Locomotive Performance

Midlands Secondary Services

Here we shall deal with London Midland Region local and rural services, mainly to and from Birmingham New Street, but including the Leamington Spa to Rugby line. And Western Region services to and from Birmingham Snow Hill, plus some runs to and from Worcester on the Kidderminster portion of the "Cathedrals Express".

 London Midland Region:

21st February 1955: A "half term" day trip from Birmingham to Crewe, the long way round. I had worked out that by catching the 9.20am fast from Snow Hill to Leamington Spa, I could connect in to a Rugby service by crossing over to Avenue station. And at Rugby Midland, in the winter timetable only, the down "Royal Scot, Euston to Glasgow, left for Crewe at 11.24am. I could then spend several hours at Crewe before returning directly to Birmingham New Street on the Glasgow to Birmingham service, which from Crewe was usually a Royal Scot, but sometimes produced some surprises. I enjoyed the day so much that I did it again on 8th November, by which time I had acquired a stop watch.

So here is a compilation log of the Leamington Spa Avenue to Rugby Midland "Rail Motor" runs. On 41228, the maximum speed was 50 mph before Marton, and on the 41285 run, we reached 62 mph at the same location. We were checked into Rugby on each occasion, but nevertheless arrived 5 and 6 minutes early respectively. I suspect the public times were inflated. What a tragedy that the line closed. I once saw 46119 Lancashire Fusilier come through Avenue station on the diverted "Irish Mail". [view logs of 41228 and 41285]

9th March 1955: An afternoon run to Rugeley. I seem to recall that I took my 6 year old brother with me. After a short spell at Rugeley Trent Valley, we returned on same loco plus 2 coaches combination. I did not time in detail (a stop watch was 9 days away), but I have a note of 50 mph at Wyrley on the return journey. [view logs of 41279]
6th December 1955: After a short spell of trainspotting at Worcester, I returned home by catching the 1.50pm Gloucester to Birmingham service. The 5 coach load had Compound 4-4-0 no  40932 up front, and we were 9 late away. Good running between the stops, with a top speed of 65 mph at Northfield, pulled back all but 3 minutes. [view log of 40932]
5th April 1958: Having come down from Euston on the Mid-day Scot, I changed at Rugby into a Birmingham service, a relief service from Peterborough. With a light 4 coach load, 42267, a Fairburn 2-6-4T, ran easily with a top speed of 62 mph, but was heavily delayed at the approaches to both Birmingham and Coventry. [view log of 42267]
11th April 1959: A day touring lines in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, and Evesham to New Street was the final section. 43017 ran nicely with a modest load. Top speed was 48 mph on this most scenic line. [view log of 43017]

Western Region

16th August 1954: An afternoon tour of the Birmingham Snow Hill, Kidderminster, and Wolverhampton triangle. First was 6877 Llanfair Grange on the 12.25pm Birmingham to Stourbridge Junction 3 coach stopper. Then 2-6-2T no 5167 on the 2.15pm Stourbridge Junction (the 1.10pm from Worcester) all stations to Wolverhampton, a 5 coach load . Next was 7036 Taunton Castle from Wolverhampton to Snow Hill on the "Cambrian Coast Express" (no log), then 6992 Aborfield Hall from Snow Hill to Kidderminster on the 7 coach 5.00pm service to Cardiff. I then returned from Kidderminster to Snow Hill on the 4.32pm Hereford to Snow hill on 6989 Whitwick Hall which struggled on Old Hill bank with an 8 coach load.  [view logs of 16th August 1954 journeys]   
6th October 1954: A short trip from Stourbridge to Birmingham that included 1414 from Stourbridge Town to Junction (has anybody ever produced a log of the "dodger" before?), then 6971 Athelhampton Hall from Stourbridge Junction to Birmingham Snow Hill on the 9.48am from Cardiff.  [view logs of 6th October 1954 journeys] 
1st April 1955: This time it was the Stratford line. I caught the 4.23pm service from Stratford to Birmingham Moor St, alighting at Tyseley. Prarie tank no 5192 had a 6 coach load, and worked  hard between the stops, reaching 55 mph near Wootton Wawen. At Tyseley, I changed on to the 5.44pm Stourbridge Junction service, 5107 on 3 coaches, but only as far as Snow Hill.  [view logs of 1st April 1955 journeys]
14th December 1955: Another Stourbridge to Birmingham trip on the 9.48am from Cardiff, again with 6971 Athelhampton Hall. The loco was worked hard up Old Hill bank, topped at 32 mph, with 5 coaches. I returned from Snow Hill to Stourbridge Junction on the 2.45pm Kidderminster stopper, which had 4100 on 3 coaches. We took water at Hockley, and with several signal checks, were 2 mins late at Stourbridge. [view logs of 14th December 1955 journeys]
Let us now head south to Worcester. When returning to the Midlands from London, as an alternative to using the Paddington to Birmingham services, I would catch the 4.45pm "Cathedrals Express" from Paddington. It had a through portion for Kidderminster, from which it was an easy bus ride to my home. I did this on two occasions, and did the same thing in the up direction once. So below are details of two down and one up, journeys on the Kidderminster portion of the "Cathedrals Express:
31st March 1959: Pannier tank no 3775 backed down at Shrub Hill on to the 4 Kidderminster coaches, on was soon off on a rip-roaring run. 63 mph before Droitwich, and more hard running beyond, was a splendid way to end the day. [view log of 3775]
19th May 1959: This time the up direction. I was surprised to find a Standard 3MT 2-6-2 tank at the head of the train at Kidderminster. With 5 coaches we were away on time at 8.19am, and reached 64 mph at Cutnall Green. We were on time into Worcester [view log of 82030]
 Five years later, on 14th April 1964, having been Hymek hauled into Worcester, 2-6-2T no 4175 was waiting to take over the 5 Kidderminster coaches. The running was very ordinary, but a pleasant end to the day. [view log of 4175]
I have always found that travelling on, and timing, some of the lesser services could be as rewarding as timing the expresses. Sometimes more so. Many of the above logs have rekindled memories of "Mickey Mouse" 2-6-2T's from Leamington Spa Avenue, "Doodlebugs" on the Alcester loop, Hard working GW "Large Praries" climbing out of Stratford on Avon, and that thrilling "Pannier" thrash from Worcester to Kidderminster. If I had a time machine and could go back to the 1950's, I would spend more  time on the so called "Secondary Services".