numbers and class 25s were booked for the Exeter stoppers. Winter trips were aimed at Birmingham & Crewe, prompted by special cut price tickets on Saturdays at that time - £3.15 day return I believe from memory.
February 26th 1977 of course was the end for the Westerns with the final special from Paddington-Swansea-Plymouth-Paddington. Neither Mike nor I have ever much liked railtours and prefer to remember things as they used to be so we decided to photograph the final special at Newton Abbot on the down road, then Plymouth station for their final departure in darkness - see photo below. I went to Laira shed that night to photograph D1010 & D1048 in the running shed. These had been the back up locos following the tour westwards but staying at Laira for withdrawal. However what is not generally known is that there was a Western Working under power on the mainline in March 1977, for whilst driving home past Aller, Newton Abbot. on Tuesday 1st March, I glanced over to the Plymouth line in amazement to see the sight of not one, but three Westerns dropping down towards Aller Jn heading for Newton Abbot. I did a hairy U turn in my Ford Escort and dashed to Newton Abbot just in time to see D1013+D1010+D1048 just coming to a halt in the the old steam shed which was by now roofless. The photo included below was bagged as proof.
My notekeeping also became much more comprehensive from this period and a new code of general abbreviations was adopted from 1975 onwards to indicate type of loco operation where the headcode is not shown: A = Troop train; B = Breakdown train; C = Motorail; D = Depot or loco sidings; E = Empty stock train; F = Freight train; L = Light engine; M = Mail train; P = Passenger train; S = Station area; T = Permanent way train; V = Parcels; X = Freightliner; Y = Yard; Z = Footex.
A black frame around a loco number means not new for haulage, a red frame indicates first time haulage.
It also coincided with a great improvement in my record keeping, in that ALL LOCOMOTIVES were now recorded.
20 March 1977 - 20 July 1977
With the last of the diesel-hydraulics withdrawn, it was time to concentrate on other favourite types, particularly the Class 40s which I had grown up with in Manchester, but had ridden behind on only a few occasions.
I had a hankering to visit Scotland and so 1977 started in great style with a drive from Torbay to Edinburgh in my Ford Escort XXF491M for a Haymarket based 7-day Freedom of Scotland rover, accompanied by Gill, my wife, and Mike Rowe. Steam-heat was still in regular use with class 25/26/27/40 or 47s on most services. We stuck mainly to Fife trains the central corridor rather than the West Highlands, simply because there were so many interesting locomotives in use on so many trains in this area. To spend long periods on one train seemed too much wasted time. However 22nd March was my wedding anniversary, so on Tuesday 22-Mar-77 I had to comply when Gill needed the sweetner of a long trip to Inverness using the restaurant car from Perth. Utilising the 09.10 Edinburgh-Inverness, we set behind 26046 to Perth, where our coaches would be added to the 09.35 Glasgow-Inverness. I dreaded a class 47 on the latter but needn't have worried as 40123 rolled in on the Glasgow portion bound for Inverness.
21 July 1977 - 14 January 1978
July 1977 witnessed my first Midland Railtourer ticket accompanied by Mike Rowe. This produced the hoped for class 20 haulage, together with classes 44 & Class 56 on railtours. Most of the remainder of 1977 consisted of Summer Saturdays based at Exeter St Davids waiting for procession of holiday trains from the London, the North and the Midlands. The freight only Class 47s were always a big draw, but also of note are several pairs of Class 25s on services from the Birmingham & East Midlands area. A n excellent 'Yorkshire Ranger' ticket taken over August bank holiday produced several rateable haulages including 37141, 40147 and 47372 of Knottingley which made a rare appearance on a Newcastle-Kings Cross relief service.
16 January 1978 - 7 July 1978
The winter of 1977/78 produced cheap day Saturday trips from local Devon stations to either Swansea, Portsmouth or Crewe for £3.50 return. Using the flexible day return rules of arriving at destination after 2am, I regularly used to start my journey at Newton Abbot on Friday's 21:30 departure (1E61 1808 Penzance-Sheffield) , connecting at Bristol into the 01:14 Bristol-Milford Haven passenger+Royal Mail vehicles. This was booked a steam heat class 37 to Swansea, for a different 37 forward to Carmarthen, for a different 37 to Milford. This then returned as the 07:30 Milford Haven-Swansea and was guaranteed to produce an empty mk1 compartment from 01:00 at Bristol until 09:00 at Swansea the next morning, all for £3.50+ the cost of a day return from Swansea to Milford Haven.
An alternative, but far less sociable move, was to bail off the 01:14 Bristol-Milford Haven at Newport and wait for the 05:32 Cardiff-Crewe booked for a class 25. The downside was nearly 4 hours in Newport waiting room in mid-winter! Still good value at £3.50 though.
May bank holiday of 1978 brought the usual trip to the Midlands & East Midlands to ride behind 20s, 31s, 37s etc etc.
7 July 1978 - 2 November 1978
Highlights included a two week All Line Railrover from late July into August 1978, on which I travelled over 8500 miles, (pages 14-64). All nights except one were spent on the trains and overnight moves could be as good as the daytime travel, see pp 52-53 & 59-60 for example. Other trains to look for were the 0848 Doncaster-Edinburgh which was often used as a Doncaster Works running-in turn, see p60; the weekdays 17.00 York-Newcastle - booked air-cons but a kick-out from York depot, (p39), and adex or relief trains to and from Scarborough - see various examples in the notes. Also, I finally managed to ride behind my last Deltic 55003 Meld at the end of July 1978. This was a great relief as talk of their demise was in the air, and I didn't want to risk being left needing just of the class for haulage. Indeed 55003 was an early withdrawal, lasting only until December 1980.
Thursday 3rd August was a particularly rewarding afternoon/evening including a ride behind the huge 40196.on a 'Working Men's' Charter from Scarborough which was put centre road at York much to the annoyance of other bashers on the platforms. I didn't even need my flat cap to board the train and found that the front coach was totally empty apart from me.
East Anglia was still using almost entirely boilered locos on passenger turns, even in the summer, but was still outrageously good, with 31s, 37s & 47s to choose from. It wasn't until 1982 that N.B. locos started to appear with any frequency. Mike Mercer on the Control Desk for Liverpool Street being one of the contributing factors !
Railrovers, coupled with more frequent trip to the Midlands (pp.77-93) and North Wales (pp.102-103) this meant that I was traveling behind many iconic diesels of that era.
The class 40s were certainly a big draw, and I eventually managed to travel behind 165 of the fleet of 200. Annoyingly, 40038 & 40157 were really bad misses through no fault of my own. The smaller Class 37s were also favoured, and I would be luckier with these, missing out only on haulage by the 1965 crash victim D6983. Finishing the class with 37798 in June 1999 really marked by retirement from the hobby, though I ventured out quite regularly until 2004 & even occasionally since then.
3 November 1978 - 16 July 1979
By now, Class 31, class 37 and class 40 haulage were main objectives, though NB class 47s were an obvious draw.
Winter trips centred around East Anglia where 31s & 37s were in abundance, but when Summer arrived it was up to (mostly) Sheffield from where one could access most rare haulage within a reasonable distance. My regular mode of travel would be by Friday nights' 1E61 18:06 Penzance Sheffield, sometimes extended to Leeds. This was normally a Class 46 turn with loco changes at Bristol and Birmingham, though 45s and 47s were also common. Using the train with such frequency over a 5 year period inevitably threw up some rarites, even on an overnight service such as this one, and resulted in class 25s, 31s and even an NB class 40 appearing on the train. The highlight for me however was on Saturday 11th June 1981, (by which date 1E61 restarted at Bristol to form a 01:10 departure,) when Landore based 37188 backed onto the stock of IE61 01.10 Bristol-Leeds. This loco had arrived with the 21.25 Swansea-Bristol, which by diagram returned with the 01:14 to Milford Haven. However, on this occasion the 37 was erroneously fastened onto 1E61 and the booked loco for 1E61 - 47103, went onto the Milford Haven train! Needless to say I took the train through to Leeds that night.
The usual alighting point from 1E61 would have been Chesterfield at around 7am and this became a recognised assembly point for bashers. Pete Bowyer was the acknowledged Leader as he had excellent contacts for gen in the railway industry, and with often 20 or 30 persons present , a quick whip-round of coins for telephone box usage would proceed. No mobiles in those days! The resulting days gen would be hastily scribbled down, and plans made for the days bashing. It all resembled Aneka Rice's 'Treasure Hunt' programme in a way! Any form of transport was allowed - buses, taxis etc, though trains were of course the norm. All superb fun!
17 July 1979 - 16 May 1980
A continued theme from Book 10 really in that I travelled North most summer Saturdays hunting out freight locos for haulage. More often than not it seemed that I ended up at Lincoln Central by mid-day on the Saturday because of the inevitable 'massive' locomotives used on the SO 0835 Newcastle-Yarmouth and it's sister 0915 Yarmouth-Newcastle. These two trains changed locos at Grassmoor yard, March, and regularly produced North Eastern class 37s or 40s. The loading at this time for each of these two train was 13 bogies which would be a stern test for the type 3s and type 4s; but I do remember one occasion when a 31 turned up at Lincoln on the Northbound service - presumably March depot had nothing larger - and this would certainly have caused fun and games north of York, mixing with the HSTs running at 125mph!
In December 1979 Mike Rowe & myself attempted our first Winter Freedom of Scotland Rover spending every night on the trains. This was fine so long as the train heating was in working order! Three more winter FOS rovers were completed, Feb 1983, Dec 1985 and Mar 1988, each of which proved eventful for different reasons!
17 May 1980 - 24 October 1980
1980 saw my first summer Freedom of Scotland Railrover dedicated entirely to haulage. Steam heated mark I stock was still regularly used North of the Border hauled by a mix of type 2s, type 3s, type 4s and even Deltics, though my first Class 55 to Aberdeen was still over a year away after several attempts. Summer Saturdays were again concentrated around the East Midlands and North Wales and we would be spoilt for choice with the motive power on offer, particularly on summer Saturdays.
25 October 1980 - 2 August 1981
With the imminent demise of the Class 55 Deltics on the horizon, serious attention had to be given to them for the next 12 months. 55001 'St Paddy' and 55020 'Nimbus' had been withdrawn in December 1979, though the next withdrawal was not untill December 1980 when 55003 'Meld' was taken out of service. This meant that 20 were still in service at the start of the Winter 1980 timetable.
1981 was a superb year. The East Midlands and North Wales were again the destination for most Summer Saturdays. However my method of transport to these destinations - namely 1E61 1808 Penzance-Sheffield/Leeds - was becoming more threatened as the years progressed, initially cut back to a Penzance-Bristol only service in 1981, with separate train forward (this causing the significant inconvenience of a break of sleep at 23.30 hours requiring change of train). It was even rumoured to disappear altogether at some time in the near future.
On the brighter side East Anglia was still outrageously good with 31s 37s and 47s in abundance on passenger trains, and North Wales always still a big draw, though I incurred a really bad miss with 40140 (see p81) on 30-May-81 when, having correctly predicted that paticiular loco as the rescue engine from Chester for the disabled 09.33 Scarborough-Llandudno, I lacked the courage of my convictions and didn't alight at Rhyl, en-route to Chester (and home). I passed 40140 dragging the failed 25173 and 40033 near Prestatyn! Very annoyingly my friend and travelling companion Ian Ross DID make the correct move and alighted at Rhyl. He subsequently supplied me with the photo shown below to prove it, (and frequently still takes pleasure in reminding me of it!)
3 August 1981 - 1 August 1982
East Anglia was still a big attraction, and, became even more enticing, because NB locos were at last appearing regularly on passenger turns, probably thanks to Mike Mercer being on 'Control' at Liverpool Street! Thankfully, the class 40s were still hanging on, with 122 of them still on the books as at 1st Jan 1982, so North Wales was and the cross-Pennnine routes were watched with interest. The Settle & Carlisle route was, of course, under threat of closue during the early 1980s, though the motive power was uninteresting at this time. I still hankered after a class 40 over that route, but had to wait until the weather intervened in February 1983 before I achieved that goal with 40061.
1981 was, however, correctly predicted to be the last full year in service of the magnificent 'Deltic' type 5s, and so many of the trips in 1981 entailed trips to the East Coast main line to travel behind them. Despite several attempts to travel on some of their obscure routes - Cleethorpes,Scarborough,Skegness and Liverpool, but missed them all, although I did manage Carlisle and Aberdeen and Lincoln, and also was fortunate to travel with the York-Shrewsbury mails behind a Deltic (as far as Stockport).
Part of the allure of bashing was that the destinations were totally dictated by the motive power on offer, so advance planning was only of a general nature. For example page 5 shows a trip to Blackpool, though it is clear that Sheffield had been the initial destination. No doubt the attraction of the rare 40187 (vi Gateshead) & 40088 (vo Healey Mills) enticed me across the Pennines and ultimately to the Fylde coast. 40127 (xi Wigan Springs Branch) was also working on Manchester-Llandudno services that day, so would be available around teatime so long as it stuck to diagram - which thankfully it did. Blackpool North station offerred it's own challenges in that seat reservations were strictly enforced by the staff on the concourse, and of course I wouldn't have had one. This could be circumvented by numerous methods but it was never easy and never guaranteed. Great Yarmouth, Skegness, Cleethorpes, Llandudno, Torquay and Paignton also provided the same challenge. No doubt on this particular day I would have stayed train side of the barriers at Blackpool enabling me to board 1S58, the 1430 to Dundee, with 40088 in charge, unchallenged.
However, the undoubted the highlight of 1982 was the visit by Pope John Paul II to Britain, or to be more specific, the extra rail trafic involved in the movement of people to see him. During his stay he visited several centres in the UK, but the visits to the North-East, Cardiff, and particularly Manchester, involved numerous changes to train diagrams - producing many relief trains and some strengthening to those services requiring extra capacity, with hauled stock often replacing DMUs. Below are the special diagrams that operated around Manchester, one of them starting just after 1am on 31st May 1982.
7 August 1982 - 14 August 1983
The dreaded changes to overnight services came into effect with the 1982 Summer timetable when 1E61 01:10 Bristol-Sheffield became a parcels only train. Thus arriving by train at Sheffield by the early hours of a Saturday morning became virtually impossible. This caused a major headache as the only real alternative was the Night Riviera Penzance-Paddington to Reading, and a change there onto the 0550 Paddington-Manchester, thus providing a much later arrival at Birmingham, and thence Sheffield. It was also more problematical ticket wise, though conveniently, a day return from Newton Abbot-Leamington Spa was valid either via Reading or Birmingham New Street. Thus the return leg in the evening could be made direct Birmingham-Bristol if preferred.
Nevertheless, bashing was in full swing and one major highlight of this period was the Jan/Feb 1983 Scottish Railrover. This was brought forward to the Winter months as 37s were starting to take over the routes North of Inverness from the Class 26s. The weather was furiously cold and stormy which resulted in a few hairy moments, including a five hour fester in Motherwell waiting room in sub-zero temperatures. The wires were down and all services dragged by diesels so I was hoping for great things. However I made possibly the worst decision of all time at just after midnight on 1st Feb 1983 when I stood and watched 27032 dragging 81006 head south on the 23:55 Glasgow-Bristol. Not only did the Class 27 work all the way to CREWE, but my next escape from Motherwell, 1S81 the 20:50 Carlisle-Perth finally arrived 291 minutes late!
The class 40s were falling fast and by early 1983 there were only a handful of those required for haulage - 40157, 40177 and the resurrected 40122 - were still in service. Because of this an all-out effort was made to track them down. I should have managed all three but for abysmal luck with 40157 when, on 29 May 1983, it was declared a failure at Chester as I was boarding the train, the 14:40 Llandudno-Manchester. As far as I'm aware it never worked another passenger train!
The previous September (1982), I managed to achieve three class 40 objectives - a service train to Barrow-in Furness - 40164, the Tyne Valley route - 40084, and finally a class 40 over the Devon banks. For the latter I had to resort to a railtour, which I would normally try to avoid, but on the plus side a rather unspectacular 40164 was exchanged at Birmingham New Street by the popular 40025 'Lusitania' for this famous trip to Plymouth and back. It was truly an unforgettable run by the 'old girl' and included a 'dead' start out of Totnes climbing Rattery bank in heavy drizzle.
Major timetable changes were due to be introduced at the 16th May 1983 summer titmetable but the cost of another all-line railrover was becoming prohibitive by this time, so 1983 brought about my first shared all-line railrover where Mike Rowe & I went halves on the cost and halves on the duration of an unlimited all-Britain ticket (pp105). Luckily, I managed to achieve several objectives on that 3 and a half day all-line rover, viz; getting a 37 throughout from Liverpool Street to Lowstoft, travelling on the last ever 01.10 Kings Cross-Leeds sleeper service which was booked a steam-heat 31 on MkI sleeping stock, (the last train on the Eastern region to utilise MkI sleeping stock), having a class 40 throughout on the S&C and a 50 on the Cotswold route, but better than could ever have been expected, I acquired one of my last 3 class 40s when 40177 was turned out close to midnight at Preston on Saturday 14th May to take over from 86218 on the obscure 1P51 22.47 Crewe-Blackpool. The fact that I had no planned escape route from Blackpool at 00.30am on a Sunday morning meant for nothing, though luckily I managed to cadge a lift back to Preston with a group of fellow bashers who had been better prepared. Incidentally, of the other two required class 40s (40122 & 40157), the former I would acquire easily as it was already semi-preserved, the latter not - see above.
17 August 1983 - 17 March 1985
With heavy inroads into the fleets of 'proper' motive power - 25s, 26s & 40s to name just a few - and the Deltics no longer with us - the hobby was under severe threat. However this was all to change as a result of the miners strike of 1984. This protracted and controversial dispute meant that whole swaythes of freight locomotives were looking for work during the middle of 1984, and what better use than to turn them out for passenger duties. 1984 was also the year that class 37s started to appear fairly regularly on NE-SW relief trains, particularly the 10.30 York-Penzance, with some examples working throughout. Some of the exceedingly rare Tinsley, Knottingley & Immingham class 47s were also to be found getting about a bit more. An excellent Scottish railrover was enjoyed in August of 1984 followed soon after by what was undoubtedly my rarest West Country haulage on 1st September when 58002 made it to Plymouth with the 12.10 Liverpool-Penzance.
20 March 1985 - 15 November 1986
1985 had to be something of an anti-climax after 1984. However there were several plus factors. Firstly, 1E61 mirraculously reappeared in the summer 1985 timetable as a 20.35 (FO) Penzance-Newcastle, though this time with air-con mKII stock so far less sociable;but at least it obviated the circuitous diversion via Reading and Banbury. With class 25s now displaced from the Cambrian lines to Aberyswyth, hauled trains from Shrewsbury were to be diagrammed for class 37s, not only that but diagrams were booked for the hugely rare South Wales fleet, which were notoriously the most difficult of all for haulage, spending most of their lives on coal, steel and iron ore trains in South Wales. Thus it was that I spent almost every Summer Saturday of 1985 on the Cambrian route! In 1986 Pwllheli was added to the eqation when the bridge at Barmouth was passed fit for loco-hauled trains and these were again booked for 37s.
Early 1986 was of interest solely due to an unusual but unpredictable pilot working from Bristol to Exeter on 1C09 06.35 Bristol-Plymouth. Ostensibly this was a Tuesday & Friday duty for a pilot loco off Bath Road to work a freight back from Exeter Riverside. It was notoriously unpredictable and hellish to get into from the South-West but I did manage to acquire 37232 of Bath Road, and the massive 37078 of Thornaby in February of 1986.
By 1986 the class 33s had migrated North and were in charge of passenger trains on the Crewe to North Wales services, which introduced a novelty factor if nothing else.
An all-line railrover was undertaken in July 1985 and a Scottish Rover in December of that year. Day one of the former produced 37082 voGD from Birmingham to Bristol with an overnight Glasgow-Paignton, 20068+20155 on the East Coast Main with the (SO) 10.15 Scarborough-Glasgow service after 37063 was declared a failure at York, and finally managing to get some more runs to Stranraer - (20039 / 25257 as pilot engines on 1S06 and the very welcome 37090 out and back from Glasgow Central accompanied by my good friend Mike Mercer.) Much of the latter trip seems to have been spent tracking down 37108 xbED for haulage with Steve Woodbridge, but to no avail. In truth the Scottish rover was still interesting as steam-heat stock was still in use on some routes particularly in the far north. The homeward route back south deliberatly incorporated the 1V01 02.04 Crewe-Cardiff service and 50001 'Dreadnought' thankfully did the honours with this booked 50 turn.
One particular event from 1985 sticks in my mind when I waiting for what seemed like a lifetime on Derby station on Tuesday 28th August 1985. This was the day after the bank holiday and rumours were circulating about a scratch relief from York to Birmingham New Street with 20011 at the helm (see page81). A single class 20 was outrageous enough but this was a required Tinsley loco on the main NE-SW arterial route. Counter rumours spread that it had been caped or had failed en-route but thankfully it eventually appeared and I remember doing a passenger 'head count' on the train between Burton and Tamworth; result: 109 passengers of which 97 were bashers!
The Cambrian lines were again to provide most of the interest for me during 1986 with Summer Saturday workings to Pwllheli now introduced. Indeed, the 1986 event of the year occured on 7th June when a routine trip to to this destination with Steve Woodbridge turned out to be very special. An overnight drive to Wolverhampton revealed that there was little of interest working in the Midlands that day so a relaxing amble to Pwllheli with a pair of 37/4s was undertaken, (see page 134). The trip happened by chance to coincide with a railtour from Stalybridge to Pwllheli that day using the 40122, but this was found to have a broken widscreen so 25288 was added as apilot loco. On arrival at Pwllheli, sure enough 40122 & 25288 were stabled with the railtour stock, so Steve & I went into town for fodder & liquid refreshment, only to return an hour later to find 25288+40122 attached to the front of our train, the 15.30 to Euston, instead of the booked 37426+37428. It transpired that 37428 had failed and so the remaining 37426 was nabbed for the returning railtour because this was a lighter load than the Euston service. Hence we had 25288+40122 to Shrewsbury on a service train. It just shows what you could still fall into as late as 1986!
The final and unexpected highlight of 1986 was due to a fitters dispute at Edinburgh Haymarket depot in late August. Such was the decrepit state of many of the local DMU sets working the local Fife trains that they were taken out of service as unfit for purpose and replaced by diesel & coaches. Hence, an urgent trip to Scotland was required!
22 November 1986 - 9 August 1988
1986 finished rather tamely with just an Ian Allan Network Day in November of interest. Apart from nabbing a few new EDs (class 73) for haulage I found it challenging to try to get a loco-hauled train from far flung outposts in the UK - such as on 22nd November with 47549 in 1M34 from Newhaven Marine. The 06.25 departure time made it a doubly difficult assignment.
However, 1987 started with a bang!. A casual trip from Newton Abbot to Reading with an HST accompanied by my 9 year old daughter Debbie and family railcard turned into an epic trip to Kent. On arrival at Reading I was greeted by Brian Godwin who was en-route to London Victoria to get the 33s and a 56s in Kent ! I followed onto his London service and he explained that the snow was so deep in the South-East that diesels were hauling emus around on an emergency timetable. Not only that but one of them was a 56. A quick revision of itinerary found Debbie & I in depest Kent and in a white-out. I had calculated that 56062 could be headed off at Herne Bay hauling unit 5337 on an inward working from Ramsgate and was lucky enough to have guessed right. Outrageous stuff!
With sectorisation looming, the hobby seemed to heading downhill quickly, though, mercifully, problems with Sprinter units in 1987 and 1988, resulting in their replacement by loco-hauled stock. Epic overnight trips to Sheffield were no longer needed though Birmingham was still useful. However I did undertake an all-line railrover at the end of July with Milke Rowe. It started badly, (the required 37196 terminating at Bristol on the 01.55 from Southampton) and didn't improve much over the week. However 37196 was recovered during the week. The Royston emu 'drags' were probably the highlight, though I do remember being threatened with eviction from Stevenage station for photographing a 31 on one such train. A foretaste of what was to come! More hassle was to come my way when attempting to board a Bradford-Leeds 'footex' headed by my last available 47, (47376) only to be accosted by the boys in blue for only having a day return ticket & not a special footex reservation. I suppose it's safe now after 27 years to admit that I did finally manage to 'mingle' my way onto the train with the myriad of Leeds supporters and hiding behind a 'football pink'.
Loco-haulage by class 33 'Cromptons' was more interesting as the class spread their wings. During 1986 and 1987 alone 171 trips with the class took me to locations such as Barnstaple, Torquay, Weymouth, Portsmouth, Eastbourne, Faversham, Bristol, Milford Haven, Fishguard Harbour, Llandudno, Holyhead, Crewe &, Manchester Piccadilly.
Scottish loco-hauled still existed in 1988 and an attempt was made to recreate the epic Freedom of Scotland Rover of 1983 - ie a Winter bash north of the border, this time accompanied by Mike Rowe, Steve Squires and the one and only Phil Bolton. Only the WHL and far North were of real interest with non-stop class 37/4 haulage all week.
Amazingly the Cambrian route was still real in 1988, with Buxton 37/5s booked for the (SO) Aberystwyth turn and 37/0s booked for 1J19 to Pwllheli.
And finally poor old Newton Abbot station! April 1987 saw completion of the MAS and subsequent rationalisation at this one-time bastion of the GWR. Images below illustrate the carnage that occurred. The up through and up Plymouth lines were obliterated to form a car park and the magnificent East and West boxes together with all of semaphore signals were demolished. The carriage sidings had already been closed 5 years earlier.