'D' IS FOR DIESEL
Although this page covers the 1970s it would be remiss of me not to backtrack a little to the end of the 1960s, when diesels were mostly green and the likes of the 'Class 55' and 'Class 47' were still known as 'Deltics' and 'Brush Type 4s' - and most numbers began with 'D'.
Many of us on the East Coast main line blamed the Deltics for sounding the death knell of our beloved Pacifics but there is no doubt that, for a diesel, they were extremely impressive. Their two-tone green livery suited them very well, particularly when set off by the red-backed nameplates mounted amidships. I do remember several of them before their plates were fitted and the difference was quite noticeable. On the other hand I have no memories of them (or of any other diesel, for that matter), before they acquired the small yellow warning panels at each end, and judging by pictures of them 'as built' I do think that this addition certainly improved their looks. No doubt those who grew up with the all-green (or even the 1970s all-blue) versions will have a different view! Which just goes to show just how subjective is the matter of locomotive aesthetics!
The first picture (below) appropriately shows the first Deltic (happily still with us today) D9000 Royal Scots Grey at Newcastle in 1964, in the condition I remember them best. The young lad on the left of the group is Peter Long, the next-door neighbour who originally prompted my interest in trains the previous year - thank you, Peter, wherever you are these days! (Canada, I believe?)
From the first to the last - this is D9021 Argyll and Sutherland Highlander just north of Low Fell (above) in 1967, with a train of mixed coaching stock and liveries typical of the time. Down below to the left is Low Fell Yard, which closed in the 1980s and is now the location of the Tyneside Royal Mail Centre. The view north from the road bridge at Low Fell (below) sees D9011 The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers getting to grips with another train of mixed liveries on 9th March 1968, passing the scene of a derailment. The northbound goods train had been crossing from the slow to the fast lines when it came to grief earlier that day. The Gateshead breakdown crane is busy re-railing the 'troublesome trucks' in full view of passengers on the East Coast main line who are hopefully not of a nervous disposition! The Deltic is in the interim livery of original green with the addition of full yellow ends, which however much it improves its visibility for the benefit of track workers, does nothing for its good looks!
The final Deltic shot was taken at Newcaste Central in December 1968 (above) showing D9015 Tulyar alongside a relic of the steam age. Like D9011 above, the locomotive is in green with the hideous full yellow ends prior to repainting into the new corporate BR blue livery. I remember my sense of disbelief when one of the Low Fell 'spotters' reported seeing the first blue Deltic repaint in 1966! Back to Low Fell (below) and a named EE Type 4 D229 Saxonia with a northbound freight on 6th July 1968. I imagine that this was a bit of a 'grab shot' which I took once I realised that this was a 'namer' approaching - I usually managed to include the whole train. Never mind, it gives a good side view of the old station building (now demolished, of course).
This picture (above) in August 1968 from Low Fell road bridge shows a Brush Type 4 as I prefer them - another attractive two-tone green livery. On the right an EE Type 3 approaches with a northbound freight, still in green but with full yellow ends. Unfortunately the identities of both locos were not recorded. Next, another view of a Brush Type 4 in original green at Newcastle (below), although this one looks due for a repaint. I managed to get the number - D1730 - from the other end, as the nearest cab's number is barely legible. I was tempted into taking this picture because of the 'steam-age' headlamps, as the indicator blinds were out of use.
Now here's something you don't see every day - a diesel brake tender with express passenger headlamps! Despite scouring my notebooks no details have come to light, but a Type 2 assisting an ailing Brush Type 4 on the Anglo-Scottish Car Carrier shouldn't be too hard to trace, should it? This would be 1967 or 1968 and the location is Low Fell, of course.
The Clayton Type 1 was an attractive and distinctive design, although a 'complete disaster' as described in several works of reference. Gateshead and Thornaby sheds had several on their books in the 1960s and they were often seen at Low Fell. Here are two on 5th March 1969 (below) - D8593 and D8598 with the sort of light loads with which they could be trusted.
D8588 has just left Lamesley Yard with a short freight (above) on 10th February 1969 and is passing under the bridge carrying the cable-worked NCB line from Ravensworth mine over the East Coast main line. This closed in 1973, two years after the last Clayton was withdrawn. Next, two final 1960s views at Low Fell. The first (below) shows a pair of Type 2s, D5107 in blue livery and D5102 still in green, climbing from Low Fell Yard with an iron ore train from Tyne Dock to Consett in August 1968. Not quite the same spectacle as a 9F, of course, but still worth a picture!
Finally, D171 raises the snow with an up express on 5th February 1969. One of Gateshead's 'Peaks', this was an early repaint into BR blue and was a taste of things to come.
Further afield now, at the southern end of the East Coast main line, sees a typical line up at Kings Cross on 7th January 1966. Left to right are D5606, D6750 and D1502 - all still in green livery, of course. The two nearest have had tail lamps attached prior to leaving the platform 'light-engine'.
On 31st August 1969, during another stay with relatives in the London area, I was at Wood Green station waiting to photograph No 4472 Flying Scotsman on its last run before heading off on its USA tour. Whilst waiting I took this view (above) of a Brush Type 4 heading north past the old wooden signal box and semaphore signals which have now disappeared. While we are in London here's a picture of D1068 Western Reliance in maroon livery. This was taken on 23rd April 1965 at Paddington - a change from endless streams of Bulleid Pacifics at Waterloo!
In the early hours of 29th July 1968 I alighted at Preston at the start of a final week chasing steam in the Carnforth/Preston area. Filling in time before the Youth Hostel at Arnside opened, I travelled just for the ride to Wigan behind D5040 on the 05.40(!) train to Crewe (returning by DMU) and photographed Type 2 D7546 at Wigan with its rear wheels off the road. Presumably the driver is aware of the situation, although he appears very casual in the cab, apparently just waiting for the signal to clear! Next, a couple of views at Preston. Seen from the top of the car park just north of the station is D1950 pulling away past the impressive LNWR signal box on 11th August 1967 (below). D3580 is the station pilot in the foreground.
D1846 is another Brush Type 4, this time heading south from the station (above) past 'Black Five' No 45212 and Type 2 diesel D7577 on 18th July 1968. The indicator blinds on D1846 are obviously out of action as stand-in figures have been stuck on. Like D1950 in the previous view, the loco has the interim green plus large yellow ends livery. The footbridge south of Carnforth station was a good vantage point, from where I photographed D1739 (still in original livery) leaving the station with an up express from Barrow (below). The train is about to pass D402 (in blue livery, as built) heading a northbound Freightliner train on 19th July 1968.
Just as 'D' was for diesels in the 1960s, by a similar logic 'E' was for electrics. On 1st June 1968 I joined the incongruously-named 'Grand Scottish Tour No 5' at Carlisle, which actually covered much of northern England behind steam (70013 Oliver Cromwell), diesel (D1733) and electric (E26052 Nestor). Nestor is seen (above) at Sheffield Victoria on the Guide Bridge to Sheffield and return leg of the trip, my only run behind one of these Class EM1 locos.
Back on home ground for a final 1960s view (above) of the Brush/Hawker Siddeley 4000hp prototype Kestrel, photographed from the train about to cross the King Edward Bridge into Newcastle on 1st November 1969. This loco had been on trials on the East Coast main line for a while and I took the opportunity of travelling behind it from Durham that day. A beautiful design in an attractive yellow and brown livery, it was hoped by the manufacturers to be the next stage of diesel development - more powerful, of course, than a 3300hp Deltic. But alas! BR did not regard the locomotive as a success and it finished its days in the USSR and was reported as having been scrapped in 1993.
TO BE CONTINUED...Still to come: Eastern and Western Rail Rovers, Deltics Galore, Chasing Steam in West Germany and South Africa...but next up - 'More Trains on Tyneside'.
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