January was plagued by ASLEF strikes and poor weather, on January 4th the cold weather froze the stone in the Mountsorrell - Kennett working, led by 25277 & 25296, it was several days before unloading could take place. 25040 & 25069 were noted at High Wycombe on January 13th on a down ecs working.
In the middle of this inclement weather came further workings out of Kings Cross converted to HST's, new workings being added January 8th & 14th, giving a total of thirty two HST services available on weekdays. On January 9th 25074 & 31408 arrived at Kings Cross with the 7.08 ex Peterborough.
For the SR the latter half of January was a miserable time. January 2nd found the Central Division reduced to a shambles, snow and ice coupled to equipment failures and crewing issues demolished the timetable. The next day a guards strike at Selhurst involving ice on emu footboards incapacitated local services Snow returned on January 23rd, coupled to the freezing conditions meant grief for the electric units. Continuing ASLEF action compounded the passengers woes, especially their inaction on 23rd which allowed heavy ice to build up since no de-icing trains were running. The next day saw most Central Division emus cancelled unless a locomotive was available to assist, a most unusual sight was 31114 & 73004 assisting an 8-SAP formation on a down Brighton train, the Class 31 being removed at Redhill. On January 24th the 05.13 Staines - Windsor froze to the rail between Ashford & Feltham. A Ripple Lane - Earley tank train surrendered 37215 to assist the stranded train, taking the twelve car working to Twickenham where the emu's struggled on alone to Waterloo. January 26th also brought heavy icing and major problems, it would not be until the 29th that conditions would ease. On the SE Division similar problems were encountered, especially on the North Kent lines with ice and snow requiring diesel power, especially on those days after the ASLEF stoppages.
January 30th saw a sign of things to come as 47701, the first of the push-pull locomotives destined for the Edinburgh - Glasgow, was noted heading north from Crewe on a parcels working bound for Glasgow. And some traditions were dieing hard, even though there were only three Class 24's left (24063/81/82), they were noted several times at the end of January working in pairs on various Shotwick workings. January 30th found 25048 providing heat for the 18.05 Plymouth - Cardiff, with 50008 as the train engine, both were removed at Exeter by 45049.
February 7th found 24081 & 25290 in charge of the 05.38 Healey Mills - Northwich and 09.20 return. The infamous 15.15 Plymouth - Manchester featured 25056 north from Gloucester.
The morning of February 10th found Aylesbury overflowing with Class 25's, four awaiting engineering work and 25074 & 25071 on the 'Nottinghamshire Collier' special. The following day Crewe Works was
the destination for two enthusiast specials from Paddington. Four pairs of locomotives were used, the second special had 25277 & 25282 between Birmingham New Street and Crewe, the same machines then took
the first special from Crewe back to Birmingham. That same day 25284 was acting as one of the Crewe Works pilots, presumably caused by a missing Class 08.
Three days later and equally as unusual was 25301 noted at Margam on the 12.29 Swansea - Paddington parcels.
Amidst the recently broken up remains of 25171, a shunting accident on the evening of February 13th at Arbroath sent the stock for the evening Dundee - Edinburgh service into collision with a brake van and the buffer stops, causing considerable damage to the brake van and TSO 4210!
Heavy snowfall on February 14th brought much grief to the SE Division, Sole Street Bank on the Chatham line, saw four early morning trains stuck on the bank. Two of the trains were freed after about six hours, the latter two were eventually dragged back to Rochester, by which time the trapped commuters should have been making their regular journey home! February 15 & 16th brought heavy snow bringing chaos to the Midland mainline south of Leicester, the 20.00 Sheffield - St Pancras of the 5th was noted at Luton at 7.30am the following morning. Delays were also incurred due to a St Pancras guard's dispute on 19th and by a nationwide maintenance dispute the next day. Drifting snow on the ECML on the 15th between Stoke & Doncaster brought out two Class 31's with ploughs at each end, other Class 31's assisting a number of local dmu's. On the GE a thirty foot deep drift was encountered by a snowplough at Twenty Foot River. The WCML was also affected though not as seriously, with ice continuously disrupting the beginning of the morning services. And regrettably a railway worker was killed on snow clearing duties near Rowley Regis. A little further north came more disruption, a Manchester area dispute affected dmu refueling leading to greater use of Type 4's on the Blackpool - Manchester services. February 23 found 25131 on the 08.10 to Southport, whilst 25042 was one of four diesels working the Manchester - Oldham - Rochdale - Manchester circuit. Allerton depot was affected by a dispute concerning dmu maintenance creating a major reduction in local services. Not that the dmu's were alone in this blacklisting for maintenance men in the London area (Finsbury Park) were refusing to work on 'foreign' power, this occurring at the height of the bad weather. Peterborough became an emergency refueling center, locomotives from both north & south being exchanged to minimise service dislocation. In conjunction with this and the bad weather stock diagrams became hopelessly confused, so much so that 55011 and two coaches worked a round trip to Leicester on February 21st.
Travellers on February 16th's 22.15 Euston - Glasgow were already running over two hours late when 47185 failed at Dumfries. 25034 was on hand and 25078 was added at Kilmarnock but as neither could provide heat the four and a half hour late arrival at Glasgow must have been some sort of blessing.
25283 & 25318 were in charge of the 07.35 Toton - Halling coal as far as Hither Green on February 26th, returning with the 10.57 ex Shepherdswell.
March continued to see the 15.15 Plymouth - Manchester receive mixed power from Gloucester, observed were 25095 (13th), 25133 (14th) and 25118 (22nd), the latter in charge of ten coaches. A test train of Laboratory coaches, APT vehicles and an HST trailer worked from Derby via Reading to Exeter on March 12th behind a Class 47 but came back to Derby behind 25258 & 25311.
An adventurous weekend trip from Ealing Broadway to Aberdeen/Inverness March 16 - 18th proved too adventurous as it was curtailed at Aberdeen running over seven hours late,
mostly caused by bad weather. The outward leg was taken over at Mossend by 27016 & 25079 to Aberdeen, the return from here featured 25026 & 25068. This pair were also noted
on the 12.35 Aberdeen - Edinburgh on March 27th. The poor weather that affected this trip brought more severe icing to the SR, although not as catastrophic as that seen in
January & February. In the north the ECML between Newcastle & Darlington suffered from a heavy snowfall on March 17th, the first southbound trains from Newcastle didn't leave
until 11am, whilst the local Berwick service was maintained despite closure of many roads in the area. An enthusiast special from Kings Cross to the County Durham area headed
by 40032 was abandoned at York due to the heavy snowfall further north. However this day it was not the weather that would directly close the ECML
but a massive rockfall within Penmanshiel Tunnel, with the death of two workers engaged in the installation of a concrete trackbed within the tunnel. ECML trains were diverted via Carlisle,
not helped by more bad weather in the following weeks and a maintenance dispute at Scottish depots, leading to HST's being used on the emergency Edinburgh - Dunbar shuttle, with a bus connection
to Berwick. Not that the WCML was free of problems, the Edinburgh - Carstairs line was blocked from March 27th for two days by a derailed freight, whilst three days later, in the early hours a
Glasgow - Stratford freightliner lost a container at Beattock demolishing three catenary supports. Until single line working was introduced at 3pm the GSW route via Dumfries was the only route
open to Scotland. And of course the continuing maintenance dispute effectively closed Eastfield for the month.
The maintenance dispute brought many strangers into South Wales including a number of Class 25's. So noted towards the end of March were 25294 on the 14.46 Great Bridge - Llandeilo flats (21st), 25177 on oil tanks to Llandarcy oil terminal (April 2nd) as well as a number of light engine movements west of Cardiff, 25256 & 25312 (10th) and 25184 & 25194 (12th).
Late into March the two remaining Class 24's 24063 & 24081 were still soldiering on, observed on the Oakamoor sand train were 24081 & 25215 (28th) and 24063 & 25159 (29th). During April 24081 was a regular visitor to Hereford. It arrived with 25211 on 9th with a freight from Stoke to South Wales, returning north with the 15.10 Radyr - Shotwick. On 15th & 21st it arrived with a continuously welded rail train, the latter time with 25159. Regrettably from April 10th 24081 would be the last remaining Class 24 in service following the withdrawal of 24063 the previous day. Whilst working the 14.20 Bidston Dock - Shotwick iron ore service the locomotive collided, at Shotwick, with some wagons from the local trip working hauled by 25158. All was not lost for 24063 however as it would later surrender its power unit to the Derby Research locomotive, 24061.
The 18.00 ex Manchester arrived at Newcastle on April 1st with 25073. Further south on the 5th 25137 derailed in Hatfield up yard, after rerailing it returned light to the LMR apparently none the worse for wear.
The ever increasing presence of the HST's on the ECML finally provided cascading of motive power, with ER Class 47/4's now diagrammed for the Trans Pennine route, quickly replacing the Class 45's on this route. This service required nine sets of stock, all MkII's apart from one MkI set. 25047 was noted working a new locomotive hauled diagram in April, the 07.47 Manchester - Bangor and 11.30 return, repeated again as the 15.40 out and 19.30 return. More usually this diagram was handled by Type 4's.
The Easter weekend proved to be a busy time for 25040 & 25122. On April 14th 25040 & 25218 powered a Euston - Pwllheli excursion onward from Wolverhampton, 25218 being removed
at Machynlleth after failing en-route. 25040 made the round trip to Pwllheli alone, but gained 25122 from Machynlleth for the return trip to Wolverhampton. Interestingly 46011
was added at Shrewsbury for heating purposes! And on April 16th (Easter Monday) 25040 & 25122 worked a Walsall - Aberystwyth excursion, the day trippers enjoying a spell of excellent weather after the poor conditions of the first part of the year. The good weather overwhelmed the Blackpool services, causing the police to ask BR to assist in getting the crowds home. With the evening's final dmu services imitating sardine cans emergency resources produced 25211 with eight coaches and 40151 with elevens coaches, both bound for stations to Manchester. The day however was marred by the loss of five persons and forty injured in a head on collision at Wellneuk Jct (Paisley) between an Ayr - Glasgow dmu relief and the 19.45 Glasgow Central - Wemyss Bay emu.
April 23rd found 25002 at Saltley, far from its normal Scottish haunts. 25048 came to the rescue of 50045 after it failed on April 24th's 12.00 Plymouth - Paddington at Exeter, the Class 25 going as far as Westbury. 25260 was the only locomotive available to work April 28th's Worcester - Leeds, Saltley could also only provide 31320 for the same day's 11.15 Birmingham N.S. - Penzance! Midland based 25270 & 25278 headed north from Haverton Hill on April 26th with the 6S41 bound for Grangemouth!
25129 & 25141 powered May 3rd'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. Fuel restrictions were imposed from May 11th due to the world crisis in oil supplies, these restrictions would affect most of British Rail leading to
the running of shorter trains and the curtailment of certain non-essential services. One excursion that did run was an SRPS trip on May 12th from Falkirk to Aberdeen for a slow run
down the Fraserburgh branch. 40061 was used for the mainline running whilst 25034/35 were used on the branch. The Kincardine - Oakley and Dyce Junction - Fraserburgh sections were
to close that week making this the last train over those sections. In the Welsh Valleys service cuts proved so unpopular that dmu services were re-instated,
although running with three car sets rather than the normal six car sets. Cuts to the diesel services on the SR were of a minor nature with a resumption of the many curtailed
services occurring late in June. In the Newcastle area reductions took place from June 11th, with further cutbacks from June 25th. On the Edinburgh - Glasgow line four services
were cancelled, likewise a round trip Edinburgh - Inverness working. On these latter workings Class 47's, including the 47/7's were now very much in evidence, though pairs of Type 2's
did fill in from time to time, this was also true of the Edinburgh - Aberdeen services with 25227 & 27001 on the 11.00 ex Edinburgh on May 26th. 25227 was noted on the Carstairs - Edinburgh
leg of the 12.05 ex Birmingham on May 29th, another route where the Class 47's had become prominent. Unrelated to the fuel crisis was the cessation of refueling of diesels at
Kings Cross effective May 13th, all such work being handled by Finsbury Park.
Late May found Cricklewood hosting its first Class 56's with 56040 arriving on May 31st for maintenance training and 56040 on June 16th for driver training. Six daily mgr turns to at Didcot were now in the hands of the 56's, they were also frequently used on the Tarmac Company's Cliffe Hill - Hayes hopper trains. The summer schedules also commenced at this time and again the 08.02 Walsall - Yarmouth was in the hands of Class 25's, 25130 & 25135 noted May 26th, with the 10.10 Euston - Aberystwyth going forward from Birmingham New Street behind 25032 & 25095.
June 9th proved popular with enthusiasts celebrating the Open Day at Toton. Almost ninety locomotives were available for viewing including thirteen Class 25's.
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). Further north on June 25th 25271 was in charge of the 09.50 Bristol - Newcastle,
noted at Darlington. Much further west June 30th found the 10.20 Paignton - Manchester at Exeter behind 31165 & 25048, both replaced here in favour of 47030.
Much further north 25002 & 25083 handled the Edinburgh - Perth leg of June 23rd's SRPS excursion to Kyle of Lochalsh.
On July 2nd 24063 departed Crewe for the final time, as the 9Z50 09.00 Crewe - Tinsley freight, adding RDB968007 (24061) & 74010 at Derby. The cavalcade reached Doncaster Works on July 4th allowing for an engine swap between the two Class 24's. By the end of the month 24063 had been reduced to scrap, the last of this class to be broken up here. Early in July 56035 & 56036 arrived at Cardiff Canton for service in the South Wales area, about a dozen paired Class 56's were expected on the Port Talbot - Llanwern iron ore trains, releasing Class 37's for coal haulage to Aberthaw power station, this would become a reality on August 6th with six iron ore workings becoming Class 56 hauled. In line with other 'personalisations' prevalent across the network Glasgow Works began applying larger than normal numbers to locomotives receiving full repaints, 26011 & 27034 so noted, a feature that would also be applied to several Class 25's out-shopped there.
A Nottingham - Lowestoft special on July 4th was powered by 25307 & 25326. Tyne Yard put 25288 on the 09.35 to Whitemoor on July 8th. The start of the local holiday weeks on July 14th at Birmingham did not see many 'extras' due to the ongoing oil shortages. 25038 & 25153 worked the 08.28 to Yarmouth and 25264 & 25267 passed through on a Leicester - Paignton relief, later noted at Exeter. The next day 25134 & 25140 ran through with a Manchester - Bath special.
The third week of July marked the 100th anniversary of the Blaneau Ffestiniog branch, a display on 22nd at Llandudno featured 24081, 40186, refurbished 50986 & 56221 and a BR cinema coach. A charter train from Crewe visited the branch behind 20153 & 20165. Since June Dee Marsh sidings had been accumulating Class 502 stock, (replaced by the new Class 507's), some condemned, some simply stored. On July 20th 25047 & 25215 hauled off to Birkenhead six ex-works units, whilst two days later 25070 worked nine condemned vehicles to Crewe Basford Hall.
The derailment in the early hours of July 26th of a Toton - Willesden freight at Kenton caused an operating nightmare for services on the southern end of the WCML. The fast lines were re-opened just before 9am, even so service dislocation was still considerable. The up 'Manchester Pullman' arrived at St Pancras behind 25129, the 07.46 Northampton - Euston was diverted via Bedford arriving considerably late at St Pancras behind a pair of Class 25's.
25104 was in charge of July 28th's summer extra 09.10 Llandudno - York. This was a good day for the North Wales mainline with Class 25 & 40's in abundance, perhaps the most unusual was Eastfield's 25090 on the 07.47 Manchester - Bangor, the following week (August 3rd) 46001 was on this service. The one remaining Class 24 was noticeable by its absence this summer on passenger workings, however on August 2nd 24081 rescued 40129 at Colwyn Bay on the 18.05 Holyhead - Euston, taking the service as far as Crewe. Further north the Leicester - Blackpool service arrived behind 25248 & 25280.
The 'Jolly Fisherman' 09.22 Derby - Skegness was noted behind 25325 & 25321 on August 4th instead of the more normal Toton Class 20's.
Out of Birmingham on August 4th 25124 & 25132 worked the 08.28 to Yarmouth, the next day the 09.15 to Taunton was powered by 25089. The 7th found a relief to Plymouth utilising 25134 & 25270 as far as Bristol, where they returned north on a Plymouth - Liverpool extra, working throughout and using the Camp Hill line in the Birmingham area. Service changes on August 6th featured HST's in charge of the 'Cornish Riviera' & 'Golden Hind' workings out of Paddington.
Considerable mileage was covered on August 18th when 25007 & 25062 worked an SRPS special throughout from Dundee via the Forth Bridge and Falkirk to Oban and return.
The ECML diversions necessary due to the Penmanshiel tunnel collapse were rescinded on August 20th following completion of a diversion around the original route. The first train over the new line was the 6S44 06.15 Morpeth - Oxwellmains coal hauled by 37250 on August 13th, a week prior to the official reopening. After returning to some sort of normality the ECML was blocked the following week (28th) by the derailment at Northallerton of a HST, fortunately a 70mph pw slack was in force, although much track damage occurred the coaches remained upright with few serious injuries.
An unusual sight on August 25th was 25133 dragging dead 25105 & 47107 up Lickey Incline and being assisted by the bankers 37158 & 37298! Three days later Kingmoor based 25322 was noted in charge of the 20.17 Worcester - Paddington parcels.
The 07.34 Leicester - Paignton on September 1st was noted at Exeter behind 25264 & 25265.
The seemingly ongoing shortage of Type 2 power in the London area found locomotives borrowed from distant depots with Eastfield's 25235 & 25247 noted on local workings towards the end of August/beginning of September. Of course this shortage was partly created by the borrowing of Cricklewood's allocation by other depots, 25054 was noted on Darlington's local turns from September 3rd - 6th! To the aid of Cricklewood came a further influx of Class 56's with several visiting the SR on cement workings, by October they would be diagrammed for the Welbeck - Northfleet service. September 4th's Southam trip proved a little strenuous for 25243 as it caught fire at the site of Marton station. 25131 & 25135 rescued the train several hours later. Sunday engineering works between Rugby & Bletchley resulted in diesel haulage over this section of line, however the shortage of eth equipped locomotives led to assistance from seven Class 25's, not the wisest choice for a hot day making for a poor passenger environment in the Mark II & III coaches.
On October 2nd 25135 worked a special Bristol - Plymouth to cover a late running service from the North West.
On October 4th Cricklewood's 25189 & 25236 worked the 1Z89 enthusiasts special from Watford to Newcastle via the ECML, handing over to 31156 & 31209 for the run to Carlisle. Two days later 25075 had quite an adventure working a nine coach SRPS special from Falkirk Grahamston to Keighley via the S & C. On the return Carlisle was reached forty minutes late, 47040 being added for the run into Scotland. A week later (10th) the 06.20 Carlisle - Glasgow via Dumfries failed completely near Carron Bridge. Dumfries provided 25006 which pushed the train to Kirkconnel, after running round here proceeded about two hours late. At Kilmarnock the offending locomotive, 45023 was removed before continuing to Glasgow. On this day the 13.40 Glasgow - Carlisle (45023's return working?) was powered by 25027 & 25065.
25094 & 25056 worked to Hither Green with October 16th's 11.45 ex Brent returning with the 10.57 Shepherdwell - Cricklewood. The 09.55 Derby - Newquay had twice started out with Type 2's as far as Birmingham, September 29th used 25073 & 25135 giving way to 45026 and October 20th 25208 & 25209 replaced by 47003.
On October 22, the 08.44 Glasgow - Dundee service in the hands of an ailing 25083, having suffered intermittent loss of power throughout this journey was eventually stopped at Invergowrie with binding brakes. Due to a breakdown of safety procedures the following service, the 09.35 Glasgow - Aberdeen headed by 47208 ran into the rear of the stopped train. The impact threw three coaches of the Dundee train into the Tay estuary, killing one passenger and the crew of 47208, the Class 47 and five coaches were heavily damaged. Shortly after this incident 25083 was noted at Glasgow Works undergoing an intermediate repair. Back on the GSW the 27th proved troublesome for the 13.40 Glasgow - Carlisle when 25076 failed at New Cumnock. Help arrived from Ayr with 25013 taking the train forward over an hour late and 27024 dragging the failure back to Ayr depot.
An unusual pairing on the 18.29 Chesterton Jcn - Ipswich cwr train of November 2nd was 25270 leading 40084.
Towards the end of November the Edinburgh - Glasgow workings started to see more of the new Class 47/7's following the release from Glasgow Works of the driving trailers. By the middle of December three of the four principal workings were in the hands of 47/7's but the new service was still troubled by gremlins.
On December 8th passengers on the 07.04 Leicester - Parkeston Quay dmu (51289 & 56131) received haulage from 25140 after the dmu failed. This machine was replaced at March by 25208 after the reporting of a defective horn on 25140. At Cambridge paasengers transferred to a replacement dmu! 25038 had adventures beginning December 8th when it worked a Birmingham - Nottingham football special with 25027. The next day, still with 25027 it worked an Oxley - Marylebone ecs before heading back north with a Marylebone - Doncaster enthusiast special. 25038 failed short of Coventry station, on reaching the station 85006 took over but caught fire at Tile Hill. The following Wolverhampton service pushed the special to Birmingham International where eventually 86003, borrowed off another service took the train onto Stockport, considerably late.
December 12th was a poor day for Class 25 reliability in the Northampton area. A Tring Cutting - Dam Mill mgr train which went forward from Northampton with 25285, after 25254 had been cut off here, got no further than Althorp before expiring. 25284 pushed the train to Rugby, ran round and took the train on to its destination. Another coal train became stuck also near Althorp with 25069 on the 07.35 Northampton - Three Spires when the forty eight wagons became too much for the Type 2. Assistance came in the rear from a following Willesden - Bescot freight, pushing as far as Rugby. The next day 25268 worked the 15.15 Plymouth - Manchester north of Gloucester after 46039 was declared a failure. A week later (19th) 25069 was noted on the 07.47 Manchester - Bangor.
December 15th found 25132 moving snowploughs around the March area, taking a plough from March to Norwich, before running light to Ipswich to collect the plough for Cambridge. As there was no brake van available at Ipswich the trip was cancelled and the Class 25 returned light to March!
Trials with 56065 occurred in Scotland on the Hunterston ore trains. Whilst there it managed to assist the down 'Clansman' 09.35 Euston - Inverness on December 17th when heavy rain & strong winds brought down the wires at Floriston & Qunitinshill.
The year closed out with heavy rains leading to flooding from December 27th in many areas. The Berks & Hants line was closed at Laverton, as was Box Tunnel and the WR Bristol line at Saltford. On the SR the Weymouth line was closed at Yetminster, with the Exeter route closed at Crewkerne and between Chard & Axminster. The Barnstaple and Looe branches also went underwater. The Central Wales line was closed south of Llanwrtyd Wells, whilst the Hereford - Newport line was cut in two places, at Ponthir & Pandy, trapping 46040 on the 12.25 Crewe - Cardiff. 25224 on the 11.30 Cardiff - Crewe was running an hour late due to heating problems, whilst 25055 on the 16.02 return encountered moderate flooding at Woofferton. The Class 46 was finally released from its impoundment early on December 29th. Also closed were the Rhondda & Rhymney Valley lines and a weakened embankment on the South Wales main line west of Neath led to single line working.
The detailed reporting available from the TOPS computer system as well as keeping track of locomotive movements allowed a detailed look at works shopping and maintenance histories. As 1979 closed eight Class 25's were overdue for either intermediate or general overhaul. The most delinquent was 25092 which had been scheduled for an intermediate repair in December 1978. Only 25251 was overdue for a general repair, scheduled for December 1979!
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