year 1981

Page updated October 2018

The New Year got of to a stormy start with heavy rain and snow affecting the west of Scotland, with much flooding in Ayrshire and landslips on the West Highland closing the line between Taynuilt and Dalmally from January 2nd to 4th.

Improvements to the Class 25 hauled Cardiff - Crewe passenger service were expected soon, 33031 had been at Crewe since January 17th for driver training, whilst Cardiff had received 33024 and 33112 (19th) also for training, being used on round trip workings as far as Hereford. Operationally this would become an extension of the Portsmouth - Cardiff service. Two regular Class 25s on this route were withdrawn recently, 25055 & 25063. Although the West Country was now without an allocation of Class 25ís they were still frequent visitors, 25266 & 25318 were noted on January 29th in charge of the loaded Ellesmere Port - Riverside tar tanks and the afternoon return empties. Two days earlier 25266 was in charge of a nuclear flask train from Whitemoor to Parkeston. January 19th found 25315 in trouble on the northbound Fletliner, suffering a seized traction motor at Wellingborough. Assistance arrived in the shape of 47149, replacing the defective 25 and sister 25326.

During the last week of January 25182 was well traveled, being in charge of the 08.25 Bridgwater - Baglan Bay on 22nd and handling a Tyneside - Kings Norton empty car special on 28th.

February brought a number of fleet moves that affected the Type 2ís. Ten boiler equipped ER Class 37ís were moved to Eastfield to replace the Class 27ís on the Oban/Fort William/Mallaig services, allowing cascading of the Class 27ís to other duties. Ten Class 25 were then transferred, five to the LMR and five to Haymarket, and following from this thirteen Class 25ís were withdrawn.

February 7thís 18.01 St Pancras - Leeds became a failure at Bedford behind 45121, rescue coming in the shape of 25060, but with the train now almost an hour late. At Sileby the Type 2 became a total failure, 45037 arrived from Leicester and pushed the train to Nottingham where all three machines were replaced by 45140, by this time well over two hours late. Two days later a returning Edinburgh - Treherbert Rugby Intíl special reached Preston behind 26010 & 26024, having been routed by the Settle & Carlisle line, the Class 26ís quickly returning north.

When the 21.24 Coatbridge - Felixstowe failed at Peterborough on February 12th behind a Class 47 the only available power was 25268 which took the train to March where 37171 was added, the Type 2 being removed at Ipswich, returning west light engine. Also in the March area, the Mountsorrel - Kennett stone trains were frequently double headed, so noted were 25283 & 25298 (Jan 29th), 25301 & 25278 (Feb 10th & 12th), pairs of Class 31ís were also noted on this train. 31255 & 31273 working a southbound stone train on February 25th replaced 25133 & 25324 on the northbound Fletliner at Wellingborough, the stone train continued south behind 46047, one presumes there was a problem with the Class 25ís. That same day the 07.22 Plymouth - Edinburgh arrived at Birmingham behind 25297, whilst on the last day of February 25081 reached Bristol with the 12.23 service from Manchester.

After Februaryís considerable fleet activity there were no withdrawals in March and just two transfers for the Class 25s. Scotland was finally cleared of the last of the Class 25/0ís during the first week of March when 25002/005 made the long trek from Eastfield to Swindon Works.

On March 2nd the 07.10 Marylebone - Aylesbury dmu suffered a serious fire in one vehicle just south of Rickmansworth. The heavily damaged vehicle was eventually shunted into the south sidings at Rickmansworth, which led to an unusual working to effect its recovery. The next day Bletchley sent out 25194 and brake van to Watford (Met), running round here since this can no longer be done at Ricksmanworth. Unfortunately one set of points on the loop would not operate so the working was abandoned for the day. The following morning the maneuver was successfully carried out using 25243, this being the first working of a BR locomotive over the Watford branch since the mid 1960ís.

A Liverpool - York special hauled by 850 ĎLord Nelsoní required the assistance of 25177 on Miles Platting bank on March 11th, whilst a lengthy Garston - Severn Tunnel Jct freight became a partial failure near Woofferton the same day. The closest sidings could not accommodate the long train so 25124 & 25162 soldiered on to Hereford before being sidelined. Two days later 25162 came to the rescue of 25027 on the 07.50 Cardiff - Crewe, trouble was initially encountered at Craven Arms, the train engine finally becoming a total loss at Shrewsbury , where 25162 took over. The next day a Bewdley - Paddington special was in the hands of 25067 & 25075 throughout. Also on 14th 25089 handled the Humberstone Rd - Parkeston acid tanks.

In the early hours of April 8th a train of ammonia tanks partially derailed west of Hadfield station, with the ninth tank hitting the platform and becoming derailed. Two breakdown trains attended, 37128 from Tinsley and 25177 from Longsight (?), whilst 47214 arrived with empty tanks to transfer ammonia from the damaged vehicles.

On the evening of April 11th the Brixton riots led to the stopping of trains running into Victoria Eastern station. Many services were diverted into Charing Cross, with severe disruption to the late evening services, the suburban services being affected the most.

A Manchester - Tenby day excursion was worked roundtrip from Birmingham New Street, Class 45s being quite rare at Tenby.

April 20th, Easter Monday saw 25081 & 25066 handling a Melton Mowbray - Southport mystery excursion. April 25th found 81017 on fire at Canley Halt working a 07.56 Coventry - York special. 25084 arrived from Coventry to propel the train to Birmingham International where 86237 took over.

Heavy snows especially in the south and west created operating difficulties on April 25/26th. Services operating into Paddington were particularly affected.

No withdrawals occurred in April but two machines were stored unserviceable, 25246 & 25305, additionally five others were transferred between LMR depots. May brought seven more withdrawals, two from the Scottish Region, the remainder from various LMR depots, whilst nine Class 25 were transferred, all within the LMR with seven moving from Toton. BRís total May transfers covered almost one hundred machines, mostly reflecting a realignment of the Eastern Region fleet following the retirement of about thirty machines. The ranks of withdrawn locomotives at Swindon now numbered almost one hundred and forty with thirty five of these being Class 25s, a number that would not change much for the remainder of 1981. However the sequence of breaking up individual machines was most random, some like 25002/05 were disposed of very quickly, others lingered for many months.

A flow of coal from Orgreave colliery to Westerhill siding (Cadder Yard) has seen trains of 38 hopper wagons hauled by Classes 45 & 46 locomotives. The coal was destined for Ravenscraig steelworks, using road transport for the last leg, but with future plans to provide facilities at Mossend to handle the train.

On May 2nd a Worthing - Bridgnorth/Bewdley charter reached Birmingham New Street behind 33056, going forward with 25058 & 25214. Two days later the Vale of Rheidol held an open house at Aberystwyth, all three steam locomotives being in steam. 25042 & 25220 arrived on a special from Longbridge and 25071 & 25080 from Manchester. A special to York the next day was in the hands of 25033 & 25035. To the north at Barmouth, the bridge finally reopened on May 22nd, but only for diesel multiple units, with the 09.42 from Shrewsbury being the first service across the bridge. The multiple units carried a special headboard and were greeted by the mayor and the town band. Despire the re-opening of the bridge controversy continued with a shortfall of GBP1.2 million still to be found to cover the balance of the repair costs. Additionally locomotives were still banned from using the bridge, requiring the local gunpowder traffic to continue using road transport.

The 07.00 Queen St - Edinburgh failed near Winchburgh tunnel on May 7th behind 27016, close by was 25231 on a Bathgate - Millerhill freight, this was left in the loop at Newbridge, taking the passenger on to Edinburgh almost an hour late. This was obviously a bad day for the region, 47109 on the 21.25 Inverness - Kensington motorail could not release its brakes at Perth, eventually 37081 took the service forward to Mossend. The 14.48 Inverness - Glasgow failed at Stirling behind 47040, the service being cancelled here, 37117 arrived from Grangemouth to take the empty coaching stock to Cowlairs. And to end the day the 18.20 Fort William - Glasgow expired two miles north of Rannoch behind 37012. The second man walked to Rannoch where 27042 on the 16.35 Glasgow - Fort William was waiting. 27042 was detached and brought the failed train into Rannoch placing the dead Class 37 behind the northbound train. To the distress of the northbound passengers 27042 resumed its business on the southbound working, making tough going with the heavy train and greasy rail at several points. The fate of the northbound train is not recorded, 27042 was noted the next day at Oban with mechanical difficulties.

On May 12th 85022, running light at Speke Junction, collided with 25316 & 25313 working the 00.19 Garston - Forders brickliner. 25316 sustained damage and moved to Derby Works two days later. A little off the beaten track on May 14th found 25214 at Wakefield with a weed killing train.

May 16th saw a veritable feast of Class 25s in passenger service in the Birmingham area. 25073 & 25134 worked an Old Hill - York special, 25033 & 25314 took over from 46023 on a working from Skipton to Kidderminster (for the SVR), whilst 45013 gave way to 25056 & 25130 on a special from Newcastle to Kidderminster, also for the SVR. The 15.57 Aberdeen - Carstairs postal used 25072 on May 18th, there appeared to be no consistency for this trainís haulage, with Classes 26 & 40 frequently being used.

The start of the summer timetable on May 23rd found a change to an old favourite, the Walsall - Yarmouth service now started from Birmingham New Street, with a Class 47 diagrammed for this working. Two days later a Leicester - Llandudno Bank Holiday excursion utilized 25066 & 25050. Additionally the 19.03 Nottingham - St Pancras was booked on summer Saturdays for a pair of Class 45/1s.

The last day of May witnessed an Open Day at Coalville, about twenty locomotives were on display, including 25318. This day was also officially the last day for the Class 25s on the Crewe - Cardiff workings. The Southern Region were intending to release Class 33s from discontinued van traffic workings to take over from the Class 25s, however a strike on the SR and continued operation of the van traffic permitted some Class 25s to remain on these workings until June 4th. Throughout the last week 25042/60/66, 25219/220/245 handled the diagrams although by midweek 25220 was replaced by 47099. On June 1st 25060 was replaced by 33022 on the 16.02 Crewe - Cardiff with others gradually taking over. The final Class 25 workings were on June 4th, 25245 on the 17.10 Cardiff - Crewe and 25060 on 16.02 Crewe - Cardiff, the latter failing at Hereford, passengers being rescued by a diesel multiple unit off a terminating Birmingham service. Other workings, including the 20.00 Cardiff - Crewe postal previously powered by Classes 45 & 46s reverted to Class 47 from June 1st.

Juneís fleet changes were minor, three Class 25s withdrawn, including Cardiff - Crewe stalwart 25066, with only one transfer recorded. Swindon was receiving condemned Class 25s from far distant places, 25065 & 25246 arrived from Kingmoor on June 25th and 25241 from Polmadie on July 6th!

The 08.40 Glasgow - Carlisle and 12.40 return (both over the GSW route) frequently used Class 25ís from various depots, examples noted in June were 25027 (LO), 25033 (HA), & 25141 (CW).

Two Mk1 barrier vehicles and Class 317 emu trailer M71577 ran north through Chesterfield on June 1st behind 25105.

25217 was noted at Wakefield with the Healey Mills breakdown train on June 12th.

A mystery excursion from ? arrived at Leicester on June 16th with 25051 & 25182, from the Birmingham direction.

June 27th saw a Blythe Bridge - Llandudno extra arrive behind 25206 & 25141. The next day found 25209 in charge of the 13.40 Euston - Shrewsbury from Wolverhampton following the failure of the booked locomotive, 47463. A little further north a West Ruislip - Blaneau Ffestiniog excursion reached its destination behind 25143 & 40115.

Fleet wise the summer (July/August) proved quiet, there being few transfers and just two withdrawals for the Class 25s. Again the Eastern Region continued withdrawals of Classes 08/20/40 with the consequent reshuffling of other power. At the beginning of August Swindon contained thirty nine Class 25s whilst Derby Works finally broke up the remains of 25295 which had been withdrawn back in June 1978, the honour of being the longest withdrawn now passed to 25092, retired in May 1980 and also at Derby. Crew training runs had commenced using HSTs prior to their introduction over the NE - SW route in October. July witnessed the final closure of the Woodhead route and the retirement of the fleet of Class 76s, this would also signal the imminent closure of Reddish depot, a location where Class 25s could always be found. The merry-go-round coal trains previously handled by the Class 76s were taken over by Class 56s and to a lesser extent Classes 37 & 47.

The Stanlow - Heysham Harbour oil tanks was in the hands of 25050 & 25213 on July 13th whilst the Preston Division inspection saloon visited Heysham on July 22nd behind 25219. On July 20th 25035 towed fire damaged 45052 from Bromsgrove to Tyseley, the Peak having caught fire two days earlier on a Leeds - Paignton working, Tyseley repaired the fire damage and provided 45052 with an 'E' exam, returning to service during September. On July 23rd Derby turned out 25177 & 25158 to work the 10.05 service to St Pancras, both were replaced at Bedford by a Peak after 25158 failed. Further west TDB968009 (24142) was noted at Cardiff July 25th, having recently arrived from Reading.

Class 25s continued to be frequent visitors in the Bristol area, parcels workings being frequently handled, the 15.04 from Manchester had 25157 on July 14th, whilst the 12.10 Penzance - Glasgow left behind 25062 on August 10th and 25085 on August 11th. On 15th the Manchester parcels arrived behind 25309. Another working frequented by the Type 2ís was the Ince - Bridgwater UKF, the empties returning behind 25175 on August 4th.

The end of July saw a number of excursions reaching Aberystwyth, July 26th 25164 & 25130 arrived with day trippers from Gloucester, 25254 & 25278 from Lincoln, both specials having used Class 47ís as far as Wolverhampton. On 29th a trip from Derby used 25056 & 25270 interestingly being exchanged at Wolverhampton with 25149 & 25175! On the Crewe - Cardiff run the Class 33ís continued to dominate the workings with few substitutions, 25058 was noted on July 25thís 16.02 Crewe - Cardiff and 25221 on 27thís 17.10 Cardiff - Crewe.

On the last day of July the Fridayís only Reading - York was extended to Newcastle and was worked by 25268 & 25285, they returned the next day on a Newcastle - Poole relief.

On August 5th the 15.32 Norwich - Birmingham suffered problems with 31260 at Nuneaton, for the last leg of the run 25224 was added to assist the Class 31. This summer had seen more Class 25s than normal deputising on this cross country service. Heading east with empty coaching stock from Tyseley to Parkeston was 25323 on August 6th. Another unusual, but scheduled, double header was the 03.54 Ditton - Broughton Lane, Sheffield BOC tanks, frequently noted behind a Class 25 & 40. On July 21st this train featured 25060 & 40197, August 11th 25199 & 40118, August 20th 25321 & 40171, also returning with the 15.20 return empties.

The arrival at Banbury of a partially failed 47053 in charge of August 15thís 07.40 Newcastle - Poole relief sent 25285 on an adventure to the SR, assisting to Eastleigh, where both were replaced by 33109. On August 17th an excursion from Banbury to Aberystwyth used 25242 & 25268 throughout. The 22nd saw 25144 bring the 07.50 Leeds - Weymouth into Birmingham, going forward behind 47369.

73109 reached Banbury on September 15th with a special Eastleigh - Warrington freight, 25284 & 25285 took the freight northward. The next day 25178 was in charge of the 16.18 Plymouth - Birmingham from Gloucester. A Bolton - Bewdley excursion went forward from Birmingham New Street on September 27th behind 25131 & 25139. The end of the summer brought a shortage of electric locomotives on the WCML, leading to a greater use of diesel locomotives under the wires, with many Class 25ís and a number of Class 40ís filling in. On September 18th 25248 assisted the dmu working the 15.50 Banbury - Marylebone, a week later the Bletchley - Bedford branch found 25058 towing a dmu on the 09.10 service to Bedford and 10.00 return. On October 5th a similar occurrence took place on the 18.10 to Bedford & 19.00 return using 25279, however on the return working the wheels on the dmu ran hot, a bus service filling in for the rest of the evening.

As summer closed out withdrawal and transfer activity was minimal, with only two Class 25ís withdrawn in September. After a gap of some considerable time Glasgow received a Class 25 for minor repairs, 25076 arrived at the beginning of October for attention to the power unit. Few 25ís would leave Swindon in one piece but on October 13th 25216 did, though its destination was only Derby Works!

New freight contracts out of Heysham brought a considerable influx of Class 25ís to the area, working the South Leith - Heysham coated gas pipes and return empties. The first train ran on September 29th behind 25262 & 25285, with the contract expected to last into the New Year (1982). During October 25201 & 25207 were regular performers on this working, by November the occasional Class 47 had been seen, including a Class 47/25 combination on November 11/12th. Also originating from Heysham were a series of Ďout of gaugeí loads - concrete beams destined for the Tyne & Wear Metro, 25266 handled the second shipment on October 20th. Elsewhere the traffic flows were not as demanding, on a short term basis Toton stored about sixteen of its Class 20ís in early October.

A new working beginning in September also involving Class 25 haulage was the Manchester Dean Lane - Appley Bridge rubbish train. Brightly coloured orange and white containers transferred rubbish from the greater Manchester area to the quarry near Appley Bridge, the service running seven days a week.

On October 4th the facilities for servicing locomotives and rolling stock at Newton Abbot were closed. The shunting duties were split between Bristol Bath Road and Laira. Additionally during October the maintenance facility at Wellingborough closed, now reduced to a signing on point.

From October 5th two NE/SW diagrams were taken over by new HST sets, the Plymouth - Edinburgh being one of these. A heavily loaded 15.02 Bristol - Manchester parcels on October 9th used 25177 & 25179, whilst the next evening a Coventry - Edinburgh excursion used 27032 & 25060 on the return Edinburgh - Carstairs leg of the tour. Also on October 9th 45066 was noted on an evening Manchester Victoria - Blackpool North passenger service. Millerhill finally said farewell to dumped 25028/46/82, the trio moving to Mossend with 25028/46 going forward to Polmadie and 25082 reaching Kingmoor by early November.

The 03.47 Willesden - Bescot freight running behind 25193 & 25058 became partially derailed at Bletchley on October 23rd. A burned off journal caused most of the train to derail, only the locomotives and some hundred ton oil tankers remained on the rails. Emuís 087 & 092 standing in the station sustained minor damage, luckily the fast lines remained open, though it would take three days to clear and repair the slow lines.

On October 29th 25243 worked the 14.23 Manchester - Cardiff forward from Birmingham N.S., returning north on the 20.00 Cardiff - Crewe! The November reallocations saw a dozen Class 25ís shuffled between LMR depots.

During early November it was announced that the APT would enter passenger service from December 7th. Two train sets were being created, initially each with one power car and eight coaches.

November 22nd found Coventry over-run with six Class 25s present on permanent way duties, with examples from Bescot, Crewe and Cricklewood. A shortage of locomotives in November led to at least ten Class 46s being reactivated from Swindon. For this 25116/197 were used to assist in reviving these Type 4s prior to their return to Gateshead.

December 1981 proved to be a very snowy month with the weather providing a major challenge to railway operations, regrettably leading to tragedy. Although mild at the beginning and end it would prove to be the coldest December to date in the 20th Century. Shawbury (Salop) had minimums of -23C and -25C over the nights December 11th - 13th, whilst temperatures down to -20C were widespread. The appalling weather was made worse in the south west by very high winds. The first major snowfall occurred on December 8th followed by even heavier falls on the 11th. On the latter day Euston was closed for most of the morning, further north services were cut in half with many terminating at Crewe with the consequent dislocation of stock. In the Birmingham area many dmuís deputised for services under the wires, the extreme cold affecting the pantographs and to a lesser extent the diesel fuel. Earlier that morning five lives were lost in a rear end collision of two dmuís at Seer Green, the accident being a direct result of the appalling weather encountered in the Chilterns.

In the Liverpool area severe icing brought the abandonment of the Ormskirk & Southport electric services on the afternoon of the 12th, blizzards the next day keeping the lines closed until 15th. Further east at Huddersfield heavy snow on 13th/14th saw most traffic stopped until the afternoon of 14th. At Leeds the snow was so heavy on 13th that as quickly as points were cleared they became blocked again! No heat 25140 handled a Crewe - Cardiff working on 15th.

The West Country was hit by blizzards on December 13th, a rapid thaw led to flooding in the usual places whilst the seawall near Dawlish was breached in twice on 14th. Dislocation of stock was considerable with scratch sets filling in for HSTís. South and west Wales escaped much of the harsh weather but the dislocation of services further east and north saw some unusual workings laid on to try and maintain some sort of service.

The snow and ice significantly affected workings on the Southern Region, on 8th passengers abandoned many trains in the Clapham/Vauxhall area causing the power to be shut off for four hours. This created much stock dislocation, not helped by the REP fleet suffering many failures due to the extremely cold weather. A number of lines were blocked due to the heavy snowfall bringing down trees onto the lines. On all regions the extreme cold prevented use of the carriage washing equipment leading to some very dirty trains running, especially the HSTs.

The blizzard on 14th in the Yorkshire area wiped out local services and disrupted coal traffic for several days following. More snow fell in the north on 15th leading to disorganisation of the rolling stock north of Birmingham. On December 16th the WCML was again closed when a derailment of a freightliner at Willesden Yard brought down the wires for all the lines, Paddington and St Pancras becoming the usual diversionary termini for the displaced expresses.

More wintry weather arrived on December 21st with snow and freezing conditions causing considerable difficulties in the Euston area. The renewal of the overhead line equipment at Brent did not help matters. Again the rolling stock diagrams were seriously affected with many unusual combinations being made up, and with this being Christmas week serious overcrowding occurred. Snow in the Waterloo area during the morning rush hour blocked points leading to many services terminating at Clapham Jct & Wimbledon.

On December 28th the 06.00 Glasgow Queen St - Mallaig ran into a major snow drift near Bridge of Orchy, derailing the locomotive and three coaches. An engineers trolley was used to ferry passengers back to Bridge of Orchy station, going forward from there by bus. The line was not cleared until December 30th.

December 29th found a Bewdley - Southport special starting out with 25056 & 25219 changing to 25051 & 25058 somewhere in the West Midlands. The following day a thaw set in leading to flooding in a number of familiar places. The WR main line north of Exeter being particularly badly hit.

The arrival of 37014 at Inverness for driver training on the Far North Lines continued the ominous signs for the Class 25 fleet. As the year ended just over two hundred Class 25s remained in service, with sixty awaiting breaking up at various locations.

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