Limestone trains from Great Rocks/Tunstead
featuring
D5274 - D5279, 5274 - 5279, 25124 - 25129
& D7586, 7586, 25236
and many others that worked these services.

"It's not the years, its the mileage",
Indiana Jones - Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Photograph courtesy Mike MacDonald

Its April 22nd 1977 as an un-identified Class 25 heads west past Northenden with a train of loaded ICI limestone hoppers. It appears the train is loaded to at least eighteen wagons, approximately 1,250 tons.

The geological construction of the northern areas of Derbyshire reveal a dominance of gritstone, shale & limestone. All have their uses, but it is perhaps the quarrying of limestone that has had the most significant impact on this area. One of the earliest recorded users of this limestone were the Romans using it for construction and the making of mortar & cement. The very pure content of this Derbyshire limestone (high in calcium carbonate) had, by the 16th Century made it particularly desireable for use in agriculture, achieved by burning the limestone in lime kilns. It was also used in lead smelting. The Industrial Revolution with its canal and railway building eras allowed for the easier movement of this bulky product, so much so that by 1951 1.5 million tons was being taken out of the ground. Over half of this was for use as aggregate (road & building construction), whilst the bulk of the remainder was consumed by the cement and chemical industries.

The ICI limestone trains which feature here, had since 1935 used block trainloads hauled initially by Midland 4F's, soon replaced by Stanier 8F's. The first diesels tested on these services were trialled in 1963. The Midland line north of Matlock was frequently used for testing new diesels fresh out of Derby Works, with fifteen miles of a 1 : 90 ruling grade north of Rowsley, culminating at the 985' summit at Peak Forest, the cobwebs would certainly be blown out of the diesels. For our story part of this route - the last few miles to the summit - was traversed daily by loaded westbound ICI limestone workings with the majority requiring banking locomotives on this challenging grade.

1963
During May 21st - 23rd MetroVick Co-Bos D5711/14 and English Electric Type 4's D227/228 were tested on these stone trains, using rakes of sixteen wagons. Remarkably the MetroVick's were found to be superior, the Class 40's suffered from shifted tires and brake linings. Parts of this route had already seen much diesel activity, though this was principally on the passenger workings over the Derby - Manchester Central route.

1964
During February & March D5707 & D5713 returned for further testing, whilst during March D5255 & D7586 were transferred to Trafford Park (9E), presumably to be trialled on the limestone workings. D5255 was transferred back to Toton during April, but D7586 remained allocated to Trafford Park until January 1965 when it was briefly reallocated to the Nottingham Division, but returned to Trafford Park the same month. With the testing completed the decision was made to utilise the Sulzer Type 2's on the limestone trains. To accomplish this seven Type 2's would be allocated to Trafford Park (9E) shed. All the locomotives selected were virtually brand new and had been on allocation to Toton (D16) after delivery from the workshops. D7586 which had been one of the locomotives used in the trials remained at Trafford Park, perhaps an odd choice since the locomotive was boiler equipped. The remainder were D5274 - D5279 and arrived during June & July.

For D5274 - D5279 these new locomotives had only been released from Derby Works after they had successfully completed several test runs including one with a set of empty coaching stock. The test was made to Corby and back, D5274 made the run on May 29th 1964, D5275 on June 1st, D5276 on June 9th, D5278 with D5280 on June 10th and D5279 on June 8th.

The locomotives did not immediately begin work on the limestone workings, so were able to wander about such as on June 20th when D5279 was noted at Chesterfield with a Saturday's only Paignton - Newcastle passenger, assisting 45597, whilst the next day it was noted with D5260 on an excursion from the Derby area to the North Wales resorts.

On August 4th the Class 25's began the arduous workings planned for them, finally taking over many of the duties from Heaton Mersey & Northwich based Stanier 8F's. Specifically they were employed on the Peak Forest - Winnington ICI workings. These trains employed the venerable vacuum braked ICI bogie hoppers, first introduced in 1935, which were now used in rakes of eighteen (1,100tons), providing a considerable challenge to the single Type 2's. The 8F's had generally been allowed sixteen wagons (980 tons). For the time being no other freight service in this area was dieselised, another three years would pass before major inroads commenced. The wagons themselves outlived most of the power that hauled them, including the Class 25's.

The ICI plant at Winnington was comprised of two industrial complexes, the original plant had been greatly expanded after World War Two, the old (Winnington) and new (Wallerscote) facilities being neatly dissected by the A533 Northwich - Runcorn road. Limestone was not the only bulk product received here, coal, coke & oil were also received by the trainload. Each of the facilities had their own interchange with the railway, traffic for Winnington was routed to Oakleigh sidings whilst Gorstage sidings handled traffic for Wallerscote. Obviously from the other notes in these pages it is Oakleigh sidings which is well associated with the Class 25's & the limestone trains.

A loaded limestone train rolls westwards through Chinley, date unknown. The locomotive cannot be positively identified, but appears to be one of the original batch D5274 - D5279.
Photograph courtesy John Ashley.

1965
On Whit Monday, June 7th D5275 got a brief respite from its ICI workings when it was noted at Blackpool on the 20.15 to Northwich, one of thirty nine excursions to return from Blackpool that day, the majority were steam hauled. No doubt D5275 was available at Northwich for other duties on this holiday, not being needed for the limestone workings.

1967
Buxton depot received D5091, 5135/37 for crew training and banking duties at Peak Forest at the end of February. These machines would work alongside the small pool of Sulzer 2's working the Northwich - Tunstead ICI block trains. It had now been three years since dieselisation of the ICI trains and this demanding working had naturally given rise to all too frequent failures. This created an operating headache if steam were substituted because the official eighteen wagon limit for the Type 2's could only be handled by 9F's, other substitutions required doubleheading. Typical of this was the failure of D7586 on April 26th, rescue coming from 8F 48723 & Cl 5 45417.

During the middle of September D212 & D5242 were used for driver training between Stockport & Buxton.

During November D7586 transferred from Trafford Park to Longsight (9A).

As the last full year of BR steam closed out Trafford Park still had on allocation twenty one steam locomotives (fifteen Black 5's and six 8F's), alongside the six Type 2's D5274 - D5279.

1968
With the impending closure of Trafford Park D5274 - D5279 were transferred to Longsight (9A) during March, whilst in May D7586 went to Leeds Holbeck (55A). On March 3rd Buxton, Northwich & Trafford Park depots closed to steam with 8F's 48744 & 48775 being the last to leave Buxton, having seen much activity locally in their last week at Buxton.

On the eastern side of the country the Easter holidays brought many extras, on 11th D5061 + D5276 were noted on an afternoon Manchester - Newcastle express.

1969
During May Trafford Park shed was demolished making way for the new Freightliner terminal. And from May 12th the ICI stone trains were no longer operated with a brake van.

1971
During May 1971 green liveried 5278 was involved in a serious collision on the single line section between Great Rocks Jct and Buxton. The locomotive suffered considerable damage, being removed to the yard at Peak Forest. It is reported that 5278 had been shut down whilst attached to a train on a grade without the application of the handbrake. Eventually the air or vacuum within the braking system bled off and the train rolled away. After the collision the driver notified Buxton depot by telephone that there was a problem with the locomotive, the shed master suggested sending out a fitter to rectify the problem! So severe was the damage that 5278 was withdrawn in May, remaining on-site until October when it was broken up by G Cohen. This was the first Class 25 to be withdrawn.

A working in the Great Rocks area proved to be the location for an accident that led to the withdrawal of the first Class 25. Seen here at Peak Forest, having sustained considerable collision damage is 5278. Considered unfit to move very far and with major damage to the cabs/cab floors the locomotive was written off, being broken up in-situ by George Cohen during October 1971.
Photographer unknown.

1972
During March & April the remaining members of the original batch of 'ICI' locomotives all transferred to Toton (D16), 5279 in March, all the others in April. None of them would return on allocation to Longsight. At this time Longsight had a mainline diesel fleet of almost one hundred locomotives, split almost equally between the Class 25's & the Class 40's. Included were the first Class 40's, 200 - 206 and the first Class 25's, 5151 - 5156, any of which could and did turn up on the limestone workings. Frequently locomotives from other sheds would fill in on the limestone turns if they became available at Northwich, Longsight or Buxton.

1978
On November 8th ex-works 25210 was tested at Northwich on the Tunstead limestone service, working the 17.21 Oakleigh - Tunstead and return followed by the 02.57 Northwich - Tunstead. It then beat a hasty retreat to Longsight for repairs, not unexpected after dealing with these 1,250 ton trains. Further testing on 28th didn't improve matters, it failed at Hazel Grove on the 11.03 Oakleigh - Tunstead, being removed to Buxton and then forwarded to Derby Works.

1980

Whilst motoring up the A6 on February 24th 1980, a foggy Sunday morning bound for a day's adventures in the Manchester area all eyes went right as the form of a derailed train lingered in the poor visiblilty. Taking the first right turn possible (one that didn't require the use of a tracked vehicle) the location of the unfortunate event was soon reached. No locomotive could be found so it is presumed that it was not affected by the derailment.

The derailment had occurred on February 22nd west of New Mills South Jct with many of the loaded hoppers sustaining derailment damage including some taking a tumble down the embankment. Eight of them were later moved to Chinley and broken up, it appears the unidentified locomotive involved was not derailed. The ending of the Bidston Dock - Shotton iron ore workings early in 1980 made its fleet of bogie hoppers redundant. From this source ICI were able to purchase thirteen wagons to replace those lost in the above derailment and others. Also acquired were many spare parts, particularly bogies. This allowed the Tunstead - Northwich fleet to all run on the same style bogies and all were now roller bearing equipped.

A sunny August 26th 1980 finds 07001, now in private owner service, parked up in between duties at the facilities north of Peak Forest station. 07001 was one of the last of the class to be withdrawn, during July 1977. Its previous haunts of Eastleigh and the Southampton area are well removed from its new duties with Peakstone Ltd.
Photograph courtesy Adrian Healey.

1982
With the Class 25's slated for withdrawal, testing began with pairs of Class 20's on the 'ICI' limestone trains on September 28th-30th. Twenty two hoppers and brake van were worked on the first day, later increased to twenty four hoppers, 20163 & 20196 were loaned from Toton for these trials, which apparently were successful.

As the sun starts to set in the west on this chilly January 1982 afternoon another train of empties arrives behind 25136. The train has just crested the 982' summit, and as can be seen snow was a frequent visitor to the north Derbyshire hills.

1983
The presence of many Type 4's - Classes 40/45/47 and the smaller Class 37's were regular visitors to the Buxton area freights, so much so that the Class 25's were often completely absent from the area.

1984
The month of May saw a dozen Class 31's moved to Longsight, the first allocation of this Class here. Ten of Longsight's Class 25's moved elsewhere on the LMR, allowing for withdrawal of further members of the Class. In a move to replace the Class 25's on the Northwich - Tunstead ICI limestone trains pairs of Toton Class 20's were used during May. To assist this change Springs Branch crews were trained on Class 20's during May, 20181 & 20227 were present at the beginning of May, later replaced by 20211 & 20212. During that last week of May a number of Buxton bound empties ran via Manchester Oxford Road (rather than via Cheadle Heath). The continuing coal miners strike and the ongoing delivery of Class 58's led to many local workings in the North West (and elsewhere) being taken up by the Classes 56 & 58, no doubt having an impact on the use of Classes 25 & 40.

Northwich train crew depot closed on November 26th, the work now split principally between Warrington & Buxton depots.

The last of the original 'ICI' allocation locomotives, 25236 was withdrawn in December, being stored at Crewe.

1985
January opened badly for the Class 40's, all but four of the surviving fleet - all allocated to LMR depots - were consigned to scrap, their place increasingly taken by transferred-in Class 20's, no more would the big Type 4's whistle over Peak Forest summit.

45031 approaches New Mills Central with the loaded 6J32 ICI limestone hoppers on September 11th 1985.
Photograph courtesy S. Houlker.
Another view from September 11th 1985 finds 20172 & 20173 heading east through New Mills Central light engine, it looks like the light is fading as the locomotives head into the night. This pair of Class 20's were two of the eight selected for working the ICI limestone trains (see note below).
Photograph courtesy S Houlker.

1986
During April eight Class 20's (20023/59, 20134/168/172/173/194/196) were fitted with modified triple valves for handling limestone traffic from Tunstead. In a similar fashion to the Class 25/9's they were renumbered 20301 - 20308. The following month in a major announcement concerning redundancies one of the depot's to be included in the run down was Buxton.

The dedicated Class 20/3's returned to their original numbers in October/November with single Class 47's or pairs of Class 37's taking over these turns. Class 31's were now visiting Buxton to cover the banking duties. However on October 16th a set of empties arrived at Peak Forest behind 47378 & 25279, both locomotives were working.

1987
For a while in mid-February 20141 covered the shunting duties at Peakstone's sidings at Peak Forest whilst their own shunter received repairs.

1987 was the the last year of operation for the Class 25's. Their final months of the Class 25's were generally spent on covering workings in the North West. One of the final few - 25059 - after spending Monday of that last week at Millerhill, then Carnforth and Crewe (17th), reached Buxton on March 18th where it would be withdrawn (20th). However its work was not quite finished, on the evening of March 24th it was restarted at Buxton to haul damaged 47089 & 37689 to Crewe Works for attention! Ironically it was a similar March day nineteen years earlier that had seen steam vacate Buxton shed forever, now one of the diesel classes which had made that possible was itself being superseded.

Although the 'ICI' locomotives didn't operate till the end, at least 25126 existed as one of the hulks at Swindon. It would out live the cutting activities there, and as part of the convoy of 25093, 25126/134/161/164/180/193, 25207/208/260, 25306/327 would leave Swindon Works for Cocklebury Yd and later Vic Berry's Leicester on June 3rd 1987. It was finally broken up during November/December 1987.

1994 & 1995

The Class 25's have been gone for seven years, yet the limestone trains still roll, some with the original 1935 built wagons. Locomotives now stable on the west side of the line south of Peak Forest station. In this April 16th 1994 view pairs of Classes 31/37/60, none in BR Corporate Blue, await their next turn of duty. In view are 37520, 37107, 31144, 31160, 60016 & 60095.
Photograph courtesy Adrian Healey.
North of Peak Forest station was Peak Forest summit (985 feet), situated in an ever deepening cutting, culminating with the entrance to Dove Holes tunnel (2,984 yards). In this June 29th 1995 60097 clears the tunnel with a train of southbound empties.
Photograph courtesy John Glynn.

1997

The end came for scheduled use of the ICI hopper wagons during the last week of December 1997, after sixty two years of service. The withdrawn wagons lingered for a while at both Tunstead and Northwich, eventually being sent away for scrapping between the summer of 1998 and the winter of 1999. A number were held over for internal use at Tunstead and Northwich, whilst several reached preservation.

The Route

The ICI Works that received the limestone for processing was just west of Northwich station, empties leaving the Winnington Works would use Hartford North & Hartford East Junctions to join the former Cheshire Lines Committee route from Chester to Altrincham. The limestone empties would head east through Northwich and follow the route through Altrincham to Deansgate Junction and Skelton Junction. Four miles east at Northenden Junction the trains would take the former Midland Railway route towards Hazel Grove and the lengthy Disley Tunnel. After New Mills South Junction came Chinley then Chinley North & South Junctions. After a short distance came the lengthy Dove Holes Tunnel, the deep cutting at the south (east) end was followed by the site of Peak Forest station and then the quarries and works located at Tunstead and Great Rocks.

The summit of the line was between Peak Forest station and the entrance to Dove Holes Tunnel, at a height of 982 feet above sea level. For the loaded westbounds departing Tunstead this required a very brief but challenging three miles, which for the Type 2 locomotives invariably meant the use of a banking locomotive.

Northwich

A nicely lit view of 25124 at Springs Branch on January 20th 1978. By this time 25124 is allocated to Toton so its return to Northwich is by chance. Also by chance is the fact that the picture below of 25104 was taken one day after this view - though it looks like the weather is unchanged.
Photograph collection of Ian Hammond
On a dull and wet Sunday January 21st 1978 whilst doing a tour of the Cheshire area depots prior to visiting Crewe Works, 25104 was noted parked in front of the old steam depot. 25104 is one of those Class 25's that had its boiler room grille sheeted over whilst receiving repairs at Derby Works. It appears the brazier used to protect the water supply from freezing has gone out.

Skelton Junction

An empty eastbound led by 25043 leaves the Northwich - Old Trafford (ex CLC/MSJ & A) line at Skelton Jct and joins the Glazebrook - Cheadle (ex CLC) line. At Cheadle the train will gain former Midland metals which will be used for the remainder of the trip to Tunstead/Great Rocks. The date is May 14th 1979, 25043 was the last Class 25 in green livery, though by this time it sports 'Corporate Blue' as applied at Derby Works during the early summer of 1976.
Photograph courtesy Mike MacDonald.

New Mills South Junction

Its a glorious June 7th 1984 as 31426 negotiates New Mills South Junction with the 10.41 Manchester Piccadilly - Sheffield. The loaded limestone trains will take the lines to the left, whilst trains bound for New Mills, Ashbury and Manchester Piccadilly will use the right hand lines.
Photographer not known.
Another view from June 7th 1984 finds 40001 heading east with a loaded ballast train. Kingmoor allocated 40001 has about a month left in service before withdrawal.
Photographer not known.
An unidentified Class 25 heads west past New Mills South Junction with another trainload of limestone. Just beyond the signalbox is the location of the views showing the derailed limestone wagons (pictures above in the year featuring 1980), some of which tumbled down the embankment.
Photograph courtesy Kestrel Railway Books.
In complete contrast to the loaded limestone trains using this route is this westbound lightweight working of one Railfreight wagon hauled by 25191, approaching New Mills South Junction on June 7th 1984.
Photograph collection of webmaster.
A similar view to the above view, but now taken from the other side of the line is this undated view of 40107 heading west approaching New Mills South Junction with a mixed freight.
Photographer unknown.

Buxworth (Bugsworth)

24023 & 24050 at Buxworth on April 26th 1975. The Class 24's did not venture on to the limestone workings, but they were occasional visitors to the area, several being stationed at Buxton in the early years as bankers for the limestone workings. In this view the location is Buxworth.
Photographer unknown

Chinley
Its 3.30pm on August 5th 1977 as an unidentified Class 25 - possibly 25198 - approaches Chinley station with another set of empty hoppers bound for Tunstead.
Photograph courtesy Larry Goddard.
An empty limestone train heads eastwards through Chinley on September 24th 1977 behind 25137. At this time 25137 was allocated to Springs Branch.
Photograph courtesy Larry Goddard.
Eleven loaded bogie hoppers rest on the drawbar of Springs Branch allocated 25141 as it drifts down from Chinley North Jct on August 3rd 1977.
Photograph courtesy Larry Goddard.
A lengthy train of loaded wagons heads west through Chinley behind 47200 on June 18th 1984. Rationalisation has reduced Chinley station to a bare minimum and only two lines remain.
Photographer unknown.
Beeching's axe reduced the once sprawling station at Chinley to little more than a 'paytrain' halt on the Sheffield - Manchester route. The intact platforms here suggest days of a finer grandeur, when expresses from St Pancras connected with locals to??? But now on a dull October 2 1977 a returning set of limestone empties led by 25103 is all that rattles the former glories of the windswept platforms.

Chinley North Junction
A lengthy train made up of a variety of wagons approaches Chinley North Junction behind 25299 on March 4th 1979. The wagons are presumably empties and are headed for Great Rocks and Tunstead.
Photograph courtesy Dave Homer.

Chinley South Junction
A loaded limestone train clears Chinley South Junction and approaches Chinley North Junction behind 25197 on April 28th 1979. This location boasted a triangle with two of the sides requiring the use of substantial viaducts. Chinley East Junction was the third point on the triangle.
Photograph courtesy Dave Homer.

In the view above there can just be seen the familiar tall chimneys of the Ferodo Works at Chapel en le Frith, which frequently feature in many views, railway & otherwise of this area. Their location is perhaps ironic as the the factory was developed by Herbert Frood in response to the poor braking abilities of 19th Century wagons travelling over the hilly roads of North Derbyshire. At his father-in-law's belting factory Herbert found some cast off oil-impregnated belts, these drew his interest because of their friction properties. Further research led to the manufacture of brake (and clutch) linings in 1897, initially at Gorton, five years later the factory opened in Chapel en le Frith.

Dove Holes
After working the Hindlow branch earlier this day (September 6th 1985), 25266 continues its duties, now with more wagons in tow, by heading north towards Manchester. This view is shortly after leaving Dove Holes Tunnel.
Photograph courtesy Mike MacDonald.

Peak Forest

A late afternoon view during January 1982 finds 45074 running light towards Chinley. A recent snowfall has turned the normally green Derbyshire landscape into something quite different, a most welcome change. Although it probably didn't go un-noticed that the quarrying activities in this area would leave a covering of white dust everywhere!
On a gloriously sunny June 22nd 1977 another train of empties arrives behind 25031. This was a well travelled Class 25, having seen allocations on the ER, WR & ScR prior to reaching Springs Branch in June 1976. Just over a year was spent here, allowing it to cover the ICI trains from time to time. In October 1977 25031 returned to Eastfield, remaining there until withdrawn in December 1977.
25104 and banker slowly push/shove twelve loaded hoppers towards Peak Forest summit (982') on November 23rd 1978. 25104 arrived at Longsight during July 1975, and would be withdrawn from there in May 1982.
Two trains of empties cross just north of Peak Forest station on a damp and misty November 23rd 1978. From October 1975 to June 1981 25144 was allocated to Kingmoor, so is a little off the beaten track for its normal workings. It appears to have in tow a standard rake of eighteen wagons.
After the closure of Peak Forest station to passengers the 'Up' platform was eventually demolished, its place partially taken by a number of sidings where 25161 stands on this sunny morning on June 6th 1980. 25161 reveals a typical Derby paint job, though at some point the Works have sealed up the boiler room grille, carried out on a number of Class 25's overhauled at Derby. At the time of this photograph 25161 was allocated to Crewe.
Peak Forest lost its train service from March 6th 1967 but some of the station buildings still remain. Here Longsight allocated 25106 eases by with a train of covered hoppers on June 22nd 1977. It is easy to forget that this line once hosted the original 'Peaks' (D1 - D10, Class 44) and the Blue Pullmans.
On June 23rd 1977, an apparently glorious day in the High Peak, a train of empties led by 40111 eases past the giant shadow created by buildings belonging to the Buxton Lime Company. A few minutes earlier the train had been running through the notorious Dove Holes Tunnel.
The first of the English Electric Type 4's, 40122 (D200) waits for its next turn of duty at Peak Forest, standing pretty much where the 'Up' platform used to be.
After a short layover 40122 draws onto the main lines to make up its next train of stone hoppers. During August 1963 Longsight based 227 & 228 were tested on the stone trains, being loaded to a maximum of sixteen wagons, however it would be seven Class 25's that were used the following summer to dieselise the ICI company trains.

Tunstead/Great Rocks

Despite the presence of a typical Derbyshire misty morning, very little can mask the sound of a pair of Sulzer six cylinder engines getting to grips with another Winnington bound train of limestone. Here, on April 24th 1979 Longsight allocated 25208 echoes around the limestone cliffs that surround Great Rocks Junction, soon to be followed by another Type 2 pushing hard on the rear. Behind 25208 lies the ICI 'South' shops.
Looking northbound, Springs Branch allocated 25286 drops down across Great Rocks Junction to deliver another load of empties on April 24th 1979. Behind the locomotive lies an area previously used by the steam locomotives that once powered these stone workings.
On a gloriously damp April 24th 1979 45035 uses the crossover at Great Rocks Jct. Whilst dodging the many raindrops here a gung-ho security person advised that photographs were not permitted here. This being a marked public highway, with a number of marked footpaths crossing the local scenery, we were somewhat amused by the statement. In the end it was the Derbyshire rain that sent us on our way, leaving the security person to keep an eye on the suspicious looking sheep in the nearby fields.
40182 and a short freight drift down from Peak Forest past Great Rocks Jct on April 27th 1979. To the right of the locomotive used to be a small yard complete with turntable for servicing steam locomotives.

Great Rocks & Peak Forest views from the camera of Tony Sayer

During the last week of May 1981 Tony made a visit to the North Derbyshire area, principally to photograph the Class 76's working over the Woodhead route. A couple of side trips were made to Great Rocks & Peak Forest to capture the various stone train workings. Despite the wonderfully liquid North Derbyshire early summer weather, Tony persevered long enough to capture a number of hard working Class 25's on workings that they had covered for sixteen years.

In the first three views from May 28th 1981 25274 & 25308 are seen at Great Rocks Junction in the process of lifting eighteen loaded wagons, on extremely damp rail, to the 980' summit just beyond Peak Forest station. Despite the damp air one presumes the surrounding Derbyshire hills echoded mightily to the sound of these two locomotives as they got to grips with their train. The left and center views show the train passing the Great Rocks workshops, the right view shows the banker pushing hard as the train heads up the hill towards Peak Forest.

The crossovers just visible in the left & center views next to the leading Class 25 mark the end of the double tracked line. The former Up (left) line leads to Buxton, the former Down line, holding the limestone train is a siding south of this point, leading to the ICI (Lime Divison) Tunstead Works and its extensive array of sidings which end at milepost 161, just short of Peak Forest Tunnel.

In the right view the banking locomotive is passing over Great Rocks Junction, the train is on the Up goods, to the right is the Down goods, and to the left is the Up & Down through siding. It appears this through siding is out of use in a number of these views and that where it rejoins the Up line at Peak Forest South Signal Box, there are a number of track panels stacked up on the siding.

At the time of these photographs 25274 was allocated to Bescot and 25308 was allocated to Toton.

(Three views below) Now situated on the overbridge alongside the former Peak Forest station Tony waits for another loaded limestone train, this one led by 25320 and banked by 25308, in charge of twelve wagons. Its still May 28th 1981 and it looks like the rain is still coming down. Within a mile the summit will be reached and then its into the blackness of the lengthy Dove Holes Tunnel.

The three views above reveal that even in 1981 there was a considerable amount of trackwork and sidings in place, including some complicated, expensive to maintain pointwork, no doubt left over from a previous era. Visible in all three views above is Peak Forest South Signal Box, behind the box, to the right are the BR Sorting Sidings, whilst facing the box to the left are the Down Sidings.

Two views from May 26th 1981 with 25274 in charge of eighteen empties leave the deep cutting north of Peak Forest (left view) and then is seen drifting downhill towards Great Rocks Junction (right view). The rusty sidings in the foregound were once part of a small facility established to service the steam locomotives that once plied these rails. The clouds are still foreboding but the rain has held off, so far!

The left view, from May 26th 1981 shows 25320 marshalling wagons at the loading facility north of Peak Forest. The right view shows 25320 approaching Great Rocks with a train load of empties, crossing from the Up to Down main prior to entering the Works sidings. A weak sun has broken through the storm clouds at the right moment for the photographer.

And what became of those original limestone 25's?

7586 had moved away to the Eastern Region in May 1968 and 5274 - 5277, 5279 to Toton during March & April 1972. Their places were taken by a great variety of other Class 25's & 40's from a variety of depots.

5274 / 25124

After almost ten years allocated to Toton 25124 moved to Bescot in February 1982, then on to Cricklewood in January 1983.

Amongst all the unrecorded, day to day workings of 25124 are afew that were recorded either because of its passenger adventures or workings of a less fortunate nature;

1972 - May 30th (Bank Holiday Monday) the Derby - Llandudno ran behind 5274 & 7662.

1976 - Twenty wagons in a Tutbury - Tring freight derailed near Leighton Buzzard on April 8th. The locomotives, 25124 & 25132 remained on the track, a broken spring being blamed for the derailment.

1976 - In a clear out at Derby Works during early June 25124 hauled withdrawn 08179 & 08236 to Swindon Works.

1977 - June 4th found Leeds Holbeck short of power to handle the 09.35 Carlisle - Nottingham, all they had available was 25124. To this machine was added 25159 borrowed from a parcels train, this fine pair then making the run to Nottingham and returning with the 15.52 to Glasgow, being relieved at Leeds by 47467.

1979 - Out of Birmingham on August 4th 25124 & 25132 worked the 08.28 to Yarmouth,

1981 - On March 11th a lengthy Garston - Severn Tunnel Jct freight became a partial failure near Woofferton, the closest sidings could not accommodate the long train so 25124 & 25162 soldiered on to Hereford before being sidelined.

25124 was withdrawn on October 20th 1983 and had reached Crewe by December. It was moved to Swindon (with 25104 & 46016) between March 28th and March 30th 1984 and finally cut up by the middle of December 1986.

A fine view of work stained 5274 as it heads eastwards towards Chinley with another load of empties returning to Peak Forest on September 21st 1971.
Photograph courtesy Bill Jamieson.

5275 / 25125

25125 remained at Toton for over nine years until withdrawn from here on December 6th 1981.

1974 - On November 6th 25125 was diagrammed to handle a Low Yard - Glasgow (Bridgeton) out of gauge load, this after spending two days as the Middlesborough station pilot!


Photograph courtesy Ian Mawson
25125 stands at Manchester Victoria awaiting its next banking duty, date unknown. The position of the number and the coupling code symbols indicate the last overhaul and repaint was carried out at Glasgow Works.

1979 - The 06.32 & 08.03 Peterborough - Kings Cross and 17.18 return continued to receive Class 25 haulage with the 06.32 noted behind 25039 (19th), 25269 (20th), 25319 (21st) also working the 17.18, 25107 (July 10th), 25125 (July 11th) & 26267 (August 1st).

25125 cranks it up through Finsbury Park on the late afternoon of July 11th 1979 as it heads the 17.18 Kings Cross - Peterborough commuter service.
Photograph courtesy Peter Lovell.

After being withdrawn from Toton 25125 remained stored at Toton from December 1981 until April 1982. It was sent down to Swindon on April 26th 1982 and was scrapped there by the middle of April 1983.

5276 / 25126

For the annual Open Day at Derby Locomotive Works on September 4th 1976 25126 was used to show how the engine was lifted to/from the bodyshell. The locomotive was at the Works for a major repair between July & October 1976, this was the last major repair received by 25126.

25126 also spent almost ten years allocated to Toton, moving to Bescot during February 1982.Its stay here was brief, by September 1982 it had been transferred to Crewe and was withdrawn a short while later on November 28th 1982.

25126 sits on the fuelling rack at Newton Heath on July 25th 1981. The light has caught the side of the locomotive to reveal that the repanelling of the area occupied by the boiler room grille has been carried out from frame level to cantrail.
Photograph courtesy Tony Sayer.

After withdrawal 25126 was stored at Newton Heath between November 1982 & June 1984. 25126/134/158 & 25208 were moved to Swindon on or about June 25th 1984. Swindon Works closed before 25126 could be cut up so along with many others it was moved from the Works to Cocklebury Yard on June 3rd 1987, to Leicester, Humberstone Road on June 5th 1987 and into Berry's yard by June 8th. 25126 was broken up November/December 1987.

On June 22nd 1984 a consist of five locomotives headed south through Cheltenham. An unidentified Class 37 was in charge of 25126, 25134, 25158 & 25208 on their movement towards Swindon Works for scrapping.
Photograph collection of webmaster.

5277 / 25127

25127 was withdrawn after eight years allocated to Toton, condemnation coming on November 2nd 1980

1972 - An unusual visitor to the London area was 5277 (with 5212). Having arrived on March 15th with empty coaching stock from the north, they were borrowed by Willesden for a couple of days before returning north with a freight.

1972 - The cross-London workings still featured Class 25's on the trips to Hither Green. On June 20th & 21st 5277 & 7568 were noted on the Toton - Southfleet coal train.

After eight years operating out of Trafford Park/Longsight 25127 moved to Toton in April 1972. One of the summer Saturday Toton duties was to cover the Nottingham - Llandudno, which is seen here with 25127 in charge on a gloriously overcast July 15th 1978. Like a number of other Class 25's 25127 has had its boiler room grille sheeted over. Withdrawal came in October 1980, eventually being cut up at Swindon in July 1983.
25127 and 25090 pull into Shrewsbury at 12.55pm on an unknown date, presumably with a service off the Cambrian Line.
Photograph courtesy Ian Mawson.
25127 is a long way from its earlier haunts on the ICI stone trains, as it is seen here passing through Westbury on February 20th 1980, but still hauling crushed rock products in its train of Presflos. Time is running short for 25127, once the summer is over 25127 will be withdrawn.
Photograph courtesy Phil Trotter.

After withdrawal at the beginning of November 1980 movement to Swindon took place on January 14th 1981, being broken up there by the end of June 1983.

5279 / 25129

25129 spent ten years allocated to Toton prior to its withdrawal on February 7th 1982

1975 - Ignoring the late season snow passengers on June 7th's 07.35 Nottingham - Llandudno had the double headed delights of 25129 & 25131!

1975 - On August 29th 25129 & 25136 were noted at the northern end of the ECML in charge of a Cardiff - Newcastle working.

1977 - The Spring Bank holiday (May 27th) found 25129 & 25136 on the 08.02 Walsall - Plymouth.

1977 - On September 1st 25129 headed the 09.20 Paignton - Nottingham arriving at Birmingham some 90 minutes late, being replaced here by 46046.

1979 - 25129 & 25141 powered May 5th's Marylebone - Dinting charter special, changing locomotives at New Street for 20063 & 20071. On the return the Class 25's worked forward from Coventry into Marylebone.

1979 - Following problems on the WCML the up 'Manchester Pullman' arrived at St Pancras behind 25129, this train had started out with no boilered 47364 which having travelled via Dore was removed at Leicester.

1980 - June 5th found the 09.06 Birminghan N.S. - Bridlington doubled headed by 25129 & 25272.

1980 - The annual holiday fortnight at Leicester beginning July 15th saw a reinforcement of services through the city that day. Amongst many workings the 08.02 Walsall - Yarmouth was worked by 25254 & 25258 with a relief 10.03 service handled by 25143 & 25129.

1982 - On January 3rd whilst two engineering trains had possession of the up slow line at Roade a collision occurred between the two trains. Although the impact speed was less than 5mph an open wagon rode up into the brakevan, regrettably one railwayman was killed, three seriously hurt, six others less so. Since 25129 was withdrawn the following month possibly it may have sustained some sort of minor damage in the collision?

A collision at Roade on January 3rd 1982 claimed the life of a railway worker, with injuries of varying degrees sustained by nine other workers. 25129, with 25215 were working one of the engineering trains.

On April 21st 1982 25129 moved from Toton to Derby Works (with 20068/88 and 25149). After almost three years dumped at Derby 25129 was part of a large dead-engine movement on February 4th 1985 from Derby to Swindon, being broken up there by late March 1985.

7586 / 25236

As recorded earlier 25236 did not remain at Trafford Park/Longsight as long as the other limestone Class 25's, it moved away during May 1968, never officially to return to these workings. It became a well travelled locomotive with ten reallocations prior to withdrawal. The depots 25236 spent time at were Holbeck (three times), Gateshead (two times), London Division, Crewe, Willesden, Cricklewood & Kingmoor. Withdrawal came during December 1984.

During 1977 - 1978 25236 spent considerable time in Derby Works, being noted there between December 1977 & January 1978 and August 1978 & November 1978. It also visited Swindon during March 1980 for repairs.


Its along way from the hauling of limestone in the Derbyshire dales to the repair of 25236 in Swindon Works, seen here on March 1st 1980. Most Class 25's only visited Swindon for scrapping, but during 1980 a number received unclassified repairs at Swindon, allowing them to fight another day, 25236 was one of them.

After withdrawal 25236 ended up at Crewe and remained there until February 20th 1985 when it moved to Swindon with 25069/138 & 221. Most of it had been cut up by November 1986, however the cabs were transported to Vic Berry's Leicester for processing.


The fate of the original seven 'ICI' locomotives
Loco:Delivered: Withdrawn: Last Shed Broken up :
5274 - 25124Toton June 1964 Oct 83 CricklewoodSwindon Dec 86
5275 - 25125Toton June 1964 Dec 81 TotonSwindon April 83
5276 - 25126Toton June 1964 Nov 82 CreweV Berry, Leicester Nov/Dec 87
5277 - 25127Toton June 1964 Nov 80 TotonSwindon June 83
5278 Toton June 1964 May 71 Manchester Division D09Peak Forest, by George Cohen Oct 71
5279 - 25129Toton June 1964 Feb 82 TotonSwindon Mar 85
7586 - 25236Toton February 1964 Dec 84 KingmoorSwindon Nov 86

The depots - Buxton & Northwich

Although not actually involved with the allocation of the locomotives that worked the limestones trains, the location of Buxton & Northwich, at each end of the line, saw them frequently visited by the limestone train locomotives for fuel & water and for minor repairs.

Both the depots were of a modest size and located close to each town's passenger station. Northwich was a holdover from the steam era, of brick and concrete construction and designed for the handling of steam locomotives. Buxton however had a modern depot, purpose built for the servicing of diesels the railcars.

Buxton

25313 poses for its portrait on June 27th 1981 by the fuelling point in front of Buxton shed. 25313 spent its entire career allocated to LMR depots, and would remain in service to the very end of the Class 25 story.
The exhaust of 25202 stains the fine blue sky of a glorious Derbyshire morning sometime in January 1982. The ploughs seem a case of overkill for the depth of snow on this day, but anyone who has driven the A515 Ashbourne - Buxton or the A6 as it crosses the moors in snowy weather will know that the wind can create some immense drifts out of what seems to be only a little fall of snow!
After the Class 25's were replaced in 1984 by the Class 20's, who in turn gave way to the Class 37's, the look & feel of Buxton depot changed somewhat. Seen here sometime in 1988 is a multitude of Class 37's led by 37687, with just one Class 47 present.

Northwich

A glorious day in July 1975 finds 40013 'Andania' at Northwich. The Longsight based Class 40's were equally at home on the limestone workings.
Another dull and damp Sunday afternoon visit to Northwich finds a pair of Class 40's parked alongside the shed. Leading this duo on December 19th 1976 is 40130, one of twenty equipped with split headcode boxes either side of the gangway doors.
Steam has been gone for almost ten years, yet still an atmosphere lingers on this damp January 16th 1977. Parked at the end of the shed are ex-works 40177 and 25138.
After Trafford Park closed Longsight became responsible for providing locomotives for the ICI workings. A surprise visitor on November 10th 1979 was 25071, recently transferred from Cricklewood, and once a regular sight on the Royal Train workings.
A path ran down the side of the steam shed to the 'administration block', behind which on November 10th 1979 sat 40093.
The destination for many of the limestone trains was the ICI plant at Winnington, a suburb of Northwich. The old steam depot served as a signing on point after dieselisation, the shed remained standing until the 1990's. Seen here on April 11th 1980 is 25039 laying over between turns.

Requiem
Time marches on, along with it changes to most everything. For the 'ICI' services limestone continues to be extracted from the Derbyshire hills, trains still run, but (as of 2003) there is only one daily service to Winnington. After the Class 25's departed from the services their replacements included Classes 20, 37 & 47, followed later by the newer Classes 60 & 66.

And as the locomotives changed so did the company names. British Rail virtually disappeared into a myriad of private companies and liveries. In 1997 ICI sold its interests in the limestone processing to a new company that resurrected the name Brunner Mond & Company. The Winnington plant was heavily rationalised, its only rail traffic now being limestone. An EWS locomotive handles the train throughout, Oakleigh sidings are no more, traffic passes through the former yard on a single line and is handled via a new tippler on the Brunner Mond site, also gone is the extensive internal railway systems of Winnington/Wallerscote. The more modern facility at Wallerscote was closed and raised to the ground making way for new housing, also closed and removed was Gorstage sidings. Avenue Works, responsible for maintenance of the ICI facilities also took care of the venerable vacuum braked bogie hoppers, these Works still remain although no longer operated as part of Brunner Mond's facilities.

Northwich shed and the expansive railway sidings are now gone, the shed demolished, making way for further housing, part of the site becoming a car wash!

None of the the original seven Class 25's allocated to Trafford Park survive, all were cut up. However at least two of the bogies hoppers reached preservation and can be found on the Severn Valley Railway.

(With thanks to Garry Brookes for much of the above update, please visit Garry's site if you wish to see more of the ICI limestone workings, particularly over the western section of the route - go to the Links Page for a link to Garry's site.)

Other Destinations

Following the end of the iron ore service between Bidston Dock and the BSC Works at Shotton in early 1980, the surplus wagons allowed ICI to replace those lost to accidents over the years. The thirteen replacement wagons allowed the creation of a pool of wagons for fine aggregate flows to depots in the Manchester area. The views below possibly feature some of these workings.

An unidentified Class 25 with a set of empty wagons passes Romiley Junction signalbox on an overcast June 16th 1974. The train is coming off the Hyde Branch and will be heading eastbound towards New Mills, Chinley & Great Rocks.
Photographer unknown
With a string of twelve loaded hoppers in tow 37074 heads west through Guide Bridge on June 6th 1980, destined for one of the receiving depots in the Manchester area.
An unidentified Class 25 with a loaded stone train is on the 'Up Slow' and heading towards Miles Platting/Manchester Victoria. The train will be braking for the 20mph restriction for the curve at Miles Platting. The station in the background is the closed Park station and Park Station signal box, the railway coming in from the right is the Ardwick branch. The photograph may have been taken from Park No.1 box. The train is probably destined for Colleyhurst Street sidings.
Photograph courtesy Malcolm Roughley
Class 45 No. 45058 and six ICI wagons heads along the old Cheshire Lines Committee line to Tiviot Dale. The location is in the vicinity of Tiviot Way as Thomas Storys crane/Meadow mill and Lancashire Hill flats are visible. Most likely the working was to take stone to the Tilcon plant that used to be on Brewery street.
Photograph collection of webmaster

Miscellaneous

The Class 25's spent twenty years dragging limestone across North Derbyshire/Chesire, their predecessors, the Stanier 8F's had three decades of limestone haulage under their belts, and some would remain in the Buxton area on other duties until the spring of 1968. An example of the Class of 8F's No. 48216, is shown here, no location or date, by an un-identified photographer. The 8F without a tender weighed about the same as a no-boilered Class 25, approximately 72 tons.
At least two of the ICI bogie wagons reached preservation, Nos. BLI 19000 & BLI 19036, TOPS code JGV-N.
One of the preserved bogie ICI limestone wagons can be found in the NRM Annex at Shildon, seen here during June 2009.

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Last updated December 10th 2012

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