Class 25 freight workings north of Aberdeen

The basis for this page came out of a succesful bid on Ebay for some Class 25 goods train views from the north east of Scotland. The views date from 1977, a time when the Class 25's could literally be found all across the country, their heyday for sure, before the rot started to set in as the familiar six cylinder Sulzer sound gave way to the equally well known English Electric sound, or even worse, there would be no sound at all as the traffic disappeared and/or the lines were removed.

The majority of these views feature workings over part of the 108 mile Aberdeen - Inverness route and a couple of its branches. My knowledge of this area is non-existant, I've only travelled this route at night on returning excursions from the Far North lines, so any errors in the text are all mine!

This was at a time when the Aberdeen - Inverness service was still in the hands of the Swindon built three car diesel multiple units.

A big thank you to Malcolm Roughley for making available these views - enjoy! I have added a number of other views which I thought appropriate, they are creditted accordingly.

These views were taken on July 27th 1977 starting out with the 05.04 freight from Craiginches Yard, Aberdeen to Elgin. Shunting en-route might include stops at Inverurie, Port Elphinstone, Keith and Elgin. Locomotives allocated to this turn were usually Classes 24 & 25, occasionally Classes 26 & 40 would be used.

Inverurie

By the time the locomotives 25050 & 25079 had travelled the seventeen miles from Aberdeen to Inverurie it was about 05.30am and there was enough light to take the first photographs of the day, as the locomotives dealt with the familiar grain hoppers. Coal traffic might also be handled here.

Inverurie was no stranger to the Class 24/25's - the former GNSR Workshops located here were used to repair the Class 24's up until its closure in the late 1960's. Unfortunately I don't have any views of the Class 24's being repaired here. It was also the location where D5051 was broken up, the first Class 24 to be dismantled and the only one so dealt with at Inverurie.

Inverurie yard is the setting for the opening scene on this journey. It is 05.30am but there is just enough light to capture the scene of 25050 & 25079 waiting to leave with a train load of grain wagons.
25050 & 25079 start to pull away from Inverurie Yard bound for Keith. 25050 would visit Glasgow Works during the summer of 1978 for a classified repair and for the fitting of dual braking equipment.

Keith

A further thirty six miles down the line was Keith where more lengthy shunting was carried out. Here the Class 25's were split and 25050 worked down the Dufftown branch.

With a Class 25 at each end the train (25079 nearest the camera) sets back into Keith Junction yard.
25079 and Keith Signalbox. 25079 had only recently been outshopped from Glasgow Works, its paintwork is still shiny amd has yet to become dulled from an overdose of dirt and grime.
25079 shunting in Keith goods yard.
A slightly wider panorama than the one above, but there is no good news for the former freight facilities in Keith, seen here sometime in 2002.
Photograph courtesy Clive Meredith
25246 does some shunting in the yard. This locomotive may have come down on a freight from Inverness. 25246 was about a year out of a repair at Glasgow Works.
25079 goes about its business as the driver looks on.
In the midst of the shunting job an Aberdeen - Inverness service arrived in the shape of a three car Swindon unit.
In the opposite direction an Inverness - Aberdeen service goes on its way, this one complete with a four wheel van in tow. A sign of the former glory of Keith is the weed covered foreground, previously occupied by tracks that fed the south facing bay platforms.
Man and machine in Keith Yard.
A brief burst of sunshine catches an unidentified Class 40 as it passes by Keith signalbox on its way to Aberdeen.
By 2002 the eastward looking view through Keith Goods yard is grim, the yard is virtually empty, what rails remain are heavily rusted. New lights have been installed, but the signal box and a home signal from the view above still remain.
Photograph courtesy Clive Meredith
An unidentified Class 25 (possibly 25050) waits at Keith with the goods working down the Dufftown branch. By 2002 the branch had been severed a short distance down the branch. Some of the chairs were dated 1924.

Between Aberdeen and Keith the goods train had used the former GNSR line, which at one time continued west from Keith running via Craigellachie to Lossiemouth and Boat of Garten. These routes fell to Dr Beeching's axe between 1964 and 1968. Our goods train would now use the former Highland Railway metals for the remainder of its journey.

A slight detour

The two views below have no direct bearing on the Aberdeen - Elgin line, but do feature a nearby route that was visited by the Class 24/26 diesels prior to these lines closure. The one identified snow scene below is at the GNS station of Tillynaught. The Banff - Tillynaught line closed to passengers during June 1964 whilst the Elgin - Buckie - Tillynaught - Carnie Jct line closed during May 1968.

A pair of snowploughs and Class 26 locomotives at Tillynaught, with a hardy looking bunch of railway staff. Virtually nothing now remains of this location.
Photograph courtesy collection of Steve Morris.
Mike Cooper advises this is Gartly (between Huntly & Kennethmont) on the Aberdeen - Inverness line. The view is with the locomotives heading towards Huntly, they are on the down line. Gartly closed to passengers on May 6th 1968.
Photograph courtesy collection of Steve Morris.

Elgin

The journey continued on to Elgin, eighteen miles from Keith, and just over seventy miles total from Aberdeen. Elgin was the home of a small freightliner terminal as well as the more normal goods yard. Elgin was also the end point for a goods turn out of Inverness, on this day two locomotives (25226 & 25246) arrived on this duty. Frequently the locomotive from Aberdeen would be used for the 'as required' Burghead trip, but on this particular day it would be 25226 from the Inverness turn that would be used.

25246 shunts Elgin yard. The wagon behind the locomotive clearly shows that some investment had taken place in the rolling stock to retain the freight traffic generated in the area.
25246 at Elgin freightliner terminal.
25226 passes through the parcels station.
I presume this is 25226 at Elgin having returned with the working from Burghead. The view below shows the same location but is taken from the overbridge in the background looking towards the station.
By the time of this view, sometime in 1981, the Swindon DMU's have been replaced by loco hauled sets. Here 26025 leaves Elgin station heading towards Aberdeen as it passes the junction for Elgin yard and freightliner terminal.
Photograph courtesy Norman Smart.
Three years after the views above, 25050 is still working the route, seen here at Elgin Goods Yard sometime during 1980. Despite its work worn appearance 25050 still has about three years of service left, though not all on the Scottish Region, during February 1981 it will head south to Toton.
Photograph courtesy Norman Smart.

Burghhead

A few miles west from Elgin at Alves Junction is the short ex-Highland Railway branch to Burghead, which was visited this day by 25226 and its train as the 11.15 goods from Elgin. The line from Alves to Burghead and Hopeman had lost its passenger service in September 1931. On this particular day the journey was made right to the end of the line at Hopeman with grain wagons in tow. Although this part of the line was not normally used it had been left in place with the possibility of it being used to store grain wagons.

Class 25's in sight of the sea might conjour up workings to Skegness, Llandudno or along the seawall at Dawlish, but here on the Burghead branch 25226 is about as close to the sea as you can get.
25226 Burghead maltings.
The impressive building served by some pretty interesting looking trackage. Probably not a fun place with a winter nor'easter coming of the Moray Firth.
Burghead station, presumably taken from the locomotive or brakevan. Passenger service was discontinued over this line during September 1931!
Burghead station sometime during 2002 or thereabouts. The structure was later destroyed by fire, possibly a case of arson. The site would later be cleared and used for a new housing development.
Photograph courtesy Clive Merdith.
Time has not been kind to the Burghead branch, some 25 years after the Class 25 views above, the approach to Burghead station is seen to be overgrown with heavily rusted rails.
Photograph courtesy Clive Meredith.

Back to Aberdeen

If anything had been happening at Aberdeen when 25050 & 25079 set out on their journey northward it was more than likely hidden under darkness. However upon return of the job to Aberdeen the station area was active with a number of services captured by the camera.

An unidentified Class 40 waits for its next southbound trip from Aberdeen.
Look at all those semaphores, all that trackwork, oh and there's 25019 somewhere in there!
25019 backs into the station to retrieve a parcels vehicle for onward delivery to Fraserburgh.
A tighter view of 25019 and its parcels train. Over to the left are coaches from the Postal working. 25019 would survive in service until September 1980, having received a repair at Glasgow during the summer of 1978.
25019 again, now with a single parcels van in tow.
A Swindon built dmu heads back to the Highland Capital and a layover in the Granite City.
Ferryhill shed, April 1978 - the source of the locomotives for the freight workings for the Elgin/Burghead turn. Class 25's present in this fine view are 25023/33/65 & 91.
Photograph courtesy Mike Cooper.

Page added December 25th 2005.
Page last updated May 21st 2006.

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