D7531, 7531, 25181
25181 went out on a railtour and never came back


Photograph courtesy Nick Ross

25181 & 25191 wait under the cavernous roof at Bristol Temple Meads on July 27th 1986 working the F&W 'Coastway Crusader'. Regretably this would be a journey too far for 25181, and from which the locomotive would never return. But at this point the day was still young, the prospect of much unusual Southern Region mileage lay ahead with the likes of Tulse Hill and Bognor Regis to be visited!

1965
The frames were laid down for D7531 during November 1964 with the locomotive completed during February 1965, a small part of over one hundred and twenty locomotives delivered to the Nottingham Division as part of the diesel fleet used to eradicate steam from the Midland mainline and other workings in the East Midlands.

1967
The large stock of withdrawn steam locomotives at Colwick depot were slowly moved to Draper’s, Hull at the beginning of the year. During January so noted were D7658 hauling 48137/196/432 (6th), D7531 with 48127 (7th), D7536 with 44811, 48144/635 (13th) and D7515 with 48361 (20th). February featured D5227 with 48083/143/662 (27th) and 48388/672 (28th). March produced D7561 with 48370/651 (17th).

1969
After four years on the Nottingham Division 7529 - 7533 were transferred to the London Division (D01) during August.

1970
7531 was noted at Derby Works during January & February.

7531 would visit the Southern Region from time to time, particularly Hither Green, using the 8M83 14.52 Hither Green - Willesden to return the visitors to the LMR, so noted in a short period during October were 7531, 7662/67/69.

1978
During September and November 25181 was under repair at Derby Works, this included the fitting of dual braking equipment.

1981
On July 28th the 14.35 Paignton - Leeds arrived at its destination behind 25181 & 25184, quite where the Type 2's had worked from is not certain, possibly Birmingham New Street. And on October 14th the 10.04 St Pancras - Derby was noted at Derby behind 25181, where this locomotive joined the train is not known.

1982
It was a trip to the seaside for 25181 & 25136 on July 31st when they worked the 07.40 Euston - Aberystwyth forward from Wolverhampton, returning with the 14.00 to Shrewsbury. On August 10th 25181 & 25213 gave commuters a thrill ride working the 06.38 Bedford - St Pancras throughout. 25181 was back at St Pancras on August 23rd covering the 17.00 to Bedford, then returning the next morning with the 07.34 to St Pancras, because of a diesel multiple unit failure.

1983
During 1983 25181's forays onto Cambrian metals were none too successful. On July 30th 25181 & 25229 worked the 10.10 Euston - Aberystwyth forward from Birmingham New Street returning with the 17.15 Aberystwyth - Shrewsbury. Unfortunately on this return trip both locomotives had failed by Newtown, requiring the assistance of 47226 sent out from Shrewsbury. Interestingly this same combination returned to this route on August 13th, working the 07.44 Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth and coming back with the 10.10 to Euston, this time 25229 failed at Machynlleth and dragged to Shrewsbury where a Class 47 took over.

25181 sits by the test house at Derby Works on October 8th 1983.
Photograph courtesy Tony Sayer.

1984
During January 25181 was transferred to Crewe.

Visitors to Newcastle from across the Pennines included 25181 & 25037 on March 8th’s evening Hardendale – Lackenby freight, returning later with the empties. 25181 worked a Tees – Scunthorpe freight on March 23rd and was noted at Thornaby the next day.

On April 6th the well-traveled 25181 was used to assist 86249 at Watford when the wires were brought down near Hemel Hempstead. The Class 25 had difficulty in releasing the brakes on the electric locomotive, becoming part of the three hour delay for this Carlisle service.

A failed diesel multiple unit on July 10th led to 25181 working the 07.55 Blackpool - Manchester Victoria.

The Ditton BOC - Broughton Lane tanks continued the use of a Class 25 & 40, during August such combinations were 25178 & 40181 (4th), 25176 & 40155 (9th), 25213 & 40192 (13th), 25181 & 40044 (17th) and 25201 & 40028 (22nd), incursions by 47’s becoming more frequent, by October they would be the norm.

On September 1st lack of a diesel multiple unit led to 25181 and hauled stock working three evening services between Edinburgh & Cowdenbeath. A failed Class 31 on September 20th put 25181 in charge of the 08.42 Leicester - Birmingham, returning with the 10.20 to Norwich which it worked to Peterborough where 47558 took over.

When the power was off between Euston & Watford Jct on October 11th 25181 & 25176 dragged one service northbound.

Considerable permanent way work in the vicinity of Rugby station on December 9th found five Class 25’s present, in charge of a variety of pw trains. At lunch time whilst 25181 was propelling a wiring train ‘wrong line’ a departing southbound passenger service led by 87023 ran into the last vehicle in the wiring train. Considerable damage was caused, the driver having jumped to safety prior to the collision. A number of trains became trapped in the area whilst others were diverted to Paddington.

1985
On September 30th 27003 failed at Dumfries on the 11.00 Stranraer Harbour - Carlisle, 25181 was on hand to take the train forward to Carlisle.

1986
One of the more adventurous journeys made by 25181 also proved to be its last! The F & W ‘Coastway Crusader’ excursion (1Z36) on July 27, from Wolverhampton to Bognor Regis/Littlehampton, via Bristol and Westbury. The trip started behind 50050, with 45128 taking over at Birmingham for the run to Bristol. Here 25181/191 took over reaching Ludgershall, via Andover where 25181 failed with oil pressure problems. The machine was partially revived but unfortunately ran back down the branch with its handbrake on. At Andover and now with bad wheel flats the unfortunate Class 25 was detached and replaced with 33011 for the run via East Putney, Tulse Hill, Wimbledon and Epsom to Littlehampton. On the return trip it had been intended to replace the Class 25/33 combination with 37046/117 at Westbury, however in an unusual move 25191 remained on the train, tucked in behind the 37’s, running in this fashion back to Bristol where 45128 was waiting for the run home. With 25181 having bad wheel flats it remained for a short while at Andover until hauled to Eastleigh using a wheel skates on August 5th. This was its last movement for, after arrival at Eastleigh depot it was condemned and shunted to the back of 'the field' and promptly forgotten. A survey of the 25181 revealed that apart from the bad wheel flats it also had a burned out start relay, itself a small fix to get the locomotive going again.

After being forgotten it was eventually given a wheel survey which also awakened its long forgotten status by the powers that be in Derby. A set of reconditioned bogies were shipped to Eastleigh but they were never used. The locomotive was then put out to tender late in 1987, being sold to a local scrap merchant for GBP1,250. In preparing 25181 for movement it was found that the asbestos insulation within the locomotive had reverted to its natural state - dust. The scrapper was not certified to handle asbestos, so BR returned the money. 25181 had been recorded free of asbestos at its last overhaul.

The locomotive was then cocooned and eventually BR paid scrapper, Vic Berry GBP350 to decontaminate 25181 & handing off the remains of 25181 as a freebie, not a bad bargain considering the valuable copper content of the generators and traction motors. So ended the life of 25181 during July 1988.

25181 takes a freshly repainted four car diesel multiple unit set through Watford Junction as part of a positioning move for the start up of Network South East launch day.
Photograph courtesy Ian Hammond.
A wonderful portrait of 25181 at Speke Junction, date unknown.
Photograph collection of webmaster (IM).

The following personal report of the 'Coastway Crusader' comes from the keyboard of Leighton based Nick Ross:

The “Coastway Crusader” Railtour
Sunday July 27th 1986

With a nasty 0600 Sunday tour departure off Wolves an overnight was on the cards. So around midnight I joined some 310 unit at Leighton for the short run to Bletchley. Here I leapt for the 2325 Euston-Wolves which in a quirk of timetabling still called at the unit shacks like Bletchley and Wolverton. 87015 “Howard” took me North to Nuneaton where a dull once very boilered 47135 was the onward drag power at New St. 87009 was then attached to the rear of our consist to whisk us to Wolves via Bescot.

The fester for the tour was a mere two hours on a warm night and “Bert” sociably turned out the waiting room lights for a gang of bashers awaiting the tour. 50050 arrived sociably early with the tour ECS and we all dosed out for the journey South via Worcester and Gloucester to Bristol Temple Meads. Here we awoke for a bonus in finding out 45128 had worked the tour forward off New St.

The “rats” looked superb sitting under the overall roof chattering away to themselves although the driver did have a long look at 25181 before we departed. Our “rats” then took eleven fully loaded Mk 1’s on the scenic route along the Avon Valley and then into the hills beyond Westbury and across Salisbury Plain. Rare “rat” mileage indeed. From Salisbury our “rats” attacked Grateley bank before running round in Andover Goods Yard.

Sunday July 27th 1986, 25191 & 25181 are captured in the Andover area. 25181's working days are just about done, although at the time of this view the railtour is well underway and some of the major highlights of the railtour have yet to occur.
Photograph courtesy Jamieson.

One of our happy band in “Smudger” had planned to leap at Andover to rake in some 50 to a family event in Exeter. With the tour virtually right time and needing the five mile Ludgershall branch he opted to stay on for the branch trip “as there’s hardly going to be a farce up there”. With the “rats” run round to our end of the train we enjoyed some classic Sulzer branch line clag before, on the final approach to Ludgershall we heard 25181 shut down. Sadly 181 would not restart so after an understandable delay 191 worked forward to Ludgershall for a protracted run round. Our timekeeping worsened considerably on arrival back in Andover yard as 181 had to be detached and was dumped in the bay. Smudgers “connection” was missed as 500xx passed on the down Exeter “mule” right time.

The late running was to extend to nearly two hours as to comply with third rail rulebook number 2525 our “rat” had her impressive snowploughs removed because they were “out of gauge”. A replacement “rat” for the tour in deepest Hampshire was an obvious no no but SR control quickly supplied 33011 as the assisting tour engine. This gave an unusual motive power combination and despite our lateness the tour’s atmosphere remained upbeat. Not so 25181 she was never to work again, never returned home and was cut two years later at Eastleigh.

Our “rare pair” thrashed along the main line at good speed through the unfamiliar “rat” haunts of Clapham Jn, Brixton and Horsham. Arrival in Bognor Regis saw the booked layover reduced to a fifteen minute leg stretch and mass photo session of both ends of the train. 73114 on diesel provided a loud blast of EE thrash along the branch to Littlehampton where the “rare pair” again took over for a late afternoon departure. We returned along the boring flatlands of Chichester and Cosham before a good crowd watched us pass through Eastleigh and across to Romsey and Salisbury.

It was claimed that the tour organisers due the problems earlier in the day “could have what they want locally” as onward power from Salisbury. This was of little comfort to fifty or so London based passengers like myself as we had to join 50042 on a “mule” service to get home that night. So with gritted teeth we watched an even rarer combination of 37117, 37046 and 25191 preparing to return the tour North some 80 minutes down.

From the files of Paul Garvey comes these two excellent views of the Railtour deep in Southern territory (Amberley on the left, Chichester on the right). 25181 is by now sadly missing having been replaced by 33011. Fortunately 25191, minus its three piece miniature snowploughs, was on the point, and despite overcast weather and the usual railtour delays, for those lineside hopefully the wait was worth it.

If anyone has any further photographs they would like to share of this tour I would be most appreciative.

25181 slumbers under the depot lights and a small layer of snow at Eastleigh depot sometime during 1987.
Photograph courtesy Andy Key
The unfortunate 25181 languishes at Eastleigh on July 26th 1987, exactly one year after its ill-fated journey. It would linger here for one more year before final scrapping in the summer of 1988.
Photograph courtesy Paul Appleby.

During July 1988 scrapper Vic Berry arrived on scene to put 25181 out of its misery. What had taken Derby Works about six weeks to put together during 1964/65 were taken apart in two days by crane and acetylene torch. The above six views, made available by (and with thanks to) Andy Key reveal the demise of 25181.

00/000
no flk

Passenger workings courtesy Alan Baylis (www.class25.info)
Not all known passenger workings are recorded on this page.

Resources:
Vic Smith - location details.
Nic Ross - notes.
Andy Key - notes and photos.

Page added December 31st 2004.
Page last updated June 28th 2008

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