Another David Clark review.
Location: Cardiff, Wales
Traction provided by: 33103, 37403, 37414, 37420, 47306, 47709, 47721, 47775, 47798 and 1001.
I had heard much about the Rugby days in Cardiff and so decided to venture down to Cardiff with a few fellow enthusiasts. Departure from Scunthorpe was at 19.00 with a change at Sheffield for the loco hauled train to Bristol Temple Meads which was hauled by 47843. We arrived at Bristol to do a overnight stint on the station. During this time we saw 47783, 47771, 47737, 47733, 47786 and 08896 which was performing shunting duties. On one of the postal trains 47771 departed from Bristol and just after the bridge at the Taunton end the train halted. It soon became clear that the loco had failed and 47733 dragged the train back to the station, ran round and departed almost an hour after its first departure. At 2am I decided to put my head down in the waiting room with other people who were waiting for the over night sleeper........
By 6am we wandered on to the platform to find 43137/43143 waiting for our journey to Cardiff. At Bristol Parkway 66120 passed westbound with cartics (destination Avonmouth??) and arrived at Newport where fellow enthusiasts got on the train. On Newport was 47786 (another duff failure from the night before), 66150, 66149, 09203, 09107, 66183 and 08921. Arrival at Cardiff we wandered down to ticket office to purchase the tickets and got on to the platform for the 07.50 Rhymney service. What turned up was a 143!!!!! We thought what have we done. Anyway it left the station and soon was the sight of 47775 coming off Canton with a royal 47 at the back.
We departed with 775 powering and 798 DIT. It was my intention to get all the locos operating that day in the valleys. The scenery was pleasant and the guard on the first train was a chirpy soul. We jumped off the train at Pengam to get 37420 back to Cardiff Queen St. Again after every station stop the 37 roared away. Rick, Matt and Jon jumped off at Heath while I we nt on to Queen St for the extra mileage. I didn't know there was a special timetable until I checked the departure screen at Queen St because the trains were running later due to their inability to keep up on unit timings. The next train I was to catch was the 09.15 off Cardiff to Bargoed which was formed of 47306 and again 47721 DIT. I enjoyed the Brush haulage more than the English Electric. In the last few months I have really got to appreciate Class 47s, probably because they are on their way out and being replaced by Class 66s. Although they don't have the engine noise of a tractor, or the find smooth noise of a deltic they just make that un-mistakable noise. Ah brings back memories of the days of Birmingham New Street and all you saw was 47s!
I took the 47 from Cardiff Queen St up to Aber, because of the delays I thought I would miss my next connection. Aber station was on a bend and so there were some good shots of the locos coming in and out. Departure from Aber was provided by the green 37403 all the way to Caerphilly (at least 0.75miles!!!). From there I caught 37420 again to Bargoed and had enough time to explore some of the local area. An incident nearly occurred when on the approach to Bargoed one of the enthusiasts in the front coach had a bottle thrown at him from someone on a nearby footbridge. The 47's, because of the lack of run round facilities at Bargoed, did a top 'n' tail operation at this station. 47775 approached and so it was 47798 to take me back to Ystrad Mynach. One could say that I had lunch with royalty. It was evident that the extra capacity was required as many of the trains got full with Rugby supporters who were probably unaware of what traction they were getting hauled by.
At Ystrad Mynach, while waiting for 47306 that I found out that 37403 had been replaced by plastic due to a fault with the loco. However, not to be deterred I caught 47306 again up to Bargoed to take 47721 for the first time down to Heath. I couldn't believe some people. As the train left one of the stations some Wales supporters saw the train leaving and decided to try and jump aboard. When I say supporters it was a father and two boys. The guard ended up making a emergency application. From Heath it was another traction with 37420 being again got for haulage. This was to be my most grossing mileage off a single loco for the Saturday (apart from 33103). Due to its late departure from Heath I only took the loco as far as Ystrad Mynach. Here was another bit of stupidity. A young girl of around 8-9 was going to avoid the footbridge and walk on the track. It was only because a 37 was approaching that she had second thoughts.
Well 37414 approached and had it all the way in to Cardiff. While trying to keep the window open some people decided that they wanted the window shut as the noise of the locos was too much for them. Poor devils. At Cardiff I decided that I wanted to see what was on Canton so ventured out on a train to Pontypridd with a pair of 143s and saw 66009, 08828, 66081 and 08483. The return from Pontypridd was via the old Wagon Works at Cathays. Another quick burst saw me go to Cardiff Queen St for a final journey on 47798.
Arrival back at Cardiff saw the platforms absolutely chock a block with supporters of the rugby and the enthusiasts for most of whom were going to take the specials back to Crewe or Manchester with either 47s or a 33. Of course they could have also taken 1001 back to Portsmouth. At 16.40 the stock with 33103 approached and we all clambered aboard for what was going to be my first 33 hauled service train for many a year. However, I had 33103 on the Crompton Collier so it would make it over 500 miles on the loco. Departure was on time as we made our way out of Cardiff. The train was packed and we approached Newport with only 60044 being different from the morning. The acceleration was quite impressive as it climbed the hills to Shrewsbury. Many people go off at the towns between Newport and Hereford and by Crewe there were very few Rugby supporters on the train but lots of cranks. Arrival at Stockport saw our Doncaster train leave the station. TYPICAL!!!
We waited for the 158 back to Sheffield. For here we had a -2 connection but due to the train being early we were able to leg it across the footbridge and on to the pacer. There waiting was a couple of fellow enthusiasts who had been to Manchester for the day. Arrival back at Scunthorpe was at 22.57, enough time to go home to reflect on a very good day in the Cardiff valleys. A further trip to Cardiff on March 18th may very well be planned after this experience.
David Clark (2000).
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