The year opened badly with a collision at Roade on January 4th. Diesels were assisting the electrics to Bletchley, amidst the expected Class 47’s was 7503 aiding E3079 and its train whilst 84 replaced E3177 on a down freight.
Bad weather at the beginning of the year made inroads into the availability of the St Pancras - Bedford dmu fleet. Many ran with short formations, whilst a number of Type 2’s were used, both to haul the dmu’s themselves or scratch sets of mainline coaching stock. More serious problems affected services south of the Thames when snow and freezing rain arrived on January 6th. Severe icing affected the Portsmouth direct line between Pirbright and Winchester, whilst on the Brighton line between Balcombe and Haywards Heath freezing rain falling at 6.00am coated the rails with ice an inch thick. For most of the morning the services were in chaos over this line, the use of diesels being the only certain method of assisting the emus and with the reduction in freight services, the diesels were few. The closure of the Lewes - Uckfield line had also deprived the operating authorities of an alternate route. Interestingly a similar problem had struck this very location on New Year’s Eve causing the same operating difficulties. Over on the South Eastern Division things were a little easier. The de-icing trains were operating but were generally ineffective due to the rapid temperature fluctuations. No trains ran between Tonbridge & Orpington or through Maidstone East during the morning creating numerous difficulties. On 8th blizzard conditions were encountered during the evening rush hour. The next morning the derailment of emu 5033 at Plumstead closed the North Kent line most of the day. The snows of the 6th also impacted services in Scotland.
A route that lost its passenger service over the New Year was the former GC Manchester - Sheffield electrified route with the final workings taking place on January 3rd. The Hope Valley route would now handle this traffic, including the Manchester - Harwich boat train. The working of Sulzer 2s over the Woodhead route was not uncommon. On a happier note the Government approved funding for the electrification of the WCML north of Weaver Junction, 235 miles were involved with work to begin immediately. Improvements were already to hand, if not patently obvious to the traveling public. January 5th found MkIIC airbraked stock being introduced on several Euston - Glasgow services. This required the carriage pilots to be air brake equipped, Eastfield’s allocation included 7583/84 for that purpose, frequently being found at Larkfield carriage sidings. Likewise for the ECML 7590/91 were virtual fixtures on the ecs between Craigentinny and Waverley.
January 11th (a Sunday) proved a challenge for those unfortunate souls using the 19.10 Newcastle - Bristol. Engineering work north of Derby sent it via the Erewash Valley line, losing half an hour in the process. South west from Derby a new locomotive, 155 was used, and was required to use the goods lines at Burton involving a reversal into the station. All was not well with the Peak and it finally expired at Wichnor Junction. Bescot sent out 1837 which struggled to reach the train due to diversions via Lichfield and other diverted traffic. Both locomotives came off at Birmingham New Street where 155 joined also failed 1707 in the center roads. 43 went forward with the train, reaching Gloucester some two hours behind time! A long distance working for the Peaks involved their use on an evening Tunstead - Margam stone train. It returned on the next evening’s empties and the locomotive would frequently fill-in between these workings, typically on a round trip Llandarcy - Ebbw Vale oil tanks.
Further west the Peaks were becoming frequent visitors to the Duchy of Cornwall. The 17.10 Plymouth - Penzance used 167 on January 9th, whilst 151 spent much of the third week of January in & out of Cornwall including 16th’s 08.30 Paddington - Penzance. The Devonian regained its Peak haulage from January 17th, but it still remained a notoriously poor timekeeper.
Poor timetabling on the route between Leeds & Manchester was not putting the Type 4s (Class 40 & 46) to their best use, fast working out of Leeds to Huddersfield was met further on by the timetable allowing twenty minutes for the eight miles from Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria, if working the locomotive hard ten to fifteen minute early arrivals could occur as happened with services hauled by 180 and 253 on January 24th.
A little off the beaten track on January 16th was 5229 working an evening Norwich - Cambridge service, deputising for the more normal diesel multiple unit. And on January 22nd 7532 visited Lingfield, via Oxted with a special freight from Mostyn.
One of the newly transferred ER Class 24’s, 5019 in multiple with 5173 found itself on front line passenger duty on January 23rd when the 12.10 Swansea - Newcastle arrived at York short of fuel. After a quick engine change the Type 2s completed the journey to Newcastle, both returning south later that day on a parcels working. An odd combination was noted late in the evening of February 13th at Wolverhampton when Hymek 7021 failed on the down 4M02. Rescue came in the shape of 5021, taken from another down working. Further west on the Cambrian lines the diagrammed number of diesel workings, using Crewe based Class 24’s, was reduced from three to two. One diagram handled the Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth mail, followed by freight workings to Penrhyndeadraeth and Pwllheli (on alternating days), with a through freight back to Shrewsbury to complete the diagram. The second diagram operated in reverse, starting out with a freight working from Shrewsbury and finishing with the Aberystwyth - Shrewsbury Mails. For the summer season beginning in July these lines would be opened on Sundays to regular services and excursions from the Midlands. Chester depot, the scene of the runaway ore train the previous July, had moved the damaged Class 24s, 5043/93, 5138/39 during February to sidings near the station, where they were in the process of being stripped for spares, including the power units. Parked with them were retired Class 12 shunters 12036/37/48.
February 8th found the 9.40 Birmingham New Street - Paddington in charge of Toton’s 93, the locomotive coming back with the 17.05 to New Street. From February 23rd the changing of diesels at Bristol Temple Meads generally ceased due to the work on the resignalling scheme. The NE/SW services were affected by this, a number of services changed locomotives at Gloucester whilst others would run much further west, frequently changing power at Newton Abbot, the authorities trying to ensure that the locomotives could handle the return working without refuelling. A daily early afternoon parcels train from Bristol to Westbury was a favourite for Peak haulage, from here the vehicles were attached to a Cardiff - Portsmouth passenger, the locomotive returned light engine, the Peaks on this diagram represented a variety of depots.
On February 24th a pair of Class 25s worked the 09.16 Leicester - Southampton Western Docks special throughout returning later in the day to Derby with the empty stock.
Another familiar landmark fell into disuse effective February 28th when Tyne Dock shed closed, with all crew and engines transferred to Tyne Yard or South Dock. This included the Tyne Dock - Consett iron ore trains regularly powered by Gateshead’s small fleet of Class 24s. On a related note trouble befell the 04.15 Tyne Dock - Consett working of April 7th led by 5102 & 5109, whilst standing at Tyne Yard it was run into by 6777. A quantity of iron ore spilled from the wagons, blocking the down slow line. 6777 received considerable nose end damage, necessitating major surgery at Doncaster Works.
March 1970 saw the transfer of the final Class 27’s, 5377/88, from the LMR to the ScR. Over the previous months there had been a slow movement north of all the remaining Class 27s in exchange for Class 20s. March 4th brought a major snowfall to the southern half of the country causing major disruption of the electric services between Euston and Birmingham. It is reported that the heavy snowfall affected the standing electric locomotives, the weight of the snow causing the pantographs to lose contact with the overhead, and affecting the proper working of the raising mechanism. Once the seriousness of the delays was recognised services were diverted to St Pancras and Paddington, which despite their heavy snowfall seemed to handle the traffic very well. The Walsall area suffered very badly with the morning service devastated, diesel multiple units filling in for the failed local electrics. The Bescot and Saltley snow ploughs were put to work powered by 1822 & 1725 respectively whilst steam lance equipped 1841 spent all day freeing pointwork. The SR also was hit hard, especially in the morning. Blizzard conditions in East Kent made the evening commute a little out of the ordinary. Perhaps the most serious delay was at Walmer when a Dover bound service become stuck for almost three hours. On the lines out of Liverpool Street heavy disruption took place. The longer distance trains to Southend seemingly ran well, but most others were chaotic or were substituted by an emergency timetable. All was not helped by derailments at Cheshunt and later Angel Road, the latter blocking both lines, depriving Hertford East of its direct service to London. From Kings Cross the Scottish services were running upto two hours late.
From the beginning of March the diesel diagrams operating over the Cambrian lines were reduced to two. One diagram utilised a diesel on the Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth mail, light engine to Machynlleth, freight to Penrhyndeadraeth (Tuesday & Thursday) or Pwllheli (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), returning with the freight to Shrewsbury. The second turn was a freight Shrewsbury - Aberysywyth, freight to Machynlleth, light engine to Aberystwyth, then the mail to Shrewsbury.
On March 6th the WCML at Stafford sustained serious delays when 5080 hauling three tankers caught fire. This led to the power being switched off with major delays on both sides of the obstruction. 151 assisted E3118 into Wolverhampton High Level where the Peak ran round and took the train on to Crewe via Shrewsbury, running about two hours late, power was finally restored about 10.30pm. By early April fire damaged 5080 had reached Derby Works for repairs.
March 7th saw another of the Luton Town football specials receive Class 25 haulage destined for Rochdale with 5217 & 5220 handling twelve coaches, though their performance at heating the train was inadequate. No other power could be found so they remained with the diagram. A little further south at Kensington Olympia the Women’s International Hockey Match at Wembley on March 14th brought four specials, two led by 1727 (Wolverhampton) & 95 (Nottingham), the others had Class 25 haulage from Willesden with 5185 on thirteen coaches to Crewe and 7537 & 5219 on sixteen coaches to Barrow. On March 28th 5254 worked the 00.55 Washwood Heath - Southampton freight and the return 05.55 Eastleigh - Bescot, presumably throughout. Gatwick Airport was also host to two specials from Leicester on March 11th & 12th, hauled by 5219 & 5222 and 5216 & 5222, the ecs beginning the day at Etches Park. As the month closed out 5100 took a football special from Huddersfield to Middlesborough.
During March 36 was noted operating in the Manchester area on crew training turns. Peaks working the evening Tunstead - Margam stone train were often used on a round trip Llandarcy - Ebbw Vale oil train before working back with the evening Tunstead stone empties. Additionally the 15.43 Llandilo Jct - Leicester was frequently worked forward from Llanelli by a Peak.
April 19th saw the opening of Crewe Electric Depot to the public. Amongst the regular electric stock were 5084 & 5201, E26013 and HS4000 ‘Kestrel’. The Billingham - Grangemouth ammonia train was worked throughout by 152 on April 21st. 7603 & 7560 were in charge of April 27th’s 11.18 Knowle - Parkeston Quay, as far as Acton, returning with the 11.20 ex Parkeston Quay. On April 29th whilst negotiating the crossovers at the center of Manchester Victoria station 7573 become derailed. The Newton Heath breakdown crane arrived behind 5154, taking about an hour to put 7573 back on the rails. Three days later on Easter Monday (30th) a Sheffield - Bridlington excursion (1G11) was noted behind 5000 with ten coaches. Throughout April the Friday’s only 17.30 Manchester - York was mostly Class 25 haulage, the four occasions in April featured 7574, 5195, 7595 & lastly Type 4 255.
An Open Day held at St Blazey on May 2nd included green liveried 154 amidst the expected diesel hydraulics and shunters. On the SR the Brent - Southfleet workings of loaded coal were frequently worked by Class 45s, on May 6th 82 was noted coming back with the empties.
From May 4th the new timetable featured twelve workings north of Crewe using double headed Class 50s. To the east the Settle & Carlisle lost its dmu operated Skipton - Carlisle stopping service. On the last day the regular two car units were strengthened to five cars for the usual last day crowd. This line however would play an important role as a diversionary route during the electrification work on the WCML. With the new timetable came a greater use of Class 47s on the Trans Pennine route alongside the Class 40/46’s. The Friday’s only 17.30 Manchester - York ran with Class 40’s in May apart from the first Friday which had 5081 in charge. The new timetable also brought a superpower working to the 7.55am Newton Abbot - Paignton and 08.25 return using the locomotive off the previous days 12.05 Newcastle - Paignton, the Peak or Class 47 making light work of the two or three coach train. It also brought two short lived NE/SW named trains to the timetable, the 7.00 Weston Super Mare - Newcastle and return 16.00 to Bristol was named the ‘Severn-Tyne’, whilst the 07.20 Paignton - Newcastle and balancing 12.05 Newcastle - Paignton became the ‘Torbay-Tyne’.
With March crews trained on Class 25s, they continued to reach into former Great Eastern territory, making locals trips to Hitchin, Letchworth & Broxbourne.
‘Royal’ duty of a sort occurred on May 5th when 67 ‘Royal Artilleryman’ arrived at Newark with a special containing eighty one horses and 127 men of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery for the Newark Agricultural Show. The train had originated at Windsor and came via the Bottesford branch, how far the Peak worked the train from is not recorded.
The Royal Train again received Class 25 haulage on May 9th when 5206 & 5223 worked the Queen Mother from Selly Oak to Bedale (for Catterick) where the train stabled overnight before returning to Wolverton as ecs the next day. A new duty for a Thornaby Class 25 was the Darlington - Aycliffe limestone hoppers which had for many years been worked by a shunter due to indifferent track and lack of runround facilities. However recent improvements led to the successful testing of 5163 on May 20th, allowing for the regular diagramming of a Class 25. Another new turn successfully tested by a Class 25 was the coal trip over the Clayton West branch. Normally a class 40 turn the use of Class 25’s saw the load reduced to twenty loaded wagons reflecting the 25’s lower braking capacity. The 16.25 York - Newcastle parcels was noted with a variety of power through out the month, with 5229 (14th), 5211 (22nd) and 5154 (26th), all LM machines! Services over the North Wales mainline were severed on May 24th when a fire seriously damaged the Menai Bridge. Trapped west of the bridge were seventy two coaches and thirteen diesels including 5034/44/83. A local service was instituted between Holyhead and the specially re-opened Llanfair P G station using dmu’s 50404 & 56167. Arrangements were made for 5034 & 5083 to have their boilers made serviceable or receive overhauled ones.
In Scotland on May 17th preliminary testing of a push-pull train commenced between Edinburgh & Glasgow, with a Type 2 at each end. By the end of June an announcement advised of a new push pull service beginning in May 1971 using Mark II coaches hauled by Type 2s, most likely Class 27s.
Workings of Toton Class 25s into March were nothing unusual, but their use by March for local trips during May & June was not the norm. Frequently they covered freight trips to Cambridge, 7522 (23rd) & 7620 (26th), Broxbourne 5267 (June 4th) and Hitchin, 5238 (June 11th).
May 25th found a Derby - Blackpool excursion in the hands of 5235 & 7651. About this time Crewe ceased overhauls on the Sulzer 2s, leaving Derby & Glasgow as their primary heavy repair centers.
During June the four withdrawn Class 24’s from Chester, in addition to the three Class 12 shunters were dispatched to John Cashmore’s yard at Great Bridge, the 24s being quickly broken up with D5093 being the last to go. Passengers on the 9.45 Birmingham - Walsall emu service on June 5th acquired some unusual haulage following its failure at Bescot. The local Walsall shunter, 3781, took the service forward to its destination with the return working, the 10.12 from Walsall hauled by 7619 taking the dead emu back to Birmingham New Street. The following day a Gourock - York return ‘Saga’ special was powered throughout by 5201 & 7634. With the summer season in full swing the seasonal extras were again running. The Nottingham - Llandudno utilised its regular Class 25’s, 7523 & 7528 appearing on June 20th , the Sheffield - Llandudno was now frequently rostered for Class 47’s. These machines were now the locomotives of choice for the excursions and other specials due to their familiarity to drivers from most depots countrywide. The once busy and well patronised Newcastle - Ayr - Stranraer summer only services were heavily curtailed in comparison to prior years. The one remaining service, an out & back turn was dominated by ER Class 40’s. Also coming out of Newcastle on the 6M78 Tyne - Washwood Heath were pairs of Sulzer 2’s, 5073 & 5170 (June 12th) and 7518 &7651 (June 16th). Much mention of Type 2s deputizing for bigger power can be found in these meanderings, the reverse is less often reported. However on June 19th the four coach 17.20 Edinburgh - Birmingham was worked to Carstairs by Deltic 9010 since no air braked Type 2 could be found at Haymarket. The passengers on the 23.45 Edinburgh - Birmingham of June 23rd probably wished for something reliable after 5324 set fire to itself at Slateford. Deep in the south 5077 was noted early in the morning of June 26th at Eastleigh on empty tank cars bound for Fawley.
When the 07.25 Swansea - Paddington failed at Stoke Gifford it was left for 27 to work the train into Paddington, whereupon it was used to work the 13.30 to Paignton! June 7th found 126 assisting the 12.55 Hereford - Birmingham dmu forward from Stourbridge Jct - the eight miles to Smethwick West was completed in ten and a half minutes instead of the timetabled seventeen minutes! The remainder of the trip to New Street was according to the schedule. And three days later 96 was turned out for the 12.40 Cheltenham - Paddington & 16.55 return.
After being stranded at Holyhead for almost a month the majority of the locomotives were shipped by sea to Barrow between June 13th & 22nd, the only mainline diesels left were 5034/83, which still handled local freight traffic and with three coaches provided a back up to the dmu set still present on the local service to Llanfair PG. Shunters 3004 & 4137 handled duties in the station and at the freightliner terminal.
Race workings for Ascot found 162 in charge of an Ascot - Manchester service on June 16th & 17th with 106 covering this working on June 20th - all other extras were in the hands of Class 47’s. Class 45’s were again diagrammed to cover the summer dated Sheffield - Portsmouth Harbour and return, with 81 noted on this working on June 25th. The month of July found 75 (4th), 58 (11th) & 61 (18th) working this service. This year the Nottingham - Ramsgate service was in the hands of Class 47’s, either throughout or utilising Class 33’s from Brent.
July brought another withdrawal from the Class 24 fleet, 5088, another Crewe based machine. On May 1st whilst working the 4A19 14:33 Chester - Camden freight the locomotive caught fire at Beeston Castle. The locomotive was removed to Derby Works for inspection and withdrawn there on June 26th. The running of scheduled services over the Cambrian Lines on Sundays, made possible by a Ministry of Transport grant, was primarily handled by dmu sets, two of the services being extended to/from Birmingham. With the line open other excursions could be expected, July 12th brought 5133 & 5145 to Welshpool on a excursion from London. Their return was hampered by the failure of 5145, with no relief available 5133 worked through to Wolverhampton unaided. Other long distance Sunday extras were handled throughout by dmu’s, no doubt to the chagrin of the passengers, two such workings originating from Blackpool and Weston super Mare.
During July Class 46 No.170 was noted at Dundee for crew training, presumably for Edinburgh - Aberdeen workings.
Another unusual working on three Sundays during July was the use of Peaks to clear a backlog of freights between South Wales and Reading, West Drayton & Acton, the first two Sundays (5th & 12th) requiring four extra freights.
July 11th saw the annual Keswick Convention, with one through special running from Euston hauled by 371. To create a path for this train the 16.25 Penrith - Keswick diesel multiple unit and 17.05 return were cancelled, however two coaches and 7509 were added to the special at Penrith, the Class 25 being placed on the rear. Upon return to Penrith 7509 was removed and the train proceeded north to Carlisle as a local. That same weekend the Aberdeen and Dundee holidays began, a special from each was run to Stranraer. Both trains had only four coaches, the Aberdeen had 5116 and the Dundee had 5404. During the middle of July a special cruise by the S.S. Manxman operated from Liverpool to Llandudno. As a way of promoting this sailing and adding a little spice to the average day trip, BR ran two excursions, one from Coventry to connect with the ship at Liverpool, the other using 5241 & 7652 took a special from Derby to Llandudno. These two machines returned the Coventry participants to Crewe, with E3004 & E3076 taking the train forward. The returning Derby travelers had 1831 from Liverpool to Crewe where the outbound 25s took over for the run home to Derby. Other holiday makers traveling out of Scarborough had the opportunity for Class 25 haulage with the 9.25 Scarborough - Manchester, so noted was 5172 (July 4th) and 5180 (July 11th) and 5000 (August 22nd).
A treat for enthusiasts at the London end of the WCML on August 8th was the arrival of Crewe based 5032 & 5040 on a southbound coal train (to Chelsea Basin?). Although once very familiar to this area, by this time they were rarely seen south of Rugby, their return to the north was very prompt, light engines only. Another working that brought pairs of them onto the WCML was the Wolstanton Etruria - Eastmoor Cardiff coal train, a number being noted passing through Nuneaton. It is not known how far the Class 24s worked on this service. On August 6th the 8.20 Birmingham - Paddington hit a farm tractor/trailer laden with hay near Fenny Compton. The locomotive, 1745 sustained cab damage and was noted with the cab sheeted over being hauled to Tyseley on 8th behind 7640, en route to Crewe Works. Although BR had on an annual basis opened its Workshops to the public, during the early 1970s there was a growing trend to include many other installations in their calendar of 'Open Days'. These special events were always in the summer months, quite often very simple affairs, frequently with the enticement of some unusual diesel, such as HS4000 ‘Kestrel’, or perhaps several of the growing number of preserved and operable steam locomotives. Typical of the growth of these attractions was an Open Day at Wigan Springs Branch on August 22nd, such was the novelty that it received coverage by the BBC. For a small fee visitors could take a ride on 5207.
During August the SO 11.00 Filey - Huddersfield ran entirely with ER power with 238 (1st), 5096 (8th), 5180 (15th) and 5112 (22nd). Barnsley Feast Week (August 22nd - 29th) saw twenty three holiday extras depart from Barnsley to various destinations. Amongst these locomotive hauled rarities for Barnsley was 5173 working the first portion of a Leeds - Poole on August 2nd.
The latter part of August suffered from a series of major traffic disruptions resulting in diversions and the loss of a number of diesels to the repair shops. The first event occurred on August 14th at Hawthorn Quarry (between Easington & Dowdon on the coast route). Involved were 6774 working the 06.10 Hartlepool - Wearmouth pick up freight and 6773 with a Horden - Tyne coal train. The head-on collision seriously damaged both locomotives, derailed nine wagons and blocked both lines. Local services reverted to buses, some diversions took place between Ferryhill and Stockton, normal service not resuming until 17th. On August 15th a derailment at Kirkconnel closed the GSW route with services being diverted via Beattock. A Kingmoor diesel multiple unit and 5386 with three coaches maintained the local service between Kirkconnel and Carlisle. Diverted trains included 5209 & 5202 on 1S28 Blackpool - Glasgow, later returning light and 7634 & 7671 on 1S54 Blackpool - Glasgow service. Nine days later a southbound coke train ran away at Beattock, derailing in the station. Northbound trains were able to use the down loop, the southbound services were diverted via the GSW. And finally, also on the ScR, on August 27th two trains collided on the Easter Road - Granton branch. Two green liveried ScR Class 40s, 363 & 368 were badly damaged with five railmen injured. Whilst the Sulzer 2s were not involved in these events a notice put out by the LMR authorities advised that in a recent six month period 702 locomotives were damaged in collisions and derailments, just on the LMR alone. Photographs accompanying this notice featured Peaks & Class 25s!
Elsewhere in Scotland 89 was a surprising choice to take over at Carlisle from 1670 on August 10th’s Newton Abbot - Stirling motorail, this service could load to seventeen coaches, (including dining car), two sleepers and many car carrying vehicles. WR Class 47s were normally used throughout on this service and the other motorails to Newton le Willows and Birmingham.
Four additional coal trains ran daily between September 1st & 5th from Coventry colliery utilised Toton Peaks, the London train worked to Nuneaton and the three to Immingham as far as Beeston. Banbury were utilising 75 for crew training during September.
The last summer season working of the 09.25 Scarborough - Manchester ran on September 5th behind 5182 whilst the 11.00 (SO) Filey - Huddersfield was noted behind 5147. Further north the Scottish Grand Tour No 11 featured a circular tour from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness, with nine coaches in charge of 364. A restaurant car problem delayed departure from Inverness for two hours, but an intended stop of similar duration at Aviemore was curtailed to recover the ‘lost’ time. Time however was of the essence due to the long block sections and other late running services causing pathing problems. In departing from Aviemore oil pressure was lost and the Class 40 declared a total failure. The southbound ‘Royal Highlander’ was able to pick up some passengers off the special but it was not until the 19.37 relief Inverness - Euston appeared with 261 piloting 5119 & 5127 that a glimmer of hope appeared. Unfortunately the block section south of Aviemore was thirty four miles long (four boxes were switched out), so departure was still delayed. Finally three hours late at 21.22 the excursion headed for home, with arrival in Edinburgh at 01.43, 220 minutes late.
Another unusual happening involved the 22.40 Carstairs - Edinburgh with six vehicles hauled by 7582 on September 10th. Whilst passing Dolphinton Jcn a block instrument failure occurred coinciding with the locomotive suffering mechanical problems whilst the train was running downgrade. Efforts to restart the engine were unsuccessful, the train running about ten miles before finally being halted near Ravelrig Jcn. Whilst the guard protected the train in the rear the driver was able to restart the engine, more time was lost in retrieving the guard, final arrival was 75 minutes late! The completion of new LTE underground stock at Metro Cammell required the use of two specials to deliver the new stock. These ran as the 23.42 Washwood Heath - West Ruislip on September 9th & 28th using Class 25’s 7602 and 7548 respectively. On the south side of London Hither Green was frequently visited by Willesden’s Class 25’s, the 8M83 14.52 Hither Green - Willesden being regularly used to return the visitors to the LMR, so noted in a short period during October were 7531, 7662/67/69.
A tour of the Scottish depots during the first week of October turned up only one Peak, that of 174 at Haymarket. A Haymarket Class 25 was diagrammed for the 8E01 Millerhill – Tyne Yard, unusually it changed locomotives and crew at Berwick with the balancing northbound working, the 15.10 ex Tyne Yard. Another Haymarket Class 25 job involved the 4V73 16.15 Edinburgh – Cardiff freightliner, the Type 2 working as far as Follingsby, coming back north with the 4S88 13.15 ex Cardiff?
Changes to the winter timetable provided work for a Bescot Class 25 in handling six weekday Rootes car trains (three northbound & three southbound) between Nuneaton and Gosford Green. There was also one Saturday working.
On November 12th the Duke of Edinburgh travelled from Manchester to Birmingham, the four coach special powered by 216 & 233. The train stayed overnight at Berkswell requiring the use of 7563 from Coventry onwards. Also in the Coventry area the Murco Oil refinery near Bedworth started receiving air braked block trains, with the frequent use of Class 25’s taking the trains to either Coventry or Nuneaton for change to electric traction. November 21st saw the FA Cup first round matches begin, 5202 & 7650 worked a Wigan - Tyne Dock football special. The ecs ran onto South Shields allowing the locomotives to reverse and head off to Heaton Carriage sidings. The Tyneside area was currently in the grips of a local bus strike which required strengthening of many local dmu services. On November 23rd authorities did not have a dmu available for the 17.40 Newcastle - Carlisle (and 19.55 return), a scratch set of four coaches and no heat 5105 was used. The mild weather and pre-heated stock presumably kept the passengers reasonably comfortable. Loco haulage over this line was then currently limited to one train a day, the 23.15 SO Newcastle - Carlisle (and 02.50 SU return). A boiler equipped Class 25 was regular power, 7586/93/96 being frequently used.
A miners dispute at the beginning of November saw a reduction in the number of coal trains, particularly in the Yorkshire area.
On two consecutive days in late November 5213 worked the regular Brent - Richborough block coal train throughout, SR power being usually assigned to this. Also during November a greater number of Cricklewood – Hither Green freights were handled by Class 47’s rather than Peaks. Just as unusual was 5035 working the 6F01 10.35 Millerhill - Tyne on December 15th, somewhat off the beaten track for a Crewe Class 24.
One of the features of the 1967/68 plan for the rationalisation of BR’s diesel and electric fleet was the reduction in the number of classes including the complete withdrawal of the diesel hydraulic locomotives principally used on the WR. Even as that plan was announced the WR retired a small number of the hydraulic fleet, principally the original ‘Modernisation Plan’ machines. Service reductions and line closures had thus far obviated the need to transfer locomotives from other regions, assuming there was any to spare. Now with the majority of the NBL 6300 series withdrawn, major inroads occurring with the Warship fleet and the first withdrawals of the Hymeks, transfers into the WR were sorely needed. And so it was that the Sulzer 2’s now found a home on the WR, albeit just over the boundary at Severn Tunnel Junction. Six machines were received from Holbeck, 5179-82 and 7624/25, all non boilered. Their duties included the Lydney and Parkend branches, the Pontypool Road shunt and the heavier iron ore workings between Newport Docks and Ebbw Vale or Llanwern steelworks. The Parkend branch saw considerable mineral traffic necessitating as many as three daily trips, usually on Mondays, providing much ballast for the permanent way department.
The increasing use of the Peaks into Devon & Cornwall, both on passenger & freight workings was also leading to the demise of the larger Type 4 hydraulics.
With the ongoing electrification of the WCML it was anticipated that twenty LMR Class 24’s would migrate to the Scottish Region to assist with the engineering trains demanded by the line upgrade. The selected Type 2’s operated for awhile on the ScR before returning south, the intention then being to have the remaining useable Claytons diagrammed for these jobs.
New Year’s Eve travelers on the ECML had the delights of 100 on the 20.20 Kings Cross – Edinburgh, though it is not certain if the locomotive worked the train throughout.