Locomotive Performance

Euston to Birmingham

  As a young trainspotter, I was frequently taken by my father on a Sunday tour of the Wolverhampton sheds. We always started at Oxley (84B), then on to Stafford Road (84A), then Bushbury (3B), and if we had time, on to Bescot (3A). Bushbury always seemed the poor relation, since it had an allocation of about 40 locomotives, whilst the other sheds boasted around 70. The Bushbury allocation included the motive power for the Euston services. In the early 1950's this was Unrebuilt Royal Scots, numbers 46110, 46134, 46140, 46148, 46151, 46158, 46163, and 46165. Around 1952 and 1953 they were replaced by Jubilees. I found this strange, particularly since in 1953 many of the Euston services reverted to their pre-war "2 hour" timings. But the Bushbury Jubilees were no ordinary Jubilees: they were the elite. When I got to know them from 1955 onwards the allocation comprised 45647, 45688, 45703, 45709, 45733, 45734, 45737, 45738, 45741, and 45742. They were kept in immaculate condition, and performed accordingly (Well, mostly!).
 2nd February 1955: An afternoon trip from Birmingham to Coventry. Out on the 2.30pm from New Street with 45601 British Guiana. A pw slowing at Lea Hall caused a 4 min delay,  [view log of 45601]  The return from Coventry was on the 2.20pm from Euston with 45647 Sturdee, which  ran from Coventry to Birmingham in 21 min 26 sec, with a max speed of 72 mph at Hampton, and a very fast entry into New Street, 1 min 34 sec in from Proof House Junction. [view log of 45647]
20th June 1955: Another trip to Coventry, this time in the morning and with a stop watch. 45733 Novelty outwards on the 10.20am from New Street [view log of 45733] and 45737 Atlas on the return, on the 9.00am from Euston. [view log of 45737]
  22nd June 1955: A blank day in the middle of my GCE O level exams, and my parents said "Give the revision a rest, and have a day out". So I went to Deal in Kent. 45647 Sturdee took me to Euston in tremendous style. 82 mph twice, and 60 mph over Tring summit with an 11 coach load. Net time up from Coventry was 87.5 minutes. [view log of 45647]. Having sampled 34066, 30924, and 34083 on my Kentish day out, I returned home on the 6.55pm from Euston, with 45742 Connaught on a 10 coach load. Another well judged performance brought us in to New Street dead on time, despite 2 p.w slacks. Net time down to Coventry was 89.0 minutes, and the max speed 83 mph. [view log of 45742]
  25th July 1955: Returning home from a family holiday at Dawlish Warren, I had come up from Exeter to Waterloo on 34033 Chard, and just made the 2.20pm from Euston by the skin of my teeth. 45709 Implacable had an 11 coach load and 2 p.w slacks to contend with. A top class performance got us in to New Street on time. With a max speed of 78 mph, the net time down to Coventry 89.5 mins. [view log of 45709]
  28th December 1955: A pleasant festive trip from Birmingham to Rugby, out on the 2.30pm from New Street on 45625 Sarawak. [view log of 45625], then back on a service from Peterborough with 5MT 4-6-0 no 44714. [view log of 44714]
  25th February 1956: A trip to the London Paladium to see Harry Secombe, using the 7.30am from New Street. The loco was not happy with a 13 coach load, and lost 6 minutes on schedule, most of which could be attributed to lethargic starts. [view log of 45742]. With spare time in London, I took a trip from Waterloo down to Woking (30850 out and 35013 back). The return home from Euston, on the 9.42pm additional service to Birmingham, was a disaster. 45625 Sarawak, was on the tail of the 9.35pm main Birmingham service and was heavily checked all the way to Roade. Then station overtime at Rugby and Coventry put us  30 late. But then New Street had a real surprise for us. In the tunnel on the approach to New Street, we waited while a length of rail was replaced in front of us. We were 76 mins late in.
  13th July 1956: Returning home from a family holiday in Hampshire, via Southampton, Waterloo,  Marylebone, then a walk from Rugby Central to Rugby Midland, I caught the 7.00pm Euston to Birmingham. I was amazed to find 45716 Swiftsure up front. Why a  Carlisle Kingmoor (68A) loco, I do not know . We were 15 late away. Pretty quickly it became clear that I was in for a treat, for the locomotive was worked hard, with the "Jubilee roar" well in evidence. We had a long signal check outside Coventry, but with generous station times, and more "sweet music" from the chimney, we were  only 8 late in to New Street. [view log of 45716]
  21st February 1957: In 1957, as a trainee Accountant, I started to make regular business trips to London, accompanied by a senior clerk. This was the first of them, and we chose the 8.30am from New Street. I expected a Jubilee, and was surprised to get a pair of Black 5's, numbers 45074 & 45310. But the load was 14. A normal run was made to Coventry, then signal check at Rugby, and we were away. 83 mph at Weedon, 74 mph over Roade summit, 81 mph at Castlethorpe, and still 76 mph at Sears Crossing. But then a 10 mph p.w. slowing,  followed by a signal stop at Berhamstead. No chance of timekeeping now, but our pair of 5's took us down through Wembley at 89 mph. 5 late in to Euston, but 82.7 minutes net from Coventry. One of my all time best runs. [view log of 45074 & 45310]
  27th March 1957: A month or so later, and another 14 coach load. This time Black 5 no 44914 & Jubilee 45634 Trinidad, sporting a 3B shedplate, a temporary allocation. We were delayed at Coventry, and were 10 late away. The Running was respectable, maximum speed 82 mph at Harrow. But a bad signal check near Bletchley meant we were still 9 late at Euston. Net time from Coventry was 87.0 minutes.  [view log of 44914 & 45634]
  21st September 1957: 6 months later it was Black 5 no 45071 & Jubilee 45688 Polyphemus. Again a 14 coach load. We were 3 late from New Street and 2 late into Euston, after signal checks at Rugby and Willesden. We reached 85 mph at Apsley, and the net time up from Coventry an excellent 86.0 minutes. [view log of 45071 & 45688]  
  27th January 1958: For this trip, unusually we had a Scot. Black 5 no 45308 was piloting 46115 Scots Guardsman on the usual 14 coaches. We were 5 late away from Coventry, but then suffered signal checks at Rugby, Wolverton, and Willesden, and a p.w slowing at Heyford. With a net time from Coventry of 86.0 minutes, a maximum speed of 83 mph at Weedon, and again at Wembley, we were 5 late into Euston. [view log of 45308 & 46115]
  5th September 1958: Normally a short run of 11 miles on a local service would not warrant inclusion. By my logs of Patriots are few and far between. This was part of my homeward bound journey from a family holiday in South Devon, and I had come up to Paddington on 5024 on the "Torbay Express", then caught the 4.30pm Euston to Manchester (46115 once again) down to Rugby. [view log of 45505]

29th September 1958: In September 1958, With the West Coast Main Line Electrification about to begin, 10 minutes were added to all Birmingham to Euston schedules. On the 8.30am up, 44873 and 45530 Sir Frank Ree, with a 12 coach load, had time to spare, and with moderate running (89.0 mins net up from Coventry) were 4 early at Euston. [view log of 44873 & 45530]
29th September 1958: The return journey the same day, on the 2.20pm from Euston, also had extra time added, and ran with a modest load of 8 coaches. An easy start out to Watford, then 62 mph over Tring, was followed by a long spell of high speed running (85 mph max, average 80 mph for 20 miles), until a p.w. slowing intervened at Hanslope. We were into Coventry in 92 min 23 secs, and had to "wait time". With another p.w.s at Tile Hill, we were 3 early arriving Birmingham. [view log of 45709] 
22nd August 1959: Returning from a spot of "Schooling" and "Nelsoning" on the Southern, I headed home on the 5.43pm from Euston. An easy 104 minute schedule to Coventry, and load 12. The loco was 45666 Cornwallis, from Camden (1B) shed. The driver chose to use his "extra minutes" by making a very easy start out to Tring, losing 4 minutes, but then ran normally and arrived at Coventry on time. With more extra time included to Birmingham, we were 4 mins early. This turned out to be my last steam run out of Euston. Sadly, not very exciting. [view log of 45666] 
26th August 1961: A run down to Coventry to see Mel Torme at the Coventry Hippodrome. I caught the 3.58pm Cambridge service from Birmingham New Street. 44712 gave me an unspectacular run. As it turns out, It was my last steam run from New Street to Coventry.  [view log of 44712] 
  In September 1958, the Euston to Birmingham "2 hour" trains were decelerated to allow for the likely delays arising from the West Coast Main Line Electrification. A year or so later the service was reduced, with more trains on the Paddington to Snow Hill line. So the Bushbury Jubilee's were dispersed. But I believe that the work of the Jubilees on the Birmingham services is considered to be their post war high in terms of performance.

Note: The picture above is copyright Simon Robinson, and is reproduced with his consent.