Locomotive Performance

Hydraulics in the Midlands

  For some years I had travelled regularly on one of the two southbound services which left Shrewsbury mid morning, either the Liverpool to Plymouth, usually a Castle working, but more often the Manchester to Swansea, which was a Midland working through to Pontypool Road, usually a Jubilee or Royal Scot. And so I waited at Shrewsbury on 21st April 1962, to see what was on the first of the two trains. In came the Liverpool to Plymouth behind 71000 Duke of Gloucester. Now that would have been worthwhile for a trip to Ponty. But sadly it came off, but instead of the usual 83A or 84G Castle, down backed D825 Intrepid. I cannot say that I was impressed, but I joined the train for my first Hydraulic run (see below). It was over a year later that I got my second Hydraulic run, an afternoon journey from Paddington to Birmingham behind D1019 Western Challenger. Although I had seen a few "Westerns" at Birmingham Snow Hill, and had grudgingly accepted that their appearance and sounds were ok, I was about to find out what a Western really sounded like. Magnificent. I was hooked, and me a pure "Steam man". I would go quite often to Reading for a day's trainspotting, but in truth it was to hear the Westerns pulling away and accelerating. I only managed 3 trips on the Paddington to Birmingham route before it was decided to concentrate the Westerns on the Bristol, South Wales, and West of England lines, and Brush Type 4's took over most of the Birminghams.

In 1964, still pretending to be a "Steam man", I got plenty of running during a week with a "Western Region Railrover". Meanwhile I had also discovered the Hymeks, another diesel class whose sounds enthralled me.


21st April 1962: I joined D825 "Intrepid" at Shrewsbury for a run to Pontypool Road on the 9.10am Liverpool to Plymouth, which was a heavy 13 coach train of 450/480 tons. We were 13 late away, and the driver chose to pull back those minutes as soon as possible. We flew up Church Stretton bank without falling below 41 mph, and from that point onwards it was a matter of "killing time" on an easy schedule. Impressive. [view log of D825]
  27th May 1963: D1019 Western Challenger was on the 2.10pm ex Paddington with a 10 coach load. We suffered no less than 6 p.w. slowings, but still managed to reach Birmingham Snow Hill  in 116 minutes with a stop at High Wycombe. Minimum speed up past Seer Green was 74 mph. An impressive first run on a Western. And from the first coach, with the window well open, I was well and truly hooked. [view log of D1019]
  2nd October 1963: My next run, four months later, was rather a let down. D1041 Western Prince had 12 coaches on the 9.00am from Snow Hill. The running was steady, but there was nothing in hand to cover signal checks from Seer Green to Denham, and we were 4 mins late into Paddington.  [view log of D1041]
2nd October 1963: D1036 Western Emperor, however, was in excellent form on the return to Birmingham on the 3.10pm service from Paddington. With an 11 coach load, we were into Snow Hill in 118 minutes, with stops at Leamington Spa and Solihull. There were 2 p.w. slacks in operation. More sweet music. [view log of D1036]
  14th April 1964: By early 1964, the Brush type 4's had replaced the Westerns on the Paddington to Birmingham line. I travelled up to Paddington on D1684. But I had a plan. I travelled back to the Midlands via Worcester, hydraulic hauled. Not a Western, but the next best thing, a  Beyer-Peacock Hymek.  D7065  was on the 10 coach 5.15pm from Paddington, the "Cathedrals Express", and we were 2 mins early into Worcester, after stops at Oxford, Kingham, and Evesham. Maximum speed was 79 down Honeybourne bank. I continued on the Kidderminster portion of the train, steam hauled by "large prarie" no 4175. [view log of D7065]
16th May 1964: This was the day of the Oxford University Railway Society "Castle" railtour, from Paddington to Hereford, then back via the Severn tunnel. High speeds were expected. So it was a morning trip up to Paddington on the 9.10am from Worcester, a 9 coach load hauled by D7061. We were checked outside Paddington and were 2 late in. Max speed was 76 at Ealing, and the minimum up Honeybourne bank was 37 mph. [view log of D7061]

  16th May 1964: Having been suitably entertained by 5054 on the O.U.R.S special, we alighted at Reading in order to return to Worcester on the 7.15pm service from Paddington. With D7028 on a 9 coach load, we were away at 7.56pm, ran well to Kennington Junction, but then suffered a long wait outside Oxford. Thereafter we ran hard, with stops at Kingham, Moreton and Evesham, and arrived Worcester at 9.58pm. We reached 85 mph down Honeybourne bank (we had come down at 93 mph  earlier in the day on 5054). But the Hymek "music" was a perfect end to a perfect day. [view log of D7028]
  23rd June 1964: "Western Railrover" week, and my second day started with D7026 on the 7.30am Worcester to Paddington. We suffered 2 p.w. slowings early on, at Pershore, and after leaving Evesham. Then we went up to Campden tunnel without falling below 43 mph, reached 85 at Handborough, and after the Oxford stop, we were up to 82 at Pangbourne. Since we were on an easy 73 min schedule from Oxford to Paddington, we were then eased, but still managed an arrival 7 mins early. [view log of D7026]
  Note: The lower picture on this page is copyright Steve Jones and is reproduced with his consent.