1985

A stranger to the Strathclyde area on January 4th was 25269 hauling molasses from Greenock, the locomotive being later noted at Motherwell shed. The previous day 25259 hauled the afternoon Newcastle - Bristol postal working. The Newcastle region was still plagued with a dmu shortage, even those in service succumbed all to frequently, on January 14th 25044 assisted the 07.47am Newcastle - Carlisle dmu, continuing on with the return 10.38 service.

A Bristol - Manchester ecs working was noted on January 19th behind 25194 & 25213.

Not only were the Class 25's fading fast but some of their long-standing traffic flows were also disappearing. Thus it was left for 25249 to handle the last London Brick Company 'Fletliner' on January 25, the 4F53 12.40 Stewartby - Garston brick train. Traffic formerly sent to Kings Cross, Trafford Park & Garston now moved by road.

Heavy snowstorms and flooding created many difficulties during January. Heavy snow had fallen in the south early in the month, after a brief warm spell the bad weather returned with a vengeance, the 16th being one of the coldest days this century, especially in the south. After the snows came flooding, on January 22nd the Lowestoft line was closed following flood damage to a bridge near Ufford. The next day March depot used 25262 (substituting for the diagrammed Class 45) on the local freight to Bury and the grain facility at Kennett. This day saw 25202 venture into Scotland on the Willesden - Bathgate car train, later becoming a failure! On 24th oil trains diverted through Huddersfield due to the derailment & fire in Summit tunnel included the use of 25089 & 25178 and 25196. Their use is remarkable considering the vast array of locomotives (Classes 20/37/47/56/58) which were still idle due to the ongoing coal miners strike. Unfortunately the active surviving Class 40's were mostly sidelined effective January 22nd, only four (40012/86, 40118/112) remained in service. At this time Doncaster received the last of the Class 31/4's for heavy general overhaul/eth conversion, future heavy repairs would focus on the Class 31/1's. Crewe also completed the last of its present batch of Class 47/4's (47628) whilst Derby was busy making roadworthy its large fleet of scrap machines pending dispatch to Swindon or Doncaster.

On February 1st the APT moved from Polmadie to Thornaby for wheel turning, being noted through Hexham behind 25044 & 25054, returning on 4th behind the same locomotives. 25283 worked the 12.30 Manchester - Cardiff on February 1st, the following day this was covered by 25315 after the failure of 33014 on the northbound working. The Ellesmere Port - Severn Tunnel Jct bitumen tanks were noted with 25175 & 25048 on February 5th and 25044 (8th), Class 47's were now diagrammed for this working. Two remarkable movements occurred on the evenings of February 3rd & 4th as Derby dispatched eighteen of its scrap Class 25's to Swindon, each train comprised of nine locomotives in varying states of decay. Two days later (6th) the Class 40 fleet was reduced to one working example, 40122.

Heavy snowfalls on February 8th & 9th caused many problems on the southern end of the WCML. Freezing temperatures and the heavy snowfall also brought heavy delays to the South Wales area. In the south the morning rain soon turned to snow, falling for most of the day leading to a variety of stock disruptions and service cancellations. Shortages of equipment were exacerbated by the backlog of overdue maintenance and by the end of the miners strike at the beginning of March with the consequent return of 'borrowed' locomotives for the movement of coal again.

Bedford - St Pancras commuters on February 15th endured -15C temperatures, which proved too much for the Class 317 EMU's leading to scratch sets of four Mk1 corridor seconds and non-boilered Class 25's filling in. By the time of the evening rush hour the ice on the overhead equipment had gone and problems with the EMU's frozen brakes had been cured, releasing the Class 25's from their temporary passenger duties. The next day the 08.40 Leicester - Birmingham dmu failed at Nuneaton, 25032 came to the rescue, taking the next leg of the diagram, a Norwich working which was terminated at Leicester!

The freezing weather returned on the 18th again causing considerable problems on the Southern. Most notable were the icicles in Balcombe tunnel which broke windows in 4-CIG 7437, a few days later falling ice in Haywards Heath tunnel displaced the conductor rail. At Selling tunnel icicles caused considerable damage to new cars being brought up from Dover.

Possibly because of the diminishing numbers of Class 25's there had been a greater frequency of Class 27's arriving at Tyne Yard from the Carlisle direction. So noted on February 22nd was 27026 arriving with a special freight, returning west light coupled to 25298.

Scunthorpe was host to 25282 in charge of ten bogie oil tankers on February 19th.

On February 23rd 25034 & 25044 handled an enthusiast special between St Pancras and Stafford, with the train routed over the north to west curve at Lichfield between High & Low levels. 45048 took over for the run to Attenborough, buses taking the participants for a tour of Toton. The Class 25's returned the tour to St Pancras. This same day a shortage of electric locomotives found 25249 & 25303 in charge of the early morning Ditton - North Wembley BOC tanks. On March 16th 25278 & 25309 also covered this working.

January & February had seen another eight Class 25's withdrawn, whilst eighteen had reached Swindon from Derby and another ten had been called from various depots. Remarkably 25129 which had been in the batch from Derby Works was broken up very quickly after reaching Swindon.

On March 6th 25322 & 25135 were noted through Huddersfield on oil tankers. A little further south found 31252 on test from Doncaster Works, the first Class 31 to feature the new Railfreight livery. On March 8th whilst on driver training duties 25202 failed near Wellingborough, blocking the down line for ninety minutes. 25309 came to the rescue of an ailing 31413 on March 9th's 12.30 Birmingham - Peterborough. 56088 had propelled the failure to Nuneaton where the Class 25 was added, at Leicester the failed Class 31 was removed, 25309 continuing on to Peterborough.

Visitors to Severn Tunnel Jct included 25276 on March 6th leaving with the Mossend vans including a dead 47606, on March 21st 25196 & 25200 worked this service. This same day 25057 worked the morning Baglan Bay service, returning in the afternoon with a freight from Margam. 25316 took out a morning freight to Margam, leaving with the next evening's (22nd's) empties to Great Rocks. The 21st had seen more snowfalls in the south causing problems for the first electric trains of the day. The last week of March saw the 15.02 Manchester - Bristol parcels behind 25224 (26th) & 25229 (27th).

This March was filled with newsworthy items. On 23rd Lord Richard Beeching, the first Chairman of the BRB in 1961 died after a long illness. Made famous by the well remembered negative points in the Beeching Report, he also led the way for the 'Inter City' network, the Freightliner concept and the Research Department at Derby! On 30th after fourteen years of service without a passenger fatality the 'Princess Margaret' a Super-SRN4 hovercraft was struck by a freak wave at Dover Harbour. The passenger cabin and skirt were damaged after hitting a breakwater, leading to the loss of four lives with over two dozen others injured.

During March Derby finally released 25037 after receiving a main generator from 25049, which had been withdrawn with collision damage. Its sister 25234 had been stopped here for power unit repairs but was withdrawn following discovery of more serious problems. March & April saw another six machines withdrawn including 25256 which had run ten years and five months since its last overhaul!

A Railfair held at Perth on April 13th proved very popular, amongst the more glamorous exhibits was 97250 Ethel 1.

On April 17th 25173 & 25231 were in charge of a Cardiff - Gloucester parcels working. Further north nothing moved on this day on the Scottish Region, a day's strike being called to protest the run down of Glasgow (Springburn) Workshops. A recent decision had seen the cessation of all Classified repairs to the Class 27's, the withdrawal of four stored Class 26's which had been slated for heavy repair and the overhaul at Swindon of Scottish allocated Class 08 shunters certainly did not help matters. Not that Swindon's future was any rosier for an announcement was soon forthcoming to advise of that Work's closure by March 1986. This information threw a cloud over the planned Open Day's scheduled for late August and for the Great Western 150 Anniversary plans on other parts of the WR.

On April 23rd two pairs of Class 25's were noted at Chesterfield, the morning Arpley - Parkeston Speedlink behind 25175 & 25032 and the late evening Bristol - Newcastle parcels with 25201 & 25245. April 27th's 13.25 Crewe - Cardiff did not do well, 25060 deputising for a broken Class 33 also failed at Hereford, being rescued by 47187, Hereford's standby locomotive. This machine later rescued ailing 25296 near Abergavenny on the northbound UKF fertiliser.

Class 25's briefly returned to the 15.02 Manchester - Bristol parcels at the beginning of May, 25201 (1st), 25245 (2nd) & 25302 (14th), the 2nd also found 25300 deputising for a failed Class 33 on the 16.00 Crewe - Cardiff. Also noted on 1st & 2nd were 25212 & 25058 on the Ellesmere Port - Severn Tunnel Jct bitumen tanks.

On May 4th a diverted early morning Willesden - Coatbridge freightliner was noted through Newcastle behind 25249 & 25259. Two days later the same pair passed through Huddersfield on oil tankers. This day also saw one of the last diagrammed Class 25 workings over the Cambrian when 25058 & 25078 handled the 06.15 Euston - Aberystwyth from Wolverhampton. An Open Day at Westbury on this Bank Holiday Weekend saw the attractions include 25322 and 27036, the latter recently out-shopped from Swindon.

On May 17th 25034 handled the 18.15 Glasgow - Liverpool from Preston. A week later (26th) this machine was noted at Oxford on the afternoon Longbridge - Cowley freight.

With the start of the new timetable on May 18th the locomotive hauled services on the Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth line were taken over by Class 37's with 37251 in charge of the 07.53 to Aberystwyth, 37124 & 37186 on the 07.35 ex Euston and 37235 on the 09.35 ex Euston. Stabled at Shrewsbury this day viewing these changes were 25051 & 25276, later used to take the 13.40 Aberystwyth - Shrewsbury on to Wolverhampton. The Class 37's were provided by Severn Tunnel Jct, reaching Shrewsbury on a variety of Cardiff - Crewe workings. Additionally the Class 33 worked Cardiff - Crewe services were revised in the new timetable, being extended to Bangor & Manchester.

On afternoon of May 29th 25173 & 25201 were noted on the ECML at Thirsk with a train of coal empties, whilst much further north 25303 was noted on a variety of passenger workings between Edinburgh & Carstairs.

May would see Doncaster add its hand to breaking up the Class 25's following the arrival of 25214 from Healey Mills, a class not seen here since 25015 in 1975. And transfers in May, the first for quite a while involving the Class 25's saw Longsight's allocation of four machines (25057/316/321/324) move to Crewe.

From the beginning of June the major rebuilding of Crewe station began, with the reinstated departmental Class 40's proliferating on the many permanent way trains.

The Reading maintenance depot Open Day on June 1st featured over twenty locomotives including 25302, though its recognition was shortlived, being retired by month end.

On June 4th 25237 was in charge of a Manchester - Bristol parcels working, on reaching Hereford the relieving driver refused to accept the Class 25, 47152 was borrowed off the southbound bitumen tanks to go forward. Whatever ailed 25237 proved fatal as it was withdrawn later in June. The next day 25089 & 25209 were noted at Ipswich with the Llanwern - Parkeston tanks.

On June 14th 25279 worked the 07.19 Manchester - Cardiff. Tragedy befell 25191 on June 24th working the Shrewsbury - Bristol vans after striking and killing a lady at Leominster. The police investigation delayed the following services, with 25191 held later at Hereford. Later that day 25286 failed with power unit problems, being sidelined at Hereford. 45046 making an unusual appearance on the 28th's 18.15 Cardiff - Manchester expired at Hereford, the now repaired 25286 taking over. Healey Mills commandeered 25032 to handle a local trip freight in the Wakefield area on June 25th, a working normally handled by Classes 31/37. Two days late 25072 was being used by Gateshead depot for the local Coxlodge working.

The middle of June saw fifty six Class 25's awaiting scrapping at Swindon, exceeded just barely by the number of Class 08's present, although fifteen of those were awaiting a call for dual braking, though the imminent closure of the Works threatened these conversions. At Crewe breaking up of locomotives had slowed considerably, the staff so employed were diverted to electrification mast construction for the ECML. Crewe were also in the process of releasing the first eth equipped Class 37/4's for the Scottish Region, a potential threat for continued use of the Ethels, with 37401 (ex-37268) going to Eastfield in late June.

The failure on July 2nd of the 18.55 Carlisle - Newcastle dmu at Corby Gates found 25231 pressed into service to assist. Further south 25095 worked the 07.49 Manchester - Cardiff continuing the diagram for the rest of the day and working the 3rd's midday Cardiff - Crewe. The monopoly of Class 47's on the 15.02 Manchester - Bristol parcels eased during the summer months with many Class 25's noted. On 12th 25037 was taken off this service at Hereford to provide assistance to an ailing 33012 working a Bangor - Cardiff service.

An Open Day at Cardiff Canton on July 6th produced a considerable variety of exhibits including 25322 and 97201 (ex 24061), the latter being used for cab rides. 25322 had arrived dead behind 47290 working the Garston - Severn Tunnel Jct car carriers. It is believed the Class 25 had failed two days earlier on a similar working. On July 9th July the Parkeston - Arpley tanks was noted at Chesterfield behind 25032 & 25095.

85007 came to the assistance of 25254 & 25325 at Leighton Buzzard on July 17th after both the Type 2's failed on the afternoon Kings Cross - Tring cement empties. The failure of 86205 on July 22nd's 01.15 Holyhead - Euston at Kings Langley saw 25057 coming to assist. Whilst returning north light it too failed.

The evening of July 23rd saw a convoy of eight scrap Class 25's leave Derby Works for Swindon. 25312 was broken up within days of arriving at Swindon. Several withdrawn examples still remained at Etches Park, but the Works itself now only held one example, the half demolished 25261, most certainly unfit to travel anywhere. Amidst the continuing trickle of withdrawals during the summer, eight of Bescot's Class 25's were transferred away during July.

Despite the shrinking empire of the Class 25's many still had their adventures such as 25034 & 25175 on August 3rd working a chartered Bolton - Swindon Works - Swansea special, performing faultlessly on all legs of the trip.

The performance of the Class 33's on the Crewe - Cardiff workings had started to deteriorate considerably, the extension of the services to Bangor & Manchester and their use on local workings may have interrupted their maintenance cycles. On August 16th an afternoon Bangor - Cardiff was noted behind 25190 whilst on 28th 25201 rescued 33004 on the 07.10 Manchester - Cardiff. 25211 paid an increasingly rare visit to Edinburgh Waverley on August 14th, being noted on ecs duties. This summer had proved to be the wettest this century in the Glasgow area, the Class 25's were well known for their leaky cabs.

Tyne Yard was host to two Class 25's on August 21st, 25109 took over the evening Parkeston - Mossend Speedlink whilst 25202 followed later that night with another Mossend bound service. The following weekend (24/25th) Haymarket held a well attended Open day, with Ethel 1 being present powering a rake of MkIII vehicles.

The failure of 87101 on August 22nd just north of Rugby on the 19.00 Euston - Holyhead found the following service pushing the failure to Nuneaton where 25198 was waiting to take the train on to Crewe. A week later (30th) an incident at Harrow saw two electric services diverted from Nuneaton to St Pancras, the first hauled by 20161 & 20187, the second by 25145 & 20099.

25176 & 25299 powered a Ravenscraig - Llanwern coil train on September 3rd.

Present at a very warm Coalville Open Day on September 1st was 97201 & 25283. The following weekend (7th) Laira's Open Day featured 25288, whilst 25213 was on display at Landore's Open Day on 21st. Landore was visited this day by a special from Skipton via the Central Wales line hauled by 25034 & 25175. On September 7th 25283 deputised for a dmu on the 06.28 Crewe - Cardiff. The GWR 150 celebrations intended for Swindon Works obviously never took place due to the impending closure of the Works. Closure notices officially appeared late in September whilst Vic Berry, Leicester had been called in for the removal of scrap from parts of the site. One piece of good news however was the successful bid for 25067 for preservation, the Type 2 awaiting movement from Swindon to its new home.

The trip freight from Healey Mills to Knottingley, normally a Class 31 or 47 working saw 25285 on September 13th and 25282 (23rd). The latter day saw 25059 covering the 10.43 Carlisle - Newcastle passenger after the dmu failed. The next day 25244 was noted over the same route, eastbound in charge of a Stranraer - Scunthorpe freight, returning with a Tyne - Carlisle cement. Also in this area a regular evening Newcastle - Carlisle - Euston ecs working frequently used Class 25's, 25200 so noted on 21st. The Research Centre's Class 24 & 46 powered a short train to Kirkdale on September 23rd, returning to Derby on 25th.

A Scottish passenger working on September 24th involved 25268 on the 16.10 Edinburgh - Liverpool as far as Carstairs.

25303 & 25323 powered a relief 14.25 York - Plymouth on September 27th, its not known how far the Types 2's traveled. The next day 25285 was noted at Sheffield in charge of the 07.40 Leicester - Leeds service, later being noted at Newcastle arriving with a SAGA special from Eastbourne. The 29th's 15.00 Manchester - Swansea produced 25296 with eleven coaches, all was not well with the service as the train arrived over an hour late at Hereford where the standby locomotive, 47325 took over. Another heavy working had taken place several days earlier (26th) when 25196 powered the Albion - Waterston tanks, pairs of Class 37's or a single 47 being the norm.

As September ended Bescot lost its allocation of nine Class 25's, with twenty three Class 20's received as replacements, mostly from Toton. And with the close of the summer season many of the remaining Class 25's still equipped with functioning boilers had them officially isolated. Withdrawals continued but occasionally locomotives were reinstated, during the late summer 25297 and 25311 returned to service. The breaking up of 25253 at Swindon in October would see the original fleet of 327 now cut in half.

Class 25's over the Central Wales line continued with October 5th's special from Kidderminster to Tenby hauled throughout by 25037 & 25059. As there was no way to refuel the locomotives at Tenby, the return trip was via Cardiff where 25296 & 25282 were waiting to take over. On October 8th 25269 was noted through Huddersfield with a Freightliner train, the next day the 17.55 Scarborough - Liverpool was powered by 25057 & 25058, arrival being thirteen minutes late at Lime Street. Meanwhile 25323 returned to the north east on October 15th working a Stanlow - Jarrow oil train, whilst southbound on the ECML was a Tyne - York coal train behind 25288 & 56115! The next day 25286 arrived at Newcastle hauling a failed dmu on the 15.45 ex Carlisle service.

Railtour duty befell 25268 & 25297 on October 12th taking over the 'East Anglian Ltd' Cardiff - Norwich special at Coventry for the run to Liverpool Street. Stratford declared 25297 a failure, 31144 substituted for the return to Coventry.

An extremely rare working was 25042 on a morning Radyr - Tondu ballast on October 16th. This had possibly arrived in the area after working October 10th's afternoon Manchester - Bristol parcels with 25230, the train loading to fifteen vehicles. The lunch time Severn Tunnel Jct - Mossend freight on October 24th required assistance at Abergavenny from 25034 after 25145 failed there. After spending four days dumped at Hereford 25145 returned to Severn Tunnel Jct in a local freight behind 25034, before being taken to Crewe in an overnight freight! Severn Tunnel Jct was host to five Class 25's on October 26th.

October 22nd's sand train from Oakamoor hauled by 25058 & 25213 became derailed north of Stoke on Trent station. 25058 ended up overhanging the street, kept from falling by its attachment to 25213! The errant Type 2 was returned to the rails the following day.

On November 2nd 25307 came to the rescue of 27051 which had failed at Corby Gates on the early morning Tyne - Carlisle cement. 25307 was recorded later in the month on this route handling 19th's evening Parkeston - Mossend, a working that regularly featured Scottish Type 2's. On this latter date 25109 & 25064 were noted at Hereford on a Ravenscraig - Llanwern steel coils working.

Stanlow oil terminal on November 23rd provided a veritable feast of Class 25's with 25190 & 25192 and 25279 & 25325 on workings from Leeds and 25035 & 25072 from Dalston. A day later a frequent home of the Class 25's, Birkenhead Mollington Street, closed for good, with refuelling now carried out at Chester or Ellesmere Port Yard. During the afternoon 47190 became the last locomotive to leave the depot, although a little while later two Class 03's arrived with some Class 503 units for breaking up.

When 56105 failed on an afternoon York - Tees coal empties on November 28th, 25175 & 25201 were provided for the remainder of the trip. They later returned south on an evening salt working to Reading.

The changing nature of the organisaton of British Rail led to a new idea, one of Sectorisation, which in its most visible form saw the creation of specialised locomotive pools to handle specific traffic flows, with the locomotives renumbered to recognise this fact. These pools would handle a variety of traffic flows. One such pool was established at Motherwell in March 1986 for British Steel traffic using dedicated Class 37/3's, whilst in April 1986 eight Class 20/3's were fitted with modified triple valves for handling limestone traffic from Tunstead. However the original pool, based at Kingmoor Yard was created late in 1985 involving a dozen Class 25's for dedicated freight traffic in the north west, the locomotives owned by a BR subsidiary, Railhaul Ltd. All the remaining Series 3 machines were load bank tested at Crewe depot, with cylinder peak pressure, electrical machine condition and tyre wear being closely checked. Twelve were selected, with six spare and given 'E' exams at Crewe or Carlisle to handle traffic for the Chemicals sub-sector based at Kingmoor. They were restricted to 60mph to mitigate traction motor problems and were to receive preferential maintenance. They began their duties during December 1985 with the re-numbering of 25283 to 25904 but the traffic they were assigned to handle diminished rapidly. ICI lost the rock salt contract from Over & Wharton, sulphur imported through Mostyn Dock ended in 1987. The Speedlink traffic between Dumfries and Carlisle came under critical review and the proposed purlite and sugarstone traffic never materialised. Regional control at Crewe established some diagrams based on Warrington and Garston, involving much oil traffic out of Stanlow. Once this particular 'Sectorisation' plan was cancelled the BRB mandated the 25/9's be treated like any other Class 25.

After a wait of several months the first preserved Class 25, 25067 made its way from Swindon Works to Alton (for the Mid Hants Railway) on November 26/27th, accompanied by 27007. November 1985 would see the link between Derby Works and the Class 24/25 Sulzer Type 2 almost broken. What had begun with the laying down of D5000 in the autumn of 1957, nearly ended with the breaking up of 25261 by contractor Vic Berry twenty eight years later, thus leaving none of this type in the Works. The Works was left with only Class 20/45's and HST power cars. But nearby Etches Park did still contain collision damaged 25033/88 and the Works held 27203, but these would all be scrapped by March 1986, again by Vic Berry. But this tenuous link continued with the arrival of 25200 during December for power unit repairs.

Class 25's visiting the Huddersfield area in early December included 25095 & 25145 (4th) on oil tanks, recently renumbered 25904 (12th) on a freight and 25912 (18th) on a ballast working. With all the Class 25/9's allocated to Kingmoor there were now many more sightings of them in the Edinburgh/Glasgow area.

Presumably 25230 had failed when it was noted northbound at Leamington on December 3rd as part of a Speedlink working hauled by 20084 & 20209. This first week of December saw the afternoon Manchester - Bristol parcels almost totally in the hands of the Class 25's, so noted were 25268 (3rd), 25307 (4th), 25259 (5th), 25279 (6th) and 25288 (10th). On this last day 25288 rescued 47597 on the 14.17 Bangor - Cardiff after its failure at Ludlow. The Bristol vans were taken to Hereford, collected by the following day's service in the hands of 25202 & 25192. Other workings over the Marches line included 25259 (3rd) on the Albion - Waterston oil empties, at least as far as Hereford so that it could replace the failed Hereford pilot. 25176 became a failure on a northbound freight (4th), rescued by 31134 and dumped temporarily at Hereford. 25269 & 25262 (6th) on a Ravenscraig - Llanwern steel coils.

25323 proved to be a poor choice on December 14th when called upon by Willesden to rescue 86251 at Linslade Tunnel after the latter suffered severe arcing from its damaged pantograph. Arrival at Euston was some three hours late, with half the time lost put against the Class 25, which according to the driver was useless! An unusual visitor to Willesden on 23rd was recently renumbered 25909. Sister machine 25904 was noted as the Camp Hill banker on 20th, hardly a suitable use for its specially designated status.

Over the Christmas break the only Class 25's in South Wales were 25037, 25288 & 25906 stabled at Severn Tunnel Jct. The latter machine had been noted on 17th on an Ellesmere Port - Severn Tunnel Jct freight whilst possibly the first Class 25/9's in the area was 25908 & 25201 on a Margam - Crewe coal empties on 17th. On an unreported date 25282 and three loads of sleepers visited Coundon Road sidings, via Three Spires and Coventry, possibly the first visit of train here in over twenty years.

As December closed a further ten Class 25's were withdrawn, made possible in part by a reshuffling of Classes 20 & 31. Just over sixty Class 25's remained in service whilst about one hundred awaited scrapping. 25032 remained the elder statesman and 25028 the longest withdrawn Class 25 still intact.

Updated April 30th 2003.

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