The Trainspotters Ball(s)

Another weekend, another set of choices to make....

In my case the plan of attack was as follows;

Saturday : attend Deltic Preservation AGM in Derby
Sunday : visit Mid Hants Railway for "The Trainspotters Ball"

As it was, my Sunday plans got re-arranged somewhat....

Some photos taken on the Sunday can be found here.

The Mid Hants Railway "Trainspotters Ball" was in fact their diesel weekend - home and visiting traction, including (home traction) class 27 D5353, class 33's D6525 & D6593 and 45132, (visiting traction) 37906 and 57011. A visiting kettle, 80079 completed the line-up.

A review of the Saturday (by "Miggy") follows :

THE BEST DIESEL GALA THAT WASNíT, EVER?

With lots of Sulzer type 2 and 3 milage, a 57 for re-engining, a scratch in the form of 12049(unfortunately, cab ride only), lots of steep gradients, no locos to avoid apart from the Russell Hobbs kettle (i.e. no class 31,47 or 50 representatives), and Slug 6 thrash (surely it cannot be scrapped after this weekend again underlined its popularity again), this event was a must.

Congratulations must be made to the M.H.R. staff from the chairman (please arrange a diesel day at Bucks Rly. Centre when the 04 is complete) down who quickly responded to requests for information and rosters prior to the event (will that railway that claims to be the premier line based in Shropshire whoís staff donít even know which locos are operating by lunchtime of a gala please note).

By announcing the date relatively late those money grabbers from Chingfinder Towers did not have time to arrange a spin, fester in the middle of no-where and loose tour to compete as they do with Worth Valley galas and, coupled with Hertfordshireís cancelled 67 tour, (locos usually too busy crew training on Virgin services) a good turn out was expected.

The day started badly at a dark 04.30 Saturday morning in Yorkshire with news the 45 had failed and was to be replaced by a second kettle. 08.30 in Hampshire and the day deteriorated as news of 37521 on the coast was received, one of my last nine requirements in traffic. However on arrival at Alresford 45132 was viewed on the train with 33208 to give it a trial run, things were looking up.

After a run to Alton and return to Ropley the pair was left for 12049 to be sampled on its first run. This was something of a squash with eight in the cab including Pogo. Visiting kettle 80079 was then boarded to connect with 37906 at Medstead. Remembering that this loco had been imported from the Severn Valley as it was more powerful than resident 41312 it was more than ironic that it failed around 0.75 miles from Medstead. On scenes reminiscent of prior years several calls were made between the train and Ropley to determine the problem and means of rescue. Eventually 37906 came to the rescue and helped the train up the gradient producing more clag than the kettle in the process.

37906 then rejoined its train and completed its journey to Alresford where the 45 and 33208 were waiting. Unfortunately the 45 was removed at Ropley with generator problems and played no further part in proceedings whilst 33208 continued to Alton.

By this time with no 45 and an ailing kettle, D5353 (27007), sat on shed, became the centre of attention being required by many. Returning to Ropley on 33208 the 27 was found leading the kettle Alton bound and was duly sampled over the Alps to Alton. A quick visit to the pub was followed by a solo return trip to Alresford and return behind 27007 as the kettle was failed at Alresford (was it worth the transport expense?) After this followed runs behind 33208 and 33109 to connect with 08288 on a minus many minutes connection at Alresford (we should have passed at Ropley). The 08 had over 120 passengers on board to Ropley (other railways please note the demand for diesel shunter haulage).

After this was sampled two round trips in the dark with (82) 506 and 37906. The replacement kettle acted as a steam heat DVT with 37906 powering from the rear up the bank from Alresford to Medstead. The firework display from both ends of the train was impressive with both locos providing clag and flames much to the amusement, or otherwise, of nearby residents.

Arrival at Alresford shortly before 22.00 was around an hour late, but no one was bothered as we retired to our hotel for the evening to recover over a few beers before returning for Sundayís action.

In conclusion a superb (not 50002) weekend where the railway really catered for the haulage fraternity (i.e. those who pay to travel) with not a freight train in sight for a change .My only complaint was that 33208 dragged the 27 on its last run of the day from Alton so depriving passengers of 10.14 miles of 27 haulage.

If you were not there or havenít sampled 37906 yet donít let either opportunity pass next time (if there is a next time for 37906).

Guest reviewer : Andrew (Miggy) Mitchell

In my case, I arrived at Derby station on Saturday morning just in time to see EPS tractor 37602 (one of my required haulages) arriving towing a dead 47 - the 37 was on a short-term loan to Virgin. Would it work a passenger train...?

At the DPS AGM the main news was in fact not DPS related but Deltic 9000 Locomotives Ltd related - the reported change in ownership of Deltic D9016 "The Purple Peril" (sorry, "Gordon Highlander"). What is in store for this loco now?

As I left the AGM I turned my mobile phone on to discover that 37602 in fact did work a passenger train - the 14.06 off Birmingham! Damn... missed it again....

At the MHR things didn't quite go to plan as the Peak had expired and kettle 80079 came out in sympathy. Replacement kettle was S15 No. 506 (a required haulage for me!).

Sunday dawned sometime after I hit the road for Alresford, but at least I arrived in plenty of time for the first departure of the day - class 27 D5353, which I needed for haulage. As per normal preserved railway practice the day started late....

Won't bore you with a back-and-forth account of the proceedings, as during the morning I sampled all the locos on offer (including the kettle). Highlight was undoubtedly the slug (37906 - carrying "Star of the South" nameplates on this occasion) which was as loud and atmosphere polluting as ever. The other thing worth mentioning was the departure of 57011 + D6525 on the 12.40 departure off Alton - the locos departed but the coaches didn't.... A faulty buck-eye coupling was blamed - luckily the locos stopped after just a few feet - result : one very stretched brake pipe! An emergency coupling was soon found and we continued (began?) our journey, just a little later than we already were...

About this time Railgen had been going berserk and amongst the messages to my phone were two which were quite interesting :

(1) 37521 was out on a fNW working and would run to Birmingham International during the evening (arrival at International 22.08)
(2) failure of 47828 on the inbound working meant the 14.18 Bournemouth to Liverpool Lime St was without a loco. Watch this space....

....and watch it I did. Gen soon came through (on the train, not via Railgen) that 66077 had been thrown out to cover the working as far as Birmingham New Street.

So, with the promise of two more freight locos out around Birmingham, "The Trainspotters Ball" had just become plural !

And so, on arrival at Alresford at about 2.30pm (the timetable was running over 1/2 hour behind at this stage) it was a case of a fast relocation to Coventry.

Coventry - 17.00
The 17.18 to Liverpool Lime Street was showing as 25 minutes late, then 30...then 35.... Eventually at a tad after 6pm it rolled in with 66077 leading a dead 47828. The mark 2 air-conds were remarkably warm considering the complete lack of train heating. This was taken as far as Birmingham New Street where shed 77 shot off (booked light engine back to Eastleigh!) leaving a sad looking (and dead) 47828 in charge of the train again. The shunter had wandered to the back of the train and there I watched 47814 "Totnes Castle" being attached. Hmmm, onward via Bescot me thinks.

Wrong! We set off in the "normal" direction for Wolverhampton, so what was on the front then? At Wolverhampton I baled to see 86240 "Bishop Eric Treacy" atop the still dead 47828. Seems twank 814 had been added simply to provide train heat!

Bit of a spin now (all dud stuff) until arrival at Wolverhampton for 9pm. A call from a friend at Crewe confirmed the fNW service was headed by 37426 and 37521 and had departed about 8 down. The platform monitor had it at 15 down but it rolled out of the dark only about 5 minutes down with the pair of EWS liveried tractors proudly at the head. A good thrash away from Wolves was enjoyed but then we soon caught up a CT stopper which we basically followed all the way to Birmingham International - lots of rolling and not much thrashing :-( though the departure from New Street was quite entertaining once we entered the tunnel and got a double amber signal.

Time to watch the pair being run-round at International before 87015 turned up to whisk me off in the direction of home (which was reached around 11.30pm).

Not a bad Sunday all in all - five haulage scores of which 3 were mainline freight locos.

Gary Thornton.

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