Locomotive Performance

Bournemouth Line..1956

  A family holiday at New Milton, Hampshire, in 1956, enabled me to sample the running on the Waterloo to Bournemouth line, together with the Southampton to Salisbury and the Wimborne lines. I travelled down from the Midlands via Bath and the Somerset and Dorset route. I purchased two local "runabout" tickets, which, together, gave me access to Weymouth and Salisbury in the west, and Basingstoke and Portsmouth in the east. I spent 6 full days on the railway, usually starting from either Brockenhurst or New Milton. I have divided my journeys into Main Line Workings, and Secondary Services. The latter will be covered in a later edition, so here we are dealing principally with Waterloo to Bournemouth and Weymouth services, plus inter regional services via Basingstoke. 
  3rd July 1956 (Tuesday): At Brockenhurst I caught the 11.05am Bournemouth West to Waterloo, a substantial train hauled by Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 no 35010 Blue Star. We slipped on the downhill start from Brockenhurst, and ran satisfactorily through the New Forest. Thereafter we slipped and slithered away from the from Southampton and St Denys starts. By  Eastleigh, I decided enough was enough, so I got off  and caught a later train on to my intended destination, Basingstoke. [view log of 35010]

The following train, the 11.16am Bournemouth West to Newcastle was hauled by Battle of Britain class 4-6-2 no 34110, 66 Squadron, not the King Arthur class that I had hoped for. With the errant 35010 ahead, we were checked approaching Winchester, at Roundwood, and approaching Basingstoke. But even without these checks, we would have barely kept to schedule. [view log of 34110]
  I headed back from Basingstoke to Brockenhurst on the 1.30pm Waterloo to Bournemouth West Service, an 11 coach load hauled by another Merchant Navy, this time no 35027 Port Line. Surely this would be better. Well, we took 7 mins 20 sec to pass Worting Junction, the slowest starting time to that point that I have ever timed myself, or heard of. In reaching 31 mph I reckon we had covered a large part of Hampshire with thick black smoke. Things did improve with 78 mph past Winchester Junction, and we were right time Brockenhurst, courtesy of 4 minutes recovery time prior to Southampton. [view log of 35027]
  Next it was BR Standard 5 no 73114 from Brockenhurst to Winchester on the 3.05pm Bournemouth West to Waterloo, 10 coaches plus 1 van, 375 tons full. A splendid run ensued. What fine engines the Standard 5's were. I always thought they had a slight edge over the original Stanier 5's. [view log of 73114]
  I then travelled from Winchester to Bournemouth Central on West Country class 4-6-2 no 34040 Crewkerne, on the 3.30pm Waterloo to Bournemouth West, a 10 coach load. Good running, crisp starts, and no sign of a slip, brought us in to Bournemouth Central on time.  [view log of 34040]
  34019 Bideford, another West Country class 4-6-2, then took me back to Southampton on the 5.35pm Weymouth to Waterloo, which, with the addition of the Bournemouth West coaches,  made a 12 coach train of 406/430 tons. A good run followed, 33 mins 14 secs to Southampton, with 48 mph at the top of Hinton bank, and a maximum of 73 mph after Lyndhurst Road. This was more like it.  [view log of 34019]
  But my last run of the day with West Country no 34095 Brentnor, let the side down. I caught the 5.30pm Waterloo to Bournemouth West from Southampton to New Milton. We dropped time to Brockenhurst, and on to New Milton. With a 12 coach load, 34095 could only manage 22 mph up the 1/100 gradient past Lymington Junction. Dreadful. [view log of 34095]
  4th July 1956 (Wednesday): 34094 Mortehoe was on the 9.20am Bournemouth West to Birkenhead, which I joined at New Milton for a run to Basingstoke. With a modest 8 coach load, the running was very poor. [view log of 34094]
  A Nelson was booked for the 11.30am Waterloo to Bournemouth West, returning on the 5.05pm Bournemouth West to Waterloo. I aimed to travel on both. 30863 Lord Rodney was the loco, and, with an 11 coach load, we were away from Basingstoke 2 early. A modest start was followed by pedestrian running down the grade to Winchester. It was no better to Southampton, but we managed to scrape in to Brockenhurst on time. My first Nelson run. A complete let down. [view log of 30863]
  So would 30863 Lord Rodney be any better on the return, the 5.05pm from Bournemouth West, on which I travelled from Brockenhurst to Winchester. Emphatically yes. Presumably a different crew. With a 420 ton load, the engine was worked hard up the grade from Eastleigh to Winchester, with sounds to match. [view log of 30863] 
  My final run of the day was with 34006 Bude on the 5.30pm Waterloo to Bournemouth West. With an 11 coache load, and a 10 minute late departure from Winchester, I lived in hope. No chance. Not the slightest effort was made. With a max speed of 63 mph, we were 8 late in to New Milton. [view log of 34006]
  7th July 1956 (Saturday): At last, I got an Arthur. And one of the original Urie engines. 30742 Camelot took me from New Milton to Basingstoke  on the 9.30am Bournemouth Central to Wolverhampton, a 10 coach train. We ran steadily, with 43 mph at Roundwood summit. But a couple of checks made us 3 late in. [view log of 30742]
  Next it was 30862 Lord Collingwood back to Southampton on the 11.30am Waterloo to Bournemouth West, a very full 11 coach train. We suffered checks to Winchester, and ran modestly thereafter. Uninspiring. [view log of 30862]
  U class 2-6-0 no 31634 then took me back from Southampton to Basingstoke on the 1.28pm Lymington Pier to Waterloo. With 10 coaches there were no fireworks but we ran nicely up to Roundwood. Most enjoyable. [view log of 31634]
  Then back to Southampton on the 11.55am Wolverhampton to Bournemouth Central, a 7 coach train. BR Standard 4MT class 2-6-0 no 76012 took over from a Western locomotive at Basingstoke, and was 9 late away. After a signal check at Worting Junction, we ran up to 73 mph past Winchester Junction. At Eastleigh we were overtaken, as booked, by a service from Waterloo. Although we were 14 late at Southampton, it was no fault of the loco, which ran well throughout. [view log of 76012]
  10th July 1956 (Tuesday): Time for a trip to Weymouth, so I caught the 10.30am Waterloo to Weymouth at Bournemouth Central, a 9 coach load (reduced to 7 at Wareham), hauled by West Country Class 4-6-2 no 34005 Barnstaple. Modest running just kept us to schedule. Maximum speed was 68 mph at Upwey Junction. [view log of 34005]. The return journey, behind the same loco and the same 7 coach load, was on the 3.50pm service from Weymouth to Waterloo. Again, modest running just kept time. We recovered well from a 15 mph p.w slack up the 1 in 50/52 to Bincombe Tunnel, with very little slipping, which was good work. Maximum speed was 66 mph near Wool.  [view log of 34005]
    I then remained on the train at Bournemouth Central, where 30850 Lord Nelson, took over. The Bournemouth West carriages were added, making a load of 397/430 tons. We called at Boscombe, Pokesdown, and Christchurch. I alighted at New Milton. 30850 ran hard between the stops, and topped the 1 in 100 of Hinton bank at 38 mph. [view log of 30850]
  11th July 1956 (Wednesday): A trip up to Waterloo on the 11.30am from Weymouth, non stop from Southampton. 34093 Saunton was the loco, and the load 388/425 tons. With an easy 89 minute schedule, the driver chose to keep close to it throughout. We fell to 47 mph at Winchester Junction, but recovered to 51/50 mph at Roundwood summit. Thereafter there was some brisk running, with a top speed of 81 mph at Brookwood. But signals intervened at Hampton Court Junction, and we were 3 late in to Waterloo. But a satisfactory run on an easy schedule. [view log of 34093]
  I returned to Southampton in the evening on the 6.30pm from Waterloo, a heavy 13 coach load, once more behind 34093 Saunton. Again a ridiculously easy schedule of 91 minutes for the 79 miles. We ran very well in the early stages, 72 mph at West Weybridge, and 57 mph over the summit at milepost 31. But then we were eased right back to avoid running too early. We did reach 76 mph at Winchester Junction, and arrived Southampton, after a signal stop at Northam Junction, 2 minutes early. [view log of 34093]
  13th July 1956 (Friday): My holiday over, I returned home to the Midlands via Waterloo, Marylebone and the "Master Cutler" to Rugby Central, then Rugby Midland back to Birmingham New Street. This time I travelled up to Waterloo on the 1.25pm ex Weymouth, 34106 Lydford with 11 coaches. Again a modest start, only 47 mph at Winchester, but then we accelerated to 55 mph at Roundwood summit. The maximum speed thereafter was 76 mph at Brookwood, and we were 3 early through Hampton Court Junction. Then signals, and a diversion to the local line, made us 4 late at Waterloo. [view log of 34106]
  So what are my conclusions of running on the Waterloo to Bournemouth line in 1956. Firstly that the schedules between Waterloo and Southampton were ridiculously easy, and loco crews should not be blamed for leisurely running if their train was running to time. But there are several examples above, where no effort was made to recover lost time, and indeed there are examples further time being lost through dreadful running. The two runs I had on Merchant Navy 4-6-2's were only short, and so no conclusions should be drawn. But the West Country/Battle of Britain runs were a mixture of a good and bad. On the semi fast Bournemouth services, the work of the Nelsons was mixed, but the BR Standard 5MT 4-6-0 runs were excellent. But overall I have to conclude that the overall running standards were poor in 1956, certainly a far cry from some good runs I had on the South Eastern lines from Charing Cross both in 1956 and 1957.
  A note concerning Mileages: The problems of incorrect milepost positioning on the Southern route from Waterloo to the West of England are reasonably well known. But in recent times the Railway Performance Society have uncovered milepost discrepancies between Worting Junction and Southampton, on the Bournemouth line, principally north of Winchester. Since many of my log files were produced some years ago, I had the choice altering them with the latest RPS data, or leaving them. I have chosen the latter option.