GREAT WAY WEST - 2
From Iver (15 miles) to Castle Cary (115½ miles).
Continuing our journey from Paddington to Penzance, the map (below right) is the first of three on this page; we start at the border between Middlesex and Buckinghamshire where the open countryside offers good opportunities for the lineside photographer. At Iver station, 15 miles out, the line is straight and level, with a succession of trains in both directions; semi-fast and goods trains on the north side, expresses on the south side.
Next we pass Langley 16¼ miles out and minutes later we are approaching the station at Slough where the scenery changes to housing and industry. Here there are junctions to the east and west of Slough for the 2-mile branch south to Windsor; a glimpse is caught of the famous Windsor Castle. The next stations are Burnham and Taplow in open countryside, where the River Thames is crossed on the Buckinghamshire - Berkshire border and the opportunity for sustained fast running lies ahead on level ground. After Taplow we pass through the first station in Berkshire at Maidenhead which has three signal boxes, East, Middle and West.
After Maidenhead, 24 miles out, there is a seven-mile stretch of Brunel's straight and almost level line, a fast 4-track section before Twyford which climbs at a gentle 1 in 1320 gradient past signal boxes at Waltham Siding, Shottesbrook and Ruscombe before Twyford is reached at MP31. At Ruscombe there is a loop line on the up side. To the south is White Waltham airfield.
Twyford has two signal boxes - East before the station and West, after. The station is the junction of the four-mile branch line to Henley-on-Thames which may only see the occasional express engine on weekday commuter trains. After Twyford are signal boxes at Sonning East and Woodley Bridge before we pass through Sonning Cutting and begin to slow on the approach to Reading 36 miles from Paddington. If the train is not due to call at Reading station, then a 40 mph restriction must be observed as the train must slow for the junction beyond where we diverge from Brunel's original Bristol main line on to the newer 'Berkshire and Hampshire' route to the West Country.
(Below) Collett's 'King' class locomotives were at the forefront of the GWR's express passenger operations and were always the preferred locomotive for the down 'Limited' as seen here with No 6013 King Henry VIII. The locomotive was fitted with a double chimney* in June 1956, and this photograph was taken soon after on Saturday 8 September 1956. It is approaching Iver with the down recently renamed Cornish Riviera Limited. Although known to Great Western railwaymen as 'The Limited', it was known to the public as the 'Cornish Riviera Express'. Then on 11 June 1956, the Western Region changed its name to Limited, and new headboards with the new title were used. Then fifteen months later they changed it back to Express on 10 September 1957, with use of the previous headboards being resumed. What a strange exercise with, as ever, the cost borne by the public. (*Editor's note: a fabricated or 'straight-sided' double chimney was fitted in the first instance, but a cast-iron version replaced it from August 1957).
(Below) In 1945 FW Hawksworth designed a new passenger engine and No 1004 was the fifth member to appear. The engine was named County of Somerset* on 14 August 1946, and is seen here hurrying through Iver station, Bucks, with the 7.20 am Plymouth - Paddington express just six weeks earlier on Wednesday 3 July 1946. No 1004 was completed at Swindon on 15 October 1945 and its first shed was Laira (LA), as is the case here. It was also the first of the class to be withdrawn on 21 December 1962, but it was not scrapped until May 1964, with a final mileage of 657,523. Anyway, it is in fine fettle here, aiming to reach Paddington by 12.20pm Photo is in the Ken Nunn collection of the LCGB Ref 7070. (*Editor's note: the naming of the class was not settled on until March 1946, using Churchward's 4-4-0 'County' class names, all of which had been withdrawn by 1933).
(Above) In the up direction, 'Saint' class No 2945 Hillingdon Court, a very attractive engine, built in June 1912, was based at 82C Swindon loco from Nationalisation until withdrawal in June 1953. It is hauling an express on the up fast line at Iver, Bucks, so my thought is the photo was taken 1950-2. Martin Smith in his fine book 'Great Western Express Passenger Locomotives', published by Angus Books, writes - 'The Court members of the 'Star' Class were the first of the Class to be fitted with superheaters and outside steam pipes in 1933/4. Photo is in the RK Blencowe archive, ref. 15262. (*Editor's note: BR livery would seem to be applied; red-lined black paintwork with red-backed nameplates and cabside numberplates).
(Below) This is 'Castle' class No 4082 Windsor Castle hauling the Funeral train for King George V, with the Royal coat of arms on both sides of the smokebox, on Tuesday 28 January 1936 (the King died aged 83 on the 20th). This photograph was taken between Langley and Slough, 17 miles from Paddington, just before it diverged off the main line at Slough for Windsor. Notice the four headlamps, signifying a Royal Train working, three on the buffer beam and one at the top of the smokebox. Built in April 1924, No 4082 was mostly an Old Oak Common (PDN) engine, but it did have spells at Newton Abbot (NA) and Laira (LA) before a move to Bristol Bath Road (BRD) from August 1935. Just five months later, it was required at Old Oak Common shed for this duty. Photograph is in the collection of PQ Treloar. (Editor's note: The engine was driven by the Monarch at Swindon Works, ten years earlier).
(Above) When King George VI died on 2 February 1952, 'Castle' class No 4082 Windsor Castle was unable to perform the same duty as it had carried out in 1936 for King George V's funeral train. Instead No 7013 Bristol Castle was used masquerading as 4082, and hauled the funeral train on Friday 15 February 1952. But the sharp eyed quickly noticed the difference between the two locos, fluted casing for the inside cylinders and cabside handrails being the most obvious. Despite this discovery, the identities remained unchanged and the true 4082 (though numbered 7013) was withdrawn in September 1964 after covering about 2 million miles. I don't know the total mileage at withdrawal, but records show at 28 December 1963 it was 1,898,571. The loco was also one of five in later years that had a Davies & Metcalfe valve-less mechanical lubricator fitted to its front offside. The location is unknown for sure, might be Hayes, Middlesex, nearly 11 miles out, so even though it is out of order within this geographical sequence, I have included it here to keep it with the other two Royal Funeral trains.
(Below) 'Castle' class No 4091 Dudley Castle of 82A Bath Road heads funeral train 'A' to Windsor near Iver on Friday 15 February 1952. The Western Region arranged six special trains to convey mourners for the funeral at Windsor. Train 'A' left Paddington at 10.50am The other funeral trains, each headed by a 'Castle' left Paddington as follows: Train 'B' No 4097 Kenilworth Castle at 11am, Train 'C' No 5039 Rhuddlan Castle at 11.10am, Train D, No 5065 Newport Castle at 11.20am. A further train 'E' ran as required at 11.30am headed by No 5013 Abergavenny Castle was prepared but was not needed. Train 6 conveyed those who marched through London with the cortege, and this left at 12.25pm behind No 7004 Eastnor Castle. Finally, the train, without a reporting number, conveying the King's body, left Paddington at 12.35pm hauled by No 7013 Bristol Castle masquerading as No 4082. Other down trains known to me that passed during the morning were Nos 5023 Brecon Castle and 5012 Berry Pomeroy Castle double heading train 130, the down 'Cornish Riviera Express' and No 7005 Lamphey Castle on the down 1145am to Worcester. (Editor's note: No 4091 is nearing the site where a collision occurred in 1941, resulting in five fatalities and many injured. The other engine involved was LMS 8F No 8293, which was not fitted with ATC equipment; both engines incurred heavy front-end damage, but were repaired).
(Above) On Saturday 6 June 1953, 'Castle' class No 5067 St Fagan's Castle of Bath Road shed brings the 1.15pm Paddington - Weston-super-Mare into Slough station. The Reporting Number 455 refers to its previous duty, the Mon-Sat 8.20 ex-Weston, 9am ex-Bristol, due Paddington at 11.20am on a Saturday. After arrival, 5067 will reverse to Ranelagh Bridge depot for turning and await its time to back into Paddington for this duty. The 1.15pm down was not a numbered train at this time. Built in July 1937, No 5067 had spent the years 1948 to mid-1958 as a Bath Road loco, and was withdrawn in July 1962 after travelling 1,192,663 miles. Photograph is in the LCGB Ken Nunn collection, Ref 8315.
(Below) On Sunday 3 May 1959, maintenance work due to the derailment of the 'South Wales Pullman' three days prior has caused the main line through Slough to be closed and so all trains are using the relief lines. Early 'Castle' class No 4087 Cardigan Castle of Laira depot, slowly passes by with the Sunday 5pm Paddington - Plymouth. Photo is by Ben Brooksbank, Initial Photographics.
(Above) Just after Easter on Wednesday 23 April 1955, BR Standard Class 7MT No 70029 Shooting Star of Cardiff Canton depot comes effortlessly through Slough on the up main line with the 'Red Dragon' (its regular duty) aiming to complete the remaining 18½ miles to Paddington on time at 1pm. One of the 61xx class 2-6-2 tank engines is spotted on the far platform. No 70029 came newly-built to Canton in November 1952. Photo is by Ben Brooksbank, Initial Photographics.
(Below) On Saturday 25 July 1953, BR Pacific No 70026 Polar Star and 'Hall' class No 6946 Heatherden Hall, both of Cardiff Canton shed, speed through Taplow with train 167, the down 11.55am SO Paddington - Pembroke Dock. Taplow is 22½ miles out of Paddington and an exciting place to see trains, with a succession of up and down expresses to and from Bristol, the West Country, Wales, Gloucester and Worcester passing by every few minutes. Photo is by Ben Brooksbank, Initial Photographics.
(Above) Standard 'Hall' Class No 4971 Stanway Hall of 83B Taunton shed leads 'King' No 6000 King George V of Old Oak Common shed on train 153, the 3.30pm Paddington - Penzance o Saturday 25 July 1953. Doubtless 4971 had hauled the 9.05am ex-Minehead to Paddington earlier from Taunton, and it will come off this train at Taunton. Photo is by Ben Brooksbank, Initial-photographics.
(Below) Banished to further outposts; 'King' class No 6004 King George III of Cardiff Canton (now 88A) speeds west through Taplow station on Monday 28 August 1961 with train F55, the 3.55pm Paddington - Cardiff 'Capitals United Express' which is due there at 6.55pm. In a little over twelve months all the 'Kings' will have been replaced by the D7000 'Hymek' and D1000 'Western' class diesel-hydraulic fleet. Photograph is in the SV Blencowe collection, Ref G408.
(Above) On Monday 27 July 1953, Riddles Standard Pacific 7MT No 70029 Shooting Star of Canton (86C) takes advantage of the level track for some fast running on the up main line at Taplow with the 8am SO Neyland-Paddington, due there at 3.25pm. The station has quite a rural appearance, with flowerbeds and many trees by the lineside. Photo Ben Brooksbank, Initial Photographics.
(Below) Newton Abbot's 'Castle' class No 5078 Beaufort (originally named Lamphey Castle) is seen near Maidenhead heading towards Paddington with the Sunday 7.20am ex-Plymouth on 26 September 1954. On Mondays to Saturdays this up train was hauled by a Laira loco, with some coaches from Kingswear added at Newton Abbot. On Sundays, a similar routine was followed, but with a Newton Abbot loco in charge; the 7.20am Kingswear portion was attached at Newton Abbot and the combined train departed there at 8.24am. Note the small boy sitting on the now-obsolete linesde apparatus once used by the Travelling Post Office (TPO). The TPO trains were staffed by a team of sorters for processing mail on the move; the carriage exteriors were fitted with folding metal brackets called traductors for despatching mailbags at speed whereas collections were made by extending a large heavy duty net fixed to a hinged metal frame. Similarly the lineside apparatus was equipped with an extendable net for collecting mailbags from passing trains and the topmost bracket swung inwards trackside for despatching mailbags, however the last such exchange took place at Penrith in 1971 and the last Travelling Post Office service ended in January 2004. Photograph is by JM Craig.
(Above) 'Castle' class No 5038 Morlais Castle of Old Oak Common depot is about to enter Maidenhead station with train 818, the 4.55am Fishguard Harbour - Paddington express on 21 September 1950. By this time the general condition of steam engines during the post-war period was clear to see; the shortage of manual labour at most sheds was not conducive to any cleaning whatsoever and much of the general week-to week maintenance fell behind schedule. Photo LCGB Ken Nunn collection Ref 8001.
(Below) The first 24¼-mile section of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Western Broad Gauge was opened in 1838 between London and Maidenhead, albeit the original terminus at Maidenhead was destined to be no more than a temporary wooden structure built nearer to the present Taplow station than Maidenhead itself, but despite its transitory nature the station featured heavily in the working timetable in 1838. The following year the Broad Gauge line was extended to Twyford after completion of Brunel's magnificent viaduct spanning the River Thames; the viaduct was an innovative design supported by two graceful elliptical arches each 128 feet wide, but their shallow 21ft height caused concern amongst sceptical members of the Great Western Railway Board who were unconvinced that the bridge would support the weight of a train and ordered Brunel to retain the timber framework as used in its construction to safeguard against collapse. As time moved on a new Maidenhead station was built closer to the town in 1871, and the viaduct was widened in 1892 to accommodate four tracks. In this view, Worcester shed's ex-GWR 'Hall' Class 4-6-0 No 6950 Kingsthorpe Hall heads a mid-afternoon parcels from Paddington through Maidenhead station on 26 March 1959.
(Above) By a process of elimination, I have come to the conclusion that this photo of 4922 Enville Hall of 82A Bristol Bath Road on Maundy Thursday, 26 March 1959, must be the notorious 2.35pm Mon - Sat Down Paddington - Weston-Super-Mare. I first read about this train in George Behrend's 'Gone with Regret' in which he writes - 'The carriages displaying a roof-mounted destination board reading 'Paddington, Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare' rather misled the unsuspecting. Passengers were happy enough when a call was made at Reading, but when they noticed the station name of Newbury, anxiety crept in. When Savernake (Low Level) appeared on that station's platform, alarm was considerable. But patience was rewarded, and after calling at Devizes, Holt Junction, Bradford-on-Avon, Freshford and Bath Spa, they were resigned into believing they were indeed using the 'Great Way Round'. Passengers reached Bristol Temple Meads at 5.52pm…' I believe there was no other fast or semi-fast from Paddington to Bristol between the 1.18pm Down and the 4.15pm for Plymouth: except 'the, 3.05pm ex-Paddington - dubbed as 'the afternoon Bristolian' (see below) - which ran 'on and off' in the mid-1950s, but that's another story. The 2.35pm train was not numbered by GWR or BR(W) until Summer 1959, when the train number 213 was assigned, and in Summer 1960 it was numbered B14; then in late 1961, the service was withdrawn altogether. Photograph is by AC Ingram.
(Above-Below) GWR 'Hall' Class 4-6-0 No 5929 Hanham Hall heads the 3.05pm Paddington-Bristol relief through Maidenhead on Thursday 26 March 1959. (Below) Shortly before coming to the end of its fifteen-years spell based at Welsh sheds, Landore's 'Castle' class No 5010 Restormel Castle heads an up Irish Boat Express, 3.55am Fishguard Harbour - Paddington express on Thursday 30 June 1949. It is a ½ mile before Maidenhead station. Note the position of the signal on this side of the 'down' line that relate to 'up' trains here. Photograph is by P Harrod.
(Above) When Jack Craig visited Shottesbrook, 28 miles out of London, he spent several hours on Saturday 20 August 1955 photographing passing trains. This is 28-year old 'Castle' class No 5005 Manorbier Castle of Landore (87E) without a reporting number, but Jack recognised it as the 12.55pm Paddington to South Wales. No 5005 shows the protrusion on the cylinder casing, a reminder of 1935 when it had a streamlined body with a bull-nose front, and the reporting number frame had to be fitted using that protrusion. Other expresses noted by Jack during his time there included No 4091 Dudley Castle of Bath Road on the 1.15pm down Bristol, and No 5065 Newport Castle of Old Oak Common depot on train 150, the 1.35pm down Penzance.
(Below) This is 'Hall' class No 3901 Stanway Hall, formerly No 4971, a Taunton engine, on a down parcels and van train heading west. Such an exhaust would be banned in the UK today, but aside from the foreign exchange crisis that rendered the conversion programme uneconomical, the locos performed well.* Tanks, pumps and other equipment were installed at several sheds in expectation of many locos being converted. This was another example of a well meaning initiative on the railways that resulted in the disastrous writing off of a large amount of money. 3901 became a coal fired loco again in April 1949, and regained number 4971. (*Editor's note: thirty six WR engines were converted for oil-burning, including eleven 'Hall' class engines).
(Above) 'Hall' class 4961 Pyrland Hall looks a cut above the majority of steam engines during the immediate post-WWII years of austerity. Newly out-shopped after an overhaul and without any home shed identity, but probably Paddington/Old Oak Common, the engine is heading west with an empty milk tanks train near Ruscombe on Monday 1 August 1949. It is carrying a Class D Lamp code for express freights and the tender appears to be devoid of any show of ownership at this of time of dramatic change.
(Below) Seen in workaday condition, 'Hall' No 5941 Campion Hall of PDN heads west with a lengthy milk empties train including some demountable vehicles at the front. The card has no information on the reverse aside from the engine number, but the train is clearly on the down main, and I think it is in the period 1946-49. It is carrying a Class D Lamp code, for express freights, using a line which has recently undergone re-ballasting.
(Above) A neat and tidy 'Hall' class No 4990 Clifton Hall heads the 10.45 down Cheltenham express in 1946; the location is East Park Farm just 1 mile east of Twyford, 31 miles from Paddington and 5 miles before Reading; a great spot to photograph expresses speeding west. The loco was probably an Old Oak loco at this time, but certainly it moved to Bristol St. Philips Marsh (82B) from 1948 to early 1952 before seeking further employment at Severn Tunnel Junction (86E) briefly; this was followed by a good stint working out of Pontypool Road (86G). The train of mainly corridor-stock will make stops at Reading, Didcot, Swindon, and Stroud before reaching Gloucester. Photograph by H Gordon Tidey.
(Below) On Maundy Thursday, 18 April 1957, several relief trains ran as additions to the timetable. This is one of them, train 129, the 3.20pm Paddington to Carmarthen, seen here approaching Twyford behind BR Standard Pacific No 70017 Arrow of Canton. No 70017 was completed in June 1951, and moved to Canton (86C) in December 1956. Along with 70023/24/28/29 it was loaned for 4 weeks to the Southern Region when all their Merchant Navy Pacifics were temporarily withdrawn following the incident at Crewkerne on 24 April 1953.* At that time, Nos 70017 and 70023 were based at Old Oak (81A), No 70024 at Laira (83D) and Nos 70028/9 were already at Canton. Photo is by Ben Brooksbank, Initial Photographics. *Editor's note: the Merchant Navy Pacifics were temporarily withdrawn due to concerns over metal fatigue after a broken axle was found on a MN Pacific.
(Above) 'Castle' class No 5076 Gladiator approaches Twyford with a Newbury Races special 'Z10' on Saturday 27 July 1963. No 7029 Clun Castle was used the same day for the next special train 'Z11'. The third steam special from London that day was 'Z12' which departed Paddington at 12.13pm, headed by 5057 Earl Waldegrave. All three Castles came from Old Oak Common depot. Until the summer of 1963, a steam locomotive was the usual motive power for such trains. The WR's main line passenger services and holiday trains were now in the hands of an increasingly large fleet of diesel-hydrauilic locomotives; by the end of the year almost 6,000 ex-GWR steam engines were scrapped, representing 33% of the working total.
(Below) Following a Heavy General overhaul, 'Castle' class No 5043 of Old Oak Common (81A) heads the down 'Merchant Venturer' past Twyford East Signal Box In either March or April 1960. Built in March 1936, No 5043 went new to Old Oak Common, and apart from a four year spell based at Carmarthen (87G) from June 1952 it remained an Old Oak engine until April 1962 when it moved to Cardiff to complete its service, firstly at Canton, then Cardiff East Dock, both 88A. (*Editor's note: during a frenetic shed code reshuffle, 88A became the nominated code for four different Cardiff sheds - Cathays, Radyr, Canton and finally East Dock - all within a short space of time) No 5043 was originally named Barbury Castle until September 1937 and it was renamed Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. This was the first of 21 'Castle' engines to carry the names of Earls previously bestowed on the 3200 class 4-4-0s, a lightweight engine designed to meet the severe weight restrictions imposed on the Cambrian lines. However it was felt that a lowly 4-4-0 was an inappropriate choice for a peer of the realm (Earls are ranked third among British peers) and it would be more fitting for the name to be carried by an express passenger engine, so as each of the '3200' class 4-4-0s went through overhaul, their name was transferred to 'Castles' Nos 5043-5062. A further loco, No 5063, was named Earl Baldwin (of Bewdley) after the former Prime Minister. No 5063 was built in June 1937 and named Thornbury Castle. But would you believe it, just within one month it was renamed Earl Baldwin. For some reason, all 'Castle' class locos that did not have a related name, have a small plate on each side beneath their name, stating 'Castle Class', therefore it does seem rather odd that the Earls didn't have this addition.
(Above-Below) Collett's finest design; the 'King' class No 6027 King Richard I of Laira (LA) speeds through Twyford station, junction for Henley, with train 185, the 1.30pm Paddington - Penzance in 1938/39, actual date is not known. Twyford is exactly 31 miles from Paddington. Photo is by HC Casserley. (Below) Smartly turned out 'King' class No 6004 King George III of Laira, now with a double chimney fitted in November 1956* heads the down 'Cornish Riviera Limited' through Sonning Cutting, diverted to the relief line due to engineering work on a Sunday, probably in March 1957. The Winter timetable allowed 70 minutes extra for this train to reach Plymouth. There were the two stops, at Exeter St David's and Newton Abbot, and the certainty of engineering works threatened time-keeping somewhere in the 225½ mile journey. Photograph is by John Ashman FRPS. (*Editor's note: this engine was the first to receive the new cast-iron elliptically-shaped double chimney specially designed for the 'Kings').
(Above) The 'alien' sight (to some) of a BR Standard 'Britannia' No 70019 Lightning of (83D) Laira shed in a distinctly GWR setting. The grubby Pacific is speeding through Sonning Cutting with train 623, the Mon - Sat 9.40 Falmouth-Paddington on Wednesday 5 August 1953. With just over 33 miles to go before Paddington, there is plenty of opportunity for more fast running. No 70019 has already travelled 191 miles or so since it came on at Plymouth North Road. Built in June 1951, the Pacific was delivered new to Newton Abbot shed but moved to Laira in September three months later. Photo is by B Canning.
(Below) Churchward's '4700' class 2-8-0 No 4705 rattles through Sonning Cutting with the 7.25 SO ex Plymouth on Saturday 1 August 1953. An Old Oak Common loco, it was normally employed hauling heavy freights but this class was most useful in helping the WR operating department cope with the demand on Summer Saturdays in the holiday season.* The train is due at Paddington for 1.20pm, and inevitably the train is made up with a mixed stock of carriages. At this time, trains numbered in the 600 - 699 range usually started from Plymouth or Cornish places. (*Editor' note: these useful 2-8-0 engines were officially limited to 60 mph and rarely carried a reporting number because they did not possess the fixing points on the smokebox to retain the frame's position).
(Above) Emerging from Sonning cutting, there is a gentle sweeping curve to the right with Earley Power Station and other signs of industry on the north side of the line. While coming down from London, we will have passed several short trains, each one being headed by either a 'Hall' class 4-6-0 or, more likely, one of the 61xx 2-6-2 class tank engines on the Thames Valley semi-fast trains. This class totalled seventy locos of which all but four were based in the London Division. This is No 6123 which was based at Slough, while others were based at Old Oak Common, Southall, Reading and Oxford.
(Below) 'Castle' class No 5018 St Mawes Castle prepares to stop at Reading General with a Paddington-Gloucester train on Friday 26 July 1957. Built in July 1932, No 5018 was based at Gloucester (85B) from 1 January 1951 until its transfer to Reading shed (81D) in March 1958. Note the Siphon wagon attached before the carriages; they were most commonly attached to the rear of passenger trains. (*Editor's note: Siphon was the telegraphic code name for a milk churn transporting vehicle; these were extensively used by the Great Western Region for many years until replaced by road transport tankers). The lines on the right lead down to connect with the former South Coast and Chatham Railway's route to Redhill; the Southern Region service was diverted to new platforms at Reading General on 6 September 1965 and Reading South station was closed. Photo is by LG Marshall Ref 3536.
(Above-Below) Churchward designed 2-8-0 No 4706 draws to a stop at Reading station with the 1.25pm SO Paddington-Kingswear on Saturday 1 August 1959; its next stop Taunton at 4.05pm. The July 2013 issue of 'Steam Days' magazine examines the use of these 2-8-0s on express passenger trains, informing us that the load for this particular working was thirteen coaches, but the train reporting number 337 was not carried. The absence of a train identity was unhelpful on a busy Saturday; even allowing for the fact that the 2-8-0s were regularly used on this train to South Devon. Photo is by Pamlin Prints. (Below) Old Oak Common's 'Castle' class No 4090 Dorchester Castle heads the up 'Torbay Express' non-stop through Reading General in early 1959. No 4090 was the second of sixty six 'Castles' to acquire a double chimney; this being fitted before the loco completed its Heavy General overhaul in April 1957. As was common for most double chimney Castles, the smokebox was extended by four inches and the lubricator was moved from behind the offside steam pipe to a forward position, for ease of access. Built in July 1925, No 4090 was withdrawn in June 1963 after logging 1,848,046 miles.
(Above-Below) 'Hall' class No 5906 Lawton Hall of Reading (81D) has been stopped by Reading Middle signal box on the northern side of the station on Saturday 2 May 1959. The platform to the right is the down relief (No 8) and the circumstances would suggest that the crew are awaiting the arrival of a 'slip coach from a London-bound train. Many 'slip coaches' were used by the GWR to prevent trains from actually making a platform stop, with Newton Abbot and Reading being the most usual points of release. Photograph is by CIK Field. (Below) On Monday 13 July 1959, 'Castle' class No 5058 Earl of Clancarty of Laira (83D) enters Reading General with the up 'Cornish Riviera Express', one of the very last such runs before the new D600 'Warship' diesel hydraulic class became this train's assigned haulage. The signals have quickly been turned back to stop, and the carriages don't appear to be the uniform set that was the norm for this train. Even so, 5058 was a well regarded loco, and Laira would ensure only one of its very best for this train. It is worth noting that twenty one 'Castles' were renamed as 'Earls' and their original names were reused for other class members, also six Earls did not use the preposition 'of' within the name.
(Above) On Saturday 25 September 1948, 'Hall' class No 6910 Gossington Hall of PDN shed, takes a breather at Reading General's up relief platform with what I believe to be the 9.50 SO Taunton to Paddington, although the reporting number does not figure on either of my lists (see web page 23). The engine livery is a copy of the LNWR's lined black introduced by the new regime of British Railways for its mixed traffic engines in January 1948. The letters 'PDN' (representing 'Paddington' as its home shed - see inset) can be discerned just behind the front buffer beam; this was the code given to Old Oak Common depot before it was changed to 81A. The photograph is in the LCGB Ken Nunn Archive Ref 7623.
(Below) Type 4 B-B 'Warship' D805 Benbow, of Laira shed, heads the 7.00am Saturdays, Plymouth - Paddington through Reading General in June 1959. By this time dieselisation on the Western Region was gathering pace and the heydays of such trains being hauled by 'Kings' or 'Castles' were coming to an end, however the transitional period did not go as smoothly as planned; the earlier D600 class of five was found to be embarrassingly unreliable on the WR's prestigious 'Cornish Riviera', 'Torbay Express' and 'Mayflower' titled trains and it wasn't until the arrival of the D800 Warship series that the new diesel-hydraulics proved to be more reliable.
(Below) The extremely useful 'Grange' 4-6-0s were highly thought of by crews and running departments. Here No 6873 Caradoc Grange of 83D Laira calls at the Up Relief platform at Reading General on Saturday 2 July 1955, showing its merits with train 505, the 08.00 SO Kingswear-Paddington. The fascinating book 'Operation Torbay' by WS Becket, Xpress Publishing tells us - 'One of Kingswear's principal Friday night tasks was to combine the coaches off the 15.30 and 13.30 expresses from Paddington, adding a pair of loose corridor Thirds to make a ten-coach set for the eight on Saturday mornings. Thanks to a non-stop run between Dawlish and Reading, a timing of less than 4½ hours between Torquay and Paddington was accomplished' Photo is by RA Panting.
(Above) Flanked by a GWR ringed arm signal on the left and on the right a GWR backing signal, both complete with a route indicator, this splendid GWR bracket signal* dominates this shot of Reading East Junction. In the distance, the rear carriages of an up passenger express can be seen entering Reading on the line from Bristol and an unidentified 'Castle' is entering the yard at Reading MPD; note also the Reading West signal box on the left.
*Editor's note…a photograph of this type demands an explanation as to what the signal arms are actually controlling. In short, these are the Reading Home signals for Up trains on the curve from Oxford Road Junction to Reading General Main Line station. The identification of the different signals (from top left to right lower) are as follows: A - Up Relief platform; B - No 7 Bay platform; C - Up Main Platform; D - Up Main through line; E - lower left signal (with triangular cut-out) gave permission to slip a coach on the Up Relief platform; F - lower right signal allowed a slip coach to be released on the Up Relief platform. In addition, the 'B' signal post carried a (smaller) 'calling-on' arm in favour of the No 7 Bay, supplemented with a permanent reminder to drivers of the maximum train speed of 10mph when approaching that platform, seen in the form of an illuminated black box, situated immediately below the smaller arm. It is worth noting the ground-anchored gantry support wires formed of a 'Y' shape and strained against each other. Also included is a Fogman's hut, a slim sentry type wooden box where line maintenance tools were stored along with the usual supply of detonators.
On leaving Reading General our train passes Reading Main Line West signal box (185 levers) as we diverge from Brunel's Bristol main line to Didcot at East Junction and take the Berkshire & Hampshire line to Newbury.
We pass the shed complex of Reading 81D on the right, one of sixteen depots operating under the 'umbrella' of the London Division; the shed is located inside the triangular junction.
On reaching the southern apex of the junction we pass Oxford Road Junction box (26 levers) where a connecting line from Reading West Junction, 1½ miles to the north on the Bristol route, joins us at South Junction. We pass through Reading West station; opened in July 1906 constructed entirely of wood; the two platforms were joined by a standard steel footbridge.
From Reading West, the next one mile section is shared by both WR and SR trains as far as Southcote Junction, where the SR line diverges south to Basingstoke, a route used by many inter-Regional trains operating between the Midlands and the South Coast ports of Southampton and Portsmouth.
On a Summer Saturday between 10am and 12 noon, no fewer than fourteen express passenger trains head west and south, consisting of nine Paddington to West of England expresses and five South Coast expresses from the Midlands, plus three local services.
After Southcote Junction, we begin a gradual 31-mile accent of the valley of the Kennet River, no more than a gentle gradient for much of the way allowing an average sixty miles per hour running before the grade steepens to between 1 in 106 and 1 in 175 on the last 3½ miles from Bedwyn to the summit at Savernake (Low Level). We pass nonstop through stations at Theale 41½, Aldermaston 44½, Midgham 46¾ and Thatcham 49½, all opened in December 1847; and on the 2¼-mile stretch between Aldermaston and Midgham our engine has the first chance to replenish its tender at speed over the 560 yard-long water troughs.
After crossing the River Kennet we pass the station at Newbury Racecourse followed by Newbury East Junction, where we are joined by the cross-country Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway (DN&SR). The station serving Newbury has through lines and platform lines in both directions; some of the West Country expresses stop here, all the Weymouth ones do. On the south side of the station are bay platforms used by semi-fast trains calling at all stations to Westbury.
Next we pass Enborne Junction, 1¼ miles after Newbury, where the DN&SR diverges south to Winchester; a largely insignificant single track route however due to its strategic position on the railway map it did have a major role to play in supporting the movement of troops and munitions during the war. The DN&SR's importance was elevated briefly in 1960 at the commencement of block oil trains between the Fawley oil refinery near Southampton and the Shell Oil terminal at Rowley Regis in the Midlands; the tank trains and returning empties were hauled by Class 9F 2-10-0s and Churchward GWR 28xx 2-8-0 locos.
On the main line to the west, the 17 mile climb from Newbury to the summit at Savernake (Low Level) continues as we pass stations at Kintbury 58½ and Hungerford 61½ where a passing loop is provided for westbound traffic. This stretch of line runs quite close by to the recently restored Kennet & Avon canal which was built in 1810 to provide a cross-country link between the River Avon at Bath and the River Tennet at Newbury, thus providing a waterway throughout between Thames at London and the Bristol Channel. However despite its potential the cross-country traffic never accounted for more than 6% of its total revenue and when the Great Western Railway opened in 1841 the future of the canal was in dire straits.
Both the canal and railway cross the border from Hampshire into Wiltshire and under two miles later, Bedwyn is reached on the final leg of the climb to Savernake
(Below) 'King' class No 6026 King John heads the down 'Cornish Riviera' through Reading West station on Saturday 10 May 1952. The train is due to pass here at 11.15 and reach Newton Abbot at 2.00pm. As it is early in the season the 'King' should be punctual, but obviously could be hampered by other Saturday trains en route. The wooden construction of the station is very noticeable and so too is the very antiquated, but ornate lighting at this time. Photo is by ER Morten Ref 2251.
(Left) 'Standard' Class 4 No 75002 of 6F Machynlleth (incredible!) heads the 11.15 Bournemouth to York express through Reading West on the Thursday after the Whitsun weekend, 21 May 1964. It is not usual to see a member of this class from a Region other than the Southern on this line, and one heading a long distance express was not unknown. Perhaps No 75002 will work this train beyond Oxford, a usual changeover station, or maybe to Banbury before an Eastern Region loco takes the train forward. Photo is by HB Priestley.
(Below) BR built 'Modified Hall' No 7912 Little Linford Hall of 84E Tyseley brings an express from the Midlands to the South Coast across Reading South Junction immediately before Reading West station. The photo is undated, but it is almost certainly from the period between 1958 and 1959. This is just one example of how the Great Way West had to accommodate trains that crossed or used its path briefly and were going or coming somewhere other than the West. This particular engine was almost exclusively assigned to Tyseley depot Birmingham with just a very brief foray to Shrewsbury (84G) in 1955. Photo RK Blencowe Ref 14525.
(Above) Approaching Southcote Junction is 'King' class No 6010 King Charles I of Laira on the 11.30 SX Paddington - Penzance. The engine acquired a double chimney in March 1956* and shows the lion and wheel crest on its tender. The photo was taken soon after on Monday 2 July 1956. Built in April 1928, 6010 was based first at Laira, then Newton Abbot in December 1929, back to Laira in February 1930 until April 1959 when it was transferred to its final home shed of Old Oak Common. It was withdrawn in June 1962, with a final mileage of 1,928,258. 'Castle' class engines did share this duty, and it is hard to say which loco class was used most often. If I had to give an answer I'd say the 'Kings'. (*Editor's note: the 'King' was the fourth to receive a fabricated, straight-sided double chimney).
(Below) Renamed 'Castle' No 5047 Earl of Dartmouth of 83A Newton Abbot shed takes train '165', the 10.40 SO Paddington - Kingswear past Southcote Junction on a Saturday morning in June 1949. The loco and tender are still in GW livery. The 4-6-0 was built in April 1936, named Compton Castle and based at Landore until March 1940 when its home depot became Newton Abbot. It was renamed as an Earl in August 1937. Its life ended in September 1962. The stretch from Reading West to Southcote Junction, 37 miles 68 chains from Paddington, was exactly one mile. The Basingstoke branch goes off to the right here and runs for almost fifteen miles from Berkshire into Hampshire. The train is taking the Berks & Hants line to Theale, Aldermaston and the West. The photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref11482
(Above) King' class No 6003 King George IV of Old Oak Common hauls train '605', the 13 coach 8.30 Mondays to Saturdays Plymouth - Paddington 'Mayflower' through 'Midgham for Douai School' (rhymes with Cowey), shortly after having a double chimney fitted in April 1957. Note the workmen on the down line despite a train being signalled. Midgham, Berks was 46¾ miles before Paddington, where train 605 is due at 1.25pm with No 6003 enjoying the gentle down gradient of 24 miles to here from Savernake. No 6003 went with five other Kings to Canton in August and September 1960, and ended its days in June 1962 having clocked up 1,920,479 miles. Photograph is by Great Western Trust.
(Below) Standard Collett 'Hall' class No 4982 Acton Hall hauls a westbound Class F goods out of the down loop into Aldermaston station, 44¾ miles from Paddington, and 8¾ miles after Reading on the Berks & Hants line. The date is Monday 12 April 1954, just before Easter. The home shed for No 4982 is 86A Newport (Ebbw Junction). If it is travelling to its home shed, its route might be via Bath, Devizes, the east side of Bristol via the avoiding line, north to Filton and Patchway and the Severn Tunnel. No 4982 ended its days at Laira in May 1962. Photograph is in the RK Blencowe collection, Ref 48035. (*Editor's note: Aldermaston was part of the Berks & Hants Railway opened by the GWR in December 1847).
(Above-Below) On level ground in between uphill climbs of 1 in 440 and 1 in 622 almost midway between Aldermaston and Midgham are the 560 yard-long Aldermaston water troughs, the first since departing Paddington, 45½ miles back. Churchward Mogul '43XX' class No 7307 of 87F Llanelly (what on earth is it doing here?) heads a westbound semi-fast in April 1956. No 7307 was one of the very last of the class to survive before ending its days in May 1964. (Below) One of the numerous 'Hall' class members No 5973 Rolleston Hall of Reading heads a down semi-fast on the gentle uphill gradient after Midgham station, 47 miles from London, in April 1956. Next stop might be Thatcham, then Newbury, six more miles ahead. No 5973 spent all its time based at Reading from nationalisation until withdrawal in September 1962, and so it will have covered this ground often enough in the past.
(Above-Below) This view looking east at Newbury East Junction shows the former Didcot Newbury & Southampton Railway (DN&SR) entering the picture from Didcot on the left. This 17¼-mile section of line from Didcot plus the 1½-mile stretch to Enborne Junction (see fourth photo below) was managed by the WR, whereas the southern section of the DN&SR from Enborne Junction to Southampton came under the auspices of the Southern Region. Here a Modified 'Hall' 4-6-0 No 7923 Speke Hall of 82C Swindon and an unidentified 'Castle' have arrived on Race Specials, and are now in reverse to the Racecourse station to collect their trains. Newbury Racecourse station is just visible in the distance and the field on the right is occupied by horse boxes and other race road vehicles. (Below) For several years the former Didcot Newbury & Southampton Railway was used by oil tanker trains between Fawley refinery near Southampton and the Midlands, often hauled by the mighty BR Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 and Churchward 2-8-0s from 21A Saltley and 71A Eastleigh. On this occasion Churchward 2-8-0 No 2812 of Banbury depot gets a clear path through Newbury East Junction with a Class H coal train. Photographs AC Ingram.
(Above) A superb image of 'Castle' class No 5032 Usk Castle speeding through Newbury station with a down express on Saturday 2 September 1961. Built in May 1934, No 5032 was assigned to Shrewsbury shed until May 1952 when a two-year spell beckoned at Stafford Road followed by a move to Old Oak Common in March 1958. From the date of this picture, 5032 had only 12 months to go before withdrawal came after clocking up 1,288,968 miles in service. Photograph by RE Toop Ref G374.
(Below) This is Newbury station on a weekday evening in the late 1950s. My understanding is that 'Modified Hall' No 6994 Baggrave Hall of 82D Westbury shed has just arrived with the 11-coach 6pm Paddington - Weymouth, due here at 7.03pm. With no more than five minutes before departure at 7.08pm, four carriages will be quickly detatched before 6994 sets off for Weymouth with stops at Hungerford, Bedwyn, Westbury, Frome, Castle Cary and Yeovil Pen Mill. On the right, 'Hall' class No 4989 Cherwell Hall of 81D Reading shed is due to depart at 7.17pm as a semi-fast (with the rear four carriages from the Paddington train now coupled on) and after calling at Patney & Chirton it will diverge north from the GWW and take the Devizes line with a stop at Trowbridge due there at 8.58 p.m. The station layout, as seen, dates from 1910, but the original site was built in 1847. (Editor's note: on closer inspection of the two engines, No 4989 has an early emblem on its tender, but No 6994 has very recently received a new version; thus the date can be narrowed down to 1958). Photograph is by RK Blencowe Ref 9988.
(Above) This is Enborne Junction near MP54¼, divergence of the DN&SR line to Southampton; 'Hall' class No 5939 Tangley Hall of Old Oak Common heads a sizeable eastbound Class C van train on the GWR main line, its likely destination being London. It is perhaps worth noting that around twelve articulated lorries would now be required to move a load such as this.. (Editor's note: it is quite feasible that the newly-built No 5939 was a 100% OOC resident throughout until May 1962 when it moved to 86A Newport).
(Below) 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No 6994 Baggrave Hall of 82D Westbury shed approaches Hamstead Crossing, on a Down express on Monday 24 June 1957. This location is soon after MP56 where the country road from Marsh Benham to Hamstead Marshall crosses the line. No 6994 went new to Exeter shed in December 1948 followed by a move to Westbury in 1955 until October 1961. Duties included the Paddington-Weymouth trains and on Summer Saturdays it was used on the Weymouth - Wolverhampton expresses to and from Oxford. The locomotive was withdrawal in November 1964 from Oxley, by which time that shed was 2B rather than 84B. Photograph is by RK Blencowe Ref EFG636.
(Below) Sixty five miles out of Paddington, the singularly-named 'King' class No 6026 King John of Laira shed heads the newly-titled 'Cornish Riviera Limited' past the attractive hamlet and lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Little Bedwyn, on Sunday 24 June 1956. Constructed in 1810 to provide an inland waterway between London and Bristol. the canal links the navigable River Kennet and Avon, and follows the railway for a distance of nineteen miles going west. The next signal boxes and/or stations on this line are at Bedwyn, Great Bedwyn, Grafton East, where there are junctions with the Midland & South West Junction Railway at Wolfhall Junction and Savernake (Low Level), East and West. The nearby station on the Midland & South Western Junction Railway is Savernake (High Level). Photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref EFG472.
(Above) A little over two miles beyond Bedwyn, a 70mph speed restriction is imposed on Up trains descending from Savernake at the tight Grafton curve. Heading west on Friday 10 August 1956 is the powerful combination of BR Standard Pacific No 70016 Ariel and 'Castle' class No 5098 Clifford Castle, both of Laira (83D), on train 122 the 9.30am Paddington to Falmouth. Built in June 1951, No 70016 went on loan, firstly to Leeds Holbeck followed by a spell at Stratford on the Eastern Region in March 1952; in August 1953 the engine arrived on the Western Region based at Laira until December 1956 when it had a fruitful five-years at Cardiff Canton before a move beckoned back to the London Midland Region based at Carlisle (Canal) in September 1961. (Check out Page 92 HERE for a full history on the Western Region 'Britannias'). For the record, 'Castle' class No No 5098 was the first post-war Castle to be built in May 1946, being assigned to Stafford Road (84A), but was soon dispatched to Exeter depot for two years, before a transfer to Laira for the next twelve years. It was scrapped in June 1964. Here both locos are in their heyday, taking a key express west. Both came up to London the previous day on individual trains, and after returning to Plymouth North Road with train 122, they will be serviced and no doubt be back again on London-bound expresses. Photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref EFG508.
(Below) On the same day as above, but in the opposite direction, 'Hall' class No 6952 Kimberley Hall of 81E Didcot passes with the 9am Weymouth-Paddington. It will have stopped at principal stations at Dorchester West, Yeovil (Pen Mill), Castle Cary, Witham, Frome and Westbury and is due past here about 11.40am. The next stop will be Newbury followed by Reading, aiming for a Paddington arrival at 1.15 pm. Photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref EFG511.
(Above) This photograph is not on the Great Way West, but is close to it. GJ Churchward designed 2-6-0 Mogul 6309 of 82C Swindon shed hauls a southbound stopping train on the Midland and South Junction Railway line. This is Grafton South Junction; the line on the left goes north to Savernake (Low Level) and Swindon Town. The line also uses the Loop to Wolfhall Junction on the WR main line and Savernake (High Level). The line to the right goes east on Grafton Curve to Grafton East Junction, where it meets the WR main line. These connecting lines were for goods and military trains, not public passenger services. The only passenger services were such as in this picture, for which the north to south line was built originally,; this ran from Cheltenham Spa via Swindon Town in the north to Andover, Winchester and Southampton in the south. The WR main line runs right to left after the first row of hedges about 500 yards beyond the signal box.
(Above-Below) Churchward 2-8-0 No 2873 of 86C Canton shed, comes down the WR main line at Wolfhall Junction, 69¼ miles from Paddington, on 4 July 1956. Stationed mainly in South Wales, most of the class of 167 2-8-0s were used mainly on coal trains, general goods and occasional banking duties. The cylinders were 18½ x 30in, which was exactly the same as used on 620 GWR locomotives; a startling figure, but all of the 'Stars', 'Halls', 'Granges' and 'Counties' did have the exact same dimensions, a true credit to the dependable, longevity and strength of the manufacture and speaks volumes for standardisation. The divergence of lines to the right connect with the former Midland & South West Junction Railway which crosses the GWW on the horizon to Andover and Southampton in the south. (Below) A rather scruffy BR Standard 'Britannia' class No 70017 Arrow of Old Oak Common is speeding west with an express from Paddington in 1955. The engine still displays the additional SR lamp iron on the nearside smoke deflector stay; this was fitted in 1953 when on loan to the SR based at Salisbury (72B). Wolfhall Junction Signal Box is just half a mile before the high point on this section of line approaching the summit at Savernake (Low Level). The junction gave access to Ludgershall and Andover to the south (behind the signal box) and Marlborough to the north. Photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref 13031.
(Above-Below) 'Hall' class No 4960 Pyle Hall of 81D Reading heads a semi-fast past Wolfhall Junction Signal Box. In the distance is the M&SWJR line running from Swindon Town and Cheltenham (St James') on the left to Andover on the right. The photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref 29640. (Below) Just over 70 miles from Paddington and the highest point in the journey so far, Old Oak Common's 'Castle' class No 5090 Neath Abbey heads train C38, the 12.05pm SO Paddington-Plymouth - first stop Newbury (to pick up only), then Taunton at 2.56pm - past clear signals into Savernake (Low Level) station on Saturday 2 September 1961. From here it is downhill for the next 26 miles until Westbury. Photograph is in the SV Blencowe Collection Ref GR556.
(Above) Down-at-heel BR Standard Pacific No 70023 Venus, a resident at Old Oak Common from new in August 1951 enters Savernake (Low Level) station during 1956. The smokebox shows a faint chalked '205', representing an earlier duty on the Mon-Sat 12 noon Penzance-Crewe; '205' was the new number, from 25 June 1955, of the previous 665, the Up North Mail service. 70023 was another member of the class to be loaned out to the Southern Region while the 'Merchant Navy' class locomotives were checked over for possible axle failure in the Summer of 1953. The result of that short-lived move to Salisbury (72B) was the fitting of four extra lamp irons to accommodate the Southern Region's white indicator discs. No 70023 remained at Old Oak Common (81A) until early in 1957, when it moved to Cardiff Canton (86C) to join forces with fourteen other 4-6-2 engines; a type which was anathema to many who worked for the Western Region.
(Above) 'Castle' class No 5057 Earl Waldegrave of Old Oak Common, now with a double chimney, takes the 1.35pm Paddington-Penzance 'Royal Duchy' past Savernake East Signal Box (almost at MP70) on Saturday 2 September 1961. The GWR main line station here was suffixed Low Level to distinguish it from the High Level station on the M&SWJR's north-south cross-country line from Cheltenham to Andover. Much more detail is given in the Middleton Press books that cover this area, with Savernake and Marlborough each having (at one time) both Low Level and High Level stations. The confusion eventually came to an end when everything on the railway here closed, stations, platforms, signal boxes, signals, track, except the GW main line. From here, 5057 has a steady downhill run for the next 25½ miles to Heywood Road Junction, where the train will diverge to call at Westbury due there at 3.18 pm. Photo is in the SV Blencowe Archive, Ref GR562.
(Right) On our journey west from Savernake (Low Level), the M&SWJR branch to Marlborough is passed immediately on leaving the station, and within the next eleven miles we are decending the gentle grade through the Vale of Pewsey, with Salisbury Plain to the south and Marlborough Downs to the north.
We pass the country stations of Wootton Rivers (72½); Pewsey (75¼); Manningford Halt (76¼); Woodborough (78¾) and Patney & Chirton (81); the latter providing access to the junction for the Devizes branch which was completed in November 1862 by the Berks & Hants Extension Railway (B&HER) having brought a single track broad-gauge line 24½ miles from Hungerford to Devizes. At the time, the Wiltshire town of Devizes was the end of a line built in an easterly direction from Bath, via Bradford-on Avon to Holt Junction, where it was joined later by the GWR line from Swindon.
The next stage of the GWW route commenced in 1900 when the Stert & Westbury line was built from Patney & Chirton through the Stert Valley via Lavington (87) to Westbury (95½). It was double track throughout and built for high-speed running; at a stroke the distance from Paddington to Westbury via Swindon and Thingley Junction was cut by fourteen miles.
The aim of the GWR was to shorten the distance for its lucrative rail traffic business to and from Weymouth on the Dorset coast; this included food and grain imports plus the passenger ferry services to the Channel Islands.
In 1933, two cut-off lines were built to divert trains away from Westbury (95½) and Frome (101½), enabling non-stop expresses to bypass the stations serving these towns. Heading in a westerly direction the cut-off line around Westbury diverged from a new junction at Heywood Road and rejoined the West of England main line at Fairwood Junction; and the Frome avoiding line ran from Clink Road to Blatchbridge Junction.
The big advantage of the cut-offs is that they created an opportunity for speedier trains to overtake slower local passenger trains and goods traffic thereby enabling faster running times to be sustained.
Immediately beyond Westbury engine crews had the chance to replenish the tender supply at speed at Fairwood water troughs; oddly the trough on the up line was 495 yards long while the trough supplying the down line was longer at 553yds. As we continue west, we pass Witham (106¾) and Bruton (111¾) on the downhill run to Castle Cary (115¼) where the line to Weymouth diverges south.
(Below) 'King' class No 6029 King Edward VIII has just reached the top of the 27-mile climb from before Westbury to Savernake (Low Level) station with the up 'Cornish Riviera' on Bank Holiday Monday 4 August 1952. It is now downhill or level all the way for the 70 miles to Paddington. A lot of signal arms are to be seen both on this main line and on the start of the Marlborough branch from here, that curves round to join the M&SWJR line at North Savernake, just a half mile away. Note the centre-pivoted signals on the down platform. The lower right-hand arm refers to the Marlborough branch diverging to the right. Photograph is by GW Goslin.
(Above) On the same day, Bank Holiday Monday 4 August 1952, the relief Riviera is formed of ten coaches, comprising some extremely old stock. The loco is a blue-liveried 'King' class No 6018 King Henry VI of Old Oak Common and, judging by the smoke, seems to be breasting the 27-mile climb more easily than the main train. It probably departed ahead of the true Riviera, leaving Plymouth North Road at 12.15pm, and as per the Riviera, it ran without stops until arrival at Paddington soon after 5 o'clock, the main train being due at 5.20pm. Surprisingly, following 6018's official withdrawal at the end of 1962, in April the following year the locomotive was called upon to haul a special train on behalf of the Stephenson Locomotive Society under the auspices of the 'Kings Farewell' special, setting out from Birmingham Snow Hill with scheduled stops at Southall and Swindon. Photograph is by GW Goslin.
(Above) With only ¾ mile to go before reaching the summit at Savernake, a smartly turned out 'Hall' class No 5956 Horsley Hall of 81D Reading shed heads an up Weymouth express past Burbage Wharf goods station by the Kennet & Avon canal. Contrary to other information, No 5956 had been a Reading-based loco since nationalisation, and the only other shed at which it was based was its final one at Oxford from September 1962 until withdrawal in March 1963. Photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref EFG449.
(Below) 'Hall' class No 4927 Farnborough Hall of Westbury passes Pewsey station with a Down express in the early 1950s. This country station, 75½ miles from Paddington, is one of the few to remain open on the line today; its healthy passenger usage is due to the proximity of Marlborough and other nearby towns and villages with no railway station. Some features of interest to modellers is the signal box, the general linside clutter and the distinctive Berks and Hants style of the original station buildings which still stand on the down platform.
(Above-Below) 'Castle' class No 7033 Hartlebury Castle of Old Oak Common heads the 7am SO Plymouth-Paddington past Pewsey station on Saturday 5 July 1952. No 7033 was built in July 1950, a full 27 years after the completion of the pioneering No 4073 Caerphilly Castle and although it had a double chimney fitted in July 1959, withdrawal came in January 1963 with 602,832 miles on the clock. Photo is in the RK Blencowe Archive Ref 14290. (Below) The Woodborough signalman enjoys the spectacle of 'Modified Hall' No 7924 Thornycroft Hall of 82D Westbury racing through Woodborough station with the 12.30pm Paddington-Weymouth express (due to stop at Westbury at 2.40pm) on Saturday 27 April 1957. Continuing west the train will soon reach Patney & Chirton, then Lavington and Westbury, before taking water from Fairwood Troughs. The home shed for No 7924 was Westbury (82D) from new in September 1950 before its transfer to Taunton (83B) in November 1959; it remained at Taunton before a move beckoned to the Bristol Division in 1962 up to its demise at the end of 1965.
(Above-Below) Looking very presentable in BR lined-out black livery, 'Hall' class No 6935 Browsholme Hall of 82D Westbury, heads a down express through Woodborough station, near MP79 on the Berks & Hants line. No 6935 was a resident of 82D until the end of 1955, when it had a brief return to Swindon (82C) before it settled in South Wales for almost the remainder of its service. (Below) Passing Patney & Chirton station at speed on Friday 13 September 1957, a very smart 'Castle' class No 7000 Viscount Portal heads the 11.20am ex-Kingswear 'Torbay Express', due Paddington at 3.35pm. The junction station at Patney & Chirton had a platform serving the Devizes branch and a platform nominated as the 'Military Traffic Platform' which was used for troop exercises from 1909. Opened in 1862, the single line Devizes branch went via Panns Lane Halt, Devizes, Bromham & Rowde Halt, Seend, Semington Halt to Holt Junction where it met the original GWR main line from Swindon to Weymouth. Photograph is in the OPC Collection Ref 1166.
(Above) With 81 miles to go before arrival in the capital, 'King' class No 6023 King Edward II of Old Oak Common speeds through Patney & Chirton station in April 1958 with the 6.25am SX Penzance to Paddington, due there at 2.50pm. Following its arrival at Paddington 6023 will return with a westbound train to Plymouth later in the day, a round trip of some 454 miles. On the right is the platform serving the single line Devises branch. Photograph is by GW Sharpe.
(Below) Reading's 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No 6968 Woodcock Hall departs Patney & Chirton station to Westbury via the Devizes branch on Saturday 19 January 1957. The single track branch was built before the direct route joined Brunel's line to the west near Taunton. Although single track, it proved useful as a diversionary route via Devizes and Trowbridge when trains could not use the direct line; th diverted traffic re-joined the direct route after Westbury.
(Above) A Reading-Westbury stopping train hauled by 'Castle' class No 4085 Berkeley Castle of Reading shed slows for the obligatory stop at the single-line platform at Bromham & Rowde Halt. Note the GWR's archetypal Pagoda Platform Shelter on the right; introduced in 1907, these distinctively-shaped corrugated iron shelters were manufactured by an outside supplier and delivered by rail wagons to be assembled on site. Looking at this picture, it is hard to imagine that main line expresses were diverted along here in extremis. The sequence of stations from Patney & Chirton was Pans Lane Halt, Devizes, Bromham & Rowde Halt, Seend, Semington Halt, and then Holt Junction, a distance of 95 miles from Paddington via Newbury, but 102¾ miles on the original Brunel route via Swindon and Thingley Junction.
(Below) More befitting a Class 7P express passenger engine, No 5021 Whittington Castle of Laira shed (83D) heads the 11.30am SX Paddington-Penzance near Lavington on Friday 13 September 1957. Built in 1900, this stretch of line is said to be the fastest on the Great Way West; double track throughout and built for high-speed running, it cut the distance from Paddington to Westbury by fourteen miles, from just over 109½ miles to 95½. The photograph is in the OPC Collection Ref 1161.
(Above-Below) Having diverged from the GW main line at Heywood Road Junction, BR Standard Class 5 4-6-0 No 73065 approaches Hawkeridge Junction at the entrance to Westbury station with the Southern Counties Touring Society's 'West Country Special' on Sunday 13 November 1966. The tour began at Victoria station, went via Herne Hill to Redhill and Reading, then continued via Westbury to Exeter. It returned to London Waterloo hauled by a SR Pacific via Yeovil and Basingstoke. Photograph by Southern Counties Touring Society. (Below) After its 3.18pm stop at Westbury, 'Castle' class No 5069 Isambard Kingdom Brunel of Old Oak Common exits the town with the Down 'Royal Duchy' in 1957. The picture graphically illustrates the reason behind the GWR's decision to build diversionary lines; the imposition of sharp curves and complicated pointwork associated with junctions and stations led to severe speed restrictions being placed on non-stop expresses in the section. The tightness of the junction at Westbury can be judged by the rear of 5069's train on the far left; beyond it is Westbury South Signal Box. Photo is by GW Sharpe.
(Above-Below) On Saturday 23 April 1955, 'Castle' class No 4087 Cardigan Castle of 83D Laira shed approaches Fairwood Junction on the line out of Westbury with the 1.30pm Paddington-Penzance, calling at Westbury 3.26-3.3pm. Major track realignment was carried out at Westbury when the direct route via Newbury was built, and then additional improvements took place in 1933 when the avoiding lines (seen here on the right) were opened enabling fast trains to avoid Westbury station. Note the home signal sited to the left of the up line relates to this down line, whereas the other home signal, relates to the cut-off line. Photograph is by RE Toop Ref B42.
(Above) On Saturday 23 April 1955, 'Modified Hall' No 7924 Thornycroft Hall of 82D Westbury shed, heads the 12.30pm Paddington-Weymouth express (due to stop at Westbury, 2.40-2.47pm) away from Westbury at Fairwood Junction to join the west of England main line, before it diverges for Weymouth at Castle Cary, eighteen miles ahead. The home shed for No 7924 was Westbury from new in September 1950 until in November 1959, when it was transferred to Taunton (83B). This photo is by RE Toop Ref X80.
(Below) This splendid view of Fairwood Junction, shows 'Hall' class No 4996 Eden Hall of 85B Gloucester shed diverging from the West of England main line to call at Westbury on Saturday 2 July 1955; train 527 is the 9.43am SO Paignton-Birmingham Moor Street via Swindon and Oxford, due to pass here at 12.19pm with an arrival in the Midlands at 3.51pm. The train's route was unusual - Taunton, Castle Cary, Westbury, Swindon then via the east curve before Didcot to Oxford and Banbury. The loco for this train usually started its day at Newton Abbot with a trip to Paignton hauling the stock for the 9.05am SO to Manchester. The southbound counterpart to this train was the 9.25am SO Wolverhampton-Paignton. Both were 10 coach trains, and I suspect there were passengers going 'all the way' who must have wondered if they were on the right train as they passed unfamiliar stations rather than the more usual places such as Cheltenham and Bristol. Just visible in the distance is Fairwood water troughs. Photo is by RE Toop Ref X73.
(Above) 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No 6934 Beachamwell Hall of 81C Southall skims over Fairwood troughs with train 147, the 12.05pm SO Paddington-Plymouth on Saturday 16 July 1955. Here the distance from Paddington is 111 miles 52 chains on the original route via Swindon and Westbury, but this was subsequently reduced to 97½ miles by the later direct route. Photo is by RE Toop Ref C63.
(Below) Frome station is located on a 1½ mile-long loop that diverges from the West of England main line at Clink Road Junction. The loop was created in 1933 when the company constructed a by-pass enabling London-Plymouth-Penzance services on the Reading to Taunton line to avoid Frome station and the junction with the Radstock branch. Here 'Hall' class 4941 Llangedwyn Hall, of 81C Southall shed heads west with a train of empty milk tanks near MP114½ at Clink Road Junction on Saturday 22 August 1959. The loco displays a lamp code for Class C freights: parcels, empty coaching stock and express freights; all of which had to fit in with the Saturday holiday extras. Photo is by Ben Brooksbank.
(Above-Below) Relatively new 'Hall' class No 5985 Mostyn Hall is seen heading west with the 3.25pm SO Paddington-Kingswear on the Frome cut-off line in 1939. Built in ever increasing numbers, the 'Hall' class 4-6-0s were being used more and more on the Saturday holiday expresses, and many showed themselves to be almost a match for the more powerful 'Castle' class. Photo is by L&G Railway Photographs Ref 2907. (Below) A down express headed by 'Modified Hall' No 7902 Eaton Mascot Hall of Old Oak Common approaches Clink Road Junction at the start of the Frome cut-off line in September 1958. Built new in March 1949, the loco's home shed was 81A throughout its entire life up to withdrawal in June 1964. With no clue as to what this train is, one can only say that it is a West of England express, probably mid-week. (Editor's note: a 'Modified Hall' is easy to spot by the large plate fitted to the front of the leading bogie). Photo is by GW Sharpe.
(Above) Over the years, Britain's railways have undergone tremendous change, beginning with Grouping (1923); Nationalisation (1948); Beeching (1960s) and Privatisation (1980s) - all of which saw the rail network falling prey to modern-minded autocrats predisposed to eradicating everything that had gone before. It is suprising therefore that the train shed at Frome (opened in 1850) has somehow managed to survive. Today the historical structure is one of the oldest through train sheds still in operation in Britain. The unusual 120ft by 48ft timber building can be seen in PE Gardner's photo of a scruffy 'Hall' class No 5975 Winslow Hall of 82B St. Philips Marsh departing with the 10.10 Sundays Only Bristol Temple Meads to Weymouth express in the late Fifties. No 5975 had arrived here via Bath, Limpley Stoke, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge and Westbury. (Editor's note: the remarkable train shed with its splendid overall roof is now a Grade II listed building; the structure was designed by J R Hannaford, one of Brunel's assistants, who also designed the engine shed below).
(Below) The one-loco capacity engine shed at Frome hosts Taunton's Class 4MT 2-6-2T No 5504, while on the left 2-6-2T No 4536 and its unidentified sister engine are probably both Westbury 82D locos of which Frome was a sub-shed. These 2-6-2 tank engines worked the branches to Bristol via Radstock, and via Witham, Cranmore, Wells to Yatton, plus the local stopping services on the main line. (Editor's note: we should also note two pannier tanks in the photo, showing the scale of rail operations at Frome).
(Above) BR Standard Class 5MT No 73027 of 82C Swindon enters Frome station with a down express from Swindon on Sunday 17 August 1958. Built at Derby Works in December 1951, No 73027 was allocated new to Blackpool (28A) on the London Midland Region LMR). It came to the Western Region in September 1953, based initially at 82B St. Philips Marsh before it was transferred in July 1954 to Swindon shed, where it had the sad distinction of being the first of the BR Standard Class 5s to be withdrawn from service in February 1964. At the start of 1958 the Western Region had an allocation of just twenty five out of the 172 engines in the class, plus ten more were based at Shrewsbury for use mainly on the Central Wales line, albeit this was largely in LMR territory. Just visible in the background is the Radstock-Somerset branch curving away to the north at the end of the 'up' platform. Following closure of the branch in 1959 along with the reduction of the 1½ mile-long loop to single track, the 'down' platform at Frome is now unused but the historic train shed survives. Photograph is by H Davies.
(Below) An unkempt 'Hall' class No 5978 Bodinnick Hall of Swindon shed enters Frome station with a down semi-fast for Weymouth in the later part of the 1950s. Following the opening of the Frome cut-off on 2 January 1933, apart from very few exceptions, the London expresses no longer called here. An exception was the 'dated' Summer 7.05am SO ex-Paddington (7.25am SO ex-Ealing Broadway) to Penzance which called at 9.45-9.52am. I expect this train is the semi-fast 11.45am Chippenham-Weymouth via Westbury, Frome and Castle Cary, due here at 12.54pm. After its departure, the train will rejoin the West of England main line at Blatchbridge Junction. Photo is by AC Ingram
(Above) 'Hall' class No 5963 Wimpole Hall of 82D Westbury shed enters Frome at the head of the down 12.30pm Paddington-Weymouth Town on Saturday 27 June 1959, due to call here at 2.56 to 3.01pm. No 5963 had spent most of its time based at Carmarthen shed coming to Westbury in 1956, where it spent the next few years, finally to 82B in February 1963 until withdrawal in June 1964.
(Below) A little more than 5½ miles on our journey west from Frome is Witham station which was renamed Witham (Somerset) by BR Western Region to avoid confusion with the station of the same name on the Eastern Region in Essex. Situated 106½ miles from Paddington, or 120¾ miles on the original GWR route via Swindon and Westbury, Witham was the junction for the East Somerset branch (the Strawberry line) which ran via Shepton Mallet, Wells and Cheddar to the junction at Yatton on the Bristol to Taunton line. The branch fell victim to the Beeching Axe in 1963 but the station at Witham remained open for local GWW services until it too was axed in October 1966. Here the 1.10pm branch train to Bristol via Yatton waits in the bay behind 0-6-0PT 3773, as 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No 4924 Eydon Hall slows for the obligatory stop (if on time, at about 12.50pm) with train 050, the 11.12am SO Weymouth Town due Paddington at 3.30pm. This photo was taken on 20 June 1959, when No 4924 was in the course of a transfer from 84C Banbury to Taunton 83B. Photo by RE Toop Ref E44.
(Above) 'King' class No 6021 King Richard II of Laira depot approaches Witham at speed with train 053, the 11.30am SO Torquay to Paddington on Saturday 20 June 1959. This remarkable train of 11 coaches ran non-stop, 199¾ miles, all the way to Paddington to arrive at 3.48pm. It was regarded as a relief to the half hour later, up Torbay Express. (Editor's note: the Wells branch signals can be seen on the right, while Witham signal box on the left (67 levers) was decommissioned in 1984 when control was passed to Westbury. However the junction at Witham continues to be used for the stone traffic originating from Merehead Quarry on the East Somerset line at Quarry Junction. Part of the East Somerset Railway has also been re-opened as a heritage railway at Cranmore. Photo is by RE Toop Ref E47
There is much debate regarding Relief Trains; one school of thought says they are additional trains that are not associated with a train in the public timetable. But this cannot be right; the Working Time Table shows several trains described as Reliefs; examples are train 341, '4.40pm Penzance-Manchester', shown as 'Relief to 4.50pm Penzance-Manchester', which is train 217 from Penzance to Manchester (London Road). Another is train 666 '3.35pm Plymouth to Stapleton Road, Q to Cardiff', shown as 'Relief to 12.00-noon Penzance' (which is train 205, Penzance to Crewe). I find that Reliefs indeed can be associated with a train in the public timetable, and tend to run ahead of 'the main train'.
Also, Reliefs do not necessarily start or finish at the same places as 'the main train'. One example is described in Summer Saturdays in the West: 'train 106, the 8.23am Reading - Paignton, a relief to the 7.25am Ealing Broadway - Penzance, booked to run at point-to-point times in the Exeter Division, which meant no pathway was available to it'. Another, albeit not a West Country WR train is a 4.38pm Paddington - Great Malvern, a relief to the well-known 4.45pm Down 'Cathedrals Express' that goes the further 20m to Hereford.
Other additional trains known to me from Paddington that can be described as 'not associated with a train in the timetable' are the 3.05pm to Bristol, also trains 127 and 137 (the 3.15pm and 5,34pm to Cardiff) and the 6.53pm to Paignton. For Up trains to Paddington, well known is the Riviera Relief, train 636, often starting at Plymouth North Road; also the Relief to the 7am ex-Weston-super-Mare that starts at Temple Meads, train 451. Q trains are those that run 'As Required', and may have paths planned for them. Others, and these are at 'peak times', simply run to point-to-point times, with no path being available, so 'cope as best they can'. These trains are formed of the motliest rake of coaches.
(Above) 'Castle' class No 5032 Usk Castle of Newton Abbot shed, speeds through Witham station with the down 'Torbay Express' (nominated '332') on Saturday 20 June 1959. Built in May 1934, No 5032 was previously based at Shrewsbury and Stafford Road, and only became a frequent visitor to this line following its move to Newton Abbot in March 1958. A double chimney was fitted in May 1959, but it was withdrawn in September 1962. Oddly, nobody has found reason for it to be based at any depot in Wales, and therefore be close to the ancient Norman settlement after which it was named. (Editors note: Of interest to modellers is the large canopy over the bay platform which also provided cover for the Up Main platform; this was demolished a year after the picture was taken). Photo is by RE Toop Ref E49.
(Above-Below) As it will have done countless times before, 'King' class No 6025 King Henry III, a long-term resident at Laira (83D) between 1948-1959, is seen passing MP122 with the down 'Cornish Riviera' date unknown. (Editor's note: the original outside steam pipes suggest the year is 1952, therefore the livery is still BR Blue). (Below) 'Hall' class No 5902 Howick Hall of 83C Exeter shed passes MP122 with a train of empty milk tanks in 1951. The following year 5902 started a two year stint at Severn Tunnel Junction (86E) before being assigned to Llanelly (87F) for a further six years; this was followed by a transfer to Carmarthen (87G) then Bristol St Philips Marsh (82B). (Editor's note: almost certainly seen in BR lined black livery, note also the tall chimney with capuchin).
(Above-Below) On Saturday 16 August 1958, Class 47XX 2-8-0 No 4704 passes Brewham Siding Signal Box with train 147, the down 'Royal Duchy' (1.35pm SO, Paddington-Penzance). Often pressed into service on Summer Saturdays, these 2-8-0s were mainly used for fast freights, hence they did not possess the stabilising points to secure a reporting number frame on the smokebox door. Having reached the summit of the ten-mile climb to Brewham the crew will now have a respite before tackling the climb to Whiteball summit after Taunton. Photo by W Vaughan-Jenkins. (Below) Built in 1927, 'Castle' class No 5003 Lulworth Castle of Exeter shed displays very few changes as it approaches Brewham summit with train 535, the 1.40pm SO Kingswear-Paddington on Saturday 17 September 1955. After a steady climb of over ten miles to the site of Strap Lane Halt, there is just under 108 miles to go before Paddington by the direct route via Newbury, some 14½ miles shorter than the original route via Swindon and Westbury.
(Above) Passing MP124, 'Modified Hall' class No 6996 Blackwell Hall of Taunton (83B) pilots BR Standard Pacific No 70016 Ariel of Laira depot on train 153, the 3.30pm Paddington-Penzance on Saturday 10 September 1955. Most likely, earlier in the day No 6996 had hauled train 508, the 9.05am SO ex-Minehead which it took on at Taunton. Now it is returning to its home shed at 83B, while 70016 will continue to Plymouth where it will be replaced for the remainder of the journey to Penzance. This stretch of track near Bruton has a 65 mph restriction on the descent from the summit at Brewham some three or so miles back. Photo is in the RK Blencowe collection Ref EFG377.
(Below) On Friday 1 June 1957, BR-built 'Castle' class No 7025 Sudeley Castle passes MP126 at the head of an extra train numbered 145, which I believe to be the 11.40am Paddington to Plymouth. No 7025 went new to Old Oak Common in August 1949 before a move beckoned to Shrewsbury in August 1960; this was followed by a transfer to Worcester in October 1962, where it stayed until withdrawal in September 1964 having logged 685,916 miles. During its final year in service, 7025 Sudeley Castle excelled itself during an Ian Allan Rail Tour from Paddington to Plymouth on Saturday 9 May 1964; following the failure of 4079 Pendennis Castle at Westbury, No 7025 was called upon to haul the special from Taunton over the Devon banks to Plymouth North Road. Alongside the 'up' line is King's School Bruton; founded in 1519, King's School still exists and doubtless will remain so for many more years; the school will celebrate its 500th anniversary in 2019. Photo is by RE Toop Ref C89
(Above) A powerful study of orthodox 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No 6938 Corndean Hall of Newton Abbot depot heading a Class C goods train (fully fitted throughout) of twenty vans on the climb through Bruton station in 1957. Having battled with the 1 in 98 gradient from Castle Cary the crew will have to endure a further three miles of 1 in 93 steepening to 1 in 81 before reaching the summit of Brewham Bank, all of which often required the heaviest trains to seek rear end assistance from the Castle Cary banker. The rural aspect of the station layout is emphasized by the splendid cattle pen and dock on the right; for the record, Bruton Signal Box was 126 miles 13 chains on the original route from Paddington, and 111¾ miles on the direct route. Photo is by AC Ingram.
(Below) Roaring through Bruton station in 1957 is the now-preserved 'Castle' class No 4079 Pendennis Castle of 82A Bath Road (a bit off its usual patch) with the 6.25am SX Penzance-Paddington. Completed at Swindon Works on 4 March 1924, No 4079 showed its mettle on the LNER when it was pitted against the Class A1 Pacifics during trials on the East Coast Main Line from London to Grantham and Doncaster. Not only did 4079 prove to be more economical in both coal and water consumption, it regularly made the ascent from King's Cross to Finsbury Park in less than six minutes, a feat the Gresley Pacifics were unable to match. Before returning to its home shed at Old Oak Common, 4079 was put on display alongside Flying Scotsman at the Wembley Exhibition between May and October 1925. The engine spent its formative years based at Old Oak (PDN) depot, but later moved around more than most, with spells at Wolverhampton and Cardiff, followed by Gloucester (nine years) and Hereford preceding more work at Stafford Road, Bristol Bath Road (82A) and Taunton (83B) before withdrawal came in May 1964 and it was deservedly acquired for preservation. Its mileage at 28 December 1963 was recorded as a huge 1,758,398. Photo is by AC Ingram
(Above) Railway photographer Ron Toop certainly had a terrific eye for a picture! Here he captures yet another classic image of BR Western Region steam, this one showing Old Oak Common's 'Castle' class No 5006 Tregenna Castle heading the 10.35 SO Paddington to Penzance through the picturesque Somerset countryside west of Bruton on Saturday 1 June 1957. This train ran a few minutes after the Down Saturday Riviera, closely shadowing it throughout its journey to Cornwall, with a scheduled 5.40pm arrival at Penzance just fifteen minutes behind the main train. Photograph by RE Toop Ref D20.
(Below) Going well up the bank is 'Grange' class No 6834 Dummer Grange at the head of train 512, the 10.40am SO from Minehead due at Paddington at 2.40pm on Saturday 2 July 1955. No 6834 went new to Severn Tunnel Junction MPD in South Wales in August 1937. Then from March 1952 it was assigned to sheds in England, being based at Reading from 1st November 1952 until its transfer to Oxford. More transfers occurred until April 1964 when it went to Stourbridge, formerly 84F, but later designated 2C after becoming part of the LM Region, from where it was withdrawn in June 1964. Photograph is by RC Riley, Transport Treasury Archive Ref 6180.
(Above) Churchward's 2-6-0 No 5338 of 82D Westbury shed coasts down the bank between Bruton and Castle Cary with a long westbound Class H unfitted freight on Friday 1 June 1957. This stretch of the GWW is almost all downhill and relatively easy for westbound trains, although loose-coupled freights such as this required careful handling by the driver and the guard whose priority was to maintain the tension in the wagon couplings evenly throughout the length of the train, this was made particularly difficult due to the prominance of three-link style couplings on goods wagons which allowed a large amount of slack. In practice, when starting a goods train it was important to take up the coupling slack of loaded wagons at a constant rate to avoid snatching; a coupling suddenly jolted tight might result in the train splitting apart. Similarly, if a fast moving train was at a stretch - ie the couplings were at their full length - then a driver approaching signals at caution made only a gentle brake application to allow the wagons to be buffered up before the brakes were fully applied to bring the train down to the required speed. In this case the driver of No 5338 is relying very much on the brake van at the rear of the train, and the guard's collaboration in providing additional braking power during the descent. These unique skills have long since disappeared as goods trains are now fully fitted with brakes throughout. Photo by RE Toop Ref C89.
(Below) Just two weeks after a Heavy General overhaul, 'Castle' class No 5021 Whittington Castle of Laira depot, is storming the 1 in 98 gradient with an express from Plymouth to Paddington on Friday 19 May 1950. Thankfully the engine is now finished in the more familiar livery of Brunswick Green after a twenty one month period displaying the experimental Apple Green livery initiated by its new owners following nationalisation in 1948. British Railways pressed ahead with their ideas, but the results - especially the Ultramarine and BR blue, as seen on all of the 'King' class - were rather disappointing. Also this was first sighting of FW Hawksworth's flush-sided tender for this particular engine. Photo iby PM Alexander.
(Above) 'Castle' class No 5089 Westminster Abbey, a Stafford Road engine, makes a fine sight heading west on Whit Saturday 9 June 1962. No 5089 started life as a 'Star' class loco No 4069 Margam Abbey in January 1923; one of ten 'Stars' to be rebuilt into a 'Castle' loco between 1937 and 1940; this one being rebuilt in October 1939. The locomotive was withdrawn in November 1964, having logged an estimated 1,200,000 miles in service as a Castle. The letter 'B' in the train reporting number indicates a Bristol Division destination, so this could well be a Wolverhampton-Weymouth train, in which case it will diverge south at Castle Cary some three miles from here. The bridge crossing the line in the background carries the S & D line from Evercreech Junction on the left to Templecombe and Bournemouth on the south coast.
(Below) Still going strong despite its imminent withdrawal, 'Castle' class No 5067 St. Fagans Castle of Reading shed, heads train A51, the 10.05am Whit Saturday relief from Paignton to Paddington on 9 June 1962. One month after this picture was taken, No 5067 was withdrawn from service, just as the Western Region was getting busy with Summer travel.
(Above) On a Saturday in Summer 1949, 'Hall' class No 4988 Bulwell Hall of 82F Weymouth shed heads train 311, the 10.25am SO Weymouth-Wolverhampton, a relief to train 310, of five minutes later, just east of Castle Cary. It will make its way via Westbury, Thingley Junction, Swindon, Didcot west curve and Oxford. The 42½ mile portion from Thingley Junction to Didcot west curve is part of Brunel's original route west to Weymouth. No 4988 was withdrawn in March 1964. Photo is by L&GRP Ref 19557.
Castle Cary station was opened in September 1856, on the initial GWR line to here via Swindon, Trowbridge, Westbury and Frome. It was 129m 46ch from Paddington via that route, as part of the original route to Weymouth, another 39 miles beyond. In the Summer of 1901, the distance from Paddington was reduced to just over 115 miles via Newbury, by the opening of the Stert Valley line at Patney & Chirton, joining the initial GWR line at Westbury. Then in June 1906, Castle Cary became a junction station when the final cut-off line to the West was opened to Cogload Junction before Taunton.
(Below) Neat and tidy 'Hall' class No 4995 Easton Hall of 81D Reading is about to pass Castle Cary non-stop at the head of train 125, the 9.40am SO Paddington to Paignton, due there at 2.05pm. This was a ten or more coach train formed here mostly of non-corridor stock, which followed just behind the SO Paddington to Kingswear routed via Bristol. The loco and crew for this train was supplied earlier in the day by Reading depot. In WS Becket's excellent book 'Operation Torbay', he states - 'On arrival from London all ten vehicles are stabled at Paignton to form the 6.55pm Sunday Goodrington to Bristol and a late night service to Newport. The set then recessed for the best part of a week, coming to life for the 8.10am SO Newport-Paignton and 1.55pm Torquay-Paddington…' This is just as well, as on Saturday 27 July 1957, this train 125 was a dreadful 163 minutes late leaving Newton Abbot at 4.29pm. With such lateness, one cannot say when this Reading engine was returned to its home shed. Much to do by the Newton Abbot staff on Saturday evening and into Sunday to sort it all out. Photo is by Wild Swan Publications.
(Above) 'Modified Hall' No 7919 Runter Hall of 81D Reading, enters Castle Cary station with the 9.35am SO Paddington-Minehead in the mid-50s. This train made its first stop at Westbury at 11.25, and then waited 13 minutes - firstly for the 9.40am SO Paddington to Paignton (shown above) to get ahead of it on its non-stop run via the Westbury cut-off line, and secondly to collect passengers from the 9.34am Reading-Weymouth, which has called at many stations on the original line from Patney & Chirton via Devizes. This BR-built engine did not enter traffic until May 1950 and was therefore relatively new, and remained on the strength at Reading for most of its service history. If the two ladies on the platform are hoping to catch this train they will be disappointed as it is not due to stop here; its next stop is Taunton, where No 7919 will come off. Maybe they are waiting for the Weymouth train which should be following six minutes behind this one. Photo is by Wild Swan Publications
(Below) 'Castle' class No 4089 Donnington Castle of Laira (83D) heads non-stop through Castle Cary station with the Up 'Cornish Riviera' early in 1952. The Riviera was due to pass here at 2.43pm with an estimated 4.40pm arrival at Paddington now less than two hours away. This engine was allocated to several sheds, but it resided mainly Swindon (SDN), Bristol (BRD), Old Oak (PDN and 81A) and Laira (LA and 83D). No 4089 is now painted in the preferred livery of Brunswick Green having recently sported the 'pea-green' finish that adorned five members of the 'Castle' class from early 1948. On the drawbar are several slab-sided Hawksworth-designed carriages which always look very neat and tidy. To the rear of the train the 'pill-box' shaped signal box stands out with its white-painted walls; while on the platforms many milk churns are awaiting collection. Also worthy of note is the quaint corrugated roof of the 'Parcels Office & Cloak Room' Photo Joe Moss collection, distributed by Roger Carpenter.
(Above) The final photograph on this page shows 'Hall' class No 5974 Wallsworth Hall of Westbury (82D) departing Castle Cary with a semi-fast train for Yeovil on the line to Weymouth on Saturday 10 September 1955.. No 5974 was almost exclusively assigned to Westbury depot right up to late 1964 when it moved to Severn Tunnel Junction, its final resting place. The track in the foreground is the final cut-off line to Langport, Curry Rivel and Cogload Junction which is featured in the next instalment of the GWW-3…still in the planning stage. Photo is in the RK Blencowe collection Ref EFG374.
THE GWW-3 PAGE (CASTLE CARY TO NEWTON ABBOT) IS STILL IN THE PLANNING STAGE.
A LINK WILL BE PROVIDED HERE IN DUE COURSE
THE SOURCE OF PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE
My thanks to Rod Blencowe for his generous help in filling the gaps of my own collection. Over the years, Rod's negative archive has swelled to become one the most important collections in the country; not only is the archive regarded a valuable resource for publishers, railway enthusiasts and historians, his high quality images are readily available to all collectors. If anyone requires traditional photographic prints or any other photographic services. Rod Blencowe's email address is: email@example.com Please note this is not a 'clickable' link via Outlook Express. You will have to email manually.
This page also features photographs supplied by Stewart Blencowe, who has a superb archive of black & white postcard-sized photographs of locomotives from both the pre-Grouping and 'Big Four' eras. Many pictures are from his own negative collection and can only be purchased direct from him, either by visiting his website HERE or via selected railway book fairs, auctions and Open Days…the venues are listed on his website. Stewart has more than forty years of successful trading in all manner of railway items from secondhand books, photos and timetables to ephemera and railway minutia, relics, tape recordings models and miscellania. Postcard size prints can be ordered at £1.50 each including packing and postage. Stewart's email address is - firstname.lastname@example.org Please note this is not a 'clickable' link via Outlook Express...you will have to email manually.
The Transport Treasury collection supply rail, bus, and tram photographs to publishers and enthusiasts. Many well known railway photographers have chosen Transport Treasury to care for their collections, familiar names such as: R C Riley, Dr Ian C Allen, Richard HN Hardy, Roy Vincent, John Robertson, David Idle, Alan Lathey, Mike Mitchell, Eric Sawford and W (Bill) A C Smith to name but a few. You can contact the Transport Treasury using any of the following: Telephone 01464 820717 - Mobile 07867 645410 Email email@example.com or by post to: The Transport Treasury, Logie Shannoch, Drumossie, Insch, Aberdeenshire AB52 6LJ. Visit the Transport Treasury website HERE
GREAT WESTERN TRUST
The Great Western Trust (GWT) (Registered Charity 289008) was established by the Great Western Society (GWS) in 1984 to conserve and display artefacts and memorabilia of the GWR collection at Didcot Railway Centre. The vast majority of the collection has been donated by visitors or by GWS members and spans the period from 1833 (the First GWR Share Prospectus) to 1977 (withdrawal of the BR Western Region's Diesel Hydraulic locomotives). The Trust's photographic collection is vast and comprises images in both black and white and colour covering the Great Western and other British railway companies. Full details can be obtained from the Hon Photo Archivist c/o Didcot Railway Centre, DIDCOT, Oxfordshire England OX11 7NJ. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope.
STEPHENSON LOCOMOTIVE SOCIETY
The Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) photograph collection is a marvellous archive of over 50,000 historic railway photographs along with more contemporary images. The SLS list was previously only available to SLS members, but from January 2016 the archive became accessible to everyone. Full contact details and price lists can be found via the links provided on the excellent SLS website HERE
LOCOMOTIVE CLUB OF GREAT BRITAIN
The Locomotive Club of Great Britain's (LCGB's) Ken Nunn Collection has been transferred to the NRM, which will make pictures available to historians and enthusiasts in due course. The Ken Nunn collection of 35mm black and white and colour copy transparencies covers British railway history from the earliest years of the LSWR, GWR, South Eastern, NER, Midland, Southern and LNWR, with views of locomotives, carriages, wagons, road vehicles, workshops, stations, bridges, people, shipping and events. Click HERE to visit the National Railway Museum's photographic collection.
LOCOMOTIVE & GENERAL RAILWAY PHOTOGRAPHS
Charles Clinker, a historian of the Great Western Railway, was so deeply disturbed by the destruction of collections of early railway photographs by FE Mackay and E Pouteau, that he set up the Locomotive and General Railway Photograph (LGRP) with the aim of preventing future collections being destroyed. In June 1939 he went into business with V Stewart Haram, who ran the sales section, and W Vaughan-Jenkins who managed the photographic side. Charles Clinker's role was to persuade early railway photographers to pass over their negatives to the care of the LGRP, which would provide prints for sale to enthusiasts. The original partnership came to an end in 1951 when Vaughan-Jenkins sold his share of the business. The archive then passed from owner to owner, including the publishers David & Charles, Real Photographs, Ian Allan Ltd, before finally taking up residence at the NRM which purchased the collection and its associated rights with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund in 1992. Click HERE to visit a Guide to NRM's Photographic Collections. Details of the L&GRP can be found on page 117.
LENS OF SUTTON ASSOCIATION
As mentioned earlier, Ed Chaplin was a frequent visitor to Lens of Sutton on Westmead Road, then a Mecca for serious students of British transport. Ed purchased many wonderful old photographs from John Smith, proprietor of this specialist transport book shop. As a teenager some years earlier, Ed had bought many second-hand 00 gauge items from John Smith's previous shop at 50 Carshalton Road in Sutton. Sadly John Smith passed away in 1999, and the Lens of Sutton Association was established in 2001 to help maintain the collection and keep the name of 'Lens of Sutton' alive. The objective the Association is to make available a number of photographs from their extensive collection at very competitive rates. Lists are available at this contact address postal only: The Lens of Sutton Association, 46 Edenhurst Road, Longbridge, Birmingham B31 4PQ, or click HERE to visit the excellent Warwickshire Railways website for further details.
NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM
The NRM's photos come from two main sources, the railway operating concerns and private enthusiasts. The official photographs produced by the railway companies passed into public ownership under British Railways in 1948. These images, together with those of BR's own photographers, were acquired by the Museum under the terms of the 1968 Transport Act, which made provision for the retention of historic objects of national importance HERE.
Polite notice: All text and photographs are protected by copyright and reproduction is prohibited without the prior consent of the © owners. If you wish to discuss using the contents of this page the email address is below. Please note - this is not a 'clickable' mail-to link via Outlook Express. You will have to email manually.
Now that this website is approaching its conclusion (maximum 100 pages) I suggested to Geoff Burch that a page featuring his experience as a Driving Instructor might be of interest to site visitors. Geoff wasn't sure at first but after a wee-bit of 'arm twisting' he finally conceded.
We start the page with an introduction by Ian Barefoot, Publicity Officer, Farnborough Railway Enthusiasts Club, whose description of Geoff's career sets the wheels in motion...
Ian writes - 'The social history of those involved in the operation of Britain's railways (particularly at the 'sharp end') are rarely told but always fascinating. It was with great pleasure therefore that the Railway Enthusiasts Club at Farnborough hosted an illustrated presentation by Geoff Burch, a former railwayman with British Rail (Southern Region) based at Guildford shed.
For nearly two hours Geoff held the attention of an audience of about fifty members with his reminiscences of life at Guildford Locomotive Shed - a period which spanned the late 1950's to the end of steam at Guildford in 1967. Geoff's interest in railways started in his school-days - his classroom backed on to the 'main line' and like many of his fellow students he became an avid train-spotter, much to the despair of teachers when lessons were interrupted by boys making a dash for the windows to watch a train pass!
Geoff later responded to a 'British Railways' job advert and, at the age of fifteen, started work as an engine-cleaner at Guildford, gradually making his way up to the position of fireman. Geoff's presentation was full of anecdotes - interesting not only for the locos and locations involved - but because of the involvement of his work colleagues, bringing a realisation that work of this nature is very much a team effort.
Whilst Geoff's presentation concentrated on the 'steam age', his career on the railway extended far beyond the demise of steam when he became Training Design Manager at South West Train's Operations & Safety Training Centre, Basingstoke...'
Meanwhile, following the success of his first two books, Geoff has written a further book called 'Rambling Railwayman's Recollections' which completes the trilogy. This book begins on the day after his first book ended - Monday 10th July 1967 when he moved from Guildford Loco to work on more modern forms of traction at Woking. The chapters span his further railway career - Secondman and Passed Secondman days at Woking MT, Driving days at Effingham Junction, Driving days at Woking MT, Instructing days at Waterloo South Side Training School, a brief period with Surrey Police and finally, Training days at South West Trains Operations & Safety Training Centre at Basingstoke. Click HERE to visit Geoff's website.
ENGLISH ELECTRIC 4 SUB UNITS
(Above) 4-SUB class 405 suburban units numbers 4689 and 4289 (built at BR Eastleigh Works in 1949) meet at Clapham Junction (Central Division) in the rain on 23rd March 1981. The culling of the class 405 fleet was undertaken over an eleven year period; the final units to go were those on the Central Division in September 1983, the last of the type operating in revenue-earning service on 6th of that month. The stencil headcode  can be clearly seen on 4689 and oil-lit tail lamps were also still in evidence hanging on the rear of unit 4289.
I began my own training as a driver in the summer of 1969 when I attended an EMU course at Waterloo South-Side Training School at the age of 23, which, at that time, was the earliest you could become a driver. There were four of us on the course: two passed men from Waterloo (Alan Cook and Ian Turner) plus Colin Wells and myself from Woking. Our Instructor for the duration of the three-week course was Bob Phillips, however some days were spent on static and driving experience in the company of two other Instructors, Derek Gane from Woking and Jack Gardiner who lived near Sevenoaks.
The EMU course was the first time I aquainted myself with the English Electric 4 SUB Units, although other types of Electric Multiple units had also to be learned, including the 1936 2BIL and 2HAL units, 4COR Portsmouth Express units, 1951 & 1957 EPB Units, MLVs (Motor Luggage Vans) plus the 1963 4-VEP and 4-CIG units.
Prior to the start of the two-day exam, my companion from Woking went sick which meant I had to undertake the exam on my own; my examiner being Bob Phillips. As Bob wasn't a South Western man, the exam was conducted on the Central division and on the second day, I recall working my final train from Coulsdon North to Victoria where Bob informed me that I'd passed my exam and duly handed me my E.P. key!
On gaining my appointment as a driver at Effingham Junction in 1972, the SUB units were utilised for the mainstay of the work at this depot.
(Above-Below) English Electric 4-SUB Cab Layout: 1 Power Controller (Deadman); 2 Brake Valve; 3 Control Switch; 4 Control Trip & Set Switch; 5 Spare Fuses & Emergency Equipment Box; 6 Duplex Main Reservoir & Train Pipe Air Gauge; 7 Point Control Cut-Out Switch; 8 Headcode Stencils; 9 Handbrake; 10 Compressor Governor; 11 Switch & Fuse Panel; 12 Drop-Down Window (with adjustable leather strap); 13 Swivel Seat and 14 Heater. (Below) This second view of the cab layout shows: 1 Power Controller (Deadman); 2 Master Switch (Forward- Neutral-Reverse); 3 Westinghouse Brake Handle; 4 Control Trip & Set Switch: 5 Spare Fuses & Emergency Equipment Box; 6 Whistle; 7 Windscreen Wiper.
(Left) The Equipment Box contains the Control & Brake Keys (with connecting cord); 12 Detonators; 2 Red Flags-Spare Fuses of various amperages; Spare Copper Strip Fuses. Emergency Equipment (on 1963 VEP Unit); Short Circuit Bar; Hook Switch Pole; Box-Key Spanner; Paddles.
Cab controls were very basic - a brake handle and power controller (the latter having to be held down by hand pressure all the time that the train was moving). If the pressure on the controller was released for any reason i.e. the driver becoming incapacitated or falling asleep, the 'deadman' would operate cutting off power to the traction motors and instantly applying the emergency brake. Creature comforts weren't apparent either; a small swivel seat was fixed on a bracket on the inside of the driver's door and in a lot of cases, drivers stood up most of the time as the seats were quite uncomfortable. There was no other seats and if you had anyone else ride with you in the cab, they had to stand.
On SUB units, the only instrument gauge present was a duplex main reservoir air /train pipe pressure gauge (right). There were no luxuries of a speedometer, line indicator, brake cylinder gauge, AWS or headlight. The headcode was displayed using metal stencils (held within a metal frame); this was fixed in front of a white background - the background being lit during darkness. Changing the headcode stencil frame was normally carried out by opening the hinged-window on the non-driver's side.
The control voltage of the units was between 600-750v, so extra care was required when operating the 'bakelite handled' knife switches (left) or when changing fuses that were contained in the switch & fuse cupboard. If handled with care, the high voltage knife switches weren't dangerous and drivers were always taught to keep their other hand in their pocket and NOT to be holding onto any other metal parts whilst performing this task. The reason being thus: electricity will find its quickest path to earth and should you accidentally touch a high voltage switch, and be touching metal framing etc., the path of electricity would flow across the heart area and could cause a cardiac arrest. Therefore, if you weren't touching anything metal with your other hand, the path of electricity would probably not occur as your shoes or boots would act as an insulator.
I always remember my Instructor saying - 'If you touch that lad, you'll end up picking your nose with your elbow!' Wonderful!
To avoid causing an arc when opening the Main Aux (2-way) knife switch, it was important to remember that an arc would only be created when an electrical current was under load - i.e. the compressor or heating working. The policy of the '2-Way' knife switch being 'first in - last out' was the important motto to learn...
The unit collected its power from the third rail via shoes attached to a shoebeam arrangement and the train's equipment and motors could be isolated from the third rail by several methods depending on the severity of the reason i.e. fire on the train, power earth fault etc.
If an emergency occurred and it was of vital importance to get the current switched off immediately, a short circuit bar could be utilised to create a short circuit between the conductor rail and running rail and the effect of this would be that the line breakers in the control room that was supplying the current, would trip. As long as the short circuit bar was kept in place, the current could not be returned, as it would immediately trip the line breaker as soon as the control room operator tried to replace it. After two attempts of replacing the line breakers, the control room operator would then need to ascertain the cause of the short circuit before trying to replace the switch.
Another option would be to ask for a current isolation. This could be done via an Electrification telephone or a signal-post telephone (via the signalman). The person asking for the isolation was the only person that could obtain permission to restore the current. The traction motors were situated beneath each Driving cab and could be isolated if necessary by operating a pole switch using the Master Switch key.
The train's power line was also protected by copper strip fuses (above) and these would not only protect the equipment but could be removed to isolate the equipment (or unit) from the conductor rail supply.
In order to remove or replace these fuses, a number of wooden paddles would be utilised. The wooden paddles, placed under the shoes, acted as an insulator to allow the driver to remove and replace the fuses. It was important to remember that ALL shoes must be 'paddled up' and this was especially important when dealing with units in multiple because a train line jumper existed between units which allowed the current to go to both unit's equipment even if there was only one shoe on the conductor rail. The driver would walk round the unit on both sides to ensure ALL shoes were paddled up because in certain areas, the conductor rail might exist on both sides of the line.
(Right) The equipment shown here that might be used in an emergency are: Short Circuit Bar; Hook Switch Pole; Box Spanner (for removing the bolts holding the shoe fuse); Wooden Paddles and 455 Shoe Fuse.
(Left) Paddling Up procedure. The trainee is lifting the pickup shoe clear of the conductor rail so he can place another wooden paddle under the pickup shoe to form an insulator. All the unit's shoes that are in contact with the conductor rail must be isolated in this way before replacing or removing a copper strip fuse in the power circuit.
(Right) The Trip & Set Control switch was used to re-set traction motor overloads but was quite often unofficially used for a completely different purpose. When moving the switch to the 'set' position, an arc or large spark would be created. Drivers would use this spark to ignite a folded strip of newspaper to light their cigarettes!
The 4SUB (and 2BIL, 2HAL, 4COR Portsmouth Express) units had a Westinghouse air-brake, (subsequent stock built in 1951, 1957 and 1963 possessed a combined Westinghouse and electro-pneumatic brake). Each 4 Car unit had a set of 'keys' (brake valve & Master Switch) which were connected to each other by a length of cord (left). When changing ends (at a terminus for instance) it would be necessary to take the keys with you to drive from the other end (unless working an 8-car). The purpose of the keys being connected with cord was that it wouldn't then be possible to accidentally leave a brake valve open in another cab. Brake Tests were carried out before departure or when coupling to another portion of train so as to test the brake continuity. A DSD test was also carried out whenever a new cab was used.
The Westinghouse brake was an excellent brake system but had to be used with caution because although it was possible to partially apply the brake, it was not possible to partially release it. Once the brake handle was moved to the release position, all brakes were completely released throughout the train.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time driving the SUB unit and as time went on, I mastered the art of using the Westinghouse brake and preferred to use it even on stock that possessed the EP brake as I found it more challenging.
In 2011, Bob Hunt, a good friend of mine and fellow fireman at Guildford, gave me a SUB Controller which he's acquired some years ago from Selhurst depot.
Another two friends of mine had acquired one each at the same time and had cleaned them up as 'railwayana' exhibits. I'm pleased to say that the one I possess is also in fine fettle and considering it was created in the same year as I was born, is in better nick than myself!
(Left-Right) Cleaned up and gleaming as it probably did when it came out of Eastleigh works in 1946, this SUB Controller takes pride of place in my dining room. Interestingly, three recent trainee drivers looked at it and thought it was an instrument to tap out Morse code! How far technology has come during the last 60-70 years!
(Left) An absence of HVVs dates this photograph of an Instructor applying the short circuit bar as his 'students' look on in awe! A voltmeter has also been placed on the conductor rail (connected to the negative return running rail) to prove the current has been isolated. Before the application is made, it was important to make certain that it was being applied to a clean area of rail to ensure a good contact. The short circuit bar was also heavily weighted in the handle area to ensure that the bar remained in contact with the conductor rail after application.
(Below) The end of the road...Gordon Edgar took this interesting shot of a forlorn-looking Sub Unit 4624 in Guildford Up Yard awaiting removal for scrapping on 15th March 1981. Click here to visit Gordon's excellent Flickr site.
ACCIDENT AT GUILDFORD - 1
A serious accident occurred at Guildford station No 1 platform (Down Bay) on 18th September 1953 when the Motorman became confused with the working of the brake and overshot the sand drag. The following extracts, photos and diagrams are reproduced here courtesy railways archives.co.uk.
EXTRACTS FROM MOT REPORT
Chaired by Brigadier CA Langley
The 3.12 p.m. 8-coach electric passenger train from Waterloo to Guildford via Cobham, running under clear signals, entered No 1 Bay platform at a speed of about 25 mph but it failed to stop before reaching the sand drag at the end of the bay, where the first coach was dislodged from its bogies and was shot forward over the platform. It demolished the end wall of the station building and then passed through the Station Master's personal office, his Clerk's office and the Enquiry Lobby, finally coming to rest when the buffers hit the wall of the Fish Store alongside the Parcels Office. The front of the second coach was lifted off its leading bogie and was driven against the coach ahead, but the rest of the train remained on the rails.
Two passengers and five members of the railway staff were injured, including the Station Master and the relief Assistant Station Master. The Assistant Station Master succumbed to his injuries and died the following day.
The train was equipped with a self-lapping electro-pneumatic (EP) brake working in conjunction with the normal Westinghouse automatic system with all its safety features, which remain in operation whether or not the EP brake is in use.
The EP brake is applied by moving the handle through the first sector (see inserts below left & right).The cylinder pressure is dependent on the position of the brake handle between Nos. 1 and 2 notches and can be varied from a very light application to a maximum of 50 lbs per sq. inch in the No. 2 position. The holding magnets remain energised when the brake handle is in the Westinghouse positions, which means that any EP application is retained when the handle is moved to the lap or service positions on the Westinghouse sector. This part of the brake operates in the same way as the standard Westinghouse, the handle being pulled back from No. 4 to lap to prevent further build-up, and it is returned to the No. 1 position to release the brakes.
The panel holds a standard Westinghouse type duplex pressure gauge with two needles showing the main reservoir and brake pipe pressures, a brake cylinder pressure gauge, a speedometer and an ammeter.
On the right are three indicator lights. The top one (blue) is illuminated when the electrical supply is available to operate the E.P. brake, the next one (red) lights up when the line voltage auxiliary supply is switched on, and the bottom one (white) indicates when the motor generator is delivering a 70 volt supply.
Brake cylinder and brake pipe pressure gauges are also fitted in each guard's van. The power controller is unlocked by inserting the master key and turning it through go and the E.P. and Westinghouse brakes together with the air compressor and control circuits can then be made ready for use by moving the master switch handle from 'off' to ''on'. The master controller main handle has to be depressed in the normal way so as to close the 'dead man's' valve, and it is then operated by pulling it in an anti-clockwise direction towards the motorman. The reverser handle is on the left-hand side of the controller and can only be moved when the master controller main handle is in the 'off' position, though it will be free to move whether the "dead man's" valve is closed or open.
The train left Waterloo on time and ran non-stop to Wimbledon, then non-stop to Surbiton, after which it called at all stations to Guildford. The Motorman said he had no difficulty in controlling the train as far as London Road station and he used the E.P. brake on all occasions. Speeds up to 60 m.p.h. were reached and the train responded rapidly to the brake. For example, after checking the speed on the long falling gradient from Horsley he approached Clandon station at about 40 m.p.h., but he had no difficulty in stopping at the 8 car mark. The train entered London Road at about 20 m.p.h. owing to a previous restriction and the Motorman did not make the final application until he was half way along the platform. On leaving this station he passed slowly round the sharp curve to the Guildford Home signals, which were at Danger. The train had nearly stopped before the No. I Bay signal was cleared, after which he opened the controller to full power and kept it in this position until he reached Guildford Park Bridge, where he shut off power and coasted into the station. The Motorman made a partial brake application after passing through the bridge and a final one when half way down the platform. He stated that the brake gauge registered 50 lbs per sq. inch pressure but the brake did not seem to respond, so he tried to reverse his motors. He grabbed the reverser handle with his left hand and tried to pull it towards him, but it was locked.
The Motorman explained that he did not try to make an emergency application as he feared he might push the brake handle into the lap position and so 'lose the brake'. He also did not try to stop by releasing the controller main handle and allowing the dead-man's device to operate, because he thought that by doing this he would not be able to reverse the motors. The Motorman demonstrated his actions on a model and he added that in an emergency there was a natural tendency to pull with the right hand as well as with the left. He did not realise that a slight movement of the controller handle would lock the reverser handle. He finally admitted that he must have applied the brake too late, and then in the stress of the moment he tried to reverse, as he thought this was the more effective way of stopping the train.
MOT REPORT - TRAINING
With the introduction of the 1951 stock, classes were opened for training motormen in the use of the new equipment. The Motorman, who had had several years' experience in working the standard Westinghouse brake, was one of a group of six men to receive two days' instruction from the Driving Inspector in February 1952. The trainees were issued with pamphlets giving revised instructions for working the equipment and its details were explained to them fully. The working of the E.P. brake was demonstrated by means of diagrams and then the men were taken out for trial runs. Four trips were made altogether, and each man took charge for about five stations. The action to be taken in case of emergency was explained to them, though emergency stops were not actually made. The men were shown the effect of moving the brake handle into the various positions and the Inspector warned them that they would not get any brake if they overshot the No. 2 position and went straight into the 'lap' position. He pointed out, on the other hand, that any pressure applied when the handle was in the E.P. position would be maintained when it was moved on to the lap position or other Westinghouse positions. In addition to using the E.P. brake, each member of the class stopped the train with the Westinghouse brake so as to see how easily it could be applied. The men were not questioned individually about the working of the new system, but they were asked whether or not they understood it, and none of them appeared to have any difficulty.
The Motorman generally confirmed the Inspector's account of the training and agreed that he had received the pamphlet of instructions, which he thought he understood. The Motorman, however, was not at all clear about the working of the combined brake and he said that he feared "he would lose his brake if he moved the handle into the lap position". He had not made any emergency applications either during his training or when he drove the trains in service. He had also neglected to test the Westinghouse brake whilst running, in accordance with instructions, and excused himself by saying that he thought it was a very fierce brake. He said there were long gaps, often up to as much as four months, between the times he worked E.P. fitted trains but the records showed that since July 1952 he had been in charge of the new type of stock on 67 days, the longest gaps being 61 weeks in 1952 and 5+ weeks in 1953, which times included his annual leave. The Motorman agreed that he had not experienced any difficulty in operating the trains fitted with the E.P. brake which he thought was a very good one.
MOT REPORT - CONCLUSION
The electrical equipment was in good condition and the brakes, both E.P. and the Westinghouse brake were in proper working order when the train entered Guildford station. The evidence of the crew and of the station staff en route proves that the train was running normally up to the Home signal at Guildford, and the tests and examinations after the accident showed that there was nothing wrong with the brakes. The short circuit on the No. 10 wire of the E.P. brake controller proved that this brake was "on" at the moment of collision, and the fault on the No. 7 wire of the master controller made it equally clear that power was also fully applied when the train struck the sand drag. l have no doubt that these conditions were due to the mismanagement of the controls by the Motorman, who must accept responsibility for the accident.
According to the Motorman's evidence, he opened the controller fully as soon as the Guildford Home signal cleared and he did not close it again until he reached Guildford Park Bridge, by which time the train would have been travelling at about 37 m.p.h. I accept his statement that he made a partial brake application at this point but he must have released the brake before making a final application, otherwise the train would have stopped long before reaching the sand drag.
The speed on entering the Bay platform was probably about 25 m.p.h., which was greater than the permissible maximum, but even so the Motorman should have been able to stop in time if the E.P. brake had been properly applied, as was demonstrated on the test runs. I fear that on this occasion his judgment was seriously at fault, first by entering the station too fast and then by delaying the final brake application until too late. The pressure always takes a second or two to build up in the cylinders and this delay at a critical moment no doubt led him to think that the brake had failed. But instead of making an emergency application, he lost his head and tried to reverse the motors.
He must in the first place have pulled the master controller handle slightly in the stress of the moment and so locked the reverser handle in the forward position; thus when he seized it with his left hand he could not move it, in contrast to the controller handle, which was free. As he explained and demonstrated to me, he had a natural tendency to pull with the right as well as with the left hand, and it is quite evident that instead of reversing the motors he applied full power by pulling the controller handle towards him. The effect of this would have been to counteract to some extent the retardation produced by the brake and I doubt very much whether the speed was less than 20 m.p.h. at the moment of impact. This would have thrown the Motorman forward and with his right hand still on the controller handle he would have pushed it back into the closed position in which it was found.
The Motorman was 50 years old with 35 years' railway experience, having entered the service in 1918. In 1944 he qualified as a steam locomotive Driver after two years as a passed fireman and he was appointed Motorman in 1946. Although he has been driving electric trains for over seven years and had received instructions in the new type of equipment he does not seem to have understood fully the working of the combined E.P. and Westinghouse brake. His fear that he would 'lose the brake' with the handle in the lap position was quite unfounded and he had an unreasonable mistrust of the Westinghouse part of the equipment, which he admitted he had not tested under service conditions. Thus, when the emergency arose he reverted to an old time locomotive practice and tried to reverse his motors. This practice, although it may at times assist the deceleration of steam engines, generally does little more than trip the overload relays of electric trains and allow them to coast freely.............END OF MOT REPORT
ACCIDENT AT GUILDFORD - 2
Saturday 8th November 1952.
Another serious incident happened at Guildford involving a 2BIL EMU in a collision with a 700 Class locomotive adjacent to Guildford Yard signalbox on the evening of Saturday 8th November 1952.The 700 Class locomotive was No 30693, seen here (below left) on a different occasion with Guildford Driver Bill Soal on the footplate.
The collision was caused by an Ascot-Guildford service consisting of a 2BIL Electric Multiple Unit that had left Wanborough station (its last station stop) and once over the top of the bank at Pinks Hill, ran down the descent to Guildford with insufficient air for the brakes to function properly.
Unable to stop at the outer home and home signal protecting the line ahead, the 2BIL EMU collided with a light engine that was just leaving Guildford for Woking; the impact of the force pushing it back some thirty yards. There were sixty-five passengers on the train, sadly, the driver of the EMU and one passenger were killed and a further thirty seven passengers were hurt or suffered shock, six of whom were detained in hospital. The crew on the light engine (Driver Ted Greaves-Hurd and passed cleaner EC Muller) were also slightly injured.
(Right) After its obligatory stop at Wanborough station, an Ascot-Aldershot-Guildford service (headcode 21) comprised of a 2HAL + 2BIL descends the 1-100 gradient to Guildford.
The cause of the incident was blamed on a compressor failure; the compressor governor fuse rupturing, probably before it left Ascot as a 2-car Unit. The driver was completely unaware that by the time the train reached Guildford, there was little or no air left in the main reservoir and auxiliary reservoirs for the brakes to function.
One can only imagine the horror of what must have gone through the driver's mind after he had unsuccessfully tried to apply the brake as the train descended the 1-100 bank at a speed of 50 to 55 mph and then struck a locomotive coming the other way!
Following the outcome of the inquiry, a Control Circuit Governor (CCG) modification had to be fitted to this type of stock; so designed to ensure that there was sufficient air in the train pipe for brakes to be operative before a train could be moved in a forward direction and would also cut off power should the pressure fall below safe limits. The provision of this additional safeguard ensured that an accident of this type could not happen again.
(Above-Below) Scale Drawing of the incident and surrounds shows the point of collision and surrounding areas of Guildford Yard signalbox. (Below) View from Yorkie's Bridge of Guildford in its heyday - circa 1964. The point of collision between the 2BIL No. 2133 and 700 Class 30693 is arrowed. The story goes that Yorkie's Bridge gets its name from a man who farmed there at the time the railway came to Guildford in 1845. He was originally from Yorkshire, and was nicknamed 'Yorkie'. He grazed his cattle on Stag Hill, (site of the Surrey University and Guildford Cathedral) but the new railway line cut his farmhouse off from his fields and he persuaded the railway company to supply him with a bridge!.
EXTRACTS FROM MOT REPORT
Chairman Brigadier CA Langley
16. The hand brake in the leading driver's compartment was very badly damaged and had become entangled with the front part of the cab. The broken pieces were collected, and it was found that the screwed rod was completely out of the trunnion. This rod had been bent almost double and was fractured at each end. Since the hand brake is applied by screwing the rod through the trunnion its condition proved conclusively that this brake must have been fully off at the moment of collision.
17. The driver's air brake equipment at the front end of the train was also so badly damaged that its condition at the time of the accident could not be determined, but the coupling cocks between the two coaches were open and the hose pipes were coupled, thus giving a continuous brake throughout the train. The driver's brake valve in the motor coach at the rear of the train was in the 'off' position, and the isolating cock at this end was correctly closed. The brake blocks on the wheels of both coaches were properly adjusted and were not unduly worn; there were no signs of flats on any of the tyres. The blocks were hanging off and there was no compressed air in the brake system. The emergency brake cock in the guard's van was open, the passengers' communication chain in the last first-class compartment of the leading coach had been pulled, and the 'tell-tale' at the end of the coach was standing out. Enquiries failed to reveal who had pulled the chain but it could not have been dislodged by the accident, and it must therefore have been pulled by a passenger, presumably while the train was running away down the Pinks Hill incline.
18. The isolating cock in the driver's cab of the rear coach was opened and the brake equipment of this coach was re-charged with air from an independent source. The brake was then tested by making a 3lb. reduction in the train pipe pressure by means of the driver's valve. This was sufficient to work the brakes, which released satisfactorily when the valve was returned to the running position. Both the guard's and the passenger communication emergency valves had full-bore exhausts and they gave emergency brake applications when they were operated.
19. Examination of the air compressor disclosed that the compressor governor fuse had blown, but otherwise this part of the equipment was in good condition and on replacement of the fuse the compressor operated satisfactorily. The blowing of the governor fuse would only stop the air compressor while the train was running as a 2-car unit as it would have worked under the influence of another compressor governor prior to the units being detached at Ascot via a syncronising wire. X-ray photographs of the blown fuse showed that its condition was consistent with its having been subjected to an overload, though not a very severe one. This might have been produced by a current surge when passing over gaps in the collecting rail such as occur occasionally at crossovers and complicated track-layouts. (Continued Below...)
(Above-Below) Tony Callaghan took this shot of 2 Car BIL 2095 about to leave Wokingham station with a Reading - Waterloo service in June 1969. Normal practise would be that it would stop at all stations to Ascot and then another 2-car BIL from Guildford would attach to the rear and the train would continue to Waterloo as a 4-car unit. On its return journey, the train would split at Ascot; the front portion going to Reading and the rear portion going to Guildford via Aldershot. (Below) Guildford Driver Bill Phillips looks back for the tip from the Guard on 2BIL No.2100 at Wokingham with a Reading bound service in June 1969. Bill doesn't have to look far as the Guard is riding in the brake van directly behind him! The black inverted triangle on a yellow background gives a visual indication to platform staff which end of the train the Guard's van is situated.
(MOT Report - continued from above)
20. This discovery indicated that the failure of the brake was due to loss of air pressure when the compressor stopped working, and that this could not have happened until after the train had been reduced to a 2-car set at Ascot. A series of tests were therefore made to find out the effect of this on the electrical controls and the braking system. The accident can only be attributed to a gradual loss of air from the main reservoir until the pressure was insufficient to produce an effective brake when the driver made the usual application on the Pinks Hill gradient.
31. The static tests with a 2-car set demonstrated that the quantity of air stored in this reservoir was just about sufficient to work the brakes and operate the traction motor contactors for the complete journey of 23 miles from Ascot to Guildford (although minor leaks might have produced a somewhat earlier failure).
The tests also showed that the brakes would give effective stops even when the reservoir pressure had fallen to very low limits. Thus it seems likely that the compressor governor fuse blew either shortly after leaving Ascot, or else whilst the set still formed part of the 4-car train on its journey to and from Ascot and Waterloo when, as already explained, a blown governor fuse would not have stopped the compressor from working.
32. The steady drop in pressure after each brake application would have shown on the duplex gauges in the driver's cabs at each end of the train, and the drop in the train pipe pressure would also have been registered on the gauge in the guard's van. The guard stated that he did not look at this gauge after testing the brakes at Ascot but he can hardly be blamed for failing to do so since the train had been handled in the usual way up to the time it reached the Pinks Hill gradient. (Continued below...)
(Above-Below Right) Diagram 1: Brake Schematic showing how Main Reservoir air (coloured yellow) is distributed to various equipment on the train and to the brake equipment (coloured red) and how the brake can be applied via the driver's brake valve, the driver's safety device (DSD), the communication cord or the guard's emergency valve. (Below Right) Diagram 2: Compressor schematic showing the compressor governor fuse location and how the compressor failed to work once the fuse had blown. However, the compressor motor can still run under the influence of another unit's compressor governor via the compressor sync wire when units are coupled together. Assuming all fuses are good and there is a electrical feed, the compressor will start as soon as a compressor governor detects that the air pressure in the main reservoir has dropped below 90psi. As soon as the pressure has reached 100psi, the compressor governor contacts will open and the compressor will stop. As mentioned, the drawing indicates that should the unit be in multiple with another unit/s, any other compressor governor closing will send a feed along the synchronising wire to enable all compressors to work in unison).
(MOT Report - continued)
33. The driver who was 62 years of age, was in good health and good spirits on the day of the accident. He was a thoroughly experienced railwayman of 45 years' service with a clear record, and he had been working as a motorman for the past 13+ years. It is therefore very surprising that he did not notice the drop in air pressure on either of the duplex gauges which are placed in the driving cabs for the very purpose of indicating to motormen the condition of the braking system. I can but conclude that the driver was so accustomed to relying on the integrity of the Westinghouse brake that he got out of the habit of watching the gauge regularly on the journey. He was travelling in the dark and he could not have realised that for the last few brake applications he must have been opening the driver's valve a little more than usual each time in order to get the required braking effect as the air pressure gradually fell away.
34. I have no reason to doubt that the driver was keeping a proper lookout for signals and that he made the usual light brake application as he approached the Guildford Yard Distant signal. This probably had little effect, and I believe it must have been at this moment that he at last realised the brakes had failed. No doubt he made a full application but he had little time left for further emergency action.
35. A free running train would have been travelling at about 55 mph by the time it reached the point of collision, but the extent of the damage suggests that the speed was less than this. It therefore seems likely that the little air pressure that was left in the brakes was sufficient to check the train slightly though unfortunately it was not enough to stop it.
36. My conclusion that drivers were accustomed to rely on the integrity of the Westinghouse brake is based partly on the well known reliability of this dependable mechanism but more on my own observations, which showed that the spot lights were not always shining on the duplex gauges; in fact, five out of seven spot lights were not in focus when I inspected them after the accident. Drivers to whom I spoke agreed that this was also the case in other cabs on this type of stock, and they admitted that they had never reported the defect. They explained that they carried a hand lamp which they shone on the gauge when they wished to examine it but usually they only did this when they were testing or if they thought their brakes were not working efficiently...END OF MOT REPORT.
During my days as a fireman at Guildford loco, I fired to the driver of the locomotive on a number of occasions and he didn't ever mention the incident. I also worked alongside him as a fellow Instructor at Waterloo Training School until his retirement.
(Above) John Scrace's photo of hybrid 2-Car 2133 was taken at Three Bridges on 25th May 1970; this motor coach was part of the unit involved in the runaway incident at Guildford. It returned to traffic in 1955.
WATERLOO TRAINING SCHOOL
After moving to Waterloo Training School in 1987 as an Acting Instructor, I eventually took my appointment there as a full time Instructor in 1989. I trained Drivers on Rules & Regulations and on most types of SR Electrical Multiple Units including 1951 / 1957 EPB, 1963 VEP & REP Stock Class 455 Sliding Door Stock, Motor Luggage Vans (MLVs), Class 483 IOW Stock and after becoming a Senior Instructor in 1991, Class 158/159/159/1 Sprinter Units and Class 73 Electro-diesel locomotives.
As a Senior Instructor, it was always necessary to take examinations of Drivers on their second attempt (Final Exam) on Rules or Traction should they have been unfortunate not to have passed on their first attempt.
It was customary to take up to four trainee Drivers out on practical driving days - using normal service trains. Sometimes, it was the first time that they'd ever driven a train so it was life in your hands so to speak - no simulators in those days! It was a standing joke that Instructors took a shoe size smaller than their normal size as your toes would be constantly curling up! Drivers came from a wide range of backgrounds, and I recall these budding Drivers (inset left & right) since both were a treat to train; the Driver above had previously served in the Royal Navy as a Petty Officer for 25 years and was used to discipline.
On a Driving Exam, the Instructor examined two Drivers (static on day 1 and driving on day 2) and used various types of trains that were applicable to the Driver's depot. In both these photos the Guildford Drivers are driving an Electric Multiple Unit of the 4-EPB variety (EPB meaning electro-pneumatic brake) which was built in 1957. Looking at the position of the brake handle, I've instructed the Drivers to use the Westinghouse brake (see diagram below right) and not the EP brake (position 1-2). They're using the brake in position 3-4 to stop or retard the train.
It was necessary to get Drivers used to operating the Westinghouse (auto-brake) because as per the Rules, this was always tested at various locations e.g. before entering a terminus, before the first stopping point, in severe weather conditions (snow etc). It was also good practice to show what would happen should the brake handle be moved too quickly towards the 'Lap' position (3) and accidentally miss the EP application and holding magnet valve contacts of the EP brake.
The importance of understanding the system has already been described in the article covering the accident at Guildford station No 1 platform on 18th September 1953 when the Motorman became confused with the working of the brake and overshot the sand drag.
(Inset Right-Below) One of the most important and satisfying moments of my life was when I was presented with this EP Key - No.7145 by Instructor Bob Phillips in 1969. It meant that I'd passed my Driver's exam and it was handed to me at Victoria station after a nerve-racking two day exam (I was on my own as the other Driver who should have been with me had gone off sick). The presentation of this key to Drivers (it unlocks the Master Switch of all modern trains from 1951 to this present day) symbolises the start of a Driver's career. During my time as an Instructor at Waterloo I've presented quite a number of keys to Drivers and it always gave me tremendous satisfaction. (Below) Here are a couple of shots of 4 car EPB Units at Clandon, one in each direction, starting with a 4 Car EPB unit No 5319 (with headcode 42) leaving Clandon station on the 'up' line with a Guildford - Waterloo via Cobham passenger service. Clandon signalbox is still in operation but not for much longer. Note there is no yellow panel on the front of the unit.
(Above) A 4 Car EPB unit No 5311 (with headcode 42) leaves Clandon station on the 'down' line with a Waterloo - Guildford via Cobham passenger service. After leaving Waterloo and running fast to Wimbledon and then Surbiton, the train would branch off the main line at Hampton Court Junction, calling at Hinchley Wood, Claygate, Oxshott, Cobham, and Effingham Junction and after stopping at Clandon, would call at London Road (Guildford) and finally Guildford. Commonly known as the 'New Line', it was opened on 2nd February 1885 by the London and South Western Railway. Successor companies to run the line were the Southern Railway, British Railways (Southern Region) and presently Southwest Trains. Note the new colour light signal post laying by the platform slope waiting to be erected. The down yard has already disappeared and the signalbox will soon be dismantled and signals controlled from Guildford's new Panel Box.
PRACTICAL HANDLING DAYS
(Below) Class 73/1 73205 at Bournemouth Depot waiting to attach to a 4-VEP Unit and work the Driver Training trip to Poole-Eastleigh-Poole-Bournemouth Depot. The locomotive's versatility held no bounds and with a 1600/600hp capability could haul any train within reason and on diesel power could conduct the most delicate of movements - shunting within a yard or working with a track-relayer out on a work site. I never tired of working on these locomotives - they were clean, had a comfortable cab (and it was easy to change ends walking through the electric and diesel compartment). A truly remarkable locomotive with a design well ahead of its time...
(Above-Below) Some time ago, I found this photo of a Class 73 training trip taken by Richard Sulzmann at Eastleigh. Yours truly is in the secondman's seat. The photo shows Class 73/1 73201 (originally numbered E6049) and 4 VEP 3417 leaving Eastleigh on a return Driver training trip from Bournemouth depot in March 2006. Four drivers are being trained on the correct use of the Electric Controller + EP and Auto-Air braking facilities when in multiple with a compatible unit. The Auxiliary Power use of the 600hp diesel engine will also be demonstrated and practised. Link here to Richard Sulzmann's 'Headcode92' website. The locomotive was renamed 'Broadlands' again on 21st May 2009 during the centenary celebration of Eastleigh Works. (Below) No 73201 also had the honour of working the Royal train that conveyed Prince Charles and Princess Diana to their Honeymoon destination at Broadlands, in Hampshire. Here 73201 rushes through a spectator packed Brookwood station with the Royal train on 29th July 1981.
(Above-Inserts) A general view of the cab layout of Class 73/1 73235 showing the various instrument on the desk in alphabetical order: A - AWS (Automatic Warning System) Indicator. Sunflower segments will turn to black & yellow on cancellation of the horn when approaching a RED or Caution signal (one yellow or two yellows) or any emergency, permanent or temporary speed restriction AWS magnet. If the horn sound is not cancelled within 3 seconds, the emergency brakes will apply. B - Drivers Brake Valve (DBV) - will apply automatic air brakes on locomotive and train (if coupled). C - Auto Air/EP (electro-pneumatic) brake selector switch (normally left in Auto Air position. D - Main Reservoir/Brake pipe pressure gauge - Main-res air 90-105 psi - Brake-pipe pressure 72.5psi. E - Brake Cylinder pressure gauge - max pressure 60psi. F - Demister/Route indicator/Headlight/Instrument light switches. G - DRA (Driver Reminder Appliance) and Isolating switch (sealed). The DRA is an additional safeguard to stop Drivers form passing signals at danger. It must be applied when the locomotive has stopped at a RED signal (by pressing in the red plunger provided) which will stop power being applied to the traction motors. Once the signal has been cleared, the plunger can be released thus restoring the control circuit to the traction motors. H - Resistance Indicator Flag [R] will show in the window when resistances are introduced in the Motor circuit (when first taking power for instance).To understand the sequence of events on electric operation, it must be remembered that it would be impossible to apply full line voltage to stationary traction motors without introducing resistances into the motor circuit to reduce the flow of current. On starting, three power contactors are closed in sequence to allow current to flow through the traction motors with all resistances in circuit. To gain further acceleration, the resistance camshaft must now progress to close the 'R' switches R1, R2, R3, R4 and so on to progressively short out the resistances. As the locomotive gathers speed, the 'back electro-motive force' of the traction motors tends to oppose the applied voltage and so gradually dispenses with the need for resistances, until finally R19 and R20 contactors close to short out all resistances in circuit. The traction motors are now running in Full Series with no resistances in circuit. If more power is required, JR contactor opens and J contactor closes as the first step to transition from Series to Parallel working. To meet the sudden increase in current when paralleling the motors, all the resistances are again put back into the traction motors circuit. This time, resistances are removed in pairs, 'R1' and 'R2' together, 'R3' and 'R4' together and so on until ten steps have been taken to short out all resistances. The locomotive's motors are now running in Full Parallel with no resistances in circuit. Further acceleration can be obtained by the weak fielding camshaft (WF) introducing field diversion switches which effectively reduce the traction motor's back electro-motive force thereby increasing the applied voltage and attain more power. There are 20 resistances in the traction motor circuit when in SERIES and 10 steps of resistances when in PARALLEL (the same 20 but removed in pairs). The resistances can be 'notched' out of the power circuit by one movement of the Electric Controller at a time or by placing the electric controller to the RUN-UP SER (Series) position. The resistances will then be removed automatically under the control of the CLR (Current Limit Relay). Once FULL SERIES has been achieved, the indicator flag will go black. Similarly, when the Electric Controller is moved to the RUN-UP PAR (Parallel) position, transition of the traction motors will take place and the traction motors will be regrouped. The [R] indicator flag will re-appear as the resistances are placed back into the circuit. The Traction motor resistances can again be 'notched' out of circuit or automatically removed by the control of the CLR. Maximum power to the traction motors is achieved by moving the Electric Controller to RUN-UP WF (Weakfield) position. The field of the traction motor circuit is now weakened in 4 stages which will allow the traction current to overcome the Back EMF (electro-magnetic force) that has been generated by the traction motors and allow more power to be applied. During this operation, no [R] will be visible on the Resistance flag indicator and will remain black. With this type of control of power to the traction motors, the locomotive's versatility came into its own and speed of trains could be adjusted accordingly to the range of power positions at hand. The locomotive could even be worked in the Series/Weakfield position (by moving the Master Switch to FORWARD SER and a further range of power could be applied to the Traction Motors. Other positions of the Electric Controller are HOLD (the power position required can be held constant) RUN BACK (the resistances can be run out of the power circuit to reduce the flow of amps to the traction circuit). OFF (Power is removed completely from the Traction Motor Circuit and LOCK OFF (this position would require the push button on the end of the controller being utilised and would allow the Diesel Controller to be opened to the OFF position). However, this can only be attained if the Master Switch was at FORWARD PAR. It was always taught that to avoid snatches to attached trains, the Ammeter should not register more than 500 amps when passing through conductor rail 'gaps'. High Amps being drawn (especially at low speed) could also introduce the risk of severe arcing from the conductor shoes when leaving the conductor rail resulting in serious arcing, which could result in a fire. Note: Should the locomotive shoes go into a 'gap' in the conductor rail, the loss of power would be detected by the NVR (No Volt Relay) and the camshafts will automatically start running back. Once the shoes make contact with the conductor rail again, power is regained and the camshaft will stop in the position it has reached. The resistances will again have to be removed, either by notching or placing the electric controller to a 'Run Up' position. I - Line Indicator Flag [ON] when shoes are in contact with the third rail and [OFF] if shoes are raised or there is no supply to the conductor rail from the sub-station i.e. a current isolation. J - Engine Flag - Three possible indications - Engine Stopped (White flag), Engine running (Black flag)and black and white diagonal stripes (Engine priming prior to starting). K - Aux Power (Auxiliary Power) - two possible indications [OFF] or [ON] when it is possible to work under diesel conditions utilising the Electric controller. If Aux power is selected and the 27way EMU control jumper is connected between locomotives in multiple (or similar Electric Unit types) it is possible to drive the locomotive under diesel conditions and control the unit under electric conditions (using the Westcode Valves). L - Wheelslip Indicator Flag - Indicates wheelslip - flag changes from black to white erratically. Wheelslip can be corrected by any of the following methods: reduce power by placing electric controller to the Run Back position, apply air to the brake cylinders by pressing the wheelslip button ([S] on diagram) or press the sand button on desk (not shown). M - Fault Flag - Normally White indication - Black if fault occurs on diesel or electric conditions i.e. earth on control fault or high water temperature conditions under diesel power. N - Speedometer. O - Ammeter - measurement supplied to the traction motors under diesel or electric conditions. Amps must be 'run back' to under 500 before running into conductor rail gaps or shutting off power.P - Electric Controller (can also be utilised to control the diesel power under Aux Power conditions). Q - Master Switch - released by inserting EP Key [ W] The DSD (Driver's Safety Device) will come into operation as soon as the Master switch is moved away from OFF and a FOR or REV position is made. R - Positions of Electric Controller - Lock Off/Off/Hold/Notch Up/Run Up positions/SER/PAR/WF. S - Anti-Slip Brake push button (releases 20psi air into the brake cylinders to arrest wheel slip. T - Rear Cab Horn button - Blows the horn at the other end of locomotive. U - AWS (Automatic Warning System) horn cancel button. Should the AWS horn sound when running over the AWS magnet in the track, the horn must be cancelled within 3 seconds or the emergency brake will apply. V - Master Switch Positions - Off / Neutral / Forward-PAR / Forward SER and REV. W - EP Key. X - Engine Stop toggle switch. Y - Auto Engine Start toggle switch - To start Engine: with Master switch at Neutral, press and release the Auto Engine start switch (Engine Flag will turn to black /white diagonal stripes) engine will prime for approx. 30 seconds, crank, fire and run. Engine flag will go black and the air compressor will run to charge air into the main reservoir tank to a pressure of 105psi.
(Above-Inserts) The Electro-Diesel locomotive is designed to work from the electric conductor rail or over non-electrified lines. It will operate as a 1600 HP Electric Locomotive when the conductor rail supply is available, with a conductor rail current loading index of eight - or a 600 HP Diesel Electric Locomotive when the conductor rail supply is not available. The power is then provided by an auxiliary diesel engine and main generator. This view of the cab shows both driver and secondman positions. As you can see, the controls are duplicated on both sides, for shunting purposes but the controllers can only be changed from the Driver's side. A button had to be depressed on either controller to place them to the LOCK OFF positions to enable the other controller to be opened to a power position. The Electro-diesel was designed to conduct shunting and haul trains in and out of marshalling yards where no electrified lines were present utilizing a powerful 600hp 4 cylinder diesel engine with excellent torque. Control of current to the traction motors is governed by the speed of the diesel engine under the control of a Load Regulator, which in turn is governed by opening and closing of the diesel controller (A) (Left) Control of current to the traction motors is governed by the speed of the diesel engine under the control of a Load Regulator, which in turn is governed by opening and closing of the diesel controller. Once the locomotive had left the yard and was over the conductor rail, the collector shoes would be lowered (with compressed air), the diesel controller closed to the LOCK OFF position and the Electric Controller opened to any position of power -i.e. HOLD or any of the RUN UP positions. Once this was done, the diesel engine would be switched off by pressing and releasing the engine stop switch. (B) Other cab equipment shown above and not in the previous photograph are: (C) Auto Engine Start Switch. (D) Aux Power Off Switch (terminates auxiliary power) - Collector shoes will lower.(E) Aux Power On Switch (to allow the use of the electric controller to work diesel conditions and any other electric unit's power that might be coupled in multiple) Collector shoes will be raised.(F) Reset Switch (Resets traction motor overloads (controller must be at off to reset). (G) Fire Alarm Test - Tests fire alarm circuit and fuse - (diesel compartment only). (H) Pre-Heat Trip switch (Turns off Pre-heating). (I) Cab Heat (either side). (J) Pre-Heat ON switch (Cab can be setup to pre-heat a train without the master key present (power for pre-heat coming from the conductor rail). The compressor control wires will remain energized to ensure sufficient air is present to hold (a) hold shoes down on the conductor rail (b) to ensure the heating contact remains closed. (K) Route Indicator Cupboard containing route indicator blinds. (L) Cab Secure Radio System - Once radio is set-up, it allows radio communication between Driver and Signaller and vice-versa. As the locomotive passes between different radio areas, the changes are made automatically. Should there be an Emergency - a STOP message can be flashed to the Driver and acknowledged once the Driver has stopped. (M) TPWS (Train Protection & Warning System) which will initiate an emergency brake application when a signal is passed at 'danger', and in most cases when a train approaches a 'danger' aspect (or speed restriction) at too high a speed. TPWS aims to stop the train before it reaches the first point beyond the signal where a conflict (that falls within the scope of TPWS protection) could occur. This is called the 'clearance point' and the distance from the signal to the clearance point is known as the 'Safe Overrun Distance' (SOD). I have this one showing both driver and secondman positions. As you can see, the controls are duplicated on both sides, for shunting purposes but the controllers can only be changed from the Driver's side. A button had to be depressed on either controller to place them to the LOCK OFF positions to enable the other controller to be opened to a power position. The Electro-diesel was designed to conduct shunting and haul trains in and out of marshalling yards where no electrified lines were present utilizing a powerful 600hp 4 cylinder diesel engine with excellent torque. All of this could be done with the locos collector shoes being held safely in a raised position by springs. Once the locomotive had left the yard and was over the conductor rail, the collector shoes would be lowered (with compressed air), the diesel controller closed to the LOCK OFF position and the Electric Controller opened to any position of power -i.e. HOLD or any of the RUN UP positions. Once this was done, the diesel engine would be switch off by pressing and releasing the engine stop switch.
The non-operational switches (indicated by the red numbers on a cream background) are as follows: (1) Vacuum Brake Gauge - Blanked off as South West Trains no longer ran any vacuum fitted trains. (2) Fitted/Unfitted switch. When originally built, these locomotives hauled fully fitted and unfitted braked trains (unfitted with a Guard in a brakevan at the rear of the train). The DSD on these locomotives had a delay of 6 to 7 seconds before they applied (so the driver had time to swap positions in the cab). When working 'fully fitted trains, the switch would stay in the 'Fitted' position and if the driver was incapacitated at any time, the emergency brake would apply fully after the 6-7 seconds. When working unfitted braked trains, it was important to place the switch to the 'Unfitted' position. This feature would initiate a time delay of the emergency brake being applied so as to 'buffer' the train together to avoid possible derailment / locked buffers or even causing injury to the Guard riding in the brake van at the rear of the train. (3) Interlock Cut-Out Switch. Heating of passenger trains is normally worked by a 'double pole' system where the heating jumpers are connected on both sides of the train to initiate a negative return feed to the conductor rail.The Interlock-Out Switch was utilised for one train only 'The Night Ferry' which ran from Victoria to Dover Marine and had a 'single pole' heating system. Until the Eurostar service began on 14 November 1994, the Night Ferry had been the only through passenger train between Great Britain and Continental Europe. The service was withdrawn on 31st October 1980.
(Inset Left & Right) A view inside the Diesel Engine Room showing the Main & Auxiliary Generators. First I'll deal with the Main Generator. Whilst working under Diesel conditions or Auxiliary Power conditions, the traction current is supplied by the engine driven main generator. The output of the generator is controlled by increasing or decreasing the engine speed and therefore the speed at which the main generator turns. This is governed by the position of the power controller and the amount of regulating air flowing to the engine speed governor. Next we come to the Auxiliary Generator which is coupled directly to the crankshaft of the diesel engine. When the engine is running, the generator produces a 110 volts DC supply. If the Motor Generator set is not running, the Auxiliary Generator will supply the circuits listed above plus: The Radiator Fan Motor and the Main Generator Field. (Inset right) This photo shows some of the other Engine Room Components. The Motor Generator is situated outside the loco. With the AIS closed and a conductor rail supply available, the motor of this set will run off of the conductor rail supply. Coupled to the motor via a shaft is the generator which will produce a constant 110 volts DC supply. Equipment supplied at 110 volts are the: Control circuits Compressor, Lighting Circuits Cab heat and Battery Charging.
(Inset Left & Right) Close up of the Straight Air Brake...there are two straight air brake valves in each cab. All four work independently, with double check valves fitted to prevent air pressure exhausting from the other valves when applying the brake. The straight air brake is used for stopping the locomotive when running light locomotive. (Inset Right) An AUTO/EP brake selector switch is situated on the driving desk to the left of the driving position. It must be placed in the EP position during brake testing and for working with the Class 400 EMU stock fitted with the conventional type of EP brake system. There is no separate EP brake valve handle so the automatic brake valve handle is utilised and the Air brake pipe pressure is maintained at 72.5 psi by energising a Cut Off and Recharging Valve the moment you move the brake handle. As its name implies, it will 'cut off' the brake valve from the Air brake pipe and will 'recharge' (maintain) the brake pipe at 72.5 psi. (the air coming from the control reservoir instead of the normal main reservoir supply). Because there is no fall in Air brake pipe pressure and therefore no automatic brake applied in EP, great care must be taken to ensure the selector switch is not at EP unless the locomotive is coupled to coaching stock with a compatible EP brake system. The brake is electrically controlled to give a simultaneous and uniform application and release of the brakes on the locomotive and all coaches of the train. The correct method of applying the brake is to move the brake handle toward Full Service and immediately the brake cylinder pressure registers on the brake cylinder gauge, return the brake handle back to an intermediate position that is needed to reduce the speed of the train, (unless a full service application is required).
(Inset Left & Right-Below) A photo showing the Drivers Brake Valve in release position. The automatic brake valve has five positions: 1. NEUTRAL.The brake valve is out of use. Although provided with a locking pin it is not locked securely as on other classes of locomotive, so care must be taken to ensure it is not inadvertently left at Emergency when vacating the cab. Before moving the brake handle from Neutral, check the main reservoir air supply is at least 90 psi., the Brake Selector Switch (BSS) is at 'AIR', the EP/Auto selector switch is at 'AUTO' and the Master Switch is away from Off. Moving the Master Switch away from Off will cause the electrically operated feed cut off valve to energise (and open) and allow main reservoir air to feed to the brake valve. The DSD EP valve is also energised with the Master Switch at Off or Neutral, and the DSD foot button will need to be depressed before moving the Master Switch to either the Forward or Reverse positions. 2. RELEASE OR RUNNING. A cam on the sleeve of the brake valve will open a sealing valve when the brake handle is moved to 'Running' which will connect the brake valve to the Air brake pipe and will now charge to 72.5 psi. 3. INITIAL APPLICATION. The Air brake pipe pressure will now be reduced to 65/66 psi. The locomotive distributor mounted on the brake frame will react to the lowering of the brake pipe and will cause approximately 18/20 psi. brake cylinder pressure to be applied. 4. FULL SERVICE.The events are the same as those described under Initial Application except that the Air brake pipe pressure will be reduced to 50.5 psi. The distributor will respond to this lower pressure and will cause the full 60 psi. brake cylinder pressure to be applied. Understandably, any intermediate position of the brake valve handle you select between Initial and Full Service will give you a corresponding amount of brake cylinder pressure. Although the brake valve and distributor are self lapping in application and release the brakes can be applied and released at will, However, care must be taken not to 'Fan' the brake handle. Not only does this have a detrimental effect on the brake equipment, it can also prove potentially dangerous if the train being worked is an EMU fitted with triple valves that do not have a partial release facility. The brake valve and the distributor will react to any minor leak on the system and will maintain the amount of brake cylinder pressure that has been applied. 5. EMERGENCY. When the brake valve handle to Emergency, a second cam on the brake valve sleeve will open a Quick Action valve. The valve will connect the brake system directly to atmosphere and the Air brake pipe pressure will rapidly fall to zero. At the same time, if the EP brake system is in use, the Holding and Application valves will again be energised and the EP Brake will also apply. A safety valve is provided on the brake cylinders to vent excess pressure. (Inset Right) Photo of foot press buttons for the DRIVERS SAFETY DEVICE (DSD). It is arranged for the DSD EP Valve and its Feed Cut Off Valve to be energised with the Master Switch at Off and at Neutral. To select a power position with your Master Switch you must first depress either one of the two pedal buttons situated at floor level beneath each driving position. Should the pedal button be released with the Master Switch at a power position, the automatic brakes will be applied after a delay of 6 to 8 seconds. A Speed Sensing Device (SSF) is fitted to apply the automatic brakes via the DSD if the Master Switch is inadvertently moved from a power position into Neutral when the locomotive is moving. (Below) Photo showing the Brake Frame Isolating Cocks.
Whilst working as Training Design Manager for Southwest Trains, part of the Driver's course included route learning where a trainee would be taught a particular route and asked questions about it at a later date. Whilst learning the route (from the cab of a service train) the trainee would not only observe the route but would make notes of the various lineside features associated with it; these included signal positions, speed of line through points, crossings and junctions, and structures such as bridges etc. It was thought a good idea to produce a number of photographs of these features at different locations along the route. These photographs would then be shown to the trainee with the identification points removed, and the trainee would be asked to identify the location and lineside features associated with it. In order to construct this exercise, my work colleagues and I took a series of photographs from the cab of a 455 Unit over various routes - some of the results are reproduced below...
(Above) The train is leaving Woking on the Up Main Fast line and has (A) a signal showing a green proceed aspect with a lit junction indicator (position 1) to indicate that the points are set to take the train onto the Up Main Slow line. Other features in the photograph are (B) the 10-12 car stop marks on both platforms, (C) Warning signs to indicate that they must not proceed beyond this point and not to touch the Live Rail, (D) [RA] Indicators next to the starting signals. If displayed, the driver knows that station duties are complete, the train is secure and it is safe to proceed as indicated by the signal. (E) Signal post telephones - direct line to the Signaller (F) X Stop Mark for Class 450 Unit (G) Track Circuit & TPWS Grid (H) 20mph Permanent Speed Board through crossover ( I ) Bi-Directional warning sign indicating that trains can be signalled in either direction.
(Below) Approach to Hampton Court Junction on the Up Main Local - signal with green aspect to continue on the Up Local line. Lineside features include: (A) Vertical White Diamond sign (coasting board) (B) Permanent Speed Board (C) Converging line from Guildford via Cobham (D) TPWS Grid (E) Horizontal White Diamond sign with black X signifies that the lineside telephone must not be used unless in an emergency (F) Signal Post Telephone - direct line to Signaller (G) Junction Indicators - (positions 4 & 5) (H) Overbridge leading to Hampton Court ( I ) Hampton Court Junction Sub-station (J) Track Circuits.
(Above) Approach to Waterloo Home Signal on the Up Main Slow Line showing a signal displaying a yellow proceed aspect with Junction Indicator  to indicate that we have a clear route into number 3 platform at Waterloo as far as the buffer stops. Lineside features include: (A) Signal Gantry with other signals for different incoming lines (from left to right) (B) Windsor Reversible, (C) Up Windsor, (D) Up Main Relief, (E) Up Main Fast and (F) Up Main Slow (G) Position Light signals (H) Junction Indicators ( I ) AWS Magnets (J) Track Circuits (K) Signal Number (in our case W2) (L) Waterloo Sub-Station.
(Below-Inset Right) Approach to Waterloo Number 3 platform. It must be remembered that platforms 1-4 are only capable of holding trains of up to 8 car formations. There is a 15mph maximum speed through all crossovers and entering all platforms. A TPWS Grid is situated in the track before buffers to ensure that if the speed of the train exceeds 3mph at this point, the emergency brakes will apply. A train formed of 2x4 car 455 units (A) waits for us to arrive at platform 3 before departing for Waterloo Windsor (via Richmond). On platform 1 (B) a train consisting of 2x4 Car 455 Units waits to leave with a Dorking service. On platform 6, (C) a train from Salisbury consisting of 2x3 car 159 Class Diesel Units has also just arrived and passengers are disembarking.
(Above-Below) The approach to Waterloo on the Up Main Slow in 1973. A view that I saw hundreds of times whilst working trains into Waterloo when I was a driver at Effingham. Note the home signal's green aspect. All home signals on the approach to a 'dead-end' terminus are now restricted to a one yellow (caution) proceed aspect. This change became necessary following the Moorgate disaster on 28th February 1975 when a train entered the terminus station and 43 people lost their lives. (Below) Photo of South Side Waterloo Training School Instructor's Reunion at Woking in 2010. Left to Right standing: Geoff Burch, Tim Morgan, Eric Harris, Derek Gane, Eric Christian and Berni Byrne. Left to Right sitting: Fred Johnson, Ken Norris, Don Ottignon, Cyril Sweet, Mick Oakley and John Rutter
The above photo prompted John Porter to contact me from Australia. John writes - 'Hello Geoff, firstly I must confess that, having stumbled upon the David Hey's Collection, I have thoroughly enjoying reminiscing over the major interest of my younger years, growing up in Salisbury and spending hours watching steam motive power in the 1950s. Having left the UK 49 years ago I now reside in Brisbane, Australia and those memories will forever remain with me.
In your interesting article there is a photograph of a number of retired Waterloo Driver Examiners, one of which is Cyril Sweet. Hopefully Cyril is still fit and healthy and I wonder if you are in contact with him in any way.
As a lad I and a few others of my ilk, knew Cyril as 'Larry'…the nickname occurred in the late summer of 1952 when I and a couple of friends caught the 7.25 am stopper from Salisbury to Bristol TM for a day's spotting at Westbury on the Western Main Line. As you might expect we occupied the first compartment nearest the tender and it wasn't long before we were waving to the footplate crew, Cyril being the fireman. When we asked for his name he shouted back 'Larry', or at least that's what we thought he shouted; henceforth whenever we caught sight of him it was always - 'Hey, Larry…'
I recall the times when Cyril would be on the lookout for a wave as he passed the area in the front of the old GWR Terminus at Salisbury, usually firing a Hall loco off the Westbury line. I am forever indebted to him for letting me ride, with the acceptance of his driver, in the cab of a loco hauling a train from Westbury to Salisbury during the summer of '53.
Probably he will never remember that, but I always will…over the years I have been fortunate enough to have been on the flight decks of a number of 747s and some lesser Boeings, but nothing ever compared to the thrill of those steam footplate rides.
Anyway, Geoff, if you are still in contact with Cyril, please pass on my best wishes to him and say he is thought of some 12,000 miles away.
Kind Regards, John Porter...'
ISLE OF WIGHT RAILWAY
The Island Line service operates between Ryde and Shanklin, serving Smallbrook Junction, Brading, Sandown and Lake intermediate stations. It has always been the Isle of Wight's main line, even when the Island boasted a complex 53 route-mile rail network with 36 stations and halts. The first services commenced on 23rd August 1864 between Ryde St Johns Road and Shanklin, with intermediate stations at Brading and Sandown. Fierce opposition from local landowners and the need to cut a 1,312 yard tunnel through St Boniface Down delayed the construction of a four-mile extension of the line to Wroxall and Ventnor, 11.5 miles from Ryde, which opened on 15th September 1866. The Ryde to Ventnor Line, serving the developing seaside resorts along the Islands east coast, was an immediate success.
(Left-Below) A colourful introduction to the Island Line Trains. (Below) In 1992 whilst working as a Senior Instructor at the Network-South-East Training Centre based at Waterloo, I was fortunate to have been trained on the London Transport's Class 483 units that were introduced on the IOW services in 1990. The Class 483 fleet replaced the even older (1923-built) Class 485 and Class 486 units, which were introduced on the Ryde-Shanklin line in 1967. The aged Class 483 units (originally built in 1938 for London Underground) were extensively refurbished between 1989 and 1992 at Eastleigh Works, nonetheless the seventy-odd year-old Class 483 units remain the oldest trains operating in service in Great Britain! Note the copious use of gaffer tape in this shot of me at the controls of a Class 483 unit! These units are equipped with two braking systems - Electro-pneumatic (EP) and a Westinghouse Automatic Air Brake (should the EP system fail). I'm holding down the Controller (Deadman) with the controller is in the off position and the train is coasting. The 'deadman' must be held down with a constant pressure at all times that the train is moving. Should the Driver become incapacitated at any time, the Automatic Air Brake will apply the brakes and power to the traction motors will be cut thus bringing the train to a stop. The duplex gauge to left of the cab indicate brake pipe and main reservoir pressures and the gauge above shows brake cylinder pressure (up to 50psi) when the brakes are applied. The row of switches on the panel behind the Driver are miniature circuit breakers (mcbs) which protect the lighting, doors and control circuits throughout the train.
(Above-Below) The decision to use small-profile tube train stock from the London Underground may seem an odd choice, but this is attributed to the frequent flooding of Ryde Esplanade Tunnel where the track-bed had to be raised some 10 inches. This reduced the tunnel's headroom to below that required for standard-sized trains, therefore the smaller-profile tube train stock provided an ideal solution. In this cab view approaching Ryde St John's station, Unit 009 (one of the fleet of six 2-car units painted in their original London Transport livery of maroon with cream window-surrounds) can be seen waiting for the bells before leaving for Ryde Esplanade and Ryde Pier Head. (Below) It's raining hard now in this shot of the run into Ryde St John's station from the opposite direction- the Train Service depot is situated on the right hand side of the photograph.
Above-Insets Left & Right) Ryde St John's Home signal is in the clear position - this allows the train to enter Ryde St Johns platform. The yellow cylinder by the side of the opposite track contains grease and when the wheels of the train pass over an associated treadle, grease is emitted onto the rail to lessen rail wear on the tight curvature of the track ahead. Some of the line between here and Shanklin is a single line (with passing loops) run under the Electric Tokenless Block System. During my visit in 1992 I trained some of the Drivers based at Ryde and also trained one of my fellow trainers (John Hartford) who then took over the training programme from me. Then in 2007 whilst working as Training Design Manager for South West Trains, I had the opportunity to visit the Isle of Wight in order to assess the training of Drivers based there. I accompanied one of my trainer colleagues who was carrying out Driver training on the IOW and this enabled me to assess the training first hand. (Lef) Instructor John Hartford stands next to Unit 005 at Ryde St John's Station in the summer of 1992. (Right) The Driver in the foreground is being trained by Instructor David Timothy, who is about to leave from Ryde St John's station to go to Ryde Pier Head. The Master Switch, Controller and brake handle can clearly be seen. The trains were originally built by Metro-Cammell as 1938 tube stock for London Underground. These were extensively refurbished between 1989 and 1992 at Eastleigh Works in readiness for service on the line.
(Above-Below) Two rather bleak views from the cab of a Class 483 unit on the run from Ryde Esplanade to Ryde Pier Head. The first pier at Ryde was built during the early 1800's to accommodate the influx of holidaymakers to the island. After the foundation stone was laid on 29th June 1813 the pier opened for business in July the following year comprised of a timber-planked promenade, later extended in 1833. A second pier was built at Ryde in 1864 which was used by a horse-drawn tramway to transport passengers from the pier head to the esplanade, later to Ryde St Johns Wood. By the 1880's, however, a third pier was opened by the London & South Western and London and the Brighton & South Coast Railways, which together built a new railway pier and double-track railway to provide a direct steam railway link from Ryde St Johns with the Portsmouth Ferries at Ryde Pier Head.
(Above-Inset) Below) Running into platform 1 at Ryde Pier Head station….clearly there aren't many passengers about on a wet day in March! The station originally consisted of two island platforms, but a new layout was built upon electrification in 1967 consisting of two tracks with three platform faces. One of these tracks was later taken out of use, and only one island platform is currently used. (Inset) A throwback to old steam days! (Below) Instructor, David Timothy, in the cab of Unit 008 after changing ends at Ryde Pier Head. The unit is painted in all-over sky blue with full-length 'Jurassic' dinosaur motifs…the idea of the makeover was to attract more visitors to use the rail transport system - it had nothing to do with the age of the 1938-built tube stock!
(Above-Insets-Below) View from the cab of a Class 483 unit departing Pier Head station looking towards Ryde Esplanade on a wet miserable day in March 2007. Following commencement of the railway service, the Ryde tramway service was shortened to run along the pier only until closure in 1969 and the pier was partially dismantled. The old tramway pier can be seen on the right of the photograph whilst on the left is the hovercraft service to Southsea waiting at the Hover Terminal on the Esplanade. I can remember being on holiday with my parents as a child in the early 1950s and losing one of my swimming flippers whilst swimming off Ryde beach. The next morning at low tide, Dad and I searched the beach and, amazingly, found it! (Inset Right) The 'Fixed Distant' signal at Ryde. This signal is incapable of showing a green aspect and is set at caution at all times. (Below) Shanklin station and sadly this is now the end of the line to what was a sprawling network...see inset map left. The speed entering the station is marked by a 15 mph permanent speed restriction board shown just ahead of the station platform.
(Above-Below) During a break in training, we had the opportunity to sample some steam haulage. Opened in 1971, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway operates a service along part of the old Ryde to Newport line. Their operation was extended to reach 5½ miles in 1991,and they are now focused on restoring their substantial fleet of historic carriages. We caught the train from Smallbrook Junction to Haven Street where we enjoyed a pleasant lunch at their station café before returning to Smallbrook Junction to re-join the 'main line' back to Ryde Our locomotive 'Waggoner' was built by the Hunslet Engine Company as HE3792 and was delivered to the Army in January 1953, one of the final batch of fourteen 'Austerity' type locos to be ordered by the War Department. The final photo shows the train passing Smallbrook Signalbox on its way back to Haven Street...click here to visit the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
When the railways were being privatised in 1994, I decided to leave the industry but still kept in touch with my railway colleagues. A number of them had joined the Channel Tunnel Company 'Eurostar' and either transferred there as Drivers or had joined as a Traction Inspector.
Some six years later, the Eurostar Traction Inspector asked me if I was interested in a cab ride from Waterloo to Paris and return...naturally I jumped at the chance. Another Instructor who had also worked with me at the South Side Training Centre at Waterloo came with us that day.
The trip was duly sanctioned by Eurostar and we were accompanied by the Traction Inspector throughout. The big day arrived and we both met the Traction Inspector at Waterloo who guided us through Customs and to the front of the train.
As it turned out, the Driver who was working the turn was also someone I'd worked with back in my firing days at Guildford and in my driving days at Woking, so I couldn't have been in better company!
We left Waterloo and just before Queenstown Road branched off the Windsor Line and over the flyover past Stewarts Lane Depot towards Factory Junction. We then continued down the South Eastern main lines towards Tonbridge, Ashford and onwards towards the entrance to the Channel Tunnel On this part of the journey, the power supplying the traction units was being supplied by the SR Third Rail Conductor Rail system, however just before we entered the tunnel, the pantograph was raised and our power was then obtained via the overhead catenary wire. This was my first trip under the 'chunnel' and I was surprised to find how quickly we arrived on French soil. There are no conventional signals on the High Speed Line and the maximum speed is 300kmph (186mph). The timetable is loaded in to the signalling system and if the train is on time the route will open a short time before the train arrives. If the train is running late the signaller will have to set the route themselves. The maximum permitted speed for each section of the route are programmed into the system and so the appropriate speed will be automatically displayed to the driver when the route opens.
The signaller can close the route if they need too. Whenever this is done the signalling automatically blocks back. The closer the train is to the stopping point dictates what indication the Driver sees. If the train is far enough away (around 7 km) the driver will see a normal stopping sequence, but if the train is within 7 km the driver will get an abnormal indication. If the train is in the closed section then the Driver will get the famous 'rouge cabine' (red indication).
After arriving at Paris Gare-De-Nord station, we went for a bite to eat in a restaurant in the street outside and then walked to the Square Louise Michel below the Basilique Sacre Coeur which is famous for its street artists. However, our return journey beckoned and we left Paris to return to London Waterloo...a truly excellent day out!
The following year, another trip presented itself - this time from Waterloo to Brussels. On this occasion I was joined by another work colleague only this time with a different Eurostar Driver. It was another fantastic opportunity to see France and Belgium from the sharp end of a Eurostar!
(Above-Below) A Driver's view from the front of a Eurostar. The paper directly in front of the Driver is the 'Fiche Train', which is a timing sheet. It shows passing times and stations, as you would expect. Interestingly, it also shows a recommended average speed between given points. This can be used if the train is running to time and will ensure the train keeps time without using more electricity than is absolutely necessary. Obviously, the recommended average speed will never be higher than the permissible speed. The sheet also shows coasting points. The folders on the desk are the communications forms that are used between the signaller and driver during out of course events. Generally there is one folder for each network through which the train runs. The note pad is to record information that may be required in a report. The screen with the keyboard is the fault-finding computer. The train's speed is just under the maximum permitted speed (300kph) as can be seen by the inset photo. (Below) The Paris Eurostar trip April 2000 and a TGV is about to pass us at speed on the other line.
(Above-Below) The Driver brakes and brings the train's speed down for a speed restriction (60kph). (Below) It's nearly starting time for the return trip and a chance for a group photograph by the side of the Class 373 Eurostar at Paris Gare-De-Nord station before departure for Waterloo.
(Above) On my second trip (to Brussels) in 2001, we make a high speed pass at a combined speed of 450 - 500kph - The Driver of the train passing us is the same Driver that I was with on the previous year's trip to Paris. The photograph clearly shows the zigzag pattern of the overhead wire. As the contact wire makes contact with the pantograph, the carbon insert on top of the pantograph is worn down. Going around a curve, the 'straight' wire between supports will cause the contact wire to cross over the whole surface of the pantograph as the train travels around the curve, causing uniform wear and avoiding any notches. Therefore on straight track the contact wire is zigzagged slightly to the left and right of centre at each successive support so that the pantograph wears evenly.
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