29th December 1997
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Christmas Diesel Day

24081 and D7629 at Gotherington

After the Battlefield line's somewhat dubious attempt at post-Christmas diesel running, how would the GWR compare on the very next day? The following traction was advertised;
Class Number
20 D8137
24 24081
25 D7629
33 33108
47 47105
As there was some doubt over the availability of the Class 33 the use of the 33 and 47 was on an either/or basis.

Now one good thing about the GWR is that they do make an effort to heat the coaches between services - 6960 "Raveningham Hall" being on duty as a stationary carriage heating unit. With two rakes of coaches in use on a basic one train service it meant that each set got about 60 to 75 minutes of steam heating between runs. First train was at 10am and I turned up about forty minutes early to enable a quick walk around the shed area. On shed and sadly not in use at this gala were Class 14's D9537 and D9553, Class 26 26043, Class 31 D5541, Class 37 37215 and Class 45 45149.

True to form, the GWR had produced a timetable and locomotive roster for the day. To add a little more interest each run even had a BR-type train reporting code. As expected there was no 33108, so the 47 would substitute in place of the Crompton. A good start to the day was the use of D7629 and 24081 double-headed on 1V91 the 10.00 to Gotherington. Ace run, especially coming off the speed restriction and through Greet Tunnel - a good reminder just how noisy a pair of Sulzer type 2's can be! Of the two, the splutterbug (24081) did sound the healthier. The return from Gotherington (1M20) was also a good run.

Second round trip (1V92 and 1E21) produced the railway's chopper D8137. The last time I visited back in March this loco was in use even though it was only in red oxide undercoat. Now it was looking rather good in late 1950's green livery. A good performance from the chopper was had both ways.

Next run was 47105, probably the best turned out loco on the GWR and a credit to it's owner. Now me, I'm not a 47 lover, so I decided to retire to the (warm) buffet for a bite to eat. Unfortunately an excellent service meant I had ordered and eaten my beans on toast with time to spare before the duff was due to leave on 1V93 (the 12.50 departure) so there was nothing for it but to clamber aboard. I chose the rear coach which happened to be the warmest as "Ratbag Hall" had been attached at the back. The run out and back (1M22) was reasonable, considering the traction.

The fourth run (1V94 and 1E23) was in the capable hands of the rat and splutterbug again. This run was better in my opinion than the first, with liberal use being made of the power handles through the tunnel both ways. The pair then handed over to a somewhat powerful combination of the 47 and 20 for the days fifth, and last, round trip (1V95 and 1M24). As can be imagined with some 3,580hp on tap, the pair made light work of the train. Highlight again was the thrash through Greet Tunnel in both directions.

So, marks out of 10 for this event?

Weather 4 (Sunny, but a cold breeze)
Timetable 4 (Too long to wait at Toddington each time)
Loco Roster 5 (reasonable use of the available traction)
D8137 7 (Choppers are nearly always a good thrash)
24081 8 (Simply a wicked machine!)
D7629 6 (Sounded a bit lumpy to me)
47105 5 (Redeemed itself on the last run, with the splutterbug)

Most memorable aspect of the day?
The 24/25 combo through Greet Tunnel.

Verdict : A worthwhile day, especially for the 24 and 25.

Gary Thornton.

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