Class 47s were the most numerous and versatile diesel locomotives on the UK railway system. There were few places they could not go and few duties they could not perform. Because of this, they were derided by most enthusiasts until it became clear that they were not long for this world, when, of course, they became the number one target and people travelled far and wide to photograph their final workings. Fortuntately, I had always photographed them and once again didn't feel the need to chase them around too much in the final months of their working lives.

Despite writing yesterday (13 September 2017) that I had little intention of photographing a short set of flats leaving Long Marston on 14 September I changed my mind when I saw that ROG's 47813 was allocated to 0Z94 from Leicester and 6Z86 to Eastleigh. I really hadn't fancied yet another class 37 shot here especially with such an unexciting load but the freshly painted 47 was a much more attractive proposition. It was close to the road bridge when I arrived and there was just had to line up this view of the locomotive which fitted nicely enough in a small gap, although I did have to stand in the middle of the road to achieve the correct angle! In common with the previous day the sun made some timely appearances and allowed a reasonable portrait in the few minutes before the gates into Long Marston were opened. This wasn't 47813's first appearance here as shown by this image taken on the early evening of 11 May 2005 when it appeared in its Cotswold Rail colours with 87027 and a set of Virgin Trains' coaching stock.
The set of 4 flats, TIPH 93488, 93477, 93323 & 93462, were well down the exchange sidings and once 47813 had been coupled to them it seemed ages, sitting under a clear sky, before 6Z86 moved away towards the branch line to Honeybourne. Some cloud did pass across the sun during that short journey but all was well as it approached the road bridge. On this occasion my usual but sometimes broken rule about the train being of more importance than the motive power wasn't applied and I was happy to take a sunny shot of 47813 in a good location with a satisfyingly black sky in the background. My thanks to The Flump for the headcode and stock details.
It looked as if the sun would last for a few more minutes after 47813 with 6Z86 moved away from Long Marston en-route to Honeybourne and Eastleigh. I just had time to drive around the corner to a farm crossing on the Broad Marston and Pebworth road but the sun didn't stay out quite long enough and the resulting shot wasn't quite as well lit as the earlier images.
There was a great deal of scheduled engineering work on various main lines over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August 2016. One, possibly the only, welcome result of this was the use of ROG class 47s on a few extra services between Birmningham Moor Street and London Marylebone. On Saturday 26th the first run was 1H92 which left Moor Street at 09.34 and due to pass Hatton at 09.58. Just before leaving home the sky began to clear and on arrival at Hatton there were some good clear patches. The sun wasn't fully out when 47812 led the train around the curve from Hatton North Junction but this wasn't entirely a bad thing as it's really still a bit too head on at this time of day. I'm probably in a majority but I quite like the Anglia liveried coach as it gives an additional splash of colour. Over the years 47812 has carried several colour schemes and here it is at Honeybourne on 6 June 2012, while being operated by Riviera Rail, with a set of flats on the way to Long Marston.
The two ROG 47s left Marylebone for Moor Street on 26 August 2017 at 12.53 with a passing time at Hatton North Junction of 14.49. The sun was much stronger than earlier in the day which was very welcome given that the locomotive now leading, 47813, is the first to carry the stylish new colour scheme of the Rail Operations Group. The train, 1H92, ran close to right time for all of the journey and was only 2 minutes late as it approached Hatton North's footbridge at 14.51 with its six coaches and dead in train 47812. This locomotive was one of those operated by the long defunct Cotswold Rail and I had quite a few shots of it taking loads to and from Long Marston. This one, taken from the foot crossing at Lower Moor with a long rake of IZAs being taken to Long Marston from Bescot.
I found the original 645 slide of this image in an old developing tray in the room formerly known as my darkroom in the days of wet photo processing. I had no idea of the date or working because of my chaotic notes but Martin Loader has kindly let me know that the train is the Scottish Railway Preservation Society's 1Z32 10:05 Bristol Temple Meads to Aberdeen charter which ran on 21 September 2003. The locomotive is one of the few class 47s painted into EWS colours although the state of the yellow flash appears to show that masking tape wasn't used to its best effect.
As soon as 1P25 was clear 47813 with 319372 + 319373 in tow was released from Norton Junction with 5V67 from Cricklewood to Long Marston where the units are to be stored. I chose this spot because 1) it's completely recognisable and 2) it looked as if the sun might be out and this is probably the best piece of line in the area for a sunny shot at this time of day.
A number of class 319 EMUs have been scheduled for storage at Long Marston. A couple of trains have run, but under cover of darkness and although a shot of them passing Honeybourne station at night would be perfectly feasible I couldn't be bothered. On 20 and 21 March 2017 trains from Cricklewood were scheduled with much more sociable timings, due to pass Honeybourne at around 14.30. The path around Worcester Shrub Hill seemed invalid with a clash with at least one FGW service so it wasn't really a surprise that a delay of around 30 minutes was encountered. The motive power on 20 March was ROG's 47815 and the load consisted of 319452 and 319454 which I have shown separately as, after all, the locomotive hauling them was largely irrelevant other than to provide the horsepwer. The weather was considerably better than it had been an hour earlier when torrential rain was falling in the area although some 5 minutes before 5V67 arrived the sun was in a patch of clear blue sky...
The final train of stock from the Long Marston rail event was taken from the site on Wednesday 29 June 2016. Colas Rail's 47739 was sent from Washwood Heath to collect the rail-borne crane and associated bits and take them to Scunthorpe, running as 6X56. The weather just 7 miles Long Marston wasn't too bad so I decided to go over for a shot but by the time I had reached Welford on Avon rain was falling and on arrival at Long Marston, at the same time as 47739, it was hammering down with a strong wind blowing making the conditions very unpleasant, not to mention dark. It took only a few minutes to attach the locomotive to the stock and leave the yard which was partly obscured by the rain. I had no intention of hanging around any longer so, to misquote Sameul Pepys, " and so to swim"...
Another train providing exhibits for the Long Marston rail event ran during the morning of 20 June 2016. The time it was a Mobile Maintenance Train from the Plasser works at West Ealing topped and tailed by ROG's 47848 + 47812. This had worked north along the North Cotswold Line and being TnT was able to reverse at Honeybourne North Junction in order to gain the Long Marston branch thus obviating the need to run all the way to and from Worcester yard. Timekeeping was good for the whole journey, unlike the weather, and here is 6Z47 about to arrive at the gates protecting the site. It was perhaps good, given the dark and wet conditions, that the MMT is bright yellow to help it stand out against the murk. I had been tempted not to bother with this train but living so close by it seemed silly not to make the small effort for a record shot before heading off for my daily swim.
There have been several stock involving Great Western HST carriages from Plymouth Laira to Barclays works at Kilmarnock where repainting has taken place. I hadn't yet photographed such a move although along with others I did, through very early running, narrowly miss a sunny shot of 2 grey 56s some time ago! On Saturday 18 June 2016 47848 + 47812, recently acquired by the Rail Opertions Group (ROG) did a southbound run due to pass through Worcestershire at around 16.00. I went to a farm crossing near Eckington where a shot of the whole train is possible and where, by looking at the sky, some decent sunshine was possible. In the event the sun was about 10 minutes in front of 5Z47 and with the load being a GWR-style dark green a very muddy image was the result, not helped by the poor quality provided by in-camera conversion to jpeg. Nice sky though...
A one-off Colas working appeared in the schedules for 28 April 2016 running from Eastleigh Arlington to Derby St. Andrews Economac (whatever that may be...). The train turned out to be 47739 with 5 KVA ferrywagons which were being taken to Oxwellmains via Derby to be used, I assume, for the conveyance of bagged cement. Anything other than a container train is noteworthy on the line through Hatton so having watched 6S47s late departure from Eastleigh and its progress I arrived at Hatton North Junction with about 20 minutes to wait. The train was around 30 minutes late before Leamington Spa but lost another 15 or so standing in the centre down road there to allow 2 passenger trains to pass. Just as 47739 climbed Hatton Bank the rain that had been threatening for a while, after a sunny start to the day, blew in from the west making this quite an unpleasant place to stand. It's been a while since I photographed a Colas class 47 here so didn't mind too much.
Saturday 9 April 2016 saw a locomotive-hauled train scheduled to visit Stratford-upon-Avon from Skegness. The original plan was for a steam locomotive to work the inward leg with a diesel, left on the back of the stock after the ECS move, powering the return. The slightly scary combination of West Coast Rail and Network Rail managed to change the plan several times during the preceding week, with the eventual, allegedly final, schedule showing the steam to be removed at Duddeston Junction (Saltley) and a WCRC class 47 bringing 1Z62 to Stratford. Even on the day things changed with the locomotive swap taking place at Landor Street where 47760, which had run from Rugby, came onto the front. OK, a maroon 47 doesn't make for the greatest image but we don't get many locomotives at Stratford so I walked down to the station for a shot from the new foot and lift bridge. I was watching 1Z62's progress and saw, oddly, that it had run through Hatton station on the up main line where it stood before reversing at Hatton South Junction, running though the Stratford branch platform and so back onto its booked route. The reason for the unusual manoeuvre was a track circuit failure somewhere around Hatton North Junction. This all meant that the far more attractive 47580 was now leading, albeit with a tail-light on the bracket, and it managed to arrive at platform 2 in the last of the sunshine before thick cloud made everything a lot duller. With a half-decent shot of 47580 in the bag my plan to go out for the return working could be abandoned.
A brace of COLAS class 47s has been operating RHTTs from Kings Norton OTP depot to Worcester Shrub Hill, Ledbury and Swindon but just as in 2014 when 37s were in charge most of the journeys have been in the dark. There is a chance of a daylight shot around Bromsgrove but this hasn't yet happened on a day with any sun. On Saturday 31 October 2015 however, a run from Kings Norton to Worcester via the North Cotswold Line, both up and down, was scheduled with some very favourable timings including a southbound pass of Evesham just after 13.00. On a clear day this was too good a chance to miss so I went to Briar Close, just to the north of Evesham station where a shot with a recognisable background, which I like for one-off shots, is easy to achieve. I was more than a little surprised to be the only photographer present at this usually popular location. After visiting Ledbury the train left Worcester Shrub Hill about 3 minutes early and after a good run through Pershore passed me some 10 minutes in advance of the schedule with some lovely warm Autumnal sunshine making the colourful scene at Evesham signalbox one to savour. I wasn't able to wait for the return run over the NCL as I had promised my wife a trip to a farm shop on the other side of the county...
An unadvertised WCRC private charter ran from Carnforth to Stratford-upon-Avon on Monday 2 March 2015. This was operated with 47245 and 47746 in top-and-tail mode with the latter leading at the start of the journey with a stop at Tamworth to unveil a new nameplate to celebrate the life of the late Chris Fudge, a lifelong railwayman and volunteer with the Brush Type 4 Group who previously owned the locomotive before its sale to West Coast Rail. After the naming ceremony 1Z45 ran via Coventry to Leamington Spa where a reversal took place before the run to Stratford's platform 3, the worst possible choice from a photographic point of view. This meant, of course, both that 47245 was now leading and that the nameplate on 47746 was out of sight away from the platform side. To add to the difficulties, the sun was really a bit too straight with some heavy shadowing around the bogies. Just for the record here is an earlier shot of 47245 at Stratford arriving into platform 1 with steam locomotive 4936 which was being towed because of the exceptionally dry weather and the risk of lineside fire. The last time I saw 47746 was when it was taken from Long Marston in July 2011 after its sale to WCRC. A shot of it today was not possible because of its location in the station and because I had to play the organ for a funeral at about the time it was leaving for the journey home via the North Warwickshire Line.
There were 2 charters past this location near Hatton on Saturday 13 December 2014. The first was hauled by the only preserved and main-line certificated Western but this was too early for still photography, although this changed at Leamington Spa where 3 hours delay was encountered when, because of dragging brakes, it was necessary to remove a coach from the consist. I did briefly consider going to Leamington station but decided against it when I thought that a few hundred frustrated passengers, not to mention many other photographers, would also be on the down platform while things were sorted out. I therefore stuck to my first plan and went to Shrewley to take a shot of 1Z36, a Skegness to Bath charter which had a 50% chance of being hauled by the uniquely liveried 47580. I suppose it should have been predictable that WCRC's 47245 would be on the front for the southbound run but in this sort of light even the muddy maroon colour scheme doesn't look too bad. The next freight wasn't due to arrive for around 60 minutes and as my fingers were beginning to feel the cold I went home for a warming cup of Papua New Guinean coffee from our local artisan roasters.
I rarely go out to photograph charters but now and again the routing of a train tempts me to head out. On Saturday 26 July 2014 the Northern Belle ran as 1Z16 from Bristol to Worcester via Oxford, Evesham and Worcester for a reversal then to Swindon over the main line via Bristol. I had seen that 47841 was leading from Bristol with 57307 on the back so wanted a location for the northbound shot which was close enough to a decent location on the Cheltenham line for the much rarer image of the class 57. Lower Moor near Pershore was my choice and here is the attractive train making a relatively rare sight on one of the 2 single track sections of the North Cotswold Line. The sun was not at its best but at least there was a shadow, which had been far from the case when I left home.
A second set of JSA steel wagons were taken from Long Marston to Llanwern on Wednesday 26 February 2014. This time, 24 "hoods" were removed with COLAS's 47727 doing the honours. The inward light engine was close to 90 minutes when I saw although didn't photograph it when it went by Fladbury a few minutes in front of 67020 on a test train. Given that a bank of heavy cloud was rapidly moving in from the north-west I was in two minds whether to bother waiting at Lower Moor for the return but decided, after a text message saying that the time deficit was down to about 40 minutes when 6Z47 left Long Marston, to hang on. It wasn't too long before 47727 came into view just as the thickest cloud came overhead but fortunately just a couple of minutes before heavy rain began to fall.
An unusual-looking working appeared on RealTimes Trains on Thursday 13 February 2014. Running from Crewe to Bicester COD and given the headcode 4X30 it was powered by 2 DRS class 47s in top and tail mode with something unidentified in between. As it was a class 4 I suspected that flats, either loaded or unloaded, would be involved but the sight of DRS 47s is quite unusual in the Leamington Spa area since the cessation of the Scotland to Southampton Cruise Liner trains so worth a trip out. Some late running was involved and by the time 4X30 reached the Coventry to Leamington Spa line the sun would have been straight down the line so I opted for the pragmatic solution and went to Leamington station where the light's angle would be ideal. Here is 47805 standing on the up main line waiting to be passed by a Chiltern Trains class 168 on the way to London Marylebone. It's a shame that a shadow from the canopy is over the back of the train but a permanent way gang was busy at work at the west end of the station and the hi-vis gear would have been distracting. The rear loco was 47501 with a DRS Mk2 coach in front of it along with 2 IKA flats which I think came out of Long Marston a coouple of weeks ago.
The evening of Monday 8 July 2013 offered the opportunity for an unusual shot of a train arriving at Long Marston which would be lit by the sun from the north side of the line. The working was a 5Z42 12.32 Ilford E.M.U.D. to Long Marston hauled by COLAS Rail's 47739 and consisting of three slightly faded Virin Trains liveried coaches all of which arrived at Worcester nearly one hour early but had to wait for its booked path south over the single track to Evesham West Junction because of the scheduled passenger services. There would have been plenty of suitable locations available on the line around Droitwich but I was more interested in taking my picture in a spot that is only usuable, when the sun is out, after 20.00 in the height of the summer. Here then is 47739 rolling slowly along the last few yards of the Honeybourne to Long Marston branch at 20.16 on a beautifully lit evening, the picture being taken from a public right of way just before the roadbridge adjacent to the Motorail Logistics site.
There was no return load at Long Marston for 47739 on 8 July 2013 and it was scheduled to run light engine to Washwood Heath. I took this second view of the train as the locomotive ran along road No.2 and past the three coaches it had just brought in from Ilford. Quite a variety of stock is visible in the background ranging from steel hoods, timber carrying wagons, container flats and many spare oil tanks. More tanks were due in the following day, clearly a sign of the current downturn in the amount of oil products being shifted around the country.
Yes, I know; the same old spot, but I hadn't been paying much attention to my messages on Wednesday 27 March 2013 and saw rather late in the day that this train was running. It is a 6Z56 13.00 Toton to Eastleigh ballast working with, unusually, COLAS Rail's 47727 + 47749 in charge presumably because DBS didn't have a spare locomotive or crew to work it themselves. By the time it reached Hatton it was running about twenty minutes behind schedule having apparently picked up the best end of an half-an-hour after a late departure from Toton. A Birmingham Moor Street to Leamington Spa local was a few minutes in front of 6Z56 and it looks as if the banner repeater signal just by the road bridge at Hatton station had cleared as it approached if the quantity of exhaust smoke is anything to go by. The weather was poor with low light light levels but after last Sunday's effort in the same place it seemed almost tropical.
A second, and I think final, rake of JSA steel wagons left Llanwern for Long Marston on Tuesday 5 January 2013. The departure from Llanwern was again delayed, this time by eighty minutes, and I suspect that this was intentional to avoid 47727 having to sit in Cheltenham High Street loop and Worcester yard for extended periods of time, all the while wasting fuel. By the time 6Z36 left Worcester it was several minutes early and when it passed me at Fladbury, between Pershore and Evesham, it was three minutes in advance of the schedule. The light was much better than for the previous run but the sun, which had been almost clear of clouds for a few minutes, did begin to fade as the train appeared under the bridge in the distance. The length of the set of wagons can be judged by anyone who knows the area as the back of the train is only just over the foot crossing in the background; a walk of several minutes by one of the public footpaths which run either side of the line here. I quite the elevated position here as it gives a glimpse of the Malvern Hills and some quite attractive colours in the nearby vegetation.
At least one set of VTG JSA steel carrying "hoods" has been scheduled for transfer from Llanwern to Long Marston for some time. A train finally ran on Monday 4 February 2013 when COLAS Rail's 47727 was sent light diesel from Washwood Heath to collect the wagons and bring them north. The move was delayed when a class 60 working the Immingham to Westerleigh oil tanks had problems south of Birmingham which meant that 47727 was around one hundred minutes late arriving at and then leaving Llanwern. There were a couple of quite lengthy layovers scheduled for 6Z36 and by missing these out it was only about forty five minutes behind time when it departed from Worcester Yard towards Evesham. The light had collapsed during the late morning so I wasn't inclined to make too much effort for a shot and went to the roadbridge just to west of Evesham station where 47727 with its lengthy train is seen hurrying past the signalbox. I was half tempted to go home via Long Marston for another photograph but the almost complete lack of light made that idea seem like a waste of time. Still, the light was better and the weather drier than it was for the last time that I went for a COLAS locomotive in this location.
One of the class 47 locomotives to be repainted in the 1990s was 47004 which went into a very atractive version of the original green carried by the class in the 1960s. It is seen here making a requested smoky start from the stop at Bicester London Road while working the Calvert to Bath & Bristol binliner on 13 February 1998. With only one exception, I always found the crews on this working to be exceptionally friendly and more than happy to accomodate my photographic wishes wherever possible. This line has seen a bit of increased popularity in late 2012 as there has been a daily working with a class from Didcot Power Station to Calvert and return with a DCR class 56. My photograph of 47004 dates from the time when it was rare to see any photographer in the area and when locations like this one were still sufficiently clear to allow a decent shot. 645
An earlier view of the Calvert to Bath and Bristol binliner is shown here as 47033 takes 4C04 away from Didcot after a crew change on 17 January 1989. This was one of my favourite main line locations at the time even though it seemed that there often a lot of mist in the background around Didcot power Station. I suspect that the once clear view from this bridge in the Milton industrial estate has now been compromised by excessive growth from lineside trees.
The final DRS operated Cruise Saver train, as things stand at present anyway, from Southampton to Edinburgh ran on Saturday 15 December 2012. This working, 1Z92, was routed via the GWR line from Leamington Spa to Birmingham and booked to pass Hatton at around 13.05. The sun was in and out as I walked to Hatton North Junction from the station car park but managed to be on the edge of a thick bank of cloud as the train led by a cleaned-up 47810, with 47501 dead in train on the rear, came around the curve. Coincidentally, the first run of the train on 19 April 2011 also used the same two locomotives. The lighting was difficult, to say the least, with a very light sky behind the train and little illumination on the subject. This led to a strange almost iridescent colour on 47810 which looks as if it has been mucked around in Photoshop. It hasn't...
One of the Southampton to Edinburgh Cruise Saver boat trains ran on Sunday 11 November 2012. For a change it was routed via the GWR line from Leamington Spa to Birmingham; most recent trains of this type having run to and from Glasgow and therefore running to Coventry and Nuneaton from Leamington. The weather was perfect so I went to the southern end of Hatton cutting where I thought that the sun would just about be on the front of 47501, not essential I know, but nice when a locomotive portrait is the shot one has in mind. This location is terribly overgrown but is the only one where the sun would be in the right place, at least from the right side of the fence... The train, 1Z88, was topped and tailed by 47501 and 47802 and was running just about to time after a slightly late start. There was a light northerly wind which meant that the sound of the train on Hatton bank wasn't audible until the last moment meaning that I had to perch rather uncomfortably on a plastic drinks crate for rather longer than I would have liked. Sunday 11 November is, of course, Remembrance Day and it was good to see that this was marked by the carrying of a poppy wreath on the central lamp bracket of 47501. The remains of a wood pigeon on the secondman's side of the cab window is slightly less attractive.
Friday 26 October 2012 saw the movement of Europhoenix class 87s, 87017 + 87023, from Wembley to Long Marston. West Coast Rail were contracted to provide the motive power which meant that one of their class 47s in the drab maroon livery would be in charge but as the forecast was for clear sunny spells I thought that it wouldn't look too bad if a clean locomotive were to be allocated. Wrong on both counts. I arrived on the bridge near Aldington on the Evesham to Offenham Road to find it completely overcast and that a grubby 47786 was hauling the two 87s making for a much duller scene that that for whcih I had hoped. I was actually quite lucky to get the shot at all as a signal for the up line by the bridge flicked to green as I arrived and 0Z36 appeared just a minute or so later. The sides of the shallow cutting were completely cleared prior to this section of the North Cotswold Line being doubled but the usual unchecked growth is threatening to obscure the line once again in the near future.
It is quite a trek through country lanes from Aldington to Long Marston and I arrived at the latter at exactly the same time as 47786 with 87017 + 87023. This just gave me time for a shot of the trio moving slowly into the Motorail Logistics site where they were to run into road no. 1 where 86216 was waiting to be taken out. The class 47 was uncoupled from the 87s which were drawn forward by the resident shunter before the 86 was tied onto 47786 ready for departure as 0Z37 to Wembley.
The departure time for 0Z37 was 13.15 but it was at 12.03 that 47786 moved onto the branch to Honeybourne. There was just the tiniest break in the cloud cover as the driver prepared his train for the return journey but no sooner had I taken this picture than the sun was obscured again. This meant that I didn't bother going around the corner to a foot crossing for another shot but headed off home for an early lunch.
COLAS Rail have recently been using their class 56s on timber traffic between Teigngrace in South Devon and Chirk and Carlisle. On Saturday 29 September 2012 a special run of the train to Carlisle was planned following the postponement of an earlier train because of problems with 56094. For some reason, presumably an engineering possession somewhere, 6Z53 was routed via Gloucester, the Lickey Incline and Landor Street before joining the West Coast Main Line. Because of the train's weight COLAS sent 47727 to Gloucester to pilot 6Z53 up the Lickey and as far as Landor Street from where 56094 was due to continue unaided. The departure time from Gloucester was 11.00 but luckily for me it was about twenty minutes after this time that it actually left which gave me time to drive from Hatton, where I had just missed 70019 on an early 4O29 to Southampton, to Stoke Prior on the Gloucester to Birmingham line. I arrived with about fifteen minutes to spare and first heard the train before it came into sight; I really did think that the sound was coming from an aircraft so much racket were 47727 + 56094 making as they prepared for a run up the Lickey. The sky was mostly cloudy after a fine start to the day but my luck for once held and the sun found a clear patch at the right moment. Note how faded the paintwork of 47727 is in comparison to the fresher coat carried by 56094.
It's been quite a while since any class 87 locomotives have left Long Marston but an 0Z87 was planned for Tuesday 28 August 2012 when 87017 + 87026 were to be taken to Willesden prior to export to Bulgaria. The two electric locomotives had apparently been earmarked for use in the UK but no TOCs showed any interest so a home overseas beckoned. West Coast Railway Company's 47500 was in charge of the move, running light engine from Southall to Long Marston via Oxford and Moreton-in-Marsh; a route with much less potential for delay than the alternatives. Everything ran smoothly and 47500 arrived about at the booked time and after being coupled to 87017 + 87026, complete with nameplates, was on the move towards Honeybourne just a few minutes late. The sun was in a clear patch of sky all the time I was there which was welcome even though it is still too high for a decent photograph at this time, 13.00, at the end of August. It looks as if the weedkilling MPV has recently made a visit to the branch judging by the yellowing state of the lineside grass and weeds.
As soon as 0Z87 was on the branch from Long Marston to Honeybourne I headed off in the hope of getting another shot before the train joined the main North Cotswold Line to Evesham and Worcester before running to Birmingham, Whitacre Junction, Rugby and Northampton and finally Willesden. I arrived in the car park at Honeybourne station just as 47500 was drawing to a halt by the hut in which the single line staff for the branch is kept. I wasn't too bothered about having another front-end picture of 47500 in its drab WCRC livery so went straight to the footbridge ramp at the station ready for a receding shot of the two class 87s. There was no sign of any numbering other than the UK version so any Bulgarian numbers will presumably be applied when the locomotives reach their new home. The sun just about held on as the short train passed by under a clear signal and some more dead weeds which were in full flower when last I came here on 18 July 2012.
A northbound Cruise Saver train, 1Z82, ran from Southampton to Edinburgh on Friday 3 August 2012. The train ran via Oxford, Leamington Spa, Hatton and Birmingham unlike some previous workings which ran on Sundays and along the East Coast Main Line all the way from London. The booked time at Hatton was a convenient 13.38 so I headed for the south end of Hatton Cutting where the sun would be in a better place than at Hatton North Junction. On arrival about ten minutes before the booked time I found that this year's undergrowth had made the shot very tight but with no time to move had to make the best of a bad job. As it happened, 1Z82 came into view about five minutes early and managed to find the only clear patch in a largely cloudy sky. The locomotives were DRS' 47853 + 47841 and the leading one has apparently just been repainted from the XP64 colour scheme it carried for some time. The new colour scheme was certainly looking fresh, almost unnaturally so, and I've had to reduce the colour saturation a little so that it doesn't look too plasticky and over-processed. It's a great shame that the classic photograph opportunities along this stretch of line have now, to all intents and purposes, been obliterated both by natural and intentionally planted vegetation. The whole line between Leamington Spa and Birmingham is becoming increasingly difficult and most locations will be unusable before much longer.
A long range charter from Saltburn to Portsmouth Harbour ran on Friday 29 June 2012. The motive power was 47580 which had a livery change to mark the Diamond Jubilee of H.M. The Queen's accession to the throne in 1952 and this was the only factor that tempted me out for a photograph After all, one never knows when another change may take place. The weather was again dreadful but I took the opportunity for an easy local shot at Hatton just to get a record of the class 47 with its union flag adornment. The locomotive previously carried a B.R. large logo colour scheme as here seen when it took a load of preserved stock to Long Marston in June 2009. I know that I go to the road bridge at Hatton too often but it really is far and away the best spot for a decent picture on this line without having to travel too far, especially in poor light. After 1Z40 had passed I went to Long Marston for another class 47 move, this time with 47812 + 47843 and a few coaches from Crewe. Unfortunately, it ran early and I arrived only in time for a grabbed shot as the light engines, not something I would usually bother to photograph, left the site on their way to Tyseley. Still, it's only a train and nothing important enough to get flustered about...
Most charter trains and railtours hold very little interest for me these days and only something very local will normally tempt me out with my camera. On Saturday 23 June 2012 an excursion train ran from Berwick on Tweed to Stratford-upon-Avon using topped and tailed WCRC class 47s. Unusually for a train hauled by old, or should I say "heritage", traction I saw no reports at all of its progress. I was in two minds whether to bother but decided at the last minute to go just to Wilmcote station arriving just before 47854 with 1Z35 appeared around the curve from Bearley Junction. The light was poor and the WCRC maroon looked its usual muddy self but the station buildings and the footbridge, despite the odd colour, make quite an attractive backdrop for something other than the passenger units usually seen on this line.
The return of the charter, now running as 1Z36, to Berwick on Tweed was timed to leave Stratford-upon-Avon at 16.13 and was routed via the North Warwickshire Line unlike the inward train which ran from Solihull and Hatton North Junction. The light was even worse than in the morning but this was an advantage from a photographic viewpoint as the North Warwickshire has very few locations that are much good for afternoon photography, the few that are available being largely anonymous and give no idea that the train is running on a line that sees very little locomotive activity. With this in mind I went to Henley in Arden station to continue the GWR footbridge theme from earlier in the day. For this leg of the journey BR blue 47270 was leading along with its operational headcode panel; a nice throwback to times gone. The train is seen on the moderate gradient through the station, the whole scene looking uncomfortably similar to a preserved, or should that be "heritage" line. I was a bit surprised to be alone for this shot as Henley usually attracts a few visitors when a special train is due.
One of Riviera Rail's class 47s, 47812, saw some use on 6 June 2012 when it worked a 4V13 from Chaddesden Sidings at Derby to Long Marston. The locomotive, in an approximation of 1960s two-tone green livery, took a short rake of container flats for storage; not the the most interesting of consists but an opportunity for a photograph of the green locomotive on something other than a charter which would probably not tempt me out. The train is here seen just after passing over Honeybourne West Junction and passing around the back of the platforms before passing under a roadbridge and collecting the branch token from the cabinet a few hundred yards towards Long Marston. Despite a generally cloudy sky the sun managed to poke its face out at just the right moment.
As soon as 47812 had passed Honeybourne I set off for home via Long Marston, arriving in plenty of time for another shot as 4V13 arrived after a slow passage along the branch, accompanied by much horn blowing for the various occupation crossings along the line. The sun went in just as 47812 came around the curve in the distance and there was clearly a heavy shower falling over the hill in the background. After a short delay while the gates in Long Marston were opened the train went into the sidings to deposit its load giving a chance to photograph the other end of the locomotive, the one with a black headcode panel. There was no return load booked and I imagine that 47812 was soon on its way back to West Midlands.
The first of the DRS operated Cruise Saver trains in the 2012 season from Edinburgh to Southampton Docks ran on Saturday 21 April. In a departure from previous practice a single class 47, 47841, powered the train with another dead on the rear, ready for the shunt at Southampton. The sky just before I left home was mostly cloudy but with enough clear patches to make the trip worthwhile. I had planned to walk up to a footbridge near Shrewley but forgot that I had taken my spare walking shoes out of the car during the week and felt that the ground would be a bit wet and muddy for ordinary footwear. I therefore went once again to the roadbridge at Hatton station where the sun was in and out every few seconds. The train, 1Z73, was about ten minutes late and I heard it coming just before some bits of light cloud had quite cleared the track. I thought when taking this picture that it was going to be hopeless but was relieved to see that it wasn't quite as bad as I had thought. While waiting for the train to appear I noticed several native seven spot ladybirds on an ivy clad post and took this shot of one while the sun was out.
On 12 April 2012 a set of redundant steel carrying "hood" wagons was scheduled to be tripped from Washwood Heath to Long Marston for long term storage with COLAS Rail providing the power in the form of 47739. The train, 6Z47, left the originating point on time and was maybe five minutes early when it passed over Honeybourne North Junction and joined the Long Marston branch where I pictured it about to pass the end of the platforms. When I had arrived at Honeybourne some ten minutes earlier the light was perfect but this soon changed as an April shower passed over with 47739 passing me in a torrential downpour, all too visible in my photograph.
After taking the "atmospheric" picture of 6Z47 shown above I had a chat with a friend in the car park at Honeybourne station and intended to go straight home. In the event I saw 47739 about to cross the Pebworth Road and after waving to the driver heard the train's brakes being applied, presumably for it to slow before a farm crossing, so decided it would be possible to have another shot as it arrived at Long Marston. The shower I had suffered at Honeybourne was yet to arrive here, although visible in the background, and the light was much better as 47739 passed over the public footpath crossing the line.
The Motorail Logistics ground crew were just arriving to unlock the gate as 6Z47 drew to a halt a few minutes early at the end of the branch from Honeybourne. I couldn't resist this final shot of 47739 and the steel carriers as they sat in a short spell of sunshine with an impressively black sky in the background. I passed through the shower resulting from this cloud whilst driving home; it was as bad as it looks... There was no return traffic for 47739 and the locomotive returned light engine to Washwood Heath.
It's been a while since a class 86 left Long Marston to move abroad ready for work with Floyd, the new owner. The last move I photographed was powered by COLAS and took place on 24 November 2010 when 47727 took 86218 away. The late morning of 3 April 2012 saw WCRC's 47245 arrive at Long Marston and couple up to 86215 before moving out of the yard and onto the branch to Honeybourne before heading to Willesden via Evesham, Worcester, Birmingham and the West Coast Main Line which it joined at Nuneaton. It's a pity that the weather was so poor because 1) the livery of WCRC diesel locomotives looks awful unless there is full sun and 2) the blackthorn blossom would have much impressive in decent light.
The secondman on 47245 was back in the cab with the token for the branch before the gates into the yard were closed so I knew that it might be touch and go to obtain a second shot of 0Z86 at Honeybourne. In the event I arrived with a couple of minutes to spare just as the toen was being repaced in the cabinet a little way to the east of the station. As I had already taken a picture of the train with the class 47 leading I didn't see the point in doing another so went to the footbridge at Honeybourne station with the intention of picturing the short train moving away past the platforms under a clear signal before crossing over to the up main line a little further west, or north using Great Western parlance.
That part of the North Cotswold Line east of Evesham was closed on Sunday 29 January 2012 while engineering work to replace wooden sleepers with steel took place at Moreton-in-Marsh. Passengers were able to travel on a rail shuttle between Worcester and Evesham with coaches provided for other journeys. A COLAS Rail operated train ran from Bescot to the start of the possession just east of Evesham station and this, 6W01, ran with 47727 + 47749 topping and tailing five autoballasters. Somewhat surprisingly for a ballast train it ran exactly to time throughout and is here seen coming to a halt at Evesham before gaining permission to enter the possession. The weather was dreadful with quite thick fog being present for most of the journey from Stratford-upon-Avon so the only option was for a station shot where 1) there was some background for the picture and 2) where the train would be going nice and slowly.
As soon as 47727 with 6W01 had come to halt in Evesham station I walked round to the road overbridge at the east end to take a second picture as the train pulled away. The fog wasn't quite so thick in the station area as it had been further out in the countryside so at least some identifiable background helps with the composition. Just visible in the backgound beyond the roadbridge is a red signal which allows up trains in platform 1 to turn back towards Worcester. This new signal is invisible to drivers and it has been necessary to provide an "Off" light on the platform for the train man so that he can give the right-away to the driver. I wonder why the signal wasn't placed on the tsation side of the bridge so that it could be clearly seen? No doubt some Network Rail dogma...
This photograph represents the worst conditions in which I have ever tried to record a special working. The train was a 5Z25 Eastleigh to Kilmarnock move of FGW buffet cars and accompanying barrier vehicles hauled by COLAS Rail's 47739 + 47749 and is seen passing Old Milverton on the branch from Leamington Spa to Coventry. The weather was dreadful, with driving rain going straight into the camera lens and such poor light that it was impossible to obtain an acceptable histogram with a test shot. I really don't know why I bothered to go out in such conditions but at least I wasn't the only desperate character on this particular occupation bridge. I went to this location because I knew that the heavy train wouldn't be moving too quickly as it had had to come around the speed-restricted curve from Leamington Spa station.
A DRS operated Cruise Saver train ran from Southampton to Edinburgh on Saturday 3 December 2012. Unlike previous northbound runs which went via the East Coast Main Line it was routed via Oxford and Solihull so as it was a reasonably sunny day I went up to Hatton North Junction about ten minutes before the due time there, 13.00. I hadn't seen any progress reports since Worting Junction, near Basingstoke and it was about six minutes after 1pm when 1Z72 came round the curve from Hatton station. The sun had been clear of clouds for quite a while and stayed out as the pair of class 47s, 47810 + 47501, passed by but before the end of train with 37604 DIT came by, it had gone into some cloud. I had parked at Hatton station where the inadequate car park has recently been increased in size by some twenty spaces.
The second Edinburgh to Southampton Cruise Saver train of the past week or so ran on Thursday 6 October 2011. Once again a pair of DRS class 47s, this time 47818 + 47802, were rostered and 1Z62 ran in the same path as on previous occasions. The weather was better than forecast and I decided upon a picture at Hatton North Junction, one that really needed clear sun to bring off successfully. There were roughly equal amounts of clear sky and rapidly moving cloud when I arrived about ten minutes before the train was due and as the leading locomotive appeared under the Shrewley Road bridge the sun was in a clear patch of sky. Unfortunately, 1Z62 was running under adverse signals, presumably because a train from the Stratford-upon-Avon branch was given priority, and the strong wind blew the leading edge of a cloud across the sun at just the wrong moment.
This picture just about sums up how things can go wrong when I photograph a charter. First, while waiting on Tile Hill station for 1Z33, a Manchester to Kensington Olympia Northern Belle, a Tile Hill station-sized and shaped cloud seemingly formed mostly of aircraft contrails did its best to cover the sun after four days of unbroken perfect light, and second, the hoped-for Northern Belle liveried 47790 (and no, I still don't like going-away shots!) was on the back of the formation with 47802 leading. By some coincidence, I photographed the same locomotive a little way from here, from a lineside field, just about four years ago on 29 September 2007 when it was working a Stobart Pullman The best thing that I can say is that it's a very pleasant drive between Stratford-upon-Avon and Tile Hill on a quiet Saturday morning. I think that I would have been better employed at home taking a few more pictures of spiders and their webs in my front garden.
Another of the Cruise Saver trains to Southampton operated by DRS ran on 27 September 2011, this time running from Edinburgh via York, Derby, Birmingham and Solihull. I much prefer this routing of the train to the alternative version which starts from Glasgow and runs up the WCML to Nuneaton and then through Coventry to Leamington Spa; a less attractive and convenient route, at least for me! The locomotives allocated to 1Z61 were 47841 + 47802 and here they are with their decent length train about to commence the descent of Hatton Bank, passing under the footbridge near the village of Shrewley. The light here is spot on at around 12.15 and at this time of year no shadows from lineside trees intrude onto the track. The vegetation here has just started to change colour after a dry end to the summer and that, along with some slightly unusual coloured sunlight caused by very thin and high cloud, has given some interesting tints to the Warwickshire countryside.
A couple of messages appeared on my BlackBerry during the afternoon of Friday 16 September 2011 suggesting that there was a COLAS Rail operated train of side emptying ballast wagons running from Bescot to Hinksey Yard at Oxford. This is unusual, to say the least, so when details of the working came to light I had a quick trip over to Hatton for a photograph. The train, 6Z47, was hauled by 47749 and whilst scheduled to leave Bescot at 15.00 actually left there about forty minutes late thus giving a passing time at Hatton, I reckoned, of about 17.15. I arrived just before 17.00 and after a short period of very poor light was happy when the sun began to appear just after the Chiltern Railways stopping service had passed. The backlighting wasn't as severe as I had thought it might be and given the time of day wasn't unhappy with the resulting picture. Just a couple of minutes later, 66572 followed 6Z47 south with 4O55, the 12.15 Leeds to Southampton freightliner.
Another of the DRS operated Cruise Saver trains to Southampton ran on Monday 2 August 2011, this time from Edinburgh meaning that it was routed via Hatton to Leamington Spa rather than through Nuneaton and Coventry. When I looked at the sky before leaving home I guessed that there was a reasonable chance of some decent light for the shot but after arrival at Hatton and a short wait a large black cloud blew across the sun and stayed there as the train passed, moving on only a minute or so later. Still, I took the shot as I hadn't previously seen 47790 in its new coat of paint and if it self-destructs in the near future I will at least have a record shot, albeit with the locomotive being led by 47818. I think that the DRS colours are a much better match for the blue stock than the brown and cream of 47790 which is intended for use of the Northern Belle luxury dining train.
The second charter in two days to hit Stratford-upon-Avon ran from Carlisle on Friday 1 July 2011. This one was a 1Z22 operated by Compass Tours with class 47 motive power supplied by WCRC. The weather went back to the norm for charters to Stratford and at the booked time there was a heavy pall of cloud over Wilmcote. I decided against going for yet another shot featuring the GWR footbridge and walked to an occupation bridge a few hundred yards further south. The train, with 47851 leading, was a few minutes early when it passed me and the locomotive was still accelerating hard from the speed restriction at Bearley Junction. The WCRC livery never looks at its best in poor light and looked especially muddy on this occasion.
Compass Trains' charter from Carlisle to Stratford-upon-Avon was booked to return from the terminus shortly before 17.00 and ran over the North Warwickshire Line via Henley-in-Arden. The weather had picked up a little during the afternoon so I hoped that I might achieve a reasonably well lit photograph. Locations for northbound trains over this line are few and far between when the sun shines but there are a couple around Henley so I headed in that direction. The first I had in mind was just about impossible to reach because of thick brambles which I didn't feel like tackling wearing a short sleeved shirt. The alternative was from the Stratford end of Henley station's platform and although the sun wasn't quite as far round as I had thought it would be I had little choice bearing that the train was only about five minutes away when I arrived. The line here is on a gradient of about 1/150 and a long train with a dead locomotive just out of sight on the back was making 47804 work quite hard as it passed by.
The annual June races at Royal Ascot used to produce two or three charter trains on each day of the festival but in 2011 just one ran. This was on Thursday 16 June when the Northern Belle ran from Manchester Victoria to Ascot with DRS's class 47s 47810 + 47501 providing the power. The sky was beginning to clear nicely at home by 09.30 so with fingers crossed I went to Whitnash, just south of Leamington Spa, hoping for a sunny shot in the cutting. On arrival, the sun was in and out but a large cloud appeared at 10.00, some ten or twelve minutes before the 1Z63 was due, and managed to hang around until a few minutes after I left the bridge. This location, along with many others in the area, is becoming a bit bland for my tastes because of the largely unchecked tree growth but at least being on quite a severe gradient here the locomotives have to work hard. The result of this work can ben seen hanging in the still air of the cutting. This line is closed for part of the coming weekend and it looks as if some major track renewal will be taking place.
The second of the DRS operated "Cruise Saver" trains ran to Southampton on 9 May 2011. Unlike the first which started at Glasgow and ran via the more convenient (for me) and certainly more photogenic line through Hatton and Warwick, this one came from Edinburgh and used the West Coast Main Line as far as Nuneaton from whence it went through Bedworth and Coventry before joining the GWR line at Leamington Spa. I don't often do station shots these days and certainly wouldn't want to make it the norm but as the line at Leamington runs roughly from east to west through the platforms the sun is in the right place at the appropriate time of day. Here are 47810 + 47510 at the head of 1Z49 being opened up under clear signals just before turning south over the viaduct just beyond the station.
The "Cruise Saver" train which ran to Southampton on 19 April 2011 with 47810+ 47501 returned to Edinburgh on Saturday 30 April, this time with 47832 + 47510. The train, 1Z48, was again routed via Hatton and with a booked time there of 13.10 the light ws never going to be in quite the right place. With this in mind I went to a location which I hadn't visited for many years with the intention of taking a broadside photograph to shown the colourful baggage car this time marshalled behind the locomotives. When I arrived, there was more lineside vegetation than there used to be but with 1Z48 running about twenty minutes early there wasn't time for me to move. An Anglia liveried coach was tacked on the back to add to the colourful scene. The background is dominated by the bell tower of what used to be called Hatton lunatic asylum, now part of a modern housing estate.
The main reason for going out on 19 April 2011 was to photograph the first run of the DRS operated "Cruise Saver" train, 1Z47, from Edinburgh to Southampton. As the headcode suggests, this was powered by double-headed class 47s with 47810 (gleaming) and 47501 (not quite gleaming), the former having a taped-over nameplate ready for unveiling at some point later in the day. The leading locomotive is carrying its third colour scheme for recent years as it was in Virgin Trains' red for some time followed by Cotswold Rail's attractive silver livery. The rear coach of the train was being used as the baggage car and looked quite a sight with its "Cruise Saver" branding. The train was running spot on time as it passed through the suburban outskirts of Warwick but something or other running late over the adjacent Leamington Spa to Coventry line caused it to be checked and it was held at a signal a few hundred yards beyond this spot. Consequently, it was going nice and slowly when it passed me. The electrical cables to the right of the picture are a bit of a distraction and I especially dislike seeing unsupported wires in my pictures which is the reason for including part of the pylon in the picture.
A short set of ten PGA wagons was taken from the Marcroft works at Stoke on Trent to Long Marston on 24 March 2011. The train, 6Z47, was worked by COLAS Rail and the locomotive allocated was 47749, the one of the company's fleet that I have photographed least often. The path used meant that the sun was beginning to move round towards the west and just about the most favourable place was on the approach to Evesham where 6Z47 was scheduled to appear at 13.09. There had been some slightly late running in the Birmingham area which might have meant the train having to wait at Worcester or Norton Junction until the next down passenger service, the 13.17 from Evesham to Great Malvern, had cleared the single track. In the event, the driver didn't hang around and 47749 came into view in plenty of time to avoid any delay to the class 165 unit going north. Here then is the short formation passing the inner home signal at Evesham, due for removal before too long, as it slowly approaches the station where the token will be exchanged for the run to Honeybourne and Long Marston.
A long rake of IZA ferrywagons has been hanging around at the so-called "Daventry" railfreight terminal waiting to be transferred to Long Marston for storage. They should have been moved a couple of weeks ago but the DRS class 37 sent to do the job failed en-route before reaching Rugby so the working was cancelled. Another more successful attempt took place on 28 February 2011 when a grubby 47712 ran light engine from Crewe to pick up the load. The weather was awful and if this hadn't been the first time that a DRS class 47 had run over the Cotwold Line and the Long Marston branch I wouldn't have bothered. Here is 6Z80 arriving at Evesham under a uniformly dull and grey sky, passing the semaphore signals which I today learned are going to be abolished and replaced with colour lights operated from a new panel in the signal box. This work will be done during the final stages of the line's redoubling and will, for me at least, be a sad event as I have always liked to see proper signals being lowered to allow the passage of a train.
It's not much of a diversion for me to head home from Evesham via Long Marston and I thought that I might have time for an intermediate shot from the overbridge on the Evesham to Offenham road. As I drove along the Evesham bypass the light deteriorated even further and some quite heavy rain began to fall, but as the signal on the up side of the bridge cleared to green as I approached the bridge I stopped off for a quick shot of 47712 and its load of ferrywagons. It wasn't really worth even the minimal effort involved but I suppose that it's possible that DRS won't send another of their class 47s this way again...
There was plenty of time for a gentle drive around the lanes towards Honeybourne and Long Marston before 6Z80 arrived at the latter and indeed, I caught a glimpse of it standing on the branch at the former as I passed underneath the line near the former ballast tip adjacent to the main North Cotswold Line. It was some ten minutes later that I saw 47712 appearing through the misty background on the approach to its destination, marking the first visit of the DRS class 47 to the branch. There was no return load so I was back in my car and on the way home before the final wagon had passed under the roadbridge.
A train conveying nuclear material ran from Crewe to Keyham on 21 February 2011 and on the following day the two escort coaches returned north behind DRS locomotives 47712 + 57009. Here is the latter train passing Defford in Worcestershire running some twenty four minutes. My original plan had been to take my photograph just to the south of Abotswood Junction but suspecting that a booked stay in Alstom loop at Cheltenham might be omitted I diverted to a nearer location. This turned out to be a wise move as I arrived here only a couple of minutes before the train, 5Z50, appeared in the misty background. I wanted a fairly wide shot to show off the coaches, the reason for the train running at all, rather than just the locomotives. Coincidentally, I took a picture of 47712 in this same spot on 2 November 2006 still carrying the "Blue Pullman" colour scheme that had been applied when it was used to haul a set of coaches somehow intended to look similar to the 1960s train.
The Floyd class 86 that ws taken from Long Marston to Crewe last October was returned on 17 February 2011. My plan had been to photograph the arrival from a nearby public footpath but the sun unexpectedly made an appearance just at the wrong moment and with its positiion being right on top of and behind the train, the resulting image would have left a little to be desired. I therefore took this shot from the foot crossing as 47727 and the 86 waited at the gate. In contrast to today, the weather on the day that the locomotive originally left Long Marston was as close to perfect as one can hope for as this picture of it demonstrates.
There was a brief delay before the gate was opened so I had time to get back to the road bridge and take my usual picture as the train, 0Z86, stood at the end of the branch from Honeybourne while one the cats from Bridge Farm went on a hunting trip. It wasn't many minutes before the local ground crew arrived, opened the gate and gave the right-away for 47727 to enter the exchange sidings and be detached from 86218. It then ran to the crossover at the far end of the yard before coming back on the other road and going back onto the branch where driver John Price paused briefly to collect his crew mate who was in charge of the single line token protecting the line to Honeybourne. The class 47 then went light engine to Worcester Shrub Hill in readiness for its next job on the following morning.
It had been known for a few days that there was to be a COLAS move from Long Marston to Eastleigh on Tuesday 8 February 2011 but what wasn't known, to me at least, that eight of the FGW Motorail vehicles, coded NVA, were forming the load. Because of a routine dental inspection I wasn't able to get across to the railway much before 11.30 and with a booked departure time from Long Marston of around 13.00 I thought that I wouldn't have much chance of seeing 5Z47 with 47727 there. I was right and my first view was a rather unsatisfactory one at Honeybourne, where the crew were taking in the warm February sunshine while waiting for a path on the single line to Evesham. In the event the train was held to right time and is here seen passing Lower Moor, between Evesham and Pershore, 14.43, just about spot on the booked time. I don't think that the light at this time of year can be beaten for quality especially when the atmosphere is as clear as it was on this day.
Once 47727 and 5Z47 had reached Worcester Yard on 8 February 2011 the locomotive was run-round the train of NVAs before it headed south to Eastleigh via Bristol Parkway, Bath Spa and Warminster. This routing gave the opportunity for a well lit shot somewhere on the line south of Abbotswood Junction and I make no apology for showing yet another photograph taken at Croome Perry where I knew that the light for a southbound train would be perfect and the line completely unshadowed. Here then is 5Z47 just after it had left the relative darkness of the wood where the attractive green and gold livery of the motorail coaches shows up to good effect behind the brightly coloured 47727, although the first two vehicles do appear to have gained a think coat of algae while in store at Long Marston. Here is an earlier view of the stock behind 47145 taken at Evesham in November 2006. It will be interesting to see to what use the NVAs will be out in the future. Just before 5Z47 appeared, a late running 6E41 from Westerleigh to Lindsey Oil Refinery with 60099 came north and I decided on this going away view in preference to the heavily shadowed conventional view from the other side of the bridge.
I made several visits to Manchester in 1985 and 1986 and by far my favourite location was the former Exchange station platforms tagged onto Victoria station. There was a huge variety of freight and passenger workings to photograph with representatives of most locomotive classes likely to appear. This picture shows 47432 with failed 45066 and its train of oil tanks in tow passing through the station, part of which was being used as a car park by this time, 27 February 1986. I suppose that the BL Mini might have survived gievn their justified popularity, but I'll wager that the Vauxhall Viva and the Lada Riva estate have long rusted away.
This and the few following pictures were taken at Banbury on Saturday 25 January 1986. Here is 47559 leaving the down loop with what I think was a private charter, The Nicholas Nickleby, that had arrived behind steam locomotive 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley. I did photograph steam workings in those days but I don't recall knowing anything about this one so clearly hadn't gone to Banbury with it in mind. The steam locomotive had left the bay platform a few minutes earlier having just been detached from its train while 47559 waits in the bay to pull forward onto the stock. On the left-hand side, 47465 waits with a northbound inter-regional that seems to have either arrived early or had a layover booked here, given that a light engine was released in front of it onto the main line. I was never especially fond of the way that Kodachrome 64 performed under conditions of backlighting with a low sun and in retrospect would have preferred to have used Fujichrome for these shots.
After taking the above picture from the road bridge at Banbury I then moved down to a spot adjacent to the signalbox, where there was no fence protecting the lineside but from which one could then take photographs without being asked to move on. This picture again shows 47559, this time with the empty coaching stock of the charter returning south. The taller signal has been replaced with a three aspect electric version but the other, controlling the exit from platform 1, is still in place. The platform end clock, adjacent to the signals, has long gone as has its counterpart at the north end of the main down platform.
This photograph is a wider angle view from a similar spot as the picture above but this time showing a little more of the railway environment. The class 47 is 47463 and the train an up inter-regional express heading either to Poole or Paddington while in the background a four car DMMU is leaving platform 3 to go out of the station before crossing over prior to its return to London Marylebone.
Another class 86 was scheduled to be taken from Long Marston to Crewe on Wednesday 24 November 2010. COLAS Rail were in charge of the move and 47727 ran light engine from Washwood Heath arriving just about on time at 11.45 a couple of minutes after I had heard the tell-tale horn as the locomotive approached one of the level crossings on the branch from Honeybourne. I hadn't intended to go over for this train unless one of COLAS' class 66s was used, none of which I had yet seen, but a message suggested that 47727 might be on its final mainline run before being restricted to shunting at Rugby Yard so I thought that the short trip would be worthwhile. Here is the class 47 standing at the gate a couple of minutes after the site shunter had brought the former 86218 around the line from the yard area in the background and deposited it in road 1 ready for departure.
The booked time for 0Z87 to leave Long Marston was around 13.30 but when I saw 47727 move straight onto the Floyd liveried class 86 at 11.50 thought that an early departure might be on the cards so went straight round to one of the footpaths crossing the line. Sure enough, within a few minutes I heard the horn as 0Z87 pulled away and then came into view around the curve. The class 86 will now be taken to Crewe for electrical testing before being exported for further use.
COLAS Rail's 47739 was booked to work a train of YXA and YFA "slinger" wagons from Doncaster to Long Marston on 16 June 2010. Not having seen a train for nearly three weeks due to being on holiday on Exmoor I felt that a shot or two was overdue. Here is 6Z47 shortly after leaving Evesham working slowly through Aldington Cutting and the accompanying elderflower blossom with the long rake of stock destined for storage. In retrospect, this was the wrong location for this train because about half of the wagons are out of view around the curve behind the footbridge, but not having any information on the length of the train meant that this had to do. For a look at some of the wagons further along the train click on this hyperlink.
After 47739 had taken the wagons shown above into Long Marston it was scheduled to take a short set of 10 large KEA box wagons to Doncaster. Running as 6Z48 the train is here seen having just crossed over the Littleton Road in Blackminster where the barriers, operated from Evesham signalbox, seemed to protecting the road for a good five minutes. This is close to the site of the Littleton and Badsey station, the buildings of which were on the other side of the road. The sun is a bit too high around lunchtime for good photography at this time of the year but when the paths along the currently single track are mostly on either side of midday there isn't much that one can do about it. I kept out the sun for a while by visiting a couple of local farm shops and buying the last of this season's asparagus and the first of the gooseberries. How the brownie points build up...
The week commencing 18 April 2010 saw two trains of redundant Fastline coal hoppers moved for storage from Chaddesden, near Derby, to Long Marston. The first, on Tuesday 20th, looked as if it might run through the area in which I was interested in cloud so I decided to wait until the following day for which the weather forecast was better. The train, 4Z47, hauled by COLAS Rail's 47739 arrived slightly early at Evesham and was also released a few minutes ahead of schedule which was lucky for me as a big patch of cloud, just visible in the background, was rapidly advancing on my position at Blackminster. I chose this spot deliberately knowing that the white blackthorn blossom would be in full flower thus giving the photograph a bit of identity.
The late afternoon, around 17.30, is the perfect time in early Spring for a photograph of a train getting to grips with the 1/110 of Hatton Bank. Unfortunately, there is rarely the chance to photograph anything but Chiltern Railways' units then, and I have plenty of class 168 pictures there already. Saturday 17 April 2010 gave the ideal opportunity for something different when a returning charter from Oxford to Skegness was scheduled to run this way and here is 47787 heading 1Z52 past Warwick Parkway station on one of the few days I can remember when there wasn't a single cloud to be seen in the sky all day. Neither was there any aircraft noise or contrails from traffic using the nearby Birminhgam International airport as most of European airspace was closed because of the hazard from a cloud of volcanic ash from an eruption in Iceland. This is a good location for wildlife too; there are several rabbits, a magpie and a pigeon in view, all having been startled by the train.
Thursday 15 April 2010 saw two movements of empty stock from Crewe to Eastleigh along the GWR line from Birmingham to Leamington Spa. The first of these, 5Z47, looked interesting because it was being run either by or on behalf of SERCO and was allocated top and tail class 47s, both in green livery. I had rather hoped that SERCO yellow stock would appear but in the event the train consisted of 47815, four InterCity Mk2s and 47812. Departure from Crewe was almost an hour late and this was still the case when the train rolled down Hatton Bank at 12.11. I don't know the reason for this stock move but I assume that the coaches may be going for conversion into SERCO-equipped vehicles. The light was absolutely dreadful, so bad in fact that I didn't bother with four other trains, a northbound Freightliner, a southbound DBS intermodal, the Banbury to Mountsorrel empty SDT and a Wrexham & Shropshire service going to Wrexham.
During the week commencing 28 March 2010 most of the Jarvis company, including Fastline Freight, was taken into administration. This meant that Fastline's coal carrying operation ceased and their hoppers became, temporarily at least, surplus to requirements. Two sets of hoppers were scheduled to be moved from Chaddesden Yard at Derby to Gloucester Yard where they were to be stored. COLAS Rail were contracted to perform the stock moves on Saturday 3 April and their class 47, 47727 ran light diesel from Washwood Heath to Chaddesden to pick up the first train, running as 4Z48 and scheduled to leave at 12.00. Although the train left Derby on time, it had picked up nearly 60 minutes by the time it reached Abbotswood Junction and was predictably looped to allow several passenger trains to pass. The weather conditions at Croome Perry, near Pershore, started off quite reasonable but by the time 47727 was released from the loop it had become dark with rain just beginning to fall. My intention had been to move a few miles south for the second train headed by 47739 and which was in the Tamworth area at this time, but with about 90 minutes to wait and an increasingly dark sky approaching, I decided that going home was a much better option.
A rake of twenty TDA tanks was taken from Bescot to Long Marston on Monday 29 March 2010 with COLAS Rail's 47739 providing the power. Running as 6Z47 the train ran pretty much to time all the way, arriving just a few minutes late at its destination where it is here pictured approaching the road bridge adjacent to the entrance to the site and passing a field liberally sprinkled with various bird-scaring devices to protect the crop. The light had picked up quite a bit since earlier in the morning, although a shower of rain was just starting to fall as I pressed the shutter release and the hills in the background were nearly obscured by low cloud. Good though it is to see a class 47 on a decent length freight, I wonder why the tanks could not have been moved from DBS operated Bescot Yard on the usual 6V17, rather than by COLAS, which presumably increased the cost by having to have a path set up especially for the job?
A former Southern Region EMU, 1881, was booked to be taken from Eastleigh to Barrow Hill on Wednesday 3 March 2010. I always have a small doubt about moves of this type as there are so many things that could prevent it happening, such as the unit being found unfit to move or problems with the necessary paperwork. However, everything seemed to go exactly to plan with 5Z47 with 47739 providing the power and here is the train climbing Hatton Bank just about on time. The light was pretty bad but just beginning to pick up but not really good enough for this distant sort of shot. My first plan had been for a tighter shot taken from the area of the wooded post with the blue top adjacent to the first coach, but first, someone has gone and stuck a metal fence in the just the wrong place meaning that a box will be necessary to see over it and second, a fellow enthusiast was a bit further up the field and I didn't want to get into his shot. The first two coaches of 1881 appear to received the attentions of a graffiti vandal, his daublings having been painted out with what looks like grey primer. Running just in front of 5Z47 was 1J82, the 11.20 London Marylebone to Wrexham WSMR service, with 67012 providing the traction. This is the only weekday WSMR train to come by this route, the others runnign via Coventry to Leamington Spa.
A charter to Stratford-upon-Avon means, for me, that the weather will be dull and probably wet and quite possibly foggy. The West Coast Railway Company were in charge of a special to the terminus on Saturday 27 February and it looked as if the usual cloudy conditions had been ordered in advance. That notwithstanding, I went to a foot crossing near Wilmcote station as I wanted a photograph which included Bearley Junction's up distant, a rare example of an operational lower quadrant semaphore. This is the only one of its type on the line, Henley in Arden's up distant operating in the upper quadrant and all the others being colour lights. This signal, the post of which used also to carry a home arm in the days when Wilmcote had its own signalbox, is pulled off (with power assistance) for trains going along the North Warwickshire Line as this is the primary route at Bearley Junction. I'm not sure if it is currently used as there is a severe speed restriction at the junction and the signal may be left at caution as a reminder to the driver. Anyway, here is 47804 leading 1Z47 from Carnforth, with 47786 dead on the rear of the train, in marginally better than expected light, towards Wilmcote station somewhere in the region of 7 or 8 minutes early. It would had to have waited outside Stratford for 150125 to leave platform 1 at 12.27 with the hourly train to Stourbridge Junction.
The afternoon of 19 November 2009 saw what has been reported as the final run of 6Z48, the 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel carriers. The motive power was yet another unusual and colourful class 47 combination, being the former Virgin Cross Country liveried 47769 with COLAS Rail's 47749. Although the light was on the dark side of poor I felt that a final shot of the train would be in order and went to Bentley Heath crossing, just north of Dorridge station. On arrival, the foreground to the left of the track was occupied by a large lorry, but this left in time for the ground level shot which I had planned to take to become available. I thought that this wider view would show the contrasting paint schemes off to their best advantage. The train was checked at the signal and went into the goods loop to allow an Arriva Cross Country voyager to pass; a good move because it allowed a slower shutter speed and thus a smaller aperture than would otherwise have been necessary had it been running at line speed. I shall quite miss these brief Thursday afternoon outings for 6Z48, mostly because of the colourful variety of locomotives that has been rostered to it.
With only a short time left to run on this route, the empty steel train from Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor, 6Z48, managed to produce yet another differently coloured class 47 on 29 October 2009. This time it was 47812 in two-tone green that did the honours and with the light getting poorer by the minute I went, just for a change, to the nearest spot from home as I didn't see the point in going too far for a dull shot. The train ran a few minutes early and is here seen rounding the curve just to the north of Hatton station where the original number of the locomotive, D1916 is visible.
The regular Thursday run of 6Z48, the 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel train, produced yet another another colourful class 47 combination on 22 October 2009. This time, the colour was provided by Virgin Trains liveried 47769 which was being transported dead in train, 47805 being the motive power. The light was dreadful with heavy rain just beginning to pass over when it passed Hatton a few minutes early at 14.25. I wouldn't have gone out for this short train on such a dark afternoon had 47769 not been part of the consist but thought that the unusual sight would be worth the short trip to the nearest location to my home. Sadly, it appears that this train is not to run for many more weeks, at least on this route. One theory is that the steel is to be imported into Boston docks and taken to Burton from there.
A train of empty coaching stock ran from Carnforth to Stoke Gifford near Bristol on Friday 16 October 2009. It started off with WCRC's 47787 leading and with a couple of class 37s on the back but the 47 caught fire between Crewe and Stafford. Another 47, 47851, was despatched from Carnforth to haul 5Z64 forward but before changing one of the 37s which 47851 dragged with it. After a lot of shunting and delay the train finally set off again and is here seen passing Croome Perry just before the sun managed to drop out of a bank of cloud. The railtour for which the ECS was destined also had problems following the failure of one of the WCRC 37s hauling the train north. The locomotive failed at Bristol Parkway which delayed the train by around 90 minutes while 47851 was taken from the back and placed behind the remaining live 37. The train was then taken forward by the 37 and 47 working in tandem.
The three class 87s that were taken from Long Marston to Crewe on 16 September did not pass the tests carried out on them and were therefore returned for further work on 7 October 2009. They were tripped to Worcester the previous day and I was tempted to go for a photograph of them but decided instead to trust the weather forecast and wait for a decently lit picture when the second stage of the move took place. The locomotive used to move 87004, 87013 and 87014 was 47839 and the bightly coloured ensemble is here seen leaving Evesham station a few minutes late, having had to wait for First Great Western's 166213 to clear the single track from Moreton-in Marsh.
The loaded steel train from Dollands Moor to Small Heath, 6Z47, was hauled by examples of class 47 in COLAS and Riveria Trains liveries on 29 September. Through circumstances that I forget and that now don't matter anyway, the returning empties on 1 October 2009 were in the sole hands of 47839. I quite wanted a picture of a single blue class 47 on this freight but, having most used most of the local locations more than once since the train starting to run, was undecided on where to go. I remembered that I used to go to a bridge near the M40 between Rowington and Lowsonford so went for a look there. The roadside trees have grown up a bit since 1994 but there was quite a goodly patch clear of shadows in just the right place. I needn't have worried; the sun, predictably enough I suppose, fell into a big dark cloud just as the train was due. I would have been a bit peeved had the train been hauled by a COLAS/Riviera Trains combination. Here is 47839 emitting a nice burst of exhaust as it rounds the curve and heads south towards Hatton.
Once again, on Thursday 24 September 2009, the empty steel train from Burotn-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor was in the hands of Riviera Rail's locomotives. This time it was 47805 and 47839, the pair having to have run-round each other before departure as the speedometer in 47839 was faulty. The sun wasn't quite out as 6Z48 passed Hatton station but I quite like the soft Autumnal light even though unclouded sun would obviously have been preferable. My excuse for yet another shot here is that I hadn't yet photographed the blue 47s on the curve and nothing to do with the fact that I couldn't be bothered to drive any further...
For the second time in recent weeks, the empty steel train from Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor was operated by locomotives hired from another company as COLAS Rail's own class 47s were busy elsewhere. On 10 September 2009, Riveria Rail's 47848 + 47839 were used and as I find the Oxford Blue livery carried by the pair quite attractive I decided to take a ground level shot looking over the gate at Bentley Heath crossing, near Dorridge; a shot that was rarely possible until the adjacent signlabox was taken out of use and demolished because the signaller generally parked his car in just the wrong spot. The train, 6Z48, was checked at the signal visible over the sixth covered flat which accounts for the impressive exhaust as it accelerated away towards Dorridge station. By quite a coincidence, I photographed the same pair of locomotives, albeit on separate trains, at Leamington Spa in March 1993.
The 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel rain with the usual COLAS class 47s on 13 August 2009 after the previous week's run with a DRS locomotive. I thought that it was time I took a shot of this train in a station for a change but couldn't be bothered to go very far, hence this shot of 47739 + 47727 passing Hatton. This isn't a bad location but the curvature of the track does mean that most of a lengthy freight isn't visible, but there at least is some railway infrastructure in view to give some interest other than the train. The sun was in and out during the afternoon but managed to be behind a cloud at the crucial moment; needless to say, it came out a few seconds later just as an DBS class 66 with 4M66 came north through the platforms.
The weather forecast across the Midlands for Thursday 6 August 2009 was for good sunny spells throughout the day. With that in mind and with the prospect of DRS 47501 working 6Z48, the 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel along with a couple of Freightliner operated coal trains to Didcot from Daw Mill colliery I set off up the A3400 with a view to going somewhere around Solihull for some photographs. By the time I had reached Bearley, the sky to the north was looking distinctly murky and unpromising so I diverted to Hatton and arrived just as the sun was entering some thick cloud. The first coal train came but I messed up the shot altogether, the front of the locomotive being well out of focus. A friend further along the line told me that 6Z48 was on its way with the unusual motive power, occasioned by the failure of one of COLAS' own 47s, in charge and here it is a few minutes later approaching Hatton station. I think that I'm right in saying that this is the first time that a DRS class 47 has worked a revenue earning freight along this line so it was worth recording despite the dreadful light. Note the flock of racing pigeons just to the left of the tree in the mid-background...
The weekly run of 6Z47 from Dollands Moor to Washwood Heath/Burton-upon-Trent turned into a bit of a saga on 29 July 2009. One of the class 47s allocated to the train ran with the handbrake applied which caused a small fire meaning that it had to be removed. This in turn meant that another locomotive had to be found to assist with the northbound run because 14 loaded wagons were considered to be too heavy for a single 47, probably a reasonable decision because 6Z47 both has to pass through the damp Sevenoaks tunnel and climb the 1/110 of Hatton Bank. In the end, 56312 was attached to the front of 47739 and it set off, only to be routed via the West Coast Main Line because the Western Region were apparently not able to find a path on the usual route. The train eventually ran to Washwood Heath where the locomotives ran round and went straight to Burton Yard during the late evening before 56312 was returned light engine to Ashford. The following day, 30 July, the returning empties, 6Z48 ran pretty much to time and I went to Hatton quite liking the idea of a shot of a single 47 there on a decent length train. The sun was in and out but managed to find a small patch of clear blue sky for a couple of minutes at just the right time as 47739 passed Hatton Station Junction at 14.33, by which time it has dropped just enough for a nicely-lit picture.
Now and again a train runs that I really enjoy photographing. The empty steel from Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor, 6Z48, is one of these and when I heard that it was formed of just 3 wagons on 7 May 2009 I felt that a broadside view of it at Hatton North would nicely balance the more conventional views I had taken in previous weeks. The train, headed by 47739, passed Tyseley a few minutes in front of an Arriva Voyager but their positions had swapped by the time it reached me as the freight was looped at Dorridge to allow the passenger to pass. To be honest, I would prefer a full-length train headed by a pair of 47s as there are quite a few shots I have planned where a short train wouldn't work, but I was pleased enough with this view as the sun just popped out in between two quite thick banks of cloud.
One of the shots I have wanted to take of 6Z48, the 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel train, is that from the footbridge at Hatton North Junction. The shot I had in mind was using a long telephoto lens to compress the perspective and bring up the high bridge in the village of Shrewley. This sort of shot really needs perfect light, and on Thursday 24 June 2009 it looked as if this might be the day. Unfortunately, by the time the train was due the sun was at about 50% strength with quite a lot of haze so I settled for a less powerful image as 47727 + 47749 brought their train through the cutting. Still, there's always another week, although the sun is now perhaps too high at this time of the day...
On 21 May 2009, for the first time since 6Z48 from Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands commenced running it failed to leave Burton either on time or early. Due to being blocked-in by another train, 47739 + 47749 set out for their destination in the region of 70 minutes down on the booked schedule. I had gone to Hatton North Junction in the hope of getting a decently lit shot in the cutting but after a short period on the footbridge I decided to head south towards Banbury where the direction of the light would be better later in the afternoon and where I stood a chance of a shot of the Queen of Scots stock running from Carnforth to Eastleigh, which came about 90 minutes early after missing out an extended layover in Kenilworth loop, in some of the worst light in which I have taken a photograph for some time. The COLAS train arrived just after 17.00 by which time the light had improved a little but not really enough for anything more than a record shot as it passed the Banbury stone terminal a short distance north of the station.
A train of empty coaching stock was booked to run from Humberstone Road, Leicester to Southall on Sunday 5 April 2009 and was booked via Nuneaton, Water Orton, Birmingham and Hatton to Leamington Spa and points south. West Coast Railway's 47760 was rostered for the run and whilst the deep maroon of their colour scheme isn't my favourite, it doesn't look bad in bright sunshine. The train, 5Z64, left Leicester a few minutes early at 09.52 and was booked to pass Hatton behind a Chiltern stopper at around 11.15 at which time the sun, if out, would be in the prime position for photography. As there seemed to be a reasonable chance of the sunny start to the morning continuing for a while I took the chance to give my Morris Minor a run and timed it to arrive at Hatton station about 15 minutes before the time that I expected 47760 to appear. Everything went to plan and here is the attractive set of stock beginning the descent of Hatton Bank against adverse signals casued by the passage of the preceeding Chiltern Trains unit and only a short while before the sun went behind a cloud.
On 23 June 2009 a charter was run from Sheffield to Salisbury using WCRC's 47826 on the front with 47804 on the rear. I quite fancied a shot of the former as it has advertising decals on one side promoting some steam trips in Yorkshire and these one-off oddities are always worth recording. Typically, the only patch of cloud in the sky managed to be in exactly the wrong spot as 1Z13 rounded the curve from Leamington Spa station and started the 1/110 climb to Harbury tunnel in the worst off all lighting conditions, a dark foreground with sun out in the distance. WCRC's colour scheme really needs sun to bring out its colour but I was unlucky by about 30 seconds on this occasion! C'est la vie...
A land cruise, operated by Green Express, ran from Huddersfield to Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford on Saturday 11 April 2009. I can just about raise enough enthusiasm for a railtour to my home town so took a walk along the towpath of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal to a boarded crossing just on the south side of Bearley Junction to get a photograph of 57601 topping the train with 47854 on the rear. The semaphores in this location are due for replacement in the near future when the North Warwickshire Line is resignalled so I was more than happy to get a locomotive hauled train here. The tour, 1Z73, was spot on time as it pulled away from Bearley Junction after waiting a few minutes for the preceding class 150 on a Stourbridge to Stratford service to clear the section.
The departure of 1Z74 from Stratford-upon-Avon when it headed for Oxford was scheduled for 14.10 which had given the passengers plenty of time for some lunch and a look around the town. The train was headed by 47854 and is here seen at Songar Crossing on the single track between Bearley and Hatton West Junctions. There are very few worthwhile locations along this section of line, especially if the sun is out, so I was quite content to drive for no more than 5 minutes from home to obtain a record shot. The presence of the grey trackside box was a bit of a surprise to me as it wasn't there when last I used this location. I assume that it was placed there during recent work on the line. As the train was well on its way when I arrived I had to make the best of a bad job. I don't usually take "going-away" pictures but did take this one of 57601 as it tailed the train through the newly blossoming blackthorn bushes along the line because class 57s are not exactly commonplace hereabouts.
A charter, organised by Compass Rail, ran from Liverpool South Parkway to Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday 29 November 2008. The weather, as seems to the norm for days on which locomotive-hauled trains run to Stratford, was absolutely dire with heavy cloud merging with a slowly clearing fog, accompanied by near zero temperatures. I don't normally bother with railtours and the like, but do like to record unusual arrivals at the station in my home town so made the 10 minute walk to the bridge over the end of the platforms. The train, 1Z42, was topped and tailed by Riveria's 47815 and 47805, and arrived spot on time after running via the North Warwickshire Line, and is here seen drawing to a halt in platform 1 with the exceptionally grubby two-tone green locomotive leading. After a short delay, 47805 was started and took the train out of the station to the crossover before propelling the ensemble into platform 2 to await the passengers' return in time for a 17.00 departure. The seven coach set fitted nicely alongside the platform and here is a shot of 47805 with 150005 about to pass it with an incoming train from Stourbridge Junction ready to form the 12.27 departure back to the West Midlands.
Some 10 days ago, a train of JUA iron ore tipplers and a couple of TEA tanks were moved from Cardiff Tidal Sidings to Gloucester with the intention of onward movement to Long Marston. The final leg of the journey happened on Monday 15 December with Advenza Freight's 47375 being allocated to the train, 6Z06, the 11.15 from Gloucester. Here is the unusual looking consist on the approaches to Evesham station and here is a closer view of one of the TEAs and a JUA. The latter were formerly used on the trains coveying imported iron ore from Port Talbot to Llanwern, in happier times when South Wales still had a thriving metals industry. The light didn't get better than dreadful all day, which I why I chose locations where the train would be moving very slowly so that a reasonable record of the interesting consist would be possible without using sky-high ISO settings on my camera.
There was plenty of time for a leisurely drive from Evesham to Long Marston via some pleasant villages to see 6Z06 arriving. I can't imagine that any iron ore tipplers of this type have previously been along this stretch of line, although an earlier incarnation of them certainly would have been seen here in the days when thousands of tons of ore was sent from the quarries around Banbury to South Wales. Some of these ran via the SMJ using the Old Town curve in Stratford, but others did run via the GWR line throughout. The JUAs in today's run have clearly been standing outside for some time judging by the quantity of water, weeds and general rubbish in them, as illustrated here . When the train stopped prior to entering the Long Marston site, the water in this wagon gave the impression of a mini-tsunami as it surged to and fro. Tacked onto the end of the train was this KIA, apparently from a set of the type used on Cardiff Rod Mill to Ripple Lane traffic.
In the few minutes that I was waiting for 47375 to arrive at Long Marston there were several hoots from the shed area of the sight and I assumed that these were from one of the shunting locomotives moving some stock around. There was a 5Z50 16.00 Long Marston to Gloucester booked, although the departure time seemed a little late, given that movements do not usually happen here in the dark. In the event. 47375 was uncoupled from 6Z06, ran a short way around the curve in the background and soon reappeared with 4 Virgin-liveried Mk3 coaches. Within a couple of minutes, the train ran the length of the exchange sidings and, at 14.29, moved onto the branch towards Honeybourne. The light had deteriorated even further so I didn't bother going any further to have another shot after taking this one as it pulled away.
The morning of 11 December 2008 started off with low cloud, mist and low temperatures; just the formula for a relatively early train from Tyseley to West Ealing. The working was 6Z47, with privately owned 47580, recently returned to the main line, taking a track machine south to the Plasser works. As expected, a slightly late departure occurred with 6Z47 passing Hatton some 30 minutes down on the booked time. As I mentioned above, the weather was extremely dull but the train was moving quite slowly which allowed me to drop the shutter speed to 1/640 and use an aperture of f2.2 on ISO 320.
A move of Mk2 stock from Oxley to Long Marston was arranged for Friday 16 January 2009. One can never be sure if these trains will run as planned and in any case I was ambivalent about the working as it was due to convey just two vehicles. However, it seemed churlish not to take advantage of the information and updates so kindly provided so I went over to Long Marston to se what was what. Here is Advenza's 47375 approaching the gate with the FGW liveried coaches, running as 5Z60. The sun at this time of day, 13.40, is pretty much straight into the lens and with it being so low makes the obtaining of a decent image virtually impossible. Fortunately, there was plenty of cloud around and a good-sized patch obscured the sun at just the right moment.
When I drove past the yard at Long Marston on the way to the bridge, I saw two Virgin liveried coaches on the curve just beyond the exchange sidings and assumed that these would form 5Z61, the 16.00 departure to Doncaster Wabtec. I thought it most unlikely that the train would wait until 4pm and as soon as I could see that 47375 was coupled to the stock I made my way around the corner to the foot crossing near Broad Marston. There wasn't long to wait before a heard the locomotive's horn and it soon appeared coming around the curve towards me at 14.18. The train came to a stand just before the crossing to ensure the safety of any pedestrians and then moved away towards Honeybourne and Evesham. For another view of 5Z61 with the stock better visible, click on this hyperlink. The train arrived at Evesham some 28 minutes early and departed from there at the booked time, 16.28.
The Great Western Castle class locomotive, 5043 Earl of Mount Edgecumbe, has been undergoing a very long restoration at Tyseley. Its first loaded run was to Stratford-upon-Avon on Sunday 19 October 2008 and I heard it leave on the first of two return trips whilst I was in my garden. Not long afterwards, I received a message saying that it had failed with a hot box near Tyseley, the passengers being turfed off and told to join the next London Midland service to Snow Hill. To fulfil their obligations to passngers, Vintage Trains fired up 47773 as a substitute on the next train. This spurred me into action and I made the short walk to the nearest vantage point to my home, this being the road bridge at Bishopton Lane. The light wasn't too bad when I arrived but by the time the train appeared under the bypass bridge in the background, it had turned absolutely dire. I think it was still worth a shot as class 47s are less common here than steam locomotives!
It's Thursday so it must be 6Z48. The fourth of the Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor ran on 2 April 2009 but this week there were some differences in that just 7 covered flats were conveyed which meant that just one locomotive, 47727, was required. This obviously had an influence on my choice of location as a spot suitable for a long train would be less good for something much shorter. With this in mind I ditched my first choice for the shot and went to the footbridge just south of Hatton where the Down Goods Loop leaves the main line. The light wasn't especially good but improved quite a lot as I waited for the train to appear, which it did right on time and, as usual, behind an Arriva Cross Country Voyager.
For the third week running I decided, on 26 March 2009, to have a go at photographing the empty steel train from Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor, 6Z48. I wanted a shot at Hatton Station Junction before the foliage has appeared on the trees and filled in the background a little. I knew that the sun, if out, would not be on the front of the leading locomotive, but there is more to life and railway photography than that! The afternoon was intermittently sunny and showery and I didn't really expect a sunny picture of 47727 + 47739 this week but even though a fair sized patch of cloud passed across the sun in between the preceding Arriva Voyager and 6Z48, the latter managed to arrive in a nice big clear patch of blue.
The main reason for my visit to Widney Manor Lane, Bentley Heath, during the afternoon of 19 March 2009 was to photograph the second running of 6Z48, the 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel train. My original plan was to take my shot at Widney Manor station, but in the 10 years or so since my last visit there the station footbridge has been moved quite a long way south along the platforms resulting in a shot that was nothing like I wanted, and one that I didn't think would do justice to a train with double-headed motive power. I had left enough time to find an alternative so thought that this bridge would be worth a try. It is a location that I hadn't used before and, being just a fairly anonymous piece of line it isn't really to my taste, but pragmatism won the day and I was reasonably happy with the result, the line of silver birch trees on the left adding something to the picture. COLAS Rail's 47739 + 47727 are just being opened up as they round the curve a little to the north of Bentley Heath crossing with the empty covered flats.
COLAS Rail have just won a contract to move imported steel from Dollands Moor to Burton upon Trent. The first loaded train ran overnight on 10/11 March 2009 and laid over in Small Heath yard until the early hours of the following day, the locomotives, 47739 + 47727 being stabled at Tyseley. The return of the empty IHAs has very sociable timings and is booked to run south via Birmingham, Solihull and Hatton during the mid-afternoon. The weather in Stratford-upon Avon during the morning was not conducive to good photography but a call to a friend at Birmingham International airport brought the welcome news that the sky was much brighter and looked as if the cloud might break so I decided to go to Bentley Heath footbridge, near Dorridge. The train, 6Z48, had left Burton in the region of 50 minutes early but was held pretty much to time in Elford loop and also worked, as booked, into the loop at Dorridge to allow an Arriva Voyager to pass. The sun was fully out as the brightly coloured locomotives ran slowly under the bridge towards the entrance of the loop, a few yards to the south.
The Summer timetable of 1993 included a locomotive hauled train from Birmingham New Street to Great Yarmouth, the motive power being a Petroleum Sector class 47. The empty stock for the working came from Tyseley and this gave the opportunity to photograph the train on the section of line between Bordesley and St. Andrews junction in Birmingham. On 11 September, not long before the end of the timetable, a clean 47278 was provided which is here seen on the climb to St. Andrews with its short train of Regional Railways stock.
About 20 minutes after the picture of 47278 shown above was taken, 47323 came around the curve from Bordesley with the empty car carriers from Harwich to Washwood Heath. The burst of power to necessary to drag the long train around the sharp bend and up the gradient and it is this that really made the photograph on the sunny morning of 11 September 1993. A long train wasn't really what one wanted here because the curvature of the line through 90 degrees ensured that the back of the stock would be cut off.
This used to be one of my favourite locations for an afternoon session in Spring and Summer. It is where the GWR line from Leamington Spa to Birmingham runs parallel with the M40 for a short distance between Hatton and Lapworth and is, sadly, of no use whatsoever for railway photography in the 21st Century because of the rampant growth of trees planted to form a sound barrier for nearby villages. This train is the afternoon Southampton to Coatbridge freightliner hauled by 47206 on 23 June 1995. A Saturday afternoon was particularly good here as there were three southbound freightliners, at least one northbound and quite often an empty MGR returning to the East Midlands from Didcot Power Station. 645
Back in the early 1990s it was well worth spending a couple of hours somewhere along the line between Warwick and Hatton and there were several northbound freights scheduled in a relatively short time. One of the heaviest workings was 4M15, the 14.58 Morris Cowley to Longbridge train, invariably hauled by a class 47 locomotive. On 13 May 1992 47360 was allocated to this job and is here seen just after starting the ascent of the 1/110 gradient of Hatton Bank. Warwick Parkway station has since been constructed on the curve towards the middle of the train as here seen in a 2008 photograph. 645
In the summer of 1989 it was possible to photograph several locomotive-hauled trains on the Birmingham to Gloucester line. This is 47624 with 1V46, the 09.33 Stockport to Paignton service pictured passing Northfield, on the Birmingham Cross City line in the days before electrification changed the scene. This train was booked for a pair of ETH-fitted class 31s, but on this occasion, 15 July 1989, a 47 was provided to the probable dismay of any "bashers" hoping for a few miles of rarer motive power. The most memorable thing about this morning was the rapid and noisy arrival of a police car which had been summoned by a resident from a nearby housing estate who thought that I was a candidate for a suicidal leap onto the line... 645
This picture is dated 12 July 2003 and shows 47781 with rather faded paintwork working a Pathfinder Tours' train from Bristol to Carlisle. I think that the diesel worked only to Crewe from a where a steam locomotive took over for the remainder of the journey. The photograph was taken from a footpath in the field just north of Vigo, on the Lickey Incline, where the class 47 was working hard to lift 1Z27 up the 1/37 gradient. I must have been quite a spectacle for anyone on the train as a large and friendly herd of bullocks had arranged themselves in a semicircle behind me, luckily not straying into shot, although the accompanying flies were always in danger of making themselves known in the form of out-of-focus blobs in the sky and I did, in fact, have to clone out a couple of marks that presumably were insects...645
A locomotive-hauled train to my home town of Stratford-upon-Avon is always something to which I look forward and none more so than the Green Express charter from Holyhead on Saturday 14 April 2007. This was booked for class 47s 47851 and 47854 running in top and tail mode to ease the problems with shunting and, unusually, ran via the North Warwickshire line, a line not noted for seeing locomotives of any description. 1Z22 was running about 30 minutes late due to problems in the Penkridge area resulting in a diversion across the Cannock Chase line through Hednesford. 47851 is here seen about to pass under the  Edstone Aquaduct near Bearley, the longest cast-iron aquaduct in England. The early morning haze has pretty well burned off, but with just a slight mist in the distance which, to my eyes, enhances the scene. The North warwickshire line has some attractive but completely anonymous locations and some complete with a signal box and semaphores that are of little use until the sun is further round later in the day.
The return working of the Green Express charter from Stratford-upon-Avon was booked away from the terminus at 17.11 and I could think of no better location at this time of day than the Bishopton Bypass road bridge. This has the huge advantage of being no more than a couple of minutes away from my home! Here is 47854 with a good show of exhaust about to tackle the 1/75 climb of Wilmcote Bank. The houses in the background are relatively new, having been built for only about 12 months. For once, I think that the estate has improved the photograph here by giving some interest to the backdrop.
I knew that 6Z72 Stockton to Cardiff scrap was running with 57006 on 8 May 2008 and had already decided not to go out for it as various gardening duties had been allocated by my wife! However, when at 17.00 I saw a message saying that 47818 was now on the front and that it had passed Lea Marston some 45 minutes earlier I dropped the strimmer and went to the nearest spot, that good old standby, Croome Perry wood near Pershore. I arrived with plenty of time in hand and here is the colourful combination just after it had passed through the wood and on to towards Gloucester, where 47818 was removed and stabled in Horton Road sidings. The sun was just dipping into some thin cloud but the result wasn't too bad and well worth the trip.
A train of Freightliner's FRA flats was due to be moved for storage from Crewe to Long Marston on 4 February 2009. This was a move taken on by Advenza Freight and oone of their locomotives, 47810, was rostered for the job. I knew that it was running a little early before Worcester and thought that this might continue, as long as the FGW passenger were on time. As I was running a little late I chose to go to the nearest location to my home and ended up at Evesham. Unfortunately, the road leading to the bridge I had in mind was closed to traffic and I had to park and walk the few hundred yards around the corner, and only a few seconds after my arrival, 6Z17 appeared in the distance. It came slowly past the signabox in some quite pleasant half-strength sun and rolled to a halt in the station. A train of flats isn't the most photogenic load, but it does give the chance to see the signalbox, which is likely to be closed and demolished when the partial double-tracking work takes place on this line.
47810 and 6Z17 were booked to sit in Evesham station for a few minutes to allow a down passenger service from London Paddington to clear the single track. This gave me a few minutes to walk to the other side of the station and take a shot or two from the roadbridge there. Some of the trees have been cleared from here but the sun is still low enough for shadows to be a slight problem. On the right of the train the new ramp for use by disabled passengers can be seen, this having been opened since my last visit here. The class 180 Adelante, 180104, has just arrived and this allowed the crew of 47810 to go the broom cupboard on the platform, extract a token for the section of single line which in turn allows the signalman to clear the up starter. The train departed within a few seconds to Long Marston where the flats were deposited, 47810 returning to Gloucester light engine.
A rake of 7 HXA hoppers was moved from Leeds (Hunslet) to Long Marston for rectification work on Monday 7 July 2008. Instead of the usual class 66 from the GBRf stable, Advenza freight provided the motive power for 4Z88 in the form of 47237, their first run down the Cotswold Line for some time. The weather wasn't especially good but I decided to make the 15 mile journey to Evesham with the intention of taking my photograph from the station footbridge. I met the Videotrack photographer, Stephen Phillips on the platform and we stood there for some time in warm sunshine. Just as we had the tip that the train was approaching, the sun went in but as 47237 came into view the shadow began to creep forward and cleared the platform with about 5 seconds to spare. A wicked-looking thunderstorm was rapidly coming towards us and this gave the sky in the background a bit of character.
The up starting signal at Evesham was already in the "off" position but there was time for a quick jog to the roadbridge on the east side of the station to obtain another shot of 47237 on 4Z88 to Long Marston. Note that three pieces of black tape were placed on the windscreen surround between the time between the taking of the two pictures here. What's that all about then? Just a few moments after the pulled away to Long Marston the thunderstorm visible in the background broke over the station and a monsoon-like torrent of rain fell; fortuntately just after I had returned to my car.
This is an ECS move from Tyseley to Old Oak Common about to pass Hatton station at 09.29 on the morning of Monday 18 August 2008 in the capable hands of 47712 towing 37059 + 37423 and the recently de-branded Stobart Pullman set of coaches. The train, 5Z47, should have run the previous day but WCRC weren't able to provide a driver so the move was put back to the Monday. I wasn't sure if it was running or not but made the short trip from home just in case and was, for once, rewarded with some luck. The weather wasn't very good at the time but typically, the sun appeared before I had put my camera away ready to go back to the car...
Direct Rail Services ran a special train from Carlisle to Euston and return on 28 and 29 September 2007 using 2 of their class 47s and their own rake of coaching stock. If the headboard is to be believed the train was run for members of the Stobart Group, a prominent customer of DRS. The return on the Saturday was routed via Coventry because of the WCML north of Rugby being under a possession and as it looked as if the weather might be reasonable, I went to Tile Hill, near Coventry for a shot. The weather deteriorated on the way from Stratford-upon-Avon and I resigned myself to a photograph in poor light. Luckily however, the train was delayed around Rugby and this gave the cloud the chance to break up. Here is 47802 leading the very smart coaching stock just west of Tile Hill station with 47501 bringing up the rear. The last time I saw the stock both it and the weather conditions were very different. Here is a shot of   37059 with the coaches, prior to refurbishment, exiting Long Marston in virtual darkness on 7 November 2006.
A train involving an older locomotive ran on Moday 10 December 2007. This time it was a 5Z47 York to Old Oak Common ECS with 47847 in charge and it is here seen rounding the curve at Hatton South Junction. This area is heavily beset with shadows from lineside trees and this is about the clearest spot that came to mind. Even so, there is an unfortunate shadow on the locomotive's bodyside but it is almost the shortest day and I shouldn't complain given the otherwise good lighting conditions! There was a real hotch-potch of stock behind 47847 with the first 4 MkIIs being all differently painted. I do like the "blood and custard" of the third coach and should like to see a full rake of this behind a two-tone green 47...
I have very little interest in photographing railtours or charters and rarely bother with them at all and certainly not to extent of chasing half-way across the country after them although on the rare occasion that one comes to my home town, Stratford-upon-Avon, I usually try to get a record shot somewhere in the area. On Saturday 15 March 2008 the newly introduced Stobart Pullman topped-and-tailed by 47802 and 47712 came to the terminus station as 1Z94 from Letchworth. This is the first visit of DRS class 47s to the town and the train is here seen arriving in the platform pretty much exactly on time led by 47802 in sparkling condition and with clean silver buffers.
This is the view from the other side of the Alcester Road bridge as 47802 waits for the passengers to detrain from the Stobart Pullman. The line used to go from here to Honeybourne, via Long Marston, and then on to the South West and South Wales but was truncated in 1976 when the derailment of a coal train at Winchcombe damaged the track to such an extent that it was considered uneconomic to repair it. I'm sure that this short-sighted decision has been much regretted in the intervening years as the line would have provided a much more gently graded route for freight than the line via the Lickey incline.
If the line beyond Stratford-upon-Avon had not been closed in 1976 this picture could well have shown 47802 making a smoky departure towards Cheltenham. In the event, of course, it is doing no more than popelling the ECS of the Stobart Pullman towards Stratford-upon-Avon East Junction, a few yards to the north, where it will cross over and run back into the adjacent platform 2. This was not an enthusiast charter and was run to give the passengers a chance to look around the Shakespeare-related attractions of the town. The first impression of the town for visitors by rail must be completely negative as they are greeted by a disgracefully scruffy derelict site that was formerly the cattle market. This is currently being used by a fun fair and once this has gone the site is to be redeveloped with a mix of low-cost housing and office accomodation, along with a much needed bus and rail interchange point. Some enterprise was shown and a couple of local sight-seeing buses were on hand to give some of the visitors a trip around the area. The forecast rain held off for over an hour so the passengers on the top decks would have enjoyed a dry excursion...
A set of 8 Freightliner Heavy Haul HXA hoppers were taken from Midland Road, Leeds to Long Marston on 1 April 2008. The hoppers are to receive some remedial work and are here seen rounding the curve at Stoke Prior some 2 hours late behind 47828 but in an especially lucky patch of sun. The P-Way workers visible in the background arrived while I was at Stoke Prior and I had had visions of my pictures being full of orange jackets but the man in charge told me they would be far enough away not to be a nuisance!
47828 and its train of HXAs was due to arrive at Evesham at 15.21, but knowing the vicissitudes of the Cotswold Line I decided on a quick drive over there from Stoke Prior in case an earlier path might be found from Worcester. My hunch paid off and here is 6Z76 passing the signal box at Evesham at 14.53 having followed a Paddington-bound HST from Worcester. There had been time for the crew to switch headboards from the usual "Advenza Freight" as shown on the picture above, to this one! The rear bracket on the locomotive carried a different one again, "The Marauder". The colourful van in the yard adjacent to the line had just pulled up as the train came, in an otherwise, for once, empty space.
There was plenty of time for a gentle stroll around to the roadbridge at the eastern end of Evesham station for a shot of 6Z76 standing in the platform. The shadows from the trees aren't too intrusive at this time of year when the foliage hasn't appeared and it was worth the wait for the sun to appear to record the unusual sight of FLHH hoppers in the GWR environs. The train didn't have to wait for long and the crew soon collected the token for the section to Honeybourne from the broom cupboard on the platform and headed off to Long Marston. The locomotive returned light engine to Gloucester and was later that evening noted at Reading West Yard.
A Hertfordshire charter was run from Tonbridge to Worcester for the Christmas Fayre in the city. Quite why the antiquated and pretentious spelling of the word "Fair" is used beats me, but anyway DRS's 47802 headed the tour with 47790 bringing up the rear. The train somehow managed to leave its starting point over an hour late so I was in no rush to get to the bridge at Norton Barracks, near Worcester. In the event around 40 minutes of the lost time was made up, presumably through a combination of some smart running and a favourable path over the partly single line from Swindon to Gloucester. The light at home was excellent but I ran into a thick bank of cloud around Pershore and this showed no sign of breaking up as the train appeared under the M5 bridge in the background.
After working the Warrington to Wembley and return trains on Friday 28 December 2007, 47805, this time with 325011 and 325008 in tow made another appearance on 1A84 on Saturday 29th. As the sky was clear blue from horizon to horizon I was almost tempted to go again to Leamington Spa station to get a sunny version of the picture shown below. In the event though, I decided not to tempt fate and went instead to Tile Hill, between Birmingham International and Coventry. As I walked onto the platform I read a message saying that 1A84 had been in the region on 45 minutes leaving Stafford and with a large bank of cloud blowing in from the north-west I thought that I should again be unlucky. In the event, that mass of cloud blew away only to replaced by another as the estimated arrival time of 47805 approached. Luckily, despite following a local stopping train and a Pendolino, the mail arrived in the last few seconds of sun. I don't do a lot of photography under the wires and sometimes forget that the OHLE can throw shadows over locomotive body sides. The shadow on 47805 isn't too intrusive but in retrospect I should have avoided it altogether by using a slightly shorter lens.
As usual around the Christmas period, the Post Office decided that they couldn't manage to move the seasonal mail around without the help of various rail companies, once again going back on their ludicrous and dogmatic decision to dispense with rail (unless they need it). Personally, if I were in charge of a rail company and the Post Office asked me to help out, I'd tell them where to go. However......one of the more interesting workings was 1A84, the 10.19 Warrington to Wembley move with a 325 unit being hauled by 47805 on Friday 28 December 2007. As the southern end of the WCML was shut, the train was routed via Coventry, Leamington Spa and Oxford, giving the rare opportunity to photograph a 325 away from electrified lines. I chose to go to Leamington Spa station because the light was absolutely dreadful and I knew that the train would be travelling only slowly as it joined the GWR main line from the Coventry branch. Here is 47805 bringing 325011 towards the platforms and again as the controller was opened up. I was tempted to remove the lighting pole during post-processing but decided to leave it as it shows just how dark the conditions were at the time.
The morning of Thursday 13 December 2007 started off with a sharp frost and clear blue skies. Knowing that 60007 was working 6V92, the afternoon Corby to Margam empty steel coils, I decided that later in the day I would go out to have a shot of it. In the meantime, the sky clouded over and I put my plan on hold for another day. By 12.30, the bank of cloud was rapidly breaking up and when a message came through that 47839 was hauling a 5Z91 HST stock move from Derby to Laira I changed my mind again and went to Croome Perry, just about the only place I could think of where the line would be totally free of shadows. Here is the Oxford Blue 47 with its smart rake of refurbished trailers having just passed through the wood, just south of Abbotswood Junction, at 13.30.
Advenza Freight ran a train comprising 47237, 31452 and 6 InterCity liveried MkII coaches from Gloucester to Barrow Hill on 1 February 2008. This unusual-looking working is seen approaching Ashchurch station around one hour late, the delay having been caused by a brake problem on the class 31. The former DRS locomotive has been branded with Advenza's logo, although its former owners initials can still be made out.
I am not one of those photographers who feels the need to chase around the country as soon as a locomotive appears in a new coat of paint, much preferring to wait until it appears somewhere convenient to me. This was the case with the Colas Rail 47s - there was no way I could have been bothered to drive all the way to the West Country for a picture when they were working RHTTs there at the end of 2007, knowing that one or both would appear in the Midlands sooner or later. 47727 Rebecca finally made a trip I could photograph without much effort on Tuesday 26 February 2007 when it hauled a crane and associated vehicles from Crewe to Banbury. 6Z47 was originally intended to go to Swindon, but after a late start was finally parked in the up loop opposite Banbury signalbox. I wanted to picture it somewhere with enough angle to clearly show the unique livery so decided upon Leamington Spa station where the train, consisting of 47727 with a crane and associated vehicles, is here seen accelerating away from the severe speed restriction from the Coventry branch. Click here for a closer view of the crane as the train goes away.
The inspection saloon named Amanda ran from Derby to Stratford-upon-Avon and then on to Shrewsbury and Birkenhead on 18 July 2007. The outward run to Stratford was via the North Warwickshire Line amd with such a short train I felt that a compact and not too open a location was needed as it would look a bit silly on a wide stretch of main line. Even though I knew that the light would be either straight or on the "wrong" side at Henley-in-Arden I felt that the infrastructure at the station would make up for the less than ideal lighting. The saloon was headed by WCRC's 47854 and the train, 2Z01, was booked to stand at Tyseley between 12.17 and 12.40 to follow the local train to Stratford. Given the line occupation here, I thought it far more likely that it would precede the passenger and arrived at Henley-in Arden at 12.30. 47854 passed me at 12.45, exactly 30 minutes early on the booked schedule.
Not only did 47854 and Amanda run via the locomotive desert of the North Warwickshire Line but was also booked to use the Hatton West to North curve. This is used only by an early morning train from from Birmingham and the Shakespeare Express steam trains on summer Sundays. With this is mind, I made the 10 minute drive from Henley-in Arden and the 12 minute walk to the footbridge at Hatton North Junction in order to record 2Z01 coming onto the main line. The train was booked to leave Stratford-upon-Avon at 13.52 but clearly did the run-round in record time as it passed this location at 13.33, some 47 minutes early, having left the terminus before the unit due in at 13.22 had arrived.
During the morning of 18 September messages began to appear suggesting that 47815 was to perform a run from Derby (Litchurch Lane) to Landore, conveying a full HST rake for FGW. 5Z91 was late leaving and managed to miss the sun at Lea Marston, but after having recorded a lot of "real" trains in good light, this additional bit of froth appearing in poorer conditions was not too serious a problem. One thing about the very shiny new stock is that it tends to throw up reflections from its surroundings, slightly masking the new colour scheme of the HST.
My original plan for the afternoon of 24 August was to photograph a couple of units on my local line and then go to Hatton to get the 6E55 Theale to Lindsey empty oil tanks. Just as I was thinking about getting going, a message came through saying that 33202, newly painted into rail blue, was to take an HST power car from Gloucester to Brush's works at Loughborough. I changed my plans and dashed over to Defford, just about the nearest spot to my home for a half-decent northbound picture, but on arrival found another message saying that the plan had been changed at very short notice and that 47813 would no do the move, while 33202 went light engine back to Bristol. I was a bit disappointed but this lessened when 5Z86 appeared with 47714 dead in train along with a FGW power car and 2 barriers wagons in different colour schemes. Here is the colourful ensemble approaching Defford, having just passed over the River Avon.
This photograph shows 5Z47, the heavily delayed 13.24 Stewarts Lane to Tyseley stock move conveying inoperational 37248 and a set of coaching stock going to Tyseley for tyre turning. The rear coach had severe flats and was making quite a noise as it passed Hatton North Junction at 19.22. 5Z47 had left Stewarts Lane in excess of 2 hours late, and that lateness grew almost exponentially. With unusual good fortune the sun held and a small bank of cloud threatening to be a nuisance evaporated before the train appeared, although if it had been much later the shadows visible in the foreground would have encroached on the track as the sun dropped below a hill towards the village of Shrewley.
This photograph of 47810 with a 5Z45 Landore to Loughborough power car move was taken ar Croome Perry on 2 April 2007. I've probably said elsewhere that I rarely chase around for re-painted or otherwise well-known locomotives, secure in the knowledge that they will usually turn up in the fullness of time. 47810 is a case in point. The last time I saw it, it was was in Virgin livery, but was re-done into the attractive Cotswold Rail colour scheme before being named "Captain Sensible". The short train is seen approaching Croome Perry at 15.28, a short while before the sun was round onto the front. Did that bother me?
Cheltenham Race Week generally produces some additional locomotive-hauled trains and 2007 is no exception. Central Trains hired 47826 + 57601 together with a rake of stock to give extra capacity on a couple of Birmingham New Street to Cheltenham workings, and here is the former with the first train of Tuesday 13 March a few minutes late at 10.40. It is passing under clear lower quadrant semaphores at Norton Junction, where the Cheltenham line diverges from the Cotswold Line to Oxford and Paddington. The distant arm is on the "off" position which tells the driver that he won't have to stop at Abbotswood Junction, but has a clear road over the single track lead and thence onto the main line.
47826 and its train were taken back to Worcester by 57601 abut by the time it was on the way back to Cheltenham the sun was hidden behind quite a bank of cloud. Still, the other photographs from t his short session had been in decent light so I shouldn't complain. Here is 1Z66 passing Norton Barracks whilst on the way to the races.
One of the reasons (apart from laziness!) for going to the same locations on 16 March 2007 as earlier in the week was to photograph the Worcester to Cheltenham shuttles in reverse order. Here is 47826 heading 2Z66 from Cheltenham towards Worcester near Norton Barracks. Some may not like the backlighting at this spot around midday, but I find that it accentuates the exhaust from the class 47 and gives a certain modelling effect to the stock.
There were, in 1989, quite a few good locations on the very rural line between Reading and Basingstoke but none better for a late evening shot than the roadbridge at Stratfield Mortimer. The light didn't really get round far enough until around 4pm but as it was open countryside, there were few shadows right until sunset. This picture was taken at 20.17 on 23 June 1989 and shows 47351 heading south with a rake of flat wagons. I heard the train coming for some time before it can into view and when the plume of smoke appeared in the cutting in the left background I really did think for a moment that an unadvertised steam movement was taking place. The locomotive was far from healthy and I clearly remember the smell of lubricating oil being burned as the train passed by. I love the way that the smoke has hung exactly in place over the curves in the line on this totally calm and still evening.
A more representative picture of a class 47 at Stratfield Mortimer in 1989 is this of 47665 with a Glasgow to Poole inter-regional express. The time of the shot was 16.15 and the sun has just gone round far enough for a well-lit photograph. My notes show quite a gap between 18.30 and 20.17 and I recall that my girlfriend at the time and I had gone to the nearby and excellent pub for supper, the previous day having been her birthday. It was quite convenient to travel by train from Basingstoke to Mortimer for a few hours photography, the only downside being that there was no shot of a northbound train from this bridge.
This picture from Defford, near Pershore was taken during the afternoon of 2 November 2006. It shows 47712 on hire to GBRf on a 5Z98 11.04 Laira to Derby HST stock move. This train was originally scheduled to run via Swindon, Didcot, Oxford and Hatton to reach Birmingham, but the booked route was changed during the morning, which fitted in nicely with my plans to spend some time here. Progress reports were not in short supply on such a sunny afternoon, and it seemed as if every vantage point was occupied by photographers if the number of messages flying around were any guide.
47813 clearly has as much of an affinity for the Cotswold as I. Here it is again on 2 November 2006, this time at Lower Moor with a 5Z02 12.00 Long Marston to Laira stock move consisting of 7 Project Rio MML HST coaches along with MkIII vehicles in FGW and VT colours being used as barriers. These 2 vehicles were taken into Long Marston last week and a picture of the that move appears in my Long Marston section. The train was running a few minutes late due to an up Adelante also being late and occupying the single track from Norton Junction to Evesham. In consequence John Peel was being worked hard to make up time and left a haze of exhaust both over the stock and countryside.
Here is 5Z02 again, this time on the main Gloucester line. The train ran north to Worcester Yard to allow the locomotive to run round before heading south where I photographed it some 25 minutes early at 13.52 passing through the site of Defford station. This is a pleasant location and has the added advantage of a decent northbound shot - far better in my opinion than the more popular viewpoint at Croome Perry, a couple of miles to the north.
On Tuesday 6 March 2007 there was a 5Z47 Derby to Laira move of refurbished and repainted stock headed by rail blue 47840. As FGW HSTs will not be running to Birmingham I thought it too good a chance to miss and went to Stoke Works, near Bromsgrove for a photograph. The train was about 60 minutes late but the sun stayed favourable and it was a pleasantly warm day so the wait was no chore. There was a PW slack on the down line so 5Z47 was moving quite slowly at the time and the smell of new paint from  the stock was quite noticeable.
In September 1994 I lived relatively close to the railway in Stratford-upon-Avon and could usually hear if something heavier than the usual DMU rolled down the bank towards the station. On Friday 28th I heard such a train late in the evening and wandered down to the station to have a look and found 47738 at the head of the "Royal Scotsman" stock. Chatting to the train crew ascertained that it was due off at 07.50 on Saturday en-route to York. Happily, the next morning was clear and sunny and I obtained this shot of the train prior to departure.
After taking the static shots at Stratford-upon-Avon station I decided upon a view somewhere along the single track between Bearley and Hatton junctions. Not having had much chance to investigate and wanting to avoid Wilmcote station because of several other photographers already being there I chose this spot just beyond Bearley Junction. Although a lot of the train is hidden I think that the combination of red and green worked well on such a beautiful morning.
Hatton Bank saw two widely differing class 47-hauled trains during the afternoon of 26 March 2003. The first was a London Victoria to Stratford-upon-Avon VSOE working in the capable hands of one of the Royal 47s, 47799. It is here seen with a surprising amount of exhaust given that it will have receieved a yellow signal a little further south in readiness for the 10mph junction with the Stratford branch at Hatton station.
This train, hauled by 47709 was not quite as luxurious as the VSOE shown above. It was a 5Z45 Kineton - Carnforth move of 16 redundant vans coming out of store at the Warwickshire MOD site. It was a heavy train and the exhaust from the 47 was more justified than that in the picture above. The walkers in the middle background seemed to be transfixed by the sight of the odd-looking ensemble climbing Hatton Bank on 26 March 2003.
Green liveried 47815 Great Western was booked to haul and Ilford to Derby move of HST stock on 26 June 2007, the train being unusually routed via the GWML and then the Didcot to Oxford line via Hatton. I was unlucky with the light at Hatton North Junction and 5Z91 passed me in the thickest piece of cloud in the sky. I wouldn't normally put such a poor image online, but the 4 different colour schemes of the locomotive and first 3 coaches are so unusual that I thought it worthwhile. In retrospect, this location was a poor choice for a green locomotive - it blends all too well into the background. All in all, not one of my better efforts!
No sooner had I returned home from Long Marston on Thursday 26 April 2007 than my 'phone rang and a friend told me that a 5Z47 Crewe to Old Oak Common empty stock move had just gone past Sutton Park and was heading for its destination via Hatton and Oxford. After a quick drink I went out again, to the nearest location for me, the road bridge at Hatton station. I didn't have long to wait before 47815 came into sight with a goodly rake of stock, including a vehicle newly outshopped in Great Western style chocolate and cream livery. Now, wouldn't a full set of that look good? 5Z47 was tailed by large logo   47847 and if you like going-away shots, use the hyperlink for a look.
This is what a weedkilling train looked like in 1986. 47013 is pictured approaching Stratford-upon-Avon at 6.15am on the morning on 4 June. It was very unusual to see the goods loop signal in the "off" position but a quick word with the signalman and the promise of a copy of the photo sorted that out. The train is routed directly into the goods loop which now has long disappeared as have the semaphore signals and associated signalbox.
Another shot of the weedkiller on 4 June 1986 shows 47013 crossing over to the up main line at Stratford-upon-Avon. The background and railway infrastructure has changed since the date of the photograph. The semaphore signals have gone, the cold store dating from the 2nd World War, visible behind the locomotive, has been replaced with the inevitable supermarket and the second world war air raid shelter upon which I was standing has also been consigned to history.
This is yet another of the everyday scenes on the railway from 1993 which most people didn't bother to record, yet today photographers will drive miles to see the repainted InterCity-liveried class 47, 47826, even when it's travelling light engine. To be quite honest, there is little I wouldn't have photographed in such lovely afternoon light. It shows 47839 about to make its Leamington Spa stop with a Paddington to Liverpool train while 47848 waits to depart with a service to Poole on 9 March 1993.
Whitnash is a village a little to the south of Leamington Spa and used to be an excellent location for railway photography, especially in the morning. I spent a couple of hours there on 24 March 1993 and the first train I saw was the Poole to Liverpool inter-regional headed by 47817. Here it is slowing for the severe speed restriction and the station stop at Leamington Spa. Pallisade fencing has since been erected here and although a shot of a northbound train can still be taken from the occupation bridge, it has lost a lot of the rural charm.
The tunnel at Ansley on the Nuneaton to Birmingham line was closed for extensive repair and gauge enhancement work in the winter and spring of 1992/3. As result, a Wembley to Longbridge train of empty car carriers was diverted from the WCML to run via Reading and Oxford. Here is this working on 24 March 1993 approaching Whitnash - surely one of the longest trains to have run on this line. It would certainly have been too long for the down through road and Leamington so if it had been necessary to check it, this would have been done at the signal outside the station.
I dropped in at Harbury Cutting during the afternoon of 10 May 1993 on the way home from a visit to Calvert ansd fell upon this working. They only locomotive I am able to identify is 20007 and I'm not quite sure about the working. I think it was a move to get the class 20s to Aylesbury and that the wagons were in the consist to provide brake force. The light was dreadful but the unusual sight cried out to be recorded.
A loco-hauled charter train from Stratford-upon-Avon to Llandudno was run on Saturday 2 July 1992. I went down to the station first thing in the morning to see the ECS arrive and was pleasantly surprised to that 47258 had been allocated along with a rake of Regional Railways liveried stock. Here is the class 47 running round the stock just after arrival in some transitory sunshine. This scene has changed almost beyond recognition in the intervening years with the demolition of the rail-served Ministry of Food cold store and its replacement with the inevitable supermarket. It was widely believed by some of the more gullible inhabitants of Stratford that the wartime food store also contained a nuclear bunker intended for use as a regional seat of government should the Eastern Bloc countries deploy their nuclear arsenal against us - proved to be a complete fallacy when the facility was demolished!
As I said above, the early morning sun didn't last long on the morning of 2 July 1992. A Stratford-upon-Avon to Llandudno charter ran on that day and utilised 47258 along with a set of Regional Railways stock. Unusually, the train was routed via the North Warwickshire line and is here seen having just passed Henley in Arden. The signal box at the station was switched out on Saturdays at this time, and in the absence of an intermediate block point this meant that there was a long section from Bearley Junction to Shirley; the fringe signalbox for Saltley panel. 47258 was the locomotive used on the last coal train to Chinnor cement works and some shots of this appear in my Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire pages.
In March 1993, this scene was so commonplace as to be unremarkable; a class 47 climbing Hatton Bank with a freightliner train. If this were to happen in 2007, and I suppose it is just about possible, I would not be alone in this location, as I was on 19 March 1993. I'm not entirely sure about the identity of the train hauled by 47210 as there wasn't one due at the time it passed me, 16.22, but I think it was a late-running Southampton to Lawley Street. This had been an especially good day from a photographic point of view. I had started just south of Leamington Spa and moved north to Hatton when the light became too straight at the former location at about 10.30. My notes tell me that I photographed 14 loco-hauled trains, 2 HSTs and several DMUs, all in good sun.
I suppose that 47484 was the first of the celebrity class 47s once it had been repainted into GWR Brunswick (or to be completely accurate, middle chrome) green. This was done in 1985 as part of the celebrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Great Western Railway. Isambard Kingdom Brunel had been released for only a few days when I happened upon it approaching Reading with a Paddington to Oxford service on 6 March of that year.
One of the highlights of the photographic week on Hatton bank in the mid-1980s was the Fridays only Portsmouth Harbour to Leeds train, which generally produced a class 33. Sadly for me, Friday afternoons were not always easy to take off work at the time, so I didn't obtain as many photographs of the working as I would have liked. I did manage to escape on the mostly sunny afternoon on 11 April 1986 and duly positioned myself where Hatton cutting commences only to find that 47409 had been allocated to the Leeds train. In retrospect, I would still have preferred a Crompton... The scene has changed quite a lot in the intervening years. The old mental hospital in the background ("going to Hatton" had a very different meaning then!) has gone in favour of housing and a lot of greenery has grown up.
In 2006, it seems an awfully long time since it was possible to see steam from carriage heating leaking from various points of the vehicles. Although this photograph is not of the highest quality, I think that it is worth including here both because of the steam and the inspection vehicle itself. The short formation was standing in the "back bay" at Leamington Spa on 21 March with 47186. The water tank in the saloon had just been replenished and the pipe visible was about to be removed.
Stratford-upon-Avon used to see a lot of locomotive-hauled charters, and in the summer of 1985 a series of weekly train ran under the "Shakespeare Ltd" branding. The stock was the SLOA set invariably hauled by a class 47. On 18 August of that year, 47456 was provided and the train is here seen leaving Stratford in the early evening. The character walking in front of the camera had just crossed the track from a food processing factory even though the train was rounding the curve. Despite politely asking him to hang on for a few seconds until I had taken my shot, he still walked on...
The morning of 20 February was cold, foggy and with a fair amount of snow hanging around. A day off had been booked long in advance for a trip to Leicester so despite the weather, it went ahead. This picture, taken from the ground at the back of the signalbox, shows 47314 passing Knighton Junction, Leicester with a long rake of oil tanks. All the interesting railway infrastructure disappeared in the Leicester area resignalling project. Time has lent a certain amount on enchantment to this dull everyday scene - it wouldn't have been shown in public for many years after it was taken...
This was such a commonplace and everyday scene on 1984 that I don't think many people bothered to take photographs like this. It shows 47606 Odin, complete with WR nameplate, leaving Leamington Spa on 8 December 1984 with the 09.58 Manchester Piccadilly to Brighton service, which was running 20 minutes late at this point. The attraction of Leamington Spa was that as the station runs east - west, the sun was favourable for much of the day. At this period, there was also considerable freight activity and it was not unusual to see examples of 8 or 9 different locomotive classes during the space of a few hours.
Some 20 years ago it was possible to see a couple of flows of cement on the GWR main line through Hatton. The first was that to and from Bletchington, just north of Oxford, and the second from Greaves Sidings near Harbury, between Leamington Spa and Banbury. This train, hauled by 47101 is from the latter and was photographed during the late morning of 1 May 1986. It must have been a cold spring in 1986 judging by the lack of leaves on the trees, although there was considerably less vegetation in the area than there is today. The small oak tree in the middle foreground was long a feature of this location, and was a good prop to aid framing on occasions until it was felled by "steam photographers" whose customary selfish vandalism came into practice.
The Blue Pullman train was scheduled to visit my home town, Stratford-upon-Avon, on Saturday 19 August 2006. There seemed to be a catalogue of problems, including a faulty coach meaning that the ECS was nearly 2 hours late and 47712 having a problem near Peterborough resulting in 47832 having to run-round and top the train the forward. The booked route for 1Z53 was via Solihull and Hatton North to West junctions, but the driver didn't sign this piece of line. It was therefore diverted via the North Warwickshire line - an immensely rare area for locomotive-hauled trains. Here is the Blue (not to mention black and InterCity stripes!) Pullman passing the photogenic location of Henley-in Arden some 2 hours late at 14.31. 47832 was later sent light engine to Tyseley for fuel - also running via this route in each direction. The train headed by 47712 left Stratford-upon-Avon at about 17.35, only some 20 minutes later than the booked time, giving the passengers about 2 hours less in the town than they had been led to expect.
One of the advantages of the recent very hot weather has been a steam ban, which gave the opportunity to photograph WCRC's 47245 on my local patch. The "Shakespeare Express", usually hauled by a GWR Hall class locomotive, had to be dragged into Stratford-upon-Avon by the 47. It is seen here on Sunday 30 July 2006 at Bishopton, just outside Stratford, catching an unfortunate patch of sun; at this time of day there is no side lighting at this location. The return to Birmingham was hauled by 4965 with 47245 DIT. The same pattern was followed on the second trip of the day. Use this hyperlink to see the train arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon later in the afternoon. It was a pity that the light was not how I would have wished for either train, although the sun did briefly appear as the train passed under the footbridge, but I think the novelty value makes the photographs worthwhile.
Cotswold Rail's 47714 with a "Kit Kat on Tour" headboard was the motive power for a 5Z43 Old Oak Common to Loughborough consisting of HST power car 43164 and barrier wagon 6336 on 28 November 2006. The train was originally booked to leave OOC at 09.10 but eventually got away some 2 hours late after having to run round the Greenford Loop in order for the power car to be pointing in the right direction. It made up a lot of time and entered Hatton cutting, as here seen with the loco being opened up and producing its customary exhaust, at 14.09, only 25 minutes late. There are still vestiges of Autumnal colour here, despite some strong winds over the past few days. I have a bit of a soft spot for 47714 and was especially pleased to score a well-lit shot of it on my favourite patch while it remains in the obsolete Anglia livery.
Some of my favourite workings were those from Swindon to Longbridge and return. In the middle 1990s, these were hauled by pairs of Railfreight Distribution's class 47s. The double-heading was more to ensure timely running in the case of failure than because of the heavy loads conveyed in the cube wagons. These are not see to their best advantage in this picture of 47236+47245 just being opened up after descending the Lickey Incline with 6V27, the 10.35 Longbridge to Swindon, but who could resist taking a picture with such a display of exhaust? At the time of writing, August 2006, it is interesting to note that 47245 has just returned to main line traffic. It is part of WCRC fleet and is now to be seen in their attractive maroon colour scheme. Here is a picture of   the locomotive arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon on 30 July 2006. 645
I always enjoyed spending a couple of hours after work on the Cheltenham line, especially if some decent light was in the offing. One of my regular haunts was, and still is, the roadbridge just outside the village of Defford in Worcestershire. On 1 May 1997 1S81, the 12.44 Plymouth to Glasgow postal, was entrusted to 47714 and the train is here seen having just crossed the Warwickshire Avon. The loss of the postal traffic was a severe blow to photographers all over the country, not to mention EWS and its staff. 645
A move of stored HST power cars from Landore to Brush at Loughborough was planned for 29 June 2006. It was originally timed to pass Abbotswood Junction in the mid-afternoon but later re-timed to be some 4 hours later. This was a much better proposition for the direction of the light, assuming that the sun stayed out. This picture of Cotswold Rail's 47828 with power cars 43078, 43197, 43157 and 43165 was taken as the train approached Abbotswood Junction at 19.09. The sun was just about to dip into a thick bank of cloud but, for once, I struck lucky and the light remained good until after 5Z87 had passed.
On the afternoon of 11 May 2006 I made the gentle drive over to Hatton North Junction to photograph 47145 topping a 1Z14 Didcot to Derby SERCO working. The train had earlier run to Oxford, Bicester (London Road), Calvert and Aylesbury and back. It used up a lot of recovery time, having left Oxford for the run north some 26 minutes late, passing Hatton only 2 minutes down. 47355 is just about visible on the rear of the train.
This was my favourite location at Stratford-upon-Avon on the occasions that something special came to the town fairly early in the morning. Here is 47632 passing the town's outer home bracket signal on 3 July 1986 with an ECS move in connection with a private charter to Blackpool.
Another class 47-hauled special train visited Stratford-upon-Avon on 28 April 1990. This time it was the Intercity charter unit's matching rake of stock hauled by large logo 47816. The return working to Paddington is seen climbing the 1/75 of Wilmcote bank in the late afternoon. 645
A WCRC tour from Doncaster to Salisbury ran on 15 October 2005. It was routed from Birmingham to Reading via Solihull and Oxford so giving the relatively ususual opportunity for a loco-hauled passenger train at Hatton. 1Z55 is pictured here emerging from Hatton cutting just about on time at 11.03. Use these links for another shot of 47851 as it passes the footbridge and the trailing locomotive, 47826 as it is photographed going away by Messrs Hollick and Kosys.
Here are 47714 + 47813 from the Cotswold Rail stable hauling 0Z03, allocated 87009, 87020 and 87034, from Bicester COD to Long Marston. The ensemble ran via Oxford, Swindon, Kemble and Worcester, where the locos ran-round before heading south on the Cotswold line. The train was given a clear road through Evesham and did not need to stand time to cross a northbound passenger service. It is here seen putting up a good display of exhaust after the mandatory stop to exchange the token.
I couldn't resist a second shot as 0Z03 passed the signal. I was pleased to get a shot of 47714 in half-decent light as my previous attempt had been thwarted by a blizzard at Long Marston...
An empty stock move was booked from Old Oak Common to Tyseley on Friday 26 August 2005 in connection with a railtour to the South West the following day. 47854 was booked on the train, running as 5Z55, which ran some 70 minutes late. The only place to which I had time to get was Hatton station and this is the train approaching the platforms. It was following a Chiltern Turbo but had been given a clear road as it approached the summit of Hatton Bank as it was accelerating and clagging nicely as it passed. The locomotive looked splendid in its new livery and clean buffers really gave the finishing touch. Oh yes; the sun came out as the last coach passed me...
47854 worked another ECS on Sunday 28 August 2005, this time from Tyseley to Old Oak Common - the return working of Friday's train, shown above. It is seen here framed through the road bridge approaching Hatton station. It's good to see that the buffers have been cleaned again. I wager that the graffiti "artist" responsible for the picture on the brick wall on the right would not have expected his work to appear on the internet!
After spending the sunny morning of Friday 2 September in the office I decided to give myself the afternoon off and drove over to Abbotswood Junction, just south of Worcester. The only out of the ordinary train I expected to see was 47826 on a 2Z01 inspection saloon working. This ran early and is seen here clagging nicely at 15.09.
A public footpath just north of Mortimer station, on the Basingstoke to Reading line is the location for this shot of 47478 on the Wessex Scot taken on May Day 1990. It was unusual to see a silver-roofed 47 on this service as 47/8s were doing most of the inter-regional work on this line by then. I was here to photograph the trial run of a class 59 on a heavy rake of steel wagons - this had already passed and I decided to hang on to record some of the more usual day-to-day workings on the line. A class 47 along the line today would really get the BlackBerries and mobile 'phones beeping, but few enthusiasts took any notice of them in 1990. 645
This photograph was taken at Hinckley on 4 May 1996 and shows 47789 passing through the statiion with a Pathfinder "Explorer" special from Bristol to Spalding in connection with the annual flower festival. The picture is topical in that the scene is soon to change with the imminent abolition of the semaphore signalling. 645
Here is another railtour powered by Cotswold Rail's class 47s, this time 47316 in multiple with Anglia liveried 47714. The train is passing Northway, neat Tewkesbury on 14 May 2005 heading south towards their destination of Kingswear in South Devon. The dog walker in the field seems singularly unimpressed by this fine spectacle!
I have rarely seen a class 47 in such appalling external condition as 47098 was as photographed here. The train is the morning Southampton to Ripple Lane freightliner pictured passing Basingstoke on 1 October 1990. It was checked by signals approaching the station and the driver opened up as he cleared the platforms.
47840 was repainted into Rail Blue livery for its final months of service with Virgin CrossCountry. Strangely, this was the most popular of the repainted class 47s despite that particular colour scheme having been derided for years as the worst inflicted on any diesel - or in fact, on all diesels as those of us active in the 1970s and 80s remember. Still, when clean it didn't look at all bad as witnessed here as it approaches Coleshill foot crossing with a "drag" from Wolverhampton to Nuneaton on 13 September 2003.
Towards the end of 2005, Freightliner's veteran 47303 was to be found on main line services so it was only a matter of time before it turned up on the train, which for me at least, is the best for photography, 4M55 Lawley Street to Southampton. Here is that train climbing Hatton Bank on 16 November 2005 at 13.15 in a some rather nice sunshine. The work-worn state of the locomotive can be better seen in this close-up . There didn't seem to be much wrong with the mechanical side of the old girl, as she sounded great and was running with a commendably clear exhaust despite the hard work being done on the 1/110 gradient.
Some 3 years before the picture of 47303 shown above was taken the locomotive was unexpectedly turned out on the same train. For comparison purposes, it is shown here in approximately the same spot of Hatton Bank. The photograph is dated 18 November 2002.
The section of the Coalville line from Burton-on Trent to the town of Coalville itself currently sees little traffic, but in 1995 there was a daily return working from Doncaster to Bardon Hill. The motive power for this was variable, but on 21 March a former InterCity 47, 47550, was allocated. The train of empties is seen here passing near the site of Castle Gresley station. 645
By February 2001, class 57 had taken over a lot of freightliner's services, but on the 15th of the month 47334 was diagrammed to work 4M55, the 10.22 Southampton to Lawley Street train. It is seen here at Hatton North Junctiion, in the days before the remodelling work had taken place. The boarded crossing can clearly be seen; this has since been replaced with a new footbridge located a few yards further north. 645 To see the 2005 scene at this location, click on the following link. Hatton North in 2005
The same location as the picture above is see here in 2005. Cotswold Rail's 47828 was booked to run from Oxley to Bicester COD on 15 August to pick up 14 double-decker articulated cartics and take them to EMR at Kingsbury to be scrapped. After a couple of false starts the train, running as 6G50 finally left Bicester at 12.22 and made it to Hatton North Junction, as pictured here at 15.12. The graffiti was presumably applied to the cartics prior to them being stored at Bicester, this being a secure military facility.
On 30 May 1989 a class 47 from the Derby RTC pool was released in an approximation of Midland Railway maroon to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the company. The loco was 97561, renumbered from D1614, 47034 and 47561 and is pictured here just north of Stoke Works Junction, near Bromsgrove with a Derby to Bristol special working.
Although keeping the maroon livery shown in the picture above, 97561 had been renumbered yet again by September 1989. At this time, 23 September 1989, it carried its final number, 47973 and was in use on a Pathfinder railtour, The Fenland Rambler which ran from Swindon to Middleton Towers. 47973 was used only from Birmingham New Street to Melton Mowbray and is seen here traversing the Nuneaton avoiding line. In 1989, this line was a short but very atmospheric piece of track, to be closed in February 1992. It has recently re-opened but the atmosphere generated by the signalling and derelict sidings has gone for ever in favour of a featureless and pallisade-fenced modernity. This train ran on an exceptionally dull morning and I must have been worried about the result as I noted that I had to use 1/125 at f4 on 400asa TRI-X in 645 format.
Another class 47 painted into green livery was 47114, part of the Freightliner fleet. It is seen here east of Didcot in Moreton Cutting on 26 February 2000 with the 4O24 03.50 Leeds to Southampton 'liner. 645
This photograph may look quite ordinary, but on 16 September 1989 it depicted a really newsworthy working. This is 47187 working a Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham all stations local service. For some reason, there was a severe shortage of suburban DMUs on this day and a loco-hauled train substituted. This is the 14.30 Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham Moor Street, diverted to New Street for ease of operation, there being no run-round facility at Moor Street. It was photographed arriving at at very decrepit-looking Wilmcote station. Earlier in the day and while I was stuck in the office, a pair of class 20s had worked the diagram but had been replaced by the 47 for the later services. This was the first loco-hauled Birmingham train from Stratford since the days of Prairie tanks in the the 1950s, and needless to say, has not been repeated.
This train was probably the subject of more photographs than any other in the summer of 2004. 47145 was employed on taking a rake of HST stock to Bicester COD but suffered a problem involving the power handle. It was left in the up loop at Banbury for several days, and being in such a convenient position by the road bridge adjacent to the station made it very easy to get a decent photograph in the afternoon. My picture was taken on 7 June 2004. It is hard to believe that the modern housing estate in the background was once a very busy freight yard, receiving and despatching traffic from all around the country. 645
47145 and its train may have been the subject of many photographs whilst at Banbury, but this one is unique - there was no-one else on the footbridge at Hatton when it passed on 1 June 2004 as the 5Z59 Neville Hill to Bicester ECS move. The sun just stayed out long enough to give a reasonable level of illumination on the locomotive and first barrier wagon. 645
The summer of 1989 saw Derby RTC's class 47s used on dated trains to the South West. Here, 47972 is seen passing the Unitank depot at Bromsgrove with 1V45, the 09.45 Manchester Piccadilly to Paignton service. It was not unheard of for a northbound service to give up the ghost at the thought of tackling the Lickey incline and it was therefore customary for a pair of 37s to be stabled in the sidings for the day to minimise any delay caused by a failure. On this day, 22 July 1989 37032+37071 were not needed and made an attractive background to the procession of passenger trains. This scene has now changed with the disappearance of the oil tanks and the construction of a housing estate on the nearside. The class 121 single unit just visible in the background would have been working the local shuttle service to Birmingham New Street.645
By 2 March 1994 47972 had been painted again, this time into the red and white scheme shown here. I seem to recall that this was something to do with BR's telecomms department and do know that a couple of   class 20s appeared in something similar. The location for this shot is near the village of Swarkestone on the Castle Donnington freight line.
The COD depot at Bicester used to take fortnightly trainloads of coal from late Autumn through to early Spring. In 2000, it was usual for the train to run from Daw Mill to Didcot on a Friday, stage overnight and then run along the branch to Bicester on Saturday lunchtime. I had seen   37717  take the train (6V46) south on the Friday so went over to Bicester the following day for another shot. I was somewhat surprsied to see RES liveried 47640 appear in the distance with the loaded hoppers and assume that the 37 had been required elsewhere. The train is seen here propelling the HTAs into the depot where they were dropped off for unloading, to be collected as part of the daily MOD later the following week. The locomotive would normally have returned light engine, but unbeknown to me picked up a rake of stone hoppers that had been stored and took them to Didcot. I found this out only the following week... 645
It is not often easy to photograph the Royal Train in action because of the obvious security implications of information being made available prior to a run. It is therefore largely down to luck if one obtains a decent photograph of it. This was the case on 19 July 1997 when I spent a few hours near Up Hatherley, near Cheltenham and it appeared heading towards Cheltenham from the south, being hauled by 47799, with 47798 tailing at the rear. 645
This, and the 2 following pictures shown 47852 on the Sunday 13.40 train from Paddington to Hereford on 8 September 1991. This was a most unusual working as 47582 and the hauled stock were deputising for a failed HST. This first picture shows it passing a cottage near Colwall on the single track from Worcester. The cottage almost appears to been altered slightly to allow the railway to be built. 645
This shot shows 47582 about to shunt the stock at Hereford before returning to Paddington. There were quite a few enthusiasts around for this working because of the unusual nature of the working, and no doubt the warm afternoon sunshine helped entice them out. 645
The final image in this short sequence shows 47582, in place of the booked HST, preparing to return to Paddington via Worcester. The attractive station buildings at Hereford are worthy of note. The colour of the masonry and the classic design are in stark contrast to more modern buildings and reflect the more important role of the railway in earlier times. 645
This photograph shows an extremely unusual combination of motive power on the 7M56 Berkeley to Crewe nuclear flask train. DRS class 20s, 20903+20904 ran short of fuel whilst at Berkeley and Virgin's 47769 was summoned to perform the rescue. The strange-looking ensemble is seen here nearing Ashchurch at 14.26 on 14 September 2001.
In 1989 a late morning Paddington to Birmingham New Street service ran, the stock of which ran to Oxley for servicing. It seen here passing under the Dudley Road in Birmingham and about to pass the EMU stabling and maintenance point at Soho Junction behind Network South East's 47583. This was normally a class 50 working and I remember being a bit disappointed that it was "only" a class 47 on 15 July 1989. Time has since tempered my disappointment and I now am far happier to have photographed a NSE 47 here. 645
Staying in the West Midlands but on a far less busy and arguably far more interesting line and environment than the shot above, here is a picture taken at Wednesbury on the evening of 22 June 1990. The train, headed by 47375, is the returning china clay empties from Stoke on Trent to St. Blazey.
Moving a little to the south of Hatton station, this picture shows an unidentified class 47 climbing Hatton Bank with the 13.10 Southampton to Coatbridge freightliner on 17 September 1996. The Anglo-Scottish 'liners now run via Coventry, Nuneaton and the WCML rather than this route, meaning that there are fewer trains on my favourite stretch of line. 645
47853 was another of the class selected to receive so-called heritage livery for the final period before the cessation of Virgin XC services. It was repainted into the XP64 experimental livery and remained popular for special workings after its normal work disappeared. It is seen here at Wooferton, on the North and West route, working an 08.30 Manchester Piccadilly to Cardiff service in connection with a sportong event at the Millenium Stadium. 645
There was a 5Z50 10.31 Bedford to Crewe Basford Hall barrier wagon booked via Coventry on 26 March 2005. I arrived at Berkswell in plenty of time, rang a friend with access to certain computer systems only to be told that it was to be diverted via the Trent Valley from Rugby. There should be time to get somewhere I thought so headed off towards the M42 and Tamworth Low Level. After a couple of extra turns around one of the many roundabouts in the town the destination was reached. I phoned my friend again and he said, in rather a panicky fashion that I had better run as the train was approaching the station on the down fast line. There was fortunately a Pendolino in the platform meaning that 5Z50 would be stopped. Here is the first shot as the train runs slowly into the station headed by 47830 and tailed by 47811.
Just as the photograph shown above was taken the Pendolino pulled out of the platform so a quick sprint to the north end of the platform allowed this shot as the train pulled away.
I am not normally a great fan of the going-away shot but this one had to be taken because the more attractive of the locomotives was on the rear of the train and it gave the opportunity to include Tamworth's signalbox in the picture. I think a month's supply of luck was used up on this train with finding out about the diversion in time, getting there in time and having the sun shine out of a largely cloudy sky.
The regular 1Z14 SERCO from Worcester to Swansea (via Malvern, Hereford and Malvern again) ran today, 9 August 2005. It was booked for 47355 and 47145 and was to run via, at reverse at Droitwich but through late running missed out this leg of the journey. This was a pity as I had decided upon taking my first shots here because of the semaphore signalling and the chance to get decent shots of both locos during the reversal process. Still, I did get a nice sunny picture of it at 11.22 on the main line approacing Ashchurch.
An unmissable Sunday working meant that my store of Brownie points is in serious need of replenishment. This time it was 47197 hauling a derailment-damaged 220011 as 5Z11 13.00 Barton Hill to Central Rivers. It is pictured here at Defford roadbridge, clagging away from Eckington Loop at 15.08. I should imagine that being limited to 40mph meant it it visited every loop on the line. The wheat field on the left must have been alive with thunderbugs (Thysanoptera), also known as Thrips; as my shirt, camera, camera bag and everything else was covered in the wretched creatures - the perils of summer photography!
Once class 50 had finished on the Waterloo to Exeter and Salisbury trains, Network South East branded 47s took over the workings. 47701 is seen here leaving Andover with an up Exeter train alongside 47279 which was working the Ludgershall trip. Class 159s were looming on the horizon and it was not to be long before locomotive-hauled passenger trains were but a memory on this line.
The summer timetable of 1990 included an ECS move from Liverpool to Reading. This was normally a class 47 turn and the working on 13 July was no exception when 47508 was pictured passing the closed station at Sutton Park on what is now a freight only line. Loco-hauled coaching stock was, and still is an uncommon sight on this line.
No account of the railways of the Midlands would be complete without at least one picture of the (in)famous weekend drags taken at Whitacre Junction. I usually go for one session towards the end of the season, by which time most people have given up having already obtained their photographs. This is the easiest way to avoid the crush, overload of name dropping, egomaniacs and general bull! 47851, to my eyes carrying the most attractive of the heritage liveries applied to the remaining 47/8s, heads towards Nuneaton at 10.20 on Saturday 30 August 2003. This day was slightly unusual in that the down main line was out of service and all trains had to use the loop. The sleepers creaked quite disconcertingly as the trains passed and the track needed wooden wedges to be driven between the rails and chairs by a Network Rail employee. 645
As I mentioned in the caption to the photograph above, the down main line at Whitacre was out of commission on Saturday 30 August 2003 and the eagle-eyed viewer will note the lack of a signal protecting the junction in the middle distance - it was lying on the ballast at this stage!. I didn't establish what happened to cause this problem and while at the time the result was a bit disappointing from a photographic point of view it did give me the chance to picture loco-hauled passenger trains leaving the loop. It's a pity that the mass tree clearance had not yet taken place but I doubt that this scene, showing 47810 en-route to Wolverhampton, will ever be repeated.
My main reason for visiting Whitacre on this morning, 30 August 2003, was to photograph 47781 on an 6B61 11.21 Bescot to Daventry service. The train is seen running quite a bit early at 11.24. 645
This shot and the one below show 47534 on departmental duties in the Black Country. Here, the loco is about to pass under the main Birmingham to Wolverhampton at Dudley Port with the 9M01 Gloucester to Bescot working. This was quite often class 50-hauled, but not today, 15 June 1987. The light was awful and my 35mm negative film wasn't really up to the job and needed a lot of work in Photoshop to produce even a half-decent image.
By the time the return working of the train shown above was due, the weather had deteriorated even further and it was pouring with rain. There was nothing especially pleasant about the area around Great Bridge even though I do like certain aspects of the industrial scenery, but in these conditions it was really nasty! 47535 is seen here dragging a class 101 DMU back to Gloucester past the semaphore signal controlled by Eagle Crossing box. There is some evidence of activity in the adjacent yard, but at this time it was quite rare to see any movement here.
Class 47s were the staple motive power for virtually all freightliners in 1988. 47019 was captured on film climbing Hatton Bank with the SO Southampton to Lawley Street on the pleasantly warm afternoon of 23 April 1988. A 47 is still just about a possibility on the corresponding working, 4M55, in 2005 but I would bet I wouldn't be alone in this location if it did happen!
This picture shows 47281 arriving at Long Marston with a MOD train from Didcot on a very wet and dull 11 February 1997. This line, once part of the GWR's route from Wolverhampton and Birmingham to South Wales and the West Country currently sees no traffic. In fairly recent times there have been occasional trains such as the one pictured here and some scrap traffic to the adjacent Birds scrapyard. Since the MOD depot closed there has been almost no traffic other than an occasional railtour. Proposals exist exist locally for a new industrial estate which would of necessity need to be rail-connected if HGV chaos were to be avoided on the very narrow lanes around here. A major problem with this plan would be a lack of paths on the largely singled Cotswold line to the junction with this branch at Honeybourne.
One of the most colourful paint jobs carried by class 47 was this on 47807. It was a representation of the house colours of Porterbrook Leasing, the company from whom the locomotive was leased by Virgin Trains. The train is the morning Liverpool to Plymouth pictured on 2 May 1997 at Stoke Works, near Bromsgrove.
Most of the Pendolino drags from Washwood Heath to Old Dalby ran via Stafford to run round but on 10 September 2004 when 47805 was employed on this job it ran via Whitacre Junction. The train is pictured here approaching the junction itself at 12.33.
As it was such a nice morning I opted to have another crack of the train on its way to York and thought I could probably beat it to Stenson Junction. I did, but not by enough to get my cameras out before it had passed the bridge! Still, my effort was later rewarded with this shot of a clean RfD 47287 on the Pengam - Lynemouth aluminium slab empties.
Another shot near my home shows 47709 approaching Stratford-upon-Avon at Bishopton with a Very Special Trains charter from Redhill on 2 September 2004.
Moving to 1987 this picture shows 47378 passing Longbridge station in the West Midlands on 29 January 1987 with a down train of oil tanks. I believe that this train was probably a special running on a Thursday in the FO path of FO [Y] 6V48 0735 Lindsey-Bromsgrove.
Heading to the south of Birmingham at Stoke Prior, this picture shows 47635 on a Pathfinder railtour, 1Z46 Yeovil Junction to Holyhead, heading north with a mostly chocolate and cream set of stock. This train also utilised 46035. The photograph was taken with my 300mm f4.5 Zuiko lens, the camera settings on a tripod being 1/250 @ f8 - my notes are more than usually comprehensive on that morning. It is interesting to note the wiggly track of the goods loop in the background which clearly shows the position of the signalbox that used to control the junction with the line to Droitwich.
In the final year of the class's working on Virgin passenger trains 4 locos were selected to be repainted into "celebrity" liveries. While 3 of the 47s were given colour schemes that the class had previously carried, 47829 was painted into a bizarre representation of a police-style livery. The first working in this livery was 1V35 on 26 March 2002 and I captured this arresting image as the train approached Ashchurch station at 07.50. 645
47847 was another of the class to be repainted in "heritage" livery for the final months working on Virgin Cross Country trains. BR large logo was the scheme chosen for this locomotive which is seen here crossing the River Avon at Eckington Bridge hauling 1M40 on the afternoon of 24 April 2002.
Plenty of photographs have been taken of class 47s ascending the Lickey incline but there seem to be far fewer of trains heading south. Virgin's 47841 is in charge of 1V45 to Bristol and was pictured on 19 July 2002 rolling down the bank near Pikes Pool.
Going a little to the south of Leamington Spa we come to Whitnash. This was one of my favourite morning southbound locations until the dreaded pallisade fencing appeared, so symptomatic of todays nanny state - protecting idiots from their own stupidity. This and the next shot were taken within 30 minutes of each other on a very pleasant 28 July 2001. This train, hauled by 47114 is 4O14, the 06.25 Crewe Basford Hall to Southampton freightliner. As well as being a good location for still photography I also favoured this spot for video because of the stiff climb faced by southbound trains out of Leamington Spa as far as Harbury tunnel.
To prove that there is life at Ascot Racecourse outside the June festival, here is 47778 heading there on 28 July 2001. To some, the green stock perhaps looked a little incongruous being hauled by a grubby RES-liveried 47, but to my eye provided a pleasing contrast on such a nice morning. The power handle has just been opened wide as the signal a couple of hundred yards to the south cleared from yellow to green. The train is 1Z40 Manchester Victoria - Ascot.
Further still south of Leamington in Holmes House occupation bridge, otherwise known as Knightcote as it was near to the site of the signalbox of that name. It is a pleasant enough but somewhat anonymous location for a southbound train in the morning. Here, Fragonset's 47712 is on hire to Virgin as it hauls a Manchester to Poole working on 20 July 2001.
Another Fragonset class 47, 47703 is seen here leaving Droitwich Spa on 27 May 2000 on the Kidderminster line with a Pathfinder Excursion from Cardiff to Carlisle.
For several years the Swindon to Longbridge (Rover) car parts train formed of purpose-built "cube" wagons was in the hands of pairs of RfD 47s. Two locos were diagrammed more to help ensure reliability with the time-critical cargo than because of the weight of the train. Here, rather work-stained 47375+47280 are seen leaving Didcot West Curve with the morning working to Longbridge.
The afternoon southbound working is seen behind a slightly cleaner pair of 47s, 47280+47285 passing the site of Defford station between Abbotswood Junction and Eckington on 23 May 1997.
Class 66 replaced the pairs of 47s on the Rover trains not long after their introduction. On occasions however, the new locos were not reliable and others were called on to substitute. This photograph shows 47739 passing Hatton station with the evening northbound working on 3 October 2001 at 17.11 precisely.
The staple power for freightliners until quite recently, and even in 2005 on occasions, was class 47. Saturday evenings on the Birmingham to Leamington Spa line was quite busy with this type of traffic with 3 southbound workings within about 90 minutes. Two of the trains were guaranteed to produce 47s, these being the Coatbridge and Trafford Park to Southampton workings. The 3rd train was the Leeeds to Southampton which at the time was diagrammed for a pair of 37s. This picture shows 47363 on the liner from Trafford Park in July 1994. It is seen running alongside the M40 near Rowington in Warwickshire. This was a popular spot for these early evening sessions which in addition to the freightliners often witnessed 2 or more northbound freight workings in addition to various types of DMUs.