Eastern Region Bash - 1972

Chris Totty reports on his Eastern Region bash 18th - 27th August 1972.

Being more of a track basher than a number cruncher, I apologise in advance that I didn’t note down unit numbers, only locos on hauled services.

So here goes:

18th August 1972

Got the Met from Uxbridge to Baker Street and another along to King’s Cross for the first interesting train of the trip, the 22:50 to Bradford Exchange. This was routed via Doncaster, Knottingley, Pontefract Monkhill, Woodlesford, Engine Shed Jn and Whitehall Jn to Bradford. 1532 took us as far as Doncaster with 5688 for the rest of the journey. Arrived at Bradford at some unearthly hour of the morning so had a wander round the streets following the trolleybus wires. Unfortunately no trolleys as they had been taken off a few weeks earlier.

19th August 1972

Still hours of the night to go and feeling a bit cold I decided some exercise was necessary to keep warm. So hoisting up my rucsac I started off in the direction of New Pudsey arriving in time for the 06:43 to Leeds. This connected nicely with the 07:00 to Castleford and then onto the 07:35 to Wakefield Westgate via Normanton. The next star turn was then caught again to Bradford Exchange, this time via the other Leeds avoider, Wortley South Jn – Wortley West Jn.

The 08:50 hauled by 5657 took me back to Leeds where 193 was on the 09:40 to Rotherham (Masborough in those days) via Wakefield Westgate. 6719 was on the 10:46 to Bridlington, another star turn as it went via the Hull avoiding line, Cottingham Bridge Jn – Cottingham Jn. From Bridlington I caught the 13:05 to Scarborough which was routed via Filey Holiday Camp with 5660 on the front.

DMU’s then obliged on the 14:10 Scarborough – York, 15:15 York – Leeds via Micklefield and the 16:40 Leeds – Thorne South via the Doncaster avoiding line. A quick walk to Thorne North for the 18:26 to Doncaster hauled by 1778 followed by 1100 on the 19:05 Doncaster – York. 267 took the 20:30 York – Wakefield Westgate via Castleford and Normanton followed by a DMU on the 21:22 back to Leeds. 9000 was on the 22:00 Leeds to King’s Cross which I left at Peterborough.

20th August 1972

The Eastern Region was having a bad night and it was my intention to catch an overnight train as far as Newcastle but nothing was shown on the departure indicator. Around the booked time in my itinerary a passenger train came very slowly into the station so when it stopped I opened the door and got on, much to the chagrin of the platform staff who shouted at me to stand away! It was, apparently, not supposed to stop at Peterborough!! Anyway with 1510 on the front and with only a few seconds stop we roared away northwards to Ferryhill where we turned onto the Leamside line, the line via Durham being closed for engineering work.

This train got me to Newcastle in good time for the 08:30 south hauled by 1509 which went via its booked diversionary route – the Leamside line! So this route was well and truly bashed in both directions by consecutive trains.

I got off at York and DMU’s came into their own again. Firstly on the 10:15 to Scarborough followed by the 12:05 Scarborough – Hull, completing this line by travelling over the direct line at Filey avoiding the Holiday Camp station, and into Hull. Then the 13:50 Hull – York via Sherburn in Elmet and the 15:39 to Leeds via Mickelfield. Back to Hull on the 16:40 and a taxi to the Corporation Pier for the 18:05 ‘Wingfield Castle’ ferry to New Holland Pier and the 18:40 return working.

A walk back to Hull Paragon for the 20:32 DMU to Selby followed by more DMU’s on the 21:22 to Pontefract Baghill via Gascoigne Wood Jn and Milford Jn and the 21:53 Pontefract Baghill – York. Back at York 1997 obliged on the 23:21 to Newcastle.

21st August 1972

Sleep was now needed so a corner seat on the 01:13 Newcastle – Peterborough hauled by 9017 for the start of bashing off the one line I still needed in East Anglia. The 05:39 Peterborough – Cambridge was a DMU but 6753 was at the head of the 07:44 Cambridge – Kings Lynn. The same loco headed the 09:27 back to Ely where another DMU turned up for the 10:15 back to Peterborough.

1988 appeared on the 11:34 Peterborough – Grantham and then back to DMU’s for the 12:15 Grantham – Skegness (just needed the curve at Firsby), the 14:00 Skegness – Sleaford, 15:15 Sleaford - Lincoln Central, 17:00 Lincoln Central – Barnetby and the 18:04 Barnetby – Sheffield.

I found a bed in Sheffield as sleep was more than essential by this point so sweet dreams until...

22nd August 1972

Back at Sheffield station for a not too early start, the 08:42 to Leeds via Cudworth hauled by 1729. Back on the 10:00 Leeds – Sheffield via Altofts and Barnsley, the first of a day full of DMU’s. The next train was the 11:25 Sheffield – Retford (High Level) and its return working the 12:50 Retford (High Level) – Sheffield. This was followed by the 15:44 Sheffield – Pontefract Baghill and the 16:56 Pontefract Monkhill – Leeds via Castleford.

In order to complete the third side of the triangle at Todmorden I took the 18:10 from Leeds there and the 19:47 Todmorden – Leeds back followed by the 21:03 Leeds – York via Micklefield.

Back to King’s Cross on the 22:14 hauled by 1105.

23rd August 1972

Upon arrival at the Cross the next star turn was to be the Forest Gate – Woodgrange Park curve which in those days was only covered in the early hours of the morning when Fenchurch Street station was closed. Upon hailing a taxi at King’s Cross and asking the driver to take me to Liverpool Street station he enquired where I was going at that time of night. When I answered ‘Barking’ he said that if I cared to wait and hour he would take me for nothing as that was where he lived! I declined the offer!!

A long day of EMU’s and DMU’s saw me start off on the 03:59 (yes, really) Liverpool Street – Benfleet via Upminster, returning on the 05:33 Benfleet – Fenchurch Street via Tilbury Riverside. The Circle Line took me back to King’s Cross where the 07:20 DMU to Stevenage was waiting. I then caught the 08:43 Stevenage – Hertford North (rush hours only service back then) and walked across to Hertford East where I took the 09:20 to Tottenham Hale, needing the bit of track as far as St Margaret’s having previously been to Buntingford on the last day of services. The 10:25 from Tottenham Hale took me to North Woolwich and the 10:54 returned me to Stratford (Low Level). A quick trip on the Central Line found me back at Liverpool Street for the 12:00 to Mark’s Tey and the 13:05 down the branch to Sudbury. Returning at 13:57 to Colchester, 1528 was at the front of the 14:46 back to Liverpool Street.

A stroll across to Broad Street found a DMU at the head of the 16:39 to Stevenage via Bayford returning on the 18:22 to King’s Cross via Potters Bar headed by 9005.

Time for a bath and bed so the Met took me back via Baker Street to Uxbridge.

24th August 1972

Having almost completed my task of finishing the whole of the Eastern Region, and needing Mum to do some necessary washing (!) I had a day off today so…

25th August 1972

On the Met again from Uxbridge to Liverpool Street I caught the 14:44 to Romford followed by the 15:10 to Upminster. Again DMU’s and EMU’s were the order of the day. The 15:24 followed to Grays and the 15:39 to Tilbury Riverside. Not wishing to miss any service upon which the Rover was valid, Sealink ferried me on the 15:50 to Gravesend West Street and back on the 16:20 to Tilbury Riverside.

I then caught the 16:32 to Rainham followed by the 17:26 Rainham – Pitsea via the Tilbury Riverside avoiding line, again a rush hour service only. Back on the 17:57 to Fenchurch Street via Upminster and the Circle Line to King’s Cross from Tower Hill.

The Rover being valid until midnight saw me on the 19:55 London King’s Cross to Helensburgh Upper with an excess from goodness knows where to Helensburgh! 1765 did the honours as far as Edinburgh with 5356 taking us on from there. The train was booked via Falkirk High, which it did, and Yoker but actually never went that way, going via Westerton instead which it did on this occasion.

26th August 1972

A walk down the hill to catch the 06:15 Helensburgh Central – Glasgow Queen Street Low Level followed by the 08:00 Glasgow Queen Street High Level – Edinburgh via Falkirk High again. This had 5400 on the front and 5411 on the rear. The Branch Line Society’s Forth Man Tour (qv) took up Saturday and then it was time for my real holidays in South Wales but first there was some more Scottish travelling to do, although I did not need any track north of the border by this time.

To fill in time I took the 19:00 back to Queen Street High Level, again via Falkirk High headed by 5380 and tailed by 5393 and the 19:56 DMU back to Edinburgh from Glasgow Central via Shotts.

The journey southwards started with the 23:40 Edinburgh – Crewe, headed as far as the Carstairs reversal by 5065 & 5071. The 2 Class 50’s which took over after the Glasgow and Edinburgh portions were joined were not noted but after Carlisle we were diverted over Ais Gill then via Clitheroe and the Lostock Hall curve back on to the WCML and then to Crewe.

27th August 1972

Feeling somewhat peckish I decided to scrounge breakfast off my aunt so an EMU on the 08:00 Crewe – Handforth was the next journey. Suitably refreshed and bathed, I think my aunt made some comment about how long it had been since I saw a bar of soap, I returned to Crewe on the 12:41 EMU ex Handforth. A DMU was the stock provided for the 13:45 Crewe – Cardiff General via Shrewsbury and Hereford. 1752 was at the head of the 18:23 Cardiff General – Swansea and a DMU for the final journey, the 19:40 Swansea – Haverfordwest.

1st September 1972

After a few days camping back home to get ready for the fray of returning to work!

A DMU on the 10:45 Haverfordwest – Swansea followed by 1009 on the 12:55 Swansea – Cardiff General. 1021 was then at the head of the 14:07 Cardiff General – Reading and two DMU’s home on the 16:18 Reading – Slough and 17:15 Slough – West Drayton.

I estimate that I did approximately 3,000 miles on the Rover ticket and a further 1,400 going into Scotland, back to Haverfordwest and returning to West Drayton.

36 years on it is surprising how much still remains of the routes I covered. Agreed there have been closures in West Yorkshire, mainly duplicating routes, such eccentricities as Filey Holiday Camp and the ferry services have been sold off. London has lost the connexions from King’s Cross to Moorgate, Finsbury Park to Broad Street and the North Woolwich branch. Retford – Barnetby services are now Saturdays only. And what has opened? Not much really. The major new line is the diversion of the ECML via Hambleton but otherwise everything is small fry. Carlisle services out of Newcastle have been diverted via Durston, various lines have reopened in Yorkshire and we have the Copley chord in Leeds.

So the challenge must be – how much of the former Eastern and North Eastern regions can you now cover in a week?

Chris Totty

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