The late spring and early summer saw an increase in express passenger workings along the North Warwick line though nothing on the scale of the 1950’s. Back then the former GWR locomotives hauling these trains would have had polished brasses and gleaming paintwork, but, alas, by 1965 were generally in unkempt condition and devoid of nameplates with many missing smokebox numberplates. In 1964 Castle Class 4‑6‑0’s based at Oxley and Tyseley depots would have dominated these duties but by June 1965 all had been withdrawn being replaced by BR Britannia Class 4‑6‑2’s allocated to Oxley.
Between 29th May and 12th June I took my annual leave (two weeks was all one was allowed in those days). The first week was spent at Butlins, Bognor Regis, my one and only visit to one of those establishments, with my fireman at Tyseley spotting mate ‘Chuff.’ We travelled there by rail from Birmingham (Snow Hill) – Paddington, thence from London Victoria to Bognor via Redhill, Three Bridges and Horsham with a change of trains at Littlehampton returning via the same route on 5th June – what a round robin that was!
Before I recommenced my signal box duties at Earslwood Lakes on 14th June we did a ‘three day bash’ of sheds in the north‑west, the mode of transport being ‘Chuff’s’ 650cc Triumph Bonneville m/c. Unlike previous years when we had ‘roughed it at night,’ we had the luxury of Bed & Breakfast. Depots visited were as follows:
10th June: 16E Kirkby, 41J Langwith Junction, Shirebrook Diesel Depot, 41E Staveley (Barrow Hill), 41H Staveley GC (four days away from complete closure), 41C Wath Diesel/Electric depot (this was the one and only occasion that I saw a ‘live’ steam engine at 41C in the shape of LMS 8F Class 2‑8‑0 No. 48092, from 16E Kirkby), 55D Royston, 56A Wakefield, 55F Manningham and 10G Skipton.
11th June: Hellifield MPD (preserved locos only), 12E Tebay, 12B Carlisle (Upperby), 12A Carlisle (Kingmoor), 12D Workington and 12C Barrow.
12th June: 10A Carnforth, 10J Lancaster Green Ayre and 10D Lostock Hall.
All in all we noted almost 400 steam locomotives.
14th June saw the total closure of 2L Leamington and the locos allocated there for banking duties from Stratford‑upon‑Avon were transferred to 2A Tyseley becoming a familiar sight passing Earlswood box as light engines travelling to and from Stratford.
Steam locomotives noted, mainly on freight turns, between 14th June‑30th June 1965 were as follows:
GWR Modified Hall Class 4‑6‑0 No. 7924 Thornycroft Hall
With a clear road ahead GWR Modified Hall Class 4‑6‑0 No. 7924 Thornycroft Hall, from 82E Bristol Barrow Road, approaches Earlswood Lakes Signal Box in a flurry of white smoke after the long climb from Stratford‑upon‑Avon with an early morning up fitted freight from Tavistock Junction on 19th June 1965. Note the home‑made smokebox numberplate.
Photograph By Peter Hands
GWR: 2800 Class 2‑8‑0 No. 3837 (86B Newport – Ebbw Junction). 5100 Class 2‑6‑2T’s Nos. 4111 (2A Tyseley), 4155 (2A Tyseley) – employed on the 7.06am Henley‑in‑Arden to Birmingham (Moor Street) local passenger. Hall Class 4‑6‑0’s Nos. 4920 Dumbleton Hall (82E Bristol Barrow Road), 5988 Bostock Hall (2A Tyseley). Grange Class 4‑6‑0’s Nos. 6815 Frilford Grange (88A Cardiff East Dock), 6816 Frankton Grange (82E Bristol Barrow Road), 6820 Kingstone Grange (88A Cardiff East Dock), 6830 Buckenhill Grange (2B Oxley), 6831 Bearley Grange (2B Oxley), 6856 (Stowe Grange), 6861 Crynant Grange (2A Tyseley), 6871 Bourton Grange (2B Oxley). Hall Class 4‑6‑0 No. 6932 Burwarton Hall (81F Oxford). Modified Hall Class 4‑6‑0’s Nos. 6973 Bricklehampton Hall (82E Bristol Barrow Road), 6976 Graythwaite Hall (2D Banbury), 6983 Otterington Hall (81F Oxford), 6990 Witherslack Hall (82E Bristol Barrow Road), 6999 Capel Dewi Hall (81F Oxford). Castle Class 4‑6‑0 No. 7029 Clun Castle (85B Gloucester – Horton Road) – Bristol Parcels. Modified Hall Class 4‑6‑0’s Nos. 7915 Mere Hall (2A Tyseley), 7924 Thornycroft Hall (82E Bristol Barrow Road), 7927 Willington Hall (88A Cardiff East Dock).
LMS Class 8F 2‑8‑0 No. 48073
With wisps of steam escaping from the safety valves LMS Class 8F 2‑8‑0 No. 48073 (16C Derby) passes Earlswood Lakes Box and coasts down the long descent to Bearley Junction and Stratford with a lengthy Class 8 goods on 30th June 1965. For many years a 16B/16E Kirkby steed No. 48073 was transferred to Derby in December 1964.
Photograph by Peter Hands
LMS: Class 5 4‑6‑0’s Nos. 44856 (2B Oxley), 44938 (1E Bletchley), 45006 (2B Oxley). Class 2 2‑6‑0’s Nos. 46428, 46442, 46457, 46470 – banking duties – all from 2A Tyseley. Class 8F 2‑8‑0’s Nos. 48073 (16C Derby), 48383 (16E Kirkby).
BR Britannia Class 4‑6‑2 No. 70047
Bright sunshine heralds the passing of BR Britannia Class 4‑6‑2 No. 70047, from 2B Oxley, at the head of 1V53 (possibly Wolverhampton – Low Level to Kingswear) express on 19th June 1965. No. 70047 (un‑named) along with sister engines No. 70045 and 70053 had been transferred to Oxley from 6J Holyhead during the same month that this picture was taken.
Photograph by Peter Hands
BR: Britannia Class 4‑6‑2 No. 70047 (2B Oxley) – express. Class 5 4‑6‑0’s Nos. 73015 (82E Bristol Barrow Road), 73030 (82E Bristol Barrow Road), 73094 (85B Gloucester (Horton Road), 73095 (6D Shrewsbury). Class 9F 2‑10‑0’s Nos. 92007 (88A Cardiff East Dock), 92154 (16E Kirkby), 92217 (2A Tyseley).
The continual rundown of steam traction on BR and the ever‑increasing closures of steam depots during 1965 was reflected in the fact that the majority of locomotives observed during June were from MPD’s in and around the Midlands area as they were in May. The odd ‘foreigner’ exceptions from distant parts came from two of the few remaining steam sheds in South Wales and one from Bletchley.
To be continued