As 1987 began the future held little hope for the Class 25s. It had been six years since classified repairs ceased and almost two years since any had seen Works attention. The start made by Vic Berry’s in late 1986 of clearing the Works and depots of withdrawn machines would continue with a vengeance. On January 9th Crewe sent four machines, 25064, 25198, 25224/269, (the first of many convoys of Class 25’s) direct to Vic Berry’s yard at Leicester for breaking, all told ten Class 25’s would be received there in January including 25200 from Derby Works.
On January 10th Machynlleth was host to 25109 & 25191, no doubt for permanent way work.
The first Class 25/1s had been delivered into the closing days of the extreme winter of 1962/63, and now as the final members eked out there few remaining days they again endured a severe cold spell that gripped most of the country from January 12th onwards. Whilst obviously not as prolonged as that earlier infamous winter, it still packed severe conditions into the middle of January, the 12th was for many places the coldest day of the century. Snow started falling on 12th causing widespread disruption to much of the country, especially in the east & south east. Out of Liverpool Street the electric services suffered, that first day nothing operated out of Southend Victoria, whilst major stock dislocation saw some surprising workings. Travelers to Cambridge utilised a parcels DMU on a mail service (14th) whilst a late afternoon service on 17th could muster nothing more than a Class 31 and three coaches.
Out of Kings Cross the HST services to the north were in a shambles by the evening of 12th. Northbound services were taking twice as long as normal to reach their destinations, the 12th’s 14.00 Aberdeen to Kings Cross reached London at 4am on 13th! Problems were experienced with door failures on the Class 317 EMU’s whilst the Hitchin area DMU’s were sent to Cambridge to support the few services running there. Tyseley based DMU’s in the Peterborough area were filling in on many local services. On 14th it was necessary to run the large snowploughs over the ECML south of Grantham to clear the drifting snow whipped up by the strong easterly winds.
In the Leeds area the low temperatures reduced the operating Class 141 DMU’s to just one example. Further north the Pacer units in the Teeside area faired little better, at both locations the first generation DMU’s filled in as best they could, though they themselves suffered considerably from the severe weather.
In the Coventry area services on 13th/14th were severely curtailed due to the continuing heavy snowfall, frequently with large gaps. By the 14th services on the southern end of the WCML were almost completely stopped due to heavy snow and high winds. Again ice in the tunnels required removal before services could resume.
The Far North escaped much of the severe weather, it being left for the Glasgow & Edinburgh area to bear the heavier weather north of the border. Snow fell from 12th – 14th, the E&G services running smoothly apart from occasional delays caused by point failures and the like.
It was perhaps on the Central and Eastern Divisions of the SR where the weather caused the most difficulty, with the severe freezing and drifting snow disrupting services on the Central Division during the afternoon of 13th. The following day East Croydon was isolated with no trains north of Gatwick on the Brighton lines. Even the Class 33 powered Newhaven – Manchester service was terminated at Gatwick, having taken over four hours to get this far. By 15th a basic service was running over most lines, although stock disruption saw some odd workings. The Uckfield line had been blocked on 15th by DEMU 207018 stuck in ten foot drifts at Edenbridge, 205002 sent to rescue it became derailed, being rescued on 16th and taken back to Norwod Jct the next day. 33019 and a snowplough eventually cleared the line to Uckfield, though drifting snow required further runs to keep the line clear prior to start up of the regular service on Monday 19th.
In Kent the heavy snow started falling on the 11th, by the afternoon services were seriously disrupted, with many lines blocked either by snow or stalled trains. Trains that were able to run were reported as running as much as four to six hours late and were following no particular timetable. By 15th services were operating over the Charing Cross – Tonbridge – Ashford route and along the coast route to the Medway towns using EMUs supported by nineteen diesel locomotives including 56001/056 & 56062! On the Tonbridge – Hasting line the electric service was abandoned, with DMU’s coming to the rescue, including former Hasting’s unit 1011. Elsewhere the picture was still grim with many lines closed, a locomotive and snowplough were reported stuck at Lenham, the crew requiring rescue by helicopter. By 18th the locomotive assistance was no longer required due to an easing of conditions, though many units had been sidelined with many traction motors damaged. Recently commandeered from the Scottish Region was a Beilhack snow blower visiting the worst affected lines on 17th & 18th powered by 33048 & 33058.
On a snowy, frosty January 16th the 1M36 19.35 Bristol - Derby mails was hauled by 45149, it carried the headboard '1M36 Midland TPO last run through Worcester'.
Derby Works finally lost its connection with the Type 2’s (after almost 30 years) when 25200 was towed away, with other locomotives to Vic Berry’s on the morning of January 19th. On this date sister 25199 was busy on a freight to Aberystwyth, though time was now running out for this machine as it would be withdrawn by month end. The following day 25902 attended to a derailment near Dee Marsh Yard with the Crewe breakdown crane, which in the course of the recovery itself became derailed.
A by now rare visitor to the ECML on January 24th was 25323 hauling 47118 northbound through Newark.
January 27th’s 07.22 Aberystwyth – Shrewsbury service was in the hands of 25213 after the booked locomotive, 37430 was declared a failure after arrival at Aberystwyth the previous day. Also in action this day was 25313 which rescued ex-works 37895 on the 15.16 Llandudno – York, after the latter failed at Chester.
In Scotland Vic Berry’s established a small site at Thornton Jct for breaking up the withdrawn Scottish area locomotives. A number of Classes 25/26/27 were moved here including, late in January 25028 & 25318 from Glasgow Works. Unfortunately after the discovery of asbestos in some locomotives it was decided to remove the remaining machines to Leicester for processing.
Memories of better times were evoked following the sale of a very forlorn 44008 to the North Notts Locomotive Group. The rescue of 44008 from Aviemore to Toton was by rail and the portion from Carlisle to Bescot was handled by Class 25’s. February 11th saw 25901 leave Carlisle, using the Cumbrian coast line, reaching Crewe, where 25288 took over and ran to Bescot the next day. From Bescot to Toton 31449 handled the job. 25910 came to the rescue of 47540 at Colwyn Bay on February 17th after the latter failed on a Holyhead – Stratford freightliner, both were replaced at Rhyl by 47140. The new again interacted with the old as 25912 took 89001 on February 27 from Crewe back to the RTC at Derby for further tests. This day also saw 25323 on a short parcels train in the Coventry area and 25057 & 25191 were in charge of a Ravenhead Jct – Oakamole sand empties.
On March 9th 25051 was moved from Carlisle, via Crewe & Bescot to Vic Berry’s Leicester for scrapping, however its bogies were to be returned to BR for reuse under Marylebone based 97252. The next day 25278 worked a Sellafield – Bridgwater nuclear flask train, taking up the return working on 11th.
It had been expected that the Class 25’s would run until April 1987 but a memo from the BRB to the LMR on March 12, 1987 advised the remaining fifteen members should be retired four days later. In actuality Sunday March 15, 1987 was the official ‘turn off’ date for the last active members: 25035/57/59, 25173/191, 25213/265/278/279, 25313, 25901/03/04/10/12. The last passenger workings had occurred prior to the official withdrawal date. On Friday March 13th, 25313 rescued 47532 at Manchester when it failed working the 07.07 Newcastle - Liverpool service, taking the service to its destination. It would be left to 25035 on the following day to handle the last passenger trip. Again the train locomotive, recently outshopped 47424, failed on the 1V05 07.09 Holyhead - Cardiff service at Chester. 25035 took the service to Crewe where both machines were replaced. Also running this day was 97251 Ethel 2 supporting 6201 over the Settle & Carlisle, heavy work being made of the run to Leeds. Further south at Swindon Works the scrapping of 25157 during the week of 13th became the last main line locomotive broken up here, all remaining locomotives were to be removed to Vic Berry’s, Leicester for processing, there being twenty one Class 25’s and two Class 40’s left.
On that last Sunday the machines were scattered throughout the North West. In Scotland were 25059 & 25213, around Crewe on permanent way duties were 25035/191/278/910. Likewise 25173/279/901/03/04 were on similar duties at Bolton le Sands and 25313/912 at Prescott near St. Helens. First withdrawn were 25035/57 at Crewe on the Sunday, 25901 would be next, at Carlisle early on Monday 16th. That same day 25035/57 were moved to Basford Hall Yard with 25265 between them. This machine had been standing in for the Class 08 shunter at Holyhead, it moved to Crewe on 15th, but was not withdrawn until Wednesday 18th.
Eleven of the class would now operate after the official withdrawal date. Monday found 25059 at Millerhill, then Carnforth and Crewe (17th), Buxton (18th) where it would be withdrawn (20th). Tuesday would claim only one machine, 25278 which ran out of ‘A’ exam hours after working 8L76 Bescot - Crewe Basford Hall freight of 16th. Wednesday added six victims, 25191/265/279/313/903/910. The previous Sunday 25191 had worked an overhead line train between Kidsgrove and Longport, Monday it hauled a Llandudno Jcn - Crewe Gresty Green p.w. train. After its weekend end activities around Carnforth and Lancaster 25279 had been in store at Wigan, Springs Branch, it moved to Crewe during the early hours of 18th. In contrast 25313 had been active handling 4F14 Broad Green - Edge Hill and 4J15 Edge Hill - Red Bank vans (both 16th), the following two mornings it was noted at Preston on 05.26 Barrow in Furness - Red Bank empty, a subsequent move to Crewe saw it condemned. During the weekend 25903/904 had been coupled together, however by Monday 25903 was alone handling 1P20 02.30 Crewe - Barrow in Furness, from Preston, with one parcels van. Following this working it ran to Kingmoor. After handling a local trip working 25910 returned to Crewe, but its proximity to an exam saw it removed from service immediately. Thursday would see two more condemned, 25173 & 25213. After its excursions into SW Scotland the previous weekend, 25213 had been idle at Carlisle. However 25173 had been busy in the Manchester/North Wales area. It worked the 3J04 05.08 Bangor - Red Bank parcels (18th) formed of Red Star liveried four wheel CCT vans, whilst it later handled 6Z40 07.30 Glazebrook - Parkeston Quay tanks as far as Crewe. Here it was withdrawn and moved to Gresty Lane for storage with six other Class 25’s, that had spent the winter there.
By Wednesday 20th only 25904 & 25912 remained active. 25904 had worked the 7V52 17.12 Sellafield - Bridgwater as far as Gloucester (17th), the 9G12 Crewe Basford Hall - Bescot (18th). Noted at Manchester Victoria (19th) before running light to Wigan for 6L58 Wigan - Castleton CWR depot with eleven empty YEA wagons. It returned to Manchester before being sent to Crewe on evening of 20th. However the next day it reached Chester to handle Sunday ballast work at Connah’s Quay, withdrawal would come early on Monday 23rd. The 21st saw a newly repainted 97252 Ethel 3, in InterCity livery supporting 4472 on a Marylebone – Sheffield and return excursion. 25912 would become the last Class 25 officially withdrawn, having spent its last week based at Warrington, often on Trip 68 to such places as Oakleigh, Ditton and Ellesmere Port. Its last working was the 8K12 08.40 Bescot - Crewe Basford Hall, withdrawn after this working at Crewe Diesel Depot, soon migrating to Basford Hall, where by April 1st, twenty six members had congregated. However the Class 25’s would still not lie down as 25059 was restarted at Buxton on the evening of March 24 to haul damaged 47089 & 37689 to Crewe Works for attention! Ironically it was a similar March day nineteen years earlier that had seen steam vacate Buxton shed forever, now one of the diesel classes which had made that possible was itself being superseded. And as the month drew to a close 25901 was reported working at Carlisle on light duties including the Longtown trip.
March 29th marked the last time a pair of diagrammed Class 45s would work a passenger service, the Sundays 12.15 Derby - St Pancras being hauled by 45127 & 45134. It was doubled headed on April 5th & April 12th but by a 45/47 & 47/31 combination respectively. The remaining fours Sundays saw the service worked by a single locomotive. And from May 11th the Class 45s were no longer diagrammed for the Midland Mainline services.
During the second week of April 25908 was moved from Springs Branch to Toton for use as a training vehicle. After this move 25912 was selected for use as a staff training vehicle at Holbeck, its move commencing on April 15th from Crewe via Bescot, Toton and Tinsley to Leeds Holbeck, finally arriving on May 6th.
97251 Ethel 2 was at Carlisle on April 19th.
On April 29th the movement of 25046 & 25160 from Polmadie to Thornton Jct brought all the Class 25’s remaining on the Scottish Region to one location.
Sunday May 10th marked the last day of official Class 45 haulage of passenger trains from St Pancras. It was left to 45137 to take out the 1P20 16.20 St Pancras - Nottingham, the locomotive carrying headboards recognising the occasion. However the next day (11th) 45128 did work the 17.30 St Pancras - Derby!
D200/40122 worked an officer’s special from Carlisle to Skipton and return on May 12th with 97251 Ethel 2 attached for heating purposes.
On May 26th eleven locomotives (including nine Class 25’s) were tripped from Swindon Works to Cocklebury Yard for onward movement to Vic Berry’s, the entire batch leaving on June 2nd behind 20019 & 20197. The Works was finally cleared on June 3rd when the remaining twelve locomotives, all Class 25’s were again tripped to Cocklebury Yard, from here they were forwarded to Vic Berry’s in three batches from June 3rd to 8th. After all these moves Swindon Works was left with just one occupant, D1015.
The discovery of asbestos in some of the locomotives at Thornton Jct curtailed scrapping here, all remaining were gradually shipped off to Vic Berry’s Leicester Yard. On June 11th it was left for 25046 & 25160 to be the last Class 25’s on the Scottish Region, on this day they journeyed south from Mossend to Carlisle.
On June 19th 25202 began a trip from Toton, via March to Stratford for brake rigging tests, finally arriving on July 1st. By the end of July 25202 journeyed north, spending six weeks at Peterborough before moving on to March on September 10th.
With the rapid build up of scrap locomotives (and other stock) arriving at Leicester the lack of space within Berry’s yard caused problems, with much stock held at Humberstone Road. Vic Berry’s solution to this was to create a stack of stock within his yard, so easing space difficulties. The infamous stack of Classes 25 & 27 is believed to have begun during the middle weeks of July. During this period it seemed that a ‘first in – last out’ policy applied to the scrapping of locomotives, with the stack in place the most recent arrivals were quickly dealt with, in this case the Class 27’s arriving from Scotland.
And during September a number of departures reflected a brighter future for the chosen machines. First to leave was 25244 on September 23rd, destined for the Swanage Railway. Its journey was notable, being hauled by 97201 (with 97403 & D4) en route to the Basingstoke Railshow (26th & 27th). However at Banbury 25244’s battery box cover hit the platform edge, the Class 25 was removed from the consist, going forward after inspection later that afternoon. Two days later (25th) 25173 left for a rendezvous with Crewe Works for repair prior to delivery to the Dean Forest Railway.
To be continued.