Authorities at Barrow were obviously concerned about the effects of the cold spell early in January, with snow plough equipped 25320 handling the local shunting duties instead of 08142 & 08216. The extreme weather conditions in the south west brought a series of problems affecting timekeeping. Most unexpected was the use of 25283 to rescue failed 50018 on January 13th’s 13.21 Liverpool - Plymouth, arrival was two hours late at Exeter, where both machines were replaced by 45071.
On January 8th Stratford sent 31018 (D5500) on its way to York museum for preservation. This machine had been preferred by the NRM as an example of a Modernisation Plan design from a private builder. Its counterpart, 24005 (D5000) was now nearing the end of its existence, awaiting a tow to Swindon for the final coup-de-grace. But at least it reached the end with the same type of power unit it was delivered with.
January 10th found 25073 and four coaches deputising for a diesel multiple unit on an early morning Crewe - Lincoln service. Clearly the problems on this line were not easily cured for the same service featured 25074 on 13th. The next day 25084 came to the rescue of 86251 working the 1M37 12.35 Edinburgh - Manchester. The Class 86 stalled near mp70, the Class 25 pushing the train into Abington loop, where fitters were able to revive the electric enough for it to continue south.
The Penistone branch was visited by 25057 with a railtour on January 22nd.
The beginning of February found fifteen HST sets running on the WR, deliveries to the ER had reached five sets. Also during February 20068/84, 20142/43/48/59 were transferred from Toton to the ER, these were quickly returned to Toton but not before the LMR authorities had taken steps to cover their expected loss. The intention was to reactivate five stored Class 24s, late in February 24073 was removed from storage at Kingmoor and allocated to Crewe. With the Class 20s quickly returned to Toton the other reinstatements were cancelled, but 24073 remained in service assisting the other Class 24s in their regular duties. Of course it should be noted that at the end of February the first Class 56 was commissioned into service at Toton, this being 56006 which had been received from Romania during September 1976. Teething troubles had prevented this first batch of Class 56s from immediately taking up their duties from Toton & Tinsley, to haul merry-go-round coal trains. To what extent the gradual introduction of the Class 56s had on the Class 24 & 25 fleets would be hard to determine, but certainly there would be a cascading effect over time.
Whilst working the 13.27 Crewe - Derby service on February 13th 50741/59272/50686 became a failure, being noted an hour late through Longport behind 24047. Two days later the 9X45 04.38 Reddish - Crewe - Banbury - Swindon special freight took 24005/20/21/24 to their appointment with the scrapper. By April the original Class 24, D5000, would be just so much scrap, not a unique event at Swindon as D1000 was broken up here in July 1974, D7000 in October 1975 with 25001 to follow in December 1980 and 46001 in July 1982.
The end of an era took place on February 26th when BR’s ‘Farewell to the Westerns’ railtour ran, from Paddington to Swansea, down to Plymouth and back to Paddington. 1023 & 1013 were used throughout with 1010 & 1048 available at Bristol. February also saw the putting into traffic of BR’s first new diesels since the Class 50’s in 1968. Entering service were the Roumanian built Class 56’s, destined for merry go round coal service, workings not normally associated with the Type 2’s but changes that would gradually allow cascading of Classes 20,37 & 47 which would impact the Class 24/25 fleet.
Class 25s were still much in evidence in the Newport area handling the Machen stone trains and the Uskmouth branch trips. At this time Newport drivers were being trained on the Class 31s, 31296 being the first, and used on the early morning Newport - Bristol parcels. This machine had also been in training use at Eastleigh during January & February in preparation for use on the Bristol - Portsmouth Harbor service.
The Rugby International at Murrayfield on March 19th between Wales and Scotland brought a number of specials into the area, both from Wales and locally. Four extras ran from Glasgow, the first being hauled by 25028 (1Z10), the others ran with 27004, 40047 & 40071. Further south the same day a special Chester - Ramsgate excursion started its journey behind 24087, hopes of a trip to the south coast were dashed for the Type 2 when it was replaced at Wolverhampton! March 30th found 25119 assisting the dmu working the 14.51 Carlisle - Newcastle.
On April 8th (Good Friday) the 1S51 07.18 York - Aberdeen began its journey behind 40059, being replaced at Edinburgh by 25044 & 25084. A number of Easter excursions ran from Leamington, the only Type 2s used were 25039 & 25042 to Aberystwyth. Another pair, 25057 & 25075 handled a Liverpool - Bangor excursion on April 11th. Liverpool was no stranger to Class 25s on passenger workings, they were frequently to be found working the non-electrified portion of Liverpool - Glasgow/Edinburgh services, often loaded to eleven coaches. So noted was 25057 on the 9.41 to Glasgow and 25060 on the 18.05 ex Edinburgh, both on April 8th. The 10.10 Liverpool - Newcastle got into trouble with 40035 ‘Apapa’ on Easter Monday, rescue came in the shape of 25103, being so noted at Huddersfield. A similar combination on the same day found 25060 & 40095 handling a Stockport - York excursion.
April 15th found 24035 & 24023 working a freight to Rugby, about as far south as the Class 24s would now venture on a regular basis. On the same day the 22.42 Whitemoor - Ipswich freight became derailed near Kennett damaging 400 yards of track. Remarkably the Finsbury Park crane was brought to the scene by 25113 (KD). During May the Stoke - Healey Mills freight was a regular Type 2 diagram, usually a Class 25 but May 23rd produced 24081 & 24087, whilst 24087 made the run solo the next day. The Stoke area could normally guarantee workings for the remaining Class 24’s, they were still regular visitors on the stone trains from Oakamoor and Caldon, and Cockshute stabling point was a favourite place for them to layover.
The closure of Liverpool Exchange station on April 29th was marked by a special service to Lime Street via Wigan Wallgate, comprising ten coaches and buffet hauled by 47441. Departure was at 23.45, the stock having arrived behind 25297. Also out and about this day was 25218 on a four coach Nottingham - Harwich special, then running as ecs to Cambridge to become the 1Z69 13.30 special to Nottingham on May 1st. A regular working for a Class 25 into this area was the Friday’s only Washwood Heath - Hethersett tanks, the locomotive being serviced at Norwich shed.
The commencement of the new timetable in May brought locomotive hauled six coach trains to the Birmingham - Norwich run, with March depot providing the Class 31’s. In the event of failures or extras being run motive power was often Class 25’s. Such was the case on May 7th when 25031 & 25186 handled a relief to the 10.15 Birmingham - Norwich, and 25213 on the 12.36 to Norwich, there being no Class 31 available. A Manchester - Spalding special, also on 7th ran behind 25248 & 25253. That same weekend a long distance excursion ran from Basingstoke to Oban/Mallaig. For the run from Mossend to Oban 25049 & 27007 were in charge. From Oban the excursionists sailed on the RMS Columba to Mallaig, to be greeted by their train. It is believed 25049 & 27007 worked the stock through to Fort William and took the train back to Mossend. The Class 31’s were now also responsible for the Portsmouth - Bristol services ousting the dmus, the teething troubles encountered during crew training continued after the start of the service on May 2nd. The 19.19 Bristol - Portsmouth Harbor service on May 10th required the need of the fire brigade near Cosham after the locomotive’s boiler erupted in flames with a delay of two hours incurred, the sick machine being left at Cosham. Amongst delays on 17th was the 08.57 Portsmouth Harbor - Bristol an hour and a half late after the Class 31 ran out of fuel. The next day 31234 failed before starting on the 06.56 to Bristol, rescue came from 33059, albeit almost an hour late. For this summer season the Saturday only services to the East Coast from Walsall and Derby were again firmly in the hands of Class 25s.
On May 9th a reshuffle of the WR carriage heating units took place, with unit TDB968008 (24054) moved from Penzance to Plymouth, whilst TDB968009 (24142) moved from Plymouth to Worcester. Also in the area on May 26th was 24057 & 25043 at Hereford having arrived on a southbound freight.
A railtour excursion from the West Midlands to Porthmadog on May 29th had the delights of 25179 & 25187 in place of the scheduled Class 40. The following day Toton received 56031, the first of the English built Class 56s.
Ordered previously were six electric APT train sets for the WCML, the power cars were being built at Derby Works (49001-06) and were the first ‘locomotives’ constructed there since the completion of D7677 in 1967. The first of the powers cars were delivered from Derby Locomotive Works on Uje 22nd to the Railway Techinical Center at Derby.
The clearance of Millerhill in the third week of June left the ScR with only two Class 24s present, 24006 at Eastfield depot and 24002 soon to be demolished at Glasgow Works. June 4th found Leeds Holbeck short of power to handle the 09.35 Carlisle - Nottingham, all they had available was 25124. To this machine was added 25159 borrowed from a parcels train, this fine pair then making the run to Nottingham and returning with the 15.52 to Glasgow, being relieved at Leeds by 47467. The remaining boiler equipped Crewe based Class 24’s were now popular on railtours, on June 5th 24082 & 24133 took twelve coaches on a roundtrip Crewe - Barmouth. Several days before Cricklewood based 25315 was having adventures in the West Country leading the ecs of the 15.45 Lympstone Commando - Birmingham down the Exmouth branch, 46004 was attached to the rear.
With 1977 being the Jubilee Year for Queen Elizabeth II, the monarch and family made many public appearances, making considerable use of the new Royal Train. A visit to Stockport on June 21st ended with the Royal Train utilised for the journey to Porthmadog. The running west of Shrewsbury was handled by 25221 & 25222. After staying overnight at Porthmadog the train ran to Harlech, where the Royal Family took to road transport. From Harlech the ecs was taken forward by 25218. The Jubilee celebrations contributed to the further weakening of the BR corporate blue image mentality. The first cracks took place with the announcement that Classes 50 & 87 were all to receive names, an event not seen since the middle 60’s. And on the ER (GE) the 08.30 Liverpool St - Norwich and 15.48 return, with effect from June 6th were named ‘The Jubilee’. For these duties Stratford provided smartly turned out 47163 & 47164, but sporting silver roofs and large painted ‘Union Jacks’ carried on the bodyside at No 1 end! Over on the GN section the 07.45 Kings Cross - Edinburgh and 15.00 return were named ‘The Silver Jubilee’, Deltic hauled of course, on the first day, June 8th saw 55012 & 55022 in charge, but carrying no embellishments.
Lenton permanent way yard was host to 25306 & 24087 on the afternoon of July 4th arriving with a load of rails, returning light engines to the west. Six days later 24087 & 24133 worked a Crewe - Manchester - Preston - Carnforth railtour. This was definitely a popular place as a Deltic brought in a railtour from York/Newcastle (10th). Somewhat away from its regular haunts was 25071 on July 6th, working a Chipman’s weedkilling train from Watford to Horsham via Three Bridges. Late on the evening of July 7th the Euston carriage pilot, 25203, over-ran a signal derailing itself and three vans. As well as suffering cab damage it severed signal cables and electrical lines causing a blackout at Euston station. Principal delays were caused to the sleeper services, next morning six platforms were useable, by midday normal working had resumed. For the London Division it was one more machine out of service, making the use of visiting Class 25’s all the more common on local workings. On July 13th 25175 took a school special from North London to Southend.
The WR witnessed a number of double headed Class 25’s during the summer season. On July 16th the 08.50 Birmingham - Paignton used 25159 & 25101, also returning with the ecs. A Plymouth - Old Oak Common parcels ran with 25225 & 50029. July 23rd brought 25284 & 25250 on the 12.20 Birmingham - Newquay as far as Plymouth. July 30th found two services behind double headed Type 2’s, the 09.47 Nottingham - Paignton used 25187 & 25269 whilst the 12.20 Birmingham - Newquay had 25264 & 25210.
July 25th found the first of the ECML HST sets undergoing commissioning trials between York & Darlington, two days later it was delivered to Heaton depot. Also in the vicinity was 25221 & 25222 (again) on July 26th bringing the Royal Train ecs from Wolverton to Newcastle, via Carlisle. At Newcastle Princess Anne boarded for the journey to Dumfries. July had seen a greater use of Type 4 power on a number of services on the ScR, especially out of Edinburgh, that were not normally so powered. These included local services to Berwick, Carstairs and longer runs to Aberdeen, Inverness and London. Remarkably the Aberdeen services had also been graced with pairs of Inverness Class 26’s, reminiscent of earlier days. August 8th produced a more unusual variant with the 14.35 ex Aberdeen behind 26028 & 25050, a combination which had been together for several days.
25133 & 37033 arrived at Ipswich on the afternoon of August 9th with a heavy load of prefabricated track, both machines being replaced by a Class 31/37 combination! The next day 25107 & 25280 arrived at Cambridge with a special from Shrewsbury. Class 25s were frequent visitors here on the 05.10 parcels from Peterborough, so noted were 25154 (9th) and 25257 (12th). Unusual traction on August 11th saw 84001 returning from Doncaster Works to Manchester, being hauled over the Woodhead route by 76040. August 14th found 25081 & 25157 on a Birmingham - Barmouth special. The next day Aberystwyth received four inches of rain in an hour from a heavy local storm. The following two days saw heavy rain in the London area causing much heavy flooding in the western suburbs. Further north the Inter City services in the Barrow area, normally the province of Type 4’s found two Kingmoor Type 2’s filling in. August 19th found 25201 on the 20.45 Euston sleeper, the next day 25113 handled the 08.20 from Preston, putting up a lively performance on the WCML.
Wolverton Works Open Day on August 20th as well as featuring its regular diet of coaches and emu’s had 25069 and 81004 specially brought in for display.
The local Round Table in the Barnstaple area ran a special on August 29th from Barnstaple to Meeth. The ten coaches were ‘top & tailed’ by 25223 & 25052!
A Plymouth - Milan Polybulk train of Sept 2nd with 47510 and a Class 25 in charge required the assistance of the fire brigade near Totnes after the Type 4 caught fire, the train eventually went forward behind the Class 25 and a Peak, with 47510 dumped at Newton Abbot awaiting removal to Crewe Works. The next day 25129 headed the 09.20 Paignton - Nottingham arriving at Birmingham some 90 minutes late, being replaced here by 46046.
The Gwili Railway Preservation Society chartered a railtour from Swansea to Paignton on September 18th. Motive power provided was 25063 throughout, possibly a first for the class on passenger work at Swansea and a first for the type at Tondu (?). The previous day 25236 & 25311 worked a St Pancras - Wroxham special.
During September the National Railway Museum, York received a Class 24 bogie for display, with some components sectioned to reveal their operation.
A Rail Fair held at Haymarket over the weekend of September 24/25th attracted over 18,000 patrons and featured a number of machines including 25237, 87001 and HST set 254002, a harbinger of things to come. An Open Day at Cardiff Canton on October 1st featured over fifty locomotives, including 25055, 25109 & 25243. The following month Cardiff would lose its allocation of Class 25’s to Crewe.
A pair of Class 24s 24133 & 24082 paid a visit to York on October 1st whilst in charge of the RCTS ‘Roses No 2 Rail Tour’. Originating from Crewe and picking up at Stockport, it traversed the Pennines via the Woodhead route. The GC route was used to Treeton Jnc, north to Rotherham, Mexborough & Doncaster then onto York via Knottingley. The return was via Normanton, Wakefield Westgate, Mirfield, Sowerby Bridge and Hebden Bridge for the run across Copy Pit, then Accrington, Blackburn, Bolton and Manchester Victoria. The Type 2’s made a fine run up Miles Platting bank before turning at Ashton Moss N & S junctions to reach the outbound route at Denton. The next day a number of their sisters (24023/35/36/47/63/81/91) were put to store, but promptly returned to service on October 3rd! Also placed to store were 25031/96, both recently transferred from the LMR to Eastfield.
October 7th found 25320 taking GN emus 313013/063 to Southport to be trialled there during the week commencing October 8th.
The West Country hosted a number of enthusiast specials during the early part of October. 40081/84 worked a special from Paddington to Yeovil, replaced here by 25052 & 25223 for the run to Paignton for the Kingswear branch. A week later 40083/81 made a similar run, deputising for the rostered Deltic after that class had been blackballed through industrial action. The Class 40s worked through to Newton Abbott where 33022 & 33017 took the special onto Par, returning via Taunton and Westbury. Paddington also saw strangers in the shape of 31005 & 31019 working an enthusiast special out to Bristol on October 22nd.
A dispute involving maintenance fitters had seen the whole Deltic fleet sidelined for a week beginning about October 13th. Many locomotives were borrowed to cover the missing Deltics, insufficient ETH fitted locomotives saw Mk II dual heated and Mk I steam heated stock replacing the fully air-conditioned sets with Classes 31/4, 40, 45/1, 46 and non-ECML based Class 47s filling in. The Deltics returned to service on October 24th.
Blackpool North was the starting point of an enthusiasts special on October 29th, taken out by 25047 & 25057, headed for Newcastle. Here the Type 2s were replaced by 37111 for a circuitous run to York. November 3rd found 24087 in charge of the 11.30 Cardiff - Crewe, presumably having taken over from a failure en-route, the return working featured 46028.
November 6th saw the commissioning of the new electrified empty coaching stock facility at Polmadie, from that date the sidings at Bellahouston, Larkfield and Rutherglen were closed. The new arrangement allowed electric locomotives to handle the ecs, leading to the loss of work for three Class 25 pilots. Passengers on November 18th on the 9.40 Edinburgh/ 10.05 Glasgow - Inverness had a variety of power north of Perth. The heavy train started out with 40166 & 25087, at Dalwhinnie 26045 replaced the Class 25, on reaching Carr Bridge 40166 failed leaving the Class 26 to continue on alone, arriving in Inverness almost four hours late! On a similar troubled note the next day both booked Class 25’s failed prior to starting out with the 1Z38 6.05am SRPS special Stirling - Euston, unusually 55020 worked the train to Carstairs via Edinburgh where electric traction took over!
December 3rd saw 24082 & 24133 handling a charter from Crewe to Aberystwyth via Chester. Gosford Green freightliner terminal commenced a new daily service to Scotland from December 7th, 25317 took out the first service, specially seen off by the Lord Mayor of Coventry.
On December 13th the 15.55 Exeter - Waterloo with 33031 failed at Honiton. 45008 was sent from Exeter and took the train to Salisbury where 33027 took over.
December 29th found 25084 coming to the rescue of a Class 47 on the 08.45 Aberdeen - Kings Cross after its partial failure at Stonehaven. The Type 2 was removed at Dundee as it was vacuum braked only, limiting speed to 50 mph. December 30th brought front line passenger duty for 25087 when 47454 expired on the 09.30 Glasgow - Euston via Dumfries.