Southern Britain Bash
(September 2004)

Martin Thorn describes...

I have often planned a round Britain tour using an All Lines Rover, but being a carer this would cause problems.  In September 2004 a Hospice near Cambridge provided six days of respite, so I planned a route, checked times and bought my tickets in advance to obtain a discount.  I carried a medium sized rucksack to carry a multi pack of fruit juice, a flask of coffee (refilled daily) chocolate bars and a fresh pack of sandwiches daily.  I also took a complete change of clothes and waterproofs.  Come the day we went to Cambridge on Sunday and I set out on the Monday morning.

I intended catching the 09.30 from Cambridge to Kings Cross and then found there had been a bus at 7.50 and would not be another until 10 past 9; £11 for a taxi from Milton to the centre of Cambridge!  For the first leg of my journey I had a Cambridge – Southampton single, but used a Travelcard for a few hours on arrival in London.  I walked up to Kings Cross Thameslink and took that train from there to East Croydon.  En route I had a good view of St Pauls, Shakespeare’s Globe, Canary Wharf and Tower Bridge.  This leg took me past Selhurst depot, but I couldn’t see the stored 09; I was told later it was parked behind some EMUs.  At East Croydon a couple of GatEx 73s worked through as I waited for the South Central service to Watford Junction to see North Pole, Willesden and Wembley depots en route.  North Pole Junction has a nameplate up, but no elves were seen.  At Watford purple coloured 87002 arrived and I travelled behind that to Euston where 87001 and 003 were stabled.  I had missed Tony Blair and Richard Branson launching the Pendo fleet by an hour, that compensated for the taxi fee!  I took the tube to Paddington for a 20 minute bash before getting over to Waterloo.  I got off at Eastleigh having passed several 66s along the way, for a look into the works but could not see the 07 stored there.  Some spotters on the station told me the numbers of the 66s I had passed en route and explained about the 07.  “See that row of four ridge roofs, in front of that is a single lower roof and the 07 is between that and the Virgin carriage.  If you get a train to Fareham you may see it”.  Between 4.00 and 5.00 quite a few freightliners passed through Eastleigh station hauled by EWS and FL 66s.  I spent the night at a relative’s near Southampton Central.

The following morning I had a look at Milbrook FLT before finding out that engineering works meant another change of plan.  I was headed for Cornwall and was going to change at Westbury, but had to change at Bath instead for the Plymouth train.  A pair of DRS 20s were passed at Bridgewater whilst 57604 was being named on the other platform as we paused at Totnes.  A preserved 50 was also seen there.  Passing Laira shed only one of their three 08s was in sight.  The train to Penzance was composed of five class 153 single units coupled together and had started at Carmarthen.  The conductor assured me they had been at least five changes of crew along the way.  I got off at Par and went in search of St Blazey shed, but had to move fast as I only had 90 minutes before my train to Bristol where I would spend two nights.  At Bristol TM, I saw the Weymouth train composed of five “Barbieville” coloured coaches top and tailed with class 31s.  Another set, complete with locos was stabled at the other end of Temple Meads.  The Tuesday and Wednesday night’s were spent at a friend’s house so avoiding any hotel bills.

On Wednesday I took an early train to Cardiff to try and see some 37s during the hour’s wait for the Swansea train.  43030 was working the Paddington – Swansea service; I had travelled behind that from Par to Plymouth the previous day.  Copped a few 60s and 37s as we passed Margam and then had a surprise seeing a MML 43 outside Landore shed.  There was just enough time for a quick look round Swansea.  Although not as large, Swansea station was laid out like Glasgow Central and the street pattern seemed similar as well.  Back at Cardiff I set off for Canton shed in the pouring rain.  The previous day had seen the sun beating down.  The vehicle approach to the depot was clearly signposted to the effect that non EWS personnel would be prosecuted for trespass if they set foot on it.  There is a footbridge nearer the station leading direct into the depot.  I had read on a similar forum to this that enthusiasts are tolerated if they stand on the bridge and do not try walking down into the yard.  A freshly painted sign however, informed that there is a £100 fine for trespass on the bridge and a CCTV camera was watching the approach to it.  I then spent two hours at Newport for the stabled locos and passing freights before returning to Bristol where a 67 was at the head of a Pullman rake.  I then did the Severn Beach branch but could not see the 09 at St Andrew’s Road due to parked wagons.  Back at TM, a Standard 5 was about to depart with an excursion.  All four (!) of the footplate crew were younger than the driver of the 43 on an adjacent platform.

My journey back to Cambridge from Bristol was unusual.  First of all to Derby.  I hadn’t seen any banking locos at Bromsgrove, but saw four 08s and a 33 in the EMR site at Kingsbury.  The 33 was conveniently parked parallel to the main line.  At Derby 45112 passed through light engine and I wondered had I regressed 20 years.  I then wandered the streets looking past security gates and fences into the various yards and saw quite a few stored locos.  Back at the station one of the 47s I needed was stabled next to a Fragonset 73; black does not suit them.  From Derby to Leicester passing Mountsorrel and Loughborough.  Two locos at the former, but nothing visible at the Brush site.  I was later told to see locos at Brush, it’s best to go by road.  In Leicester yard Mainline blue 58005 appeared forlorn whilst on the platform a pigeon with two legs but only one foot hopped around searching for food.  From Leicester to Cambridge was the most crowded train I travelled on in the four days.

Summing up, £151.50 for four days of rail travel.  I saw examples of classes 08, 09, 20, 31, 33, 37, 43, 45, 50, 56, 57, 57/6, 58, 59, 60, 66, 66/5, 67, 73, 87, 90 and 91 plus the Standard 5 and an industrial saddle tank at Bodmin.  I had covered some routes I hadn’t done before and had travelled on 28 trains in four days.  On three of the days I had been travelling before 8.00am with commuters, yet had a seat on every train.  There had been no delays let alone cancellations, just the change of route between Westbury and Plymouth.

To spend just a single night away, my next bash will be Southern Scotland, mainly for DRS and stored locos.  Peterborough – Leeds, Leeds – Carnforth, Carnforth – Carlisle via the Cumbrian Coast and Carlisle – Ayr where 3 star B&B is available for £20.00.  The next day Ayr – Glasgow where I’ll take in Deanside Transit, Glasgow works, Motherwell, Coatbridge, the Boness & Kinneil Railway and then Edinburgh back to P’boro’.  The station staff have quoted me £90.00 for a P’boro’ – Ayr Return via any route.

Martin Thorn

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