Another David Clark review of valley bashing.
Another Rugby International saw Wales play Scotland and loads of cranks head down to Cardiff to witness the spectacle of not the Rugby but the sounds of "Beautiful Brush" and "Electrifying English Electric". As this report goes on you will see that we just didn't have Brush and English Electric. This was a proper gala. As the words of Robbie Williams say, I think it is appropriate to say "Let me entertain you" were the words which rang quite true throughout the weekend.
Departure from Scunthorpe was at 11.10 with 158760 to Stockport. On this journey there were three of us. Rick, Ian and I. On the return from Cardiff we met another local crank from Retford who I had met from previous trips. 47747 was on the Virgin working just behind us on a Virgin working. So we alighted at Stockport and caught the "Beautiful Brush" 47747 into Manchester Piccadilly.
Another 158 was taken down from Manchester Piccadilly to Newport. At Crewe I saw the sight of my final 37 down in the yard. Yes 37142 was sighted in the yard with another 37 and loads of Brush 4's. From Crewe rumours started that 33103 had burst and that it was to be replaced by a DRS 37. Then the rumours started that DRS 20's were to be used on one of the specials in the morning. Indeed the traction and the paths had been agreed so we started changing the plans of our day (These were to be changed throughout the day!!!).
At Newport I had previously arranged to go down to Weston Super Mare to visit my brother and so took 43103 / 43065 on the Swansea to York train as far as Bristol TM. On Bristol Barton Hill were two 67's. Beautiful Brush 727 and 750 were seen on mail trains. A 150 was taken to Weston Super Mare from Bristol. Not one single score!
Returning from Weston Super Mare (after a beautiful Fish and Chip Supper!) traction was provided by 43183 / 43165 as far as Bristol TM. Here two further "Beautiful Brush" were seen numbers 745 and 746. That's 4-2 to the Brush!!! A 158 was taken to Newport and I witnessed my second 67 on Barton Hill. The rake of coaches had moved and 67005 was seen. Rumours were that 67001 had done a move from Bristol Barton Hill to Swansea. At Newport and further 158 / 150 combination was taken to Cardiff. Here we took 43151 / 43143 all the way to Swansea. What a shock was to be had a Canton though. As we departed Canton. We saw 67006, 009, 018, 012, 014, 016, 017 and 018! All lined up together. Didn't look like they had moved a muscle. On Margam we saw 66193 and 66199 while Rick was making a decidedly dubious telephone call. At Swansea we were greeted (or not greeted but annoyed) that 37401 was to be the first train out of Crewe and not the 20s!!! Plans went pear shaped again. The tram from Swansea was to be 43150 / 430 26. 43026 was required for haulage so it was quite good from my point of view. Since we were on this for quite some time, we tried to get some sleep........(well that plan went pear shaped as well!).
Arrival at Fishguard was greeted with the train emptying (except for us) and the train getting rather full with Irish and loads of other people boarding the train. These people came in to our coach and one of them went on to Ian's table!!! They even decided to talk. So with permission from the guard we went in to first class. We departed Swansea on the tram with some youths in our coach making a mess. However, at Neath 67002 passed through the station on a mail train. Another score! On Margam 67001 was noted together with the 66's seen on the inward bound train. Again at Cardiff the 67s were on the depot but with signs that they were about to move.
We arrived at Cardiff and waited for the train to Barry. After doing the Barry branch we arrived at Cardiff to a bunch of young ladies wearing nothing but short skirts and boots up to their knees!!! Absolute hellfire were the words muttered! We decided on a quick spin to Newport and back. 43168 / 43027 were the outward PCs and 43035 / 43036 were the returning PCs. Three of them were scores. We departed Cardiff on the 7.50 to Rhymney with 47799. It did not sound in good voice. At Neath we had quick change to take 37408 back in to Cardiff. Both locos were scored. Another tram to Newport followed with 43009 / 43033. At Newport we caught a 158 to Abergavenny and I caught another 158 to Cwmbran. Leaving Rick and Ian to photo the tractors. It was clear that the following trains were to be packed. Indeed at Cwmbran 37401 arrived with many of the coaches packed. At Newport I had two choices, either to wait for 37612 or to do another move in to Cardiff and return. I decided on the latter. Indeed 43192 / 43003 arrived and I took them to Cardiff. However, it nearly all went pear shaped. As I was very late leaving Cardiff but managed to get 37612 from Newport to Cardiff with loads of other cranks and rugby supporters. Do they do these galas for cranks or rugby fans?
At Cardiff I managed to take 37408 up to Cardiff Queen St for 47306 back in to Cardiff Central. My final journey behind 47306 "The Sapper" (R.I.P!!). From Cardiff Central I took 47799 up to Caerphilly. However, the journey south bound with 47575 was packed and very uncomfortable. At Cardiff Queen St though the train emptied and I was able to sit down and get some lunch. This means 47781 back from Cardiff up to Bargoed. I decided to take a snooze. Again 47575 was taken from Bargoed to Ystrad Mynach for 37412 back to the final thrash to Cardiff. On the brush workings I saw loads of the Brush cranks. The gang were out in force. Noted was SJP, GWOT and 47828 as well as the other contributors to the Brush 4 mailing list. On the tractor I met up with a mate from Retford and decided to see what was on the tram to Newport, for whether to take it out and return on another.
Back at Cardiff we saw a few freights but awaited the final journey. At Cardiff the Hastings unit approached and we took 1001 to Newport. The journey was very good with lots of thrash provided. Nearly made up for the lack of 20's. At Newport we again seemed to see some very dodgy people around. Our unit approached and we sat down next to Rick and Ian who had saved us our seat. The journey was quite uneventful apart from the ballast on the track.
At Crewe some young ladies got on and went out to Wilmslow for a night out! We got off at Stockport and got something to eat. So 158771 was taken from Stockport to Sheffield and more short skirts graced our presence at Sheffield before we took 144008 all the way to Scunthorpe.
VERDICT : Overall it was a sound weekend with plenty of good quality traction available for haulage. Finding out that some of the brush are to be withdrawn in April made the weekend better. Indeed I was disappointed that 47348 was unable to be part of the gala. As that with 47306 would have been hellfire. Just one question. With all the 47s and 37s being withdrawn, what will the traction be next year? Class 66s I hope not. Little did I know that I would have 47799 again on the 11.15 Doncaster to Leeds on Sunday 26th March.
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