The diagramming of pairs of Class 45s on certain Midland Mainline workings, which had first occurred during 1981, continued into 1986, though some of the services affected were altered. The Sundays 12.15 Derby - St Pancras and the Mondays 06.00 Nottingham - St Pancras were now diagtrammed for pairs of Class 45s. These would continue through the spring of 1987.
Noted through Huddersfield on January 12th were 25908 & 25901 on a Stanlow - Hunslet oil train, returning the next day with the empties, whilst a week later (21st) 31134 headed east with two Class 37's & 25189 + 25060 in tow. Further north on 23rd 25037 arrived at Tyne Yard with a morning freight from Stranraer, the Type 2 then being diagrammed to work the 23.05 to Mossend.
On January 27th 25323 was in charge of the 14.25 Birmingham - Norwich. On 31st 97201 & 97403 handled a test train from Derby to Bristol.
The new order was revealed at Southampton late in January, when four new General Motors built Class 59's were unloaded from a ship on 24th. All were towed to Derby initially prior to returning to Westbury for a variety of tests before beginning regular service for Foster Yeoman.
With Swindon Works in the process of closing it was left for Doncaster Works to begin receiving Class 25's for cutting, with eight dispatched from Crewe and four from Toton during the middle of the month.
Late January found a number of Class 25's reaching Exeter. 25057 arrived on 23rd & 29th with an early morning Cartics from Severn Tunnel Jct, 25224 (23rd) with a Hookagate - Newton Abbott engineers train. And at month end the Cartic working produced 25201 (30th) & 25190 (31st). The last day also featured 25230 on the afternoon Manchester - Bristol parcels, it unfortunately expired at Marshbrook, being rescued 47343.
Easterly winds brought heavy snow on February 5th causing numerous problems, the cold weather, especially in the east, highlighting the ailing heating systems in many of the aging dmu's. With the snow came heavy icing in all the regular places on the WCML, particularly at Kilsby tunnel. 25206 handled a Tyne - Carlisle cement working on February 6th. 25265 took care of the Preston - Liverpool leg of the 18.10 ex Edinburgh on February 8th. The 15th's Heaton - Red Bank parcels, loaded to fifteen vehicles ran with 25244.
The second Class 25 to be preserved, 25185 made its last BR journey on February 13/14th when it ran under its own power from Toton to the Dart Valley Railway at Paignton. About this time Vic Berry's attended to the three remaining Type 2's at Etches Park, quickly reducing 25033/088 & 27203 to scrap. At the Works withdrawn 25200 still lingered. 25323 was noted at Fazakerly mid month with collision damage, it was moved to Allerton on 19th by 31425. February 26th found 25202 & 45044 heading a down oil train through Leamington.
Present at Immingham on March 4th working steel empties was 25173, two days later this locomotive handled a Bescot - Banbury freight. Freezing conditions at this time brought more ice related problems to the WCML, so severe was the freeze that certain bridges in the Harrow area had to be cleared before traffic could move, again Kilsby & Linslade tunnels were particularly affected. On 5th a number of services were diverted into Paddington. The extremely cold weather caused major problems for the sand trains operating at Caldon & Oakmoor, with the loads being frozen into the wagons! These workings, once a mainstay for the Class 25's were now usually in the hands of Classes 20 or 47, although on March 6th 25244 visited Caldon. After taking up a string of empties it returned with twenty four loaded hoppers (made in two trips). A week later 25244 was a rare visitor to Willesden.
25032, currently the elder statesman of the Class was noted on March 6th handling trip workings in the Speke area, unfortunately it was withdrawn shortly afterwards along with five others. Following this 25034 acquired the honour of elder stateman! March saw two Class 31's (31259 & 31271) transferred to Carlisle, allowing 25176 & 25278 to be moved down to Crewe. Inter-regional transfers also brought four more Class 31's to Toton in addition to four new Class 58's.
In a re-organisation of crew rosters in the Cardiff area the Ellesmere Port - Severn Tunnel Jct tanks would now be manned by Cardiff crews south of Hereford. Being unfamiliar with the Class 25's this became a Class 47 turn. Likewise the frequency of Class 25's on the afternoon Manchester - Bristol parcels dropped considerably, the Class 47's again predominating on this working. Working west on a very stormy and windy March 20th was 25059 on a Sellafield - Bridgwater nuclear flask train. Record wind gusts were recorded this day at Edinburgh (110mph) and Cairn Gorm (173mph). The following day 25266 was on a freight to Trostre, whilst on the 24th the high winds for the first time closed the M4 Severn Bridge.
Another machine to escape from Swindon was the Metrovick Co-Bo D5705, having spent several years here it was towed to Derby (for Matlock) on March 20th. This day also saw the bizarre movement of 25214/256 from Doncaster to Swindon, even though Doncaster would continue to receive scrap Class 25's into early April. A week later came the official closure of Swindon Works, although six Class 08's were still undergoing overhaul. Finding six active Class 25s in one location was by this time quite rare but this was the case at Rugby on March 29th, being needed for Sunday permanent way work.
Hindsight would reveal that the Class 25's now had less than a year to run. At BR's financial year end (March 31st) forty eight examples remained in service, allocated to Crewe and Kingmoor. Cutting up of the withdrawn examples continued at Swindon and Doncaster whilst 25190 was possibly the last working example to visit Derby Works, exchanging bogies from withdrawn 25200. The remaining examples were still widely traveled, occasionally substituting on passenger workings and a most definite choice for Railtour activity.
The 11.45 Stranraer - Tyne, frequently a Class 27 working was in the hands of 25907 on April 4th, returning with the 23.05 to Mossend. Noted at Scunthorpe on April 11th was 25211, whilst sister machine 25210 became the first Class 25 to be broken up at Doncaster Works since 25015 in 1975.
The 100th anniversary of the Mersey Railway was celebrated in early April. Part of the festivities included an Open Day at Birkenhead North depot on Sunday April 6th. Amongst the twelve diesel locomotives featured was 25907, 26027 & 33026. Services from Stanlow continued to see paired Class 25's, the Leeds tankers had 25034 & 25190 and 25201 & 25202 on April 18th.
On April 25th 31468 brought the Willesden breakdown vans to Sudbury Yard in order to re-rail visitor 25205. This incident is presumed to have brought about its demise in May.
During April repairs to the half mile-long Barmouth Bridge were completed, allowing for the return of locomotive hauled trains across the bridge, which was celebrated by a special from Euston to Barmouth, with Class 37s 37426 & 37427 operating between Wolverhampton and Barmouth. The bridge had been closed to all traffic between October 1980 & May 1981 after which diesel multiple units were reintroduced on the local services. The GBP1.8 million in repairs sought to remove the shipworm Teredo Norvegica from those of the 113 bridge supports damaged by the shipworm.
An unusual working for 25191 on May 12th was to haul a broad gauge replica of 'Iron Duke' from Tyseley to Didcot.
Covering for an unavailable Class 31/4 on May 15th was 25279 on the 11.22 Sheffield - Liverpool and 14.45 return to Hull.
Margam was host to 25321 on May 25th after working the Partington - Briton Ferry tanks.
During May transfers of Class 31's from Cricklewood & Bescot to Kingmoor allowed the withdrawal or transfer to Crewe of the remaining Class 25's, with the exception of the Class 25/9's. Also withdrawn at this time was 25042, the last active vacuum braked Class 25, being withdrawn without any faults.
The 09.38 Swansea - Shrewsbury was noted at Craven Arms on May 24th with 25268 hauling dmu set C802.
It was obvious that the Class 25s had a very bleak future, which automatically made them a popular choice for the enthusiast railtour market. May 25 saw F & W Railtours 'Valley Explorer' (1Z26) run from Crewe to Cardiff including a number of valley freight lines. The 450 mile round trip was handled successfully by 25109 &25057. Two days later strong winds brought the overhead wires down on the WCML, with a number of services being diverted. The 09.50 Paignton - Glasgow traveled via Newcastle with the leg to Carlisle covered by 25249. Another passenger train behind a Class 25 this day was the 05.23 Hull - Liverpool with 25201 assisting an ailing 31454 from points unknown. When 304013 working a morning Liverpool - Crewe service on May 30th failed at Ditton, the nearest help was 25901 & 25911, assisting to Runcorn where the service was terminated.
June 1st saw the well attended Coalville Open Day featuring many exhibits including 25912 'Tamworth Castle' and 97201. A short passenger working for 25254 on June 3rd was on the 18.10 Edinburgh - Liverpool from Preston.
Class 25s arriving at Hereford from the north were now generally turned round here due to the diminishing number of South Wales crews trained on them. On June 4th 25176 and 25265 arrived on separate freights and were taken off, though 25265 remained in the area on permanent way workings.
A recent working bringing Class 25's to Scunthorpe was the eastbound empty coke running between Holyhead and Conoco's Humberside oil refinery. Noted on June 2nd was 25035 and later 25288 (5th). The latter machine continued its adventures on 7th assisting 40122 (D200) with a special from Bolton to Pwllheli, 25288 being added at Crewe after the Class 40 suffered a broken windscreen. Complicating the matter was the failure at Shrewsbury of 37428 on the following 07.35 Euston - Pwllheli, the second locomotive, 37426 was able to complete the journey. However for the return workings the power was switched between the excursion and the scheduled service between Pwllheli and Shrewsbury. Here the Class 37's returned to the London service and 40122/25288 to the Bolton excursion. Several days later (11th) it was the turn of 37426 to fail on the 15.40 Euston - Aberystwyth, the turn being covered by 25211, also taking up the returning working on 12th. The next day 25211 returned west, being attached to a now functioning 37426, the Class 25 being required at Machynlleth for permanent way duties. However all was not over for 25211 for it was required on 14th to rescue 37509 on the 07.25 Birmingham - Aberystwyth which had failed west of Newton. Unable to release the train brakes the train was taken to Caersws, with passengers transferred to a following service. The failed train then returned to Machynlleth for repairs.
On June 16th 25279 worked the 13.45 Manchester - Cardiff, 37255 completed the rest of the diagram. The next day 25323 appeared at Hereford with a tank train, the Class 25 was taken off here, stabled overnight and then became the station pilot the next day after the Class 08 wouldn't start.
Noted at Frodingham on June 23rd was 25254. Two days later the 16.46 Carlisle - Leeds arrived very late behind 25249 towing 31271 & 47474.
On July 4th 97201 was present at the MRT 'Diesel Spectacular' at Butterley. Time had now run out for this machine, it had recently lost its nameplates, it lacked train air brakes and the almost complete rundown of the Class 25 fleet saw it withdrawn during July. Tragically it was replaced by a piece of junk, 31298, transferred from Immingham and renumbered 97203.
July 3rd's Bridgwater - Sellafield nuclear flask train was hauled by 25034.
Whitemoor still continued to use Class 25's on their local trip freights. In July the Bury St Edmunds job used 25035 (11th) and 25059 (22nd).
The failure of the 08.17 Holyhead - Newcastle at Chester behind 45040 on July 10th was cause for 25249 to take over as far as Manchester, where 47110 substituted.
A grim duty for 25109 on July 21st was to haul withdrawn 47405/14/16 from Healey Mills (?) to Crewe Works, returning the next day with ex-MOD machine 40046 bound for Doncaster Works! On 27th 25109 worked the 12.52 Liverpool - Hull and the 19.23 return. Two days later 25265 handled the 8.45 Liverpool - Sheffield and 11.22 return.
More adventurous was the F & W 'Coastway Crusader' excursion (1Z36) on July 27, from Wolverhampton to Bognor Regis/Littlehampton, via Bristol and Westbury. The trip started behind 50050, 45128 taking over at Birmingham for the run to Bristol. Here 25181/191 took over reaching Ludgershall, via Andover where 25181 failed with oil pressure problems. The machine was partially revived but unfortunately ran back down the branch with its handbrake on. At Andover and now with bad wheel flats the unfortunate Class 25 was detached and replaced with 33011 for the run via East Putney, Tulse Hill, Wimbledon and Epsom to Littlehampton. On the return trip it had been intended to replace the Class 25/33 combination with 37046/117 at Westbury, however in an unusual move 25191 remained on the train, tucked in behind the 37's, running in this fashion back to Bristol where 45128 was waiting for the run home. With 25181 having bad wheel flats it was hauled to Eastleigh using a wheel skate on August 5. This was its last trip however as it was condemned here and would be broken up by Vic Berry on site during July 1988.
Having spent the previous day at Hereford 25265 headed south on August 3rd with a rake of permanent way equipment.
August 20th found the Ditton - Ipswich BOC tanks arriving at their destination behind 25279. This day also saw 25313 turned round at Hereford having arrived on a Carlisle - Severn Tunnel Jct freight, going back north with empty tanks for Stanlow.
On August 24th F & W ran their 100th tour, a re-run of their first trip in 1973. The 'Snowdonian II' (1Z37) starting at Paddington used 25201 & 25037 for the 296 mile round trip Wolverhampton to Pwllheli. An oil leak troubled 25201 but on board surgery kept the machine running. The next day proved to be the wettest August Bank Holiday on record with most of the country receiving at least an inch of rain, with some areas getting much more. Aber (N Wales) received over five inches, elsewhere high winds and flooding caused difficulties.
At some point during August most of the condemned locomotives at Doncaster Works were removed to Goole stabling point, included were five Class 25's. 25298 remained at Doncaster, to become the final Class 25 broken up there. The environs of Crewe Depot revealed seventeen condemned Class 25's, now temporarily with no place to go.
25034 arrived at Hereford on September 17th hauling a long rake of empties.
September would see the retirement of the first of the Class 25/9's, being 25905/909/911 from Kingmoor. With now less than thirty active Class 25 it was surprising to see four stabled at Llandudno Jct on October 4th. Four others took part in the very last Class 25 railtour, Hertfordshire Railtours 'Mersey Ratcatcher' (1Z30) of September 28, 1986. The tour started in Euston behind 25313 & 25249 running as far as Birmingham International where 86237 took over for the trip to Birmingham New Street. This odd move was created due to construction at New Street closing the west end of the station making run rounds difficult. 25313 & 25249 came back on the train heading off to Leicester, Derby, and over the Hope Valley line to Manchester and Liverpool Lime Street. Here 25904 & 25910 made the short run down to Crewe, via Chester, where the original pair took up the final run to Euston via the Trent Valley line, completing a day of 490 miles of 25 haulage. Both 25313 & 25249 would continue in service into 1987, both reached Vic Berry's during the summer of 1987, for 25249 it was the end, the more fortunate 25313 would reach preservation.
The limelight fell on 25191 on October 2, when it hauled 89001 on its first ever outing, from Crewe to Derby Research Dept.
With 40046 recently moved from the MOD at Moreton on Lugg, a replacement machine was required for their exercises. This arrived in the shape of 47403 on October 13th, the locomotive brought from Bescot to Hereford two days earlier by 25199.
25037 was called upon to assist the 18.52 Carlisle - Sunderland dmu on October 13th. The service was terminated at Newcastle, the dmu was taken to Heaton, the Class 25 returning light to Carlisle.
The Peak Forest - Northwich ICI trains were now in the hands of single Class 47's or pairs of Class 37's. However on October 16th a set of empties arrived at Peak Forest behind 47378 & 25279, both locomotives were working.
The successful use of the Class 37/4's on the Scottish Region had seen the raison d'etre for the 'ETHEL's disappear. However the growing proliferation of steam specials on and run by BR brought further use for the ETHELs, with their ability to provide power/heating for rolling stock, none of the steam locomotives being able to supply such to the coaches. Thus it was no surprise to find 97252 heading south from Eastfield on September 25th to Carlisle then on October 22nd in a Carlisle - Dover freight, being detached at Willesden for transfer to Marylebone, arriving there on 24th.
October 24th's local Whitemoor - Bury St Edmunds freight was powered by 25109. Two days later the afternoon Manchester - Bristol parcels was hauled by 25176. The last week of October saw a number of Over & Wharton - Reading salt specials in the hands of pairs of Class 25/9's, most frequently noted were 25901 & 25912 on 23rd, 28th & 30th. At month end 25201 was noted running through Huddersfield with a rake of coaches, later that day it was noted in charge of the 15.02 Manchester - Bristol parcels.
During October 1986 Vic Berry's became the proud owner of much of BR's scrap locomotive fleet. For the time being they continued breaking up the remaining hulks at Swindon Works, with some asbestos contaminated cabs transported by road to be dealt with at their Leicester facility. But as a sign to come October 22nd & 23rd saw the movement of six Class 45's from Derby Works to Vic Berry's yard at Leicester, closely followed a week later by the arrival of the locomotives, including five Class 25's, briefly stored at Goole. Thus began the movement of much of BR's retired fleet of locomotives & rolling stock to a soon to be famous yard at Leicester. After arrival at Berry's it was the big Type 4's that were first to be cut.
The southbound Gulf Oil tanks were still bringing Class 25's into Hereford, where they were changed for Class 37's, so noted on October 28 was 25059 and November 4th with 25278. On November 15th 25109 was noted running light at Brigg attached to three other locomotives.
Now a long way from its normal haunts 25323 was noted on a works train at Fairlie, no doubt part of the Ayrshire electrification project.
On December 5th 25201 was turned out to work the 10.30 Birmingham - Norwich, but was replaced at March by 37209, the East Anglian depots no longer having traction knowledge on the Class 25's. A visit to Llandudno Jct on 6th found 31176 present for driver training, with three of the 'old guard' present, 25191, 25213 & 25903.
Similar to the salt working to Reading another working ran consistently in December to Deanside (ScR), the six remaining Class 25/9's being frequent performers on this service.
December saw 25034 retired, the elder statesman becoming 25035, which would survive until the end, and then into preservation. As 1986 came to a close there were still twenty six Class 25's in service whilst about ninety withdrawn machines awaited scrapping.