Locomotive Performance

The Bournemouth Line: 1959 to 1961

In an earlier edition of "Locomotive Performance", which covered my journeys on the Bournemouth line in 1956, I was critical of the standard of running on the route, particularly the Bulleid pacifics, and of the over generous timings then in operation. 

My next visits to the line were in 1959 and 1960, by which time there had been several interesting developments. Many of the Bulleid 4-6-2 had been rebuilt, with several of the revolutionary features disbanded. The result was a conventional and more reliable design, easier and less costly to maintain, and certainly more economical with coal. Whether their performance, in terms of pulling power, was enhanced is another matter.

Meanwhile, 2 hour timings to Bournemouth were back, though there was little improvement to schedules of the semi fast services. And the developments on the South Eastern lines, with diesel multiple units on The Hastings line, and gradual electrification on the Kentish lines, had meant a re-allocation of Bulleids, King Arthurs and Schools on to the Western section Waterloo lines. The Schools 4-4-0's carried out secondary duties during the week, ie Waterloo to Basingstoke semi fasts, but on summer Saturdays worked the Waterloo to Lymington Pier services, the Wimbledon to Weymouth service, together with at least one Bournemouth service, which allowed them, with a clear road, to stretch their legs. 

So on Saturday 8th August 1959, I tried the 12.00pm Waterloo to Lymington service, which ran non stop to Southampton Central on a 87 minute schedule. 30911 Dover, in excellent external condition, was on the usual 10 coach load. We were going nicely past Hampton Court Junction before sufferring signal checks at Esher, and subsequently at Woking. We then accelerated to 56 mph at the milepost 31 summit, were doing 70 mph on the level beyond Fleet, and were only 2 minutes adrift at Worting Junction. But then signals at Micheldever, again at Winchester Junction, a brief 73 mph through Eastleigh, and a dead stand at Northam Junction, made us 12 late into Southampton. But the net time of 79.5 minutes, was my best yet. [view log of 30911]
I returned from Southampton on the 1.28pm from Lymington Pier on another smartly turned out Schools, no 30902 Wellington. We again had a 10 coach load, and were 9 minutes late away. We passed Eastleigh at 50 mph, before being checked at Shawford. From the Winchester start, 30902 was handled in typical Schools fashion. A gentle start, but then an excellent acceleration all the way up the 1 in 252 to Roundwood summit, passed at 50 mph. After the Basingstoke stop, we ran Local ine. Another gentle start, then good running culminating in 80 mph at Brookwood. But then we suffered a series of checks until we were able to regain the main line at Weybridge. So we were 20 minutes late into Waterloo. But 30902 had run well when it was allowed to. [view log of 30902]
Two weeks later, on 22nd August 1959, I did it again. The 12.00pm down had 30919 Harrow up front. Still in black livery, with a driver who had never been on a Schools before. Well, he learned quickly. Early on, we got yellows out to Hampton Court Junction, then inevitable got checked at Woking. Another check at Farnborough and then a clear road. 70 mph beyond Hook, a modest 47 mph at Wootton, and down through Winchester and Eastleigh unchecked with a max speed of 76 mph. Signals at St Denys, then at Mount Pleasant we joined a queue of trains awaiting entry to Southampton. In fact we pulled right up to the tail lamp of the preceding train. So the Southampton arrival was 21 late. This time I calculate the net time to be 83.0 minutes. [view log of 30919]

Whilst I was waiting at Southampton for for the 1.28pm ex Lymington, in came 30855 Robert Blake on the 1.05pm from Bournemouth West. I had to make a quick decision, and joined the Nelson for the run up to Waterloo. We were checked out to Eastleigh, than ran local line to Shawford Junction. After the Winchester stop, progress was painful. Nothing more than 42 mph at Roundwood summit. After Basingstoke, we reached 74 mph after Brookwood, but checks made us 15 late into Waterloo. A very disappointing run. [view log of 30855]
During a "Whitsun rail break" at Eastleigh, I travelled a fair amount on the Bournemouth line. On Saturday 4th June, 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair, in pristine condition following rebuilding, was on the 1.10pm from Bournemouth West to Waterloo, which I joined for a trip to Basingstoke. I wished I hadn't, the running was dreadful. Nothing higher than 41 mph before the Winchester stop, and the same speed afterwards at Roundwood summit, meant we lost time on each section. [view log of 34059]
I returned from Basingstoke, continuing to Christchurch,  on the through Birkenhead to Bournemouth service, which was 12 late away. The loco was Unrebuilt West Country no 34043 Combe Martin, and the load 12. We gradually pulled back a little time, the top speed was 73 mph at Eastleigh. The 27 mph up the 1 in 100 from the Brockenhurst start past Lymington Junction was poor. But overall the running was reasonable and we were 5 late into Christchurch. [view log of 34043]
I returned from Christchurch to Eastleigh on the 5.00pm Bournemouth West to Waterloo service, with Rebuilt Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 no 35027 Port Line. With a 427/450 ton load, we converted a 6 minute late departure from Christchurch to just 2 minutes late at Eastleigh. 41 minimum up Hinton Bank and a maximum speed of 73 mph at Lyndhurst Road was respectable work with 450 tons. [view log of 35027]
On the Sunday morning, after visiting Eastleigh shed, it was a drive to Winchester to catch the 1.30pm service from Waterloo ( which didn't stop at Eastleigh) for a trip down to Bournemouth. The loco was Rebuilt West Country class 4-6-2 no 34010 Sidmouth. We were 2 minutes late from Winchester, and 3 minutes late at Bournemouth Central, after an uninspiring run. Top speed was 71 mph at Eastleigh. [view log of 34010]
The return from Bournemouth Central in the evening was on the 6.59pm service, the 5.50pm from Weymouth. 35014 Nederland Line had a 12 coach load. Relatively easy running was all that was necessary to keep to schedule, and the Winchester  arrival was 2 mins early. Top speed was a modest 62 mph at Lyndhurst Road. [view log of 35014]
On Monday 6th June 1960, after a trainspotting spell at Basingstoke, I caught the 1.30pm down Bournemouth service from Waterloo, alighting at Southampton.  35021 New Zealand line had a 10 coach load and kept time easily on the modest schedule. Maximum speed was 74 mph at Wallers Ash. [view log of 35021]

6th June 1960: I had read that the 4.07pm (MFO)  service from Southampton Central to Waterloo, was booked for a King Arthur.  Hence my reason for travelling on it. 30788 Sir Urre of the Mount, had a 10 coach train. After some leisurely running prior to Winchester,  30788 did well up to Roundwood summit, gradually accelerating the 332/345 ton train to 47 mph. So we were 4 mins early on an easy schedule. It made my day.  [view log of 30788]
I returned from Basingstoke back to base as Eastleigh on the 5.10pm Reading to Southampton service, a 5 coach train hauled by Schools class 4-4-0 no 30905 Tonbridge. Top speed was 69 mph at Winchester Junction. [view log of 30905]
The final day of our break was Tuesday 7th June, and I decided to travel down to Bournemouth, then travel up to Waterloo on a "Two hour" train, before making my way home to the Midlands. So I travelled from Winchester to Bournemouth Central with 34006 Bude (unrebuilt) on the 8.30am from Waterloo. The run was dire, possibly the worst Bulleid run I have ever had to suffer, so I have not bothered to produce a log.
Up from Bournemouth Central to Waterloo, I travelled on the 11.30am  from Weymouth, with 35011 General Steam Navigation. With the addition of the Bournemouth West portion, the load was a heavy 13 coaches plus a van, 452 tons tare, 490 tons full, and we were 4 minutes late departing. To Southampton we ran reasonably, 52 mph up Hinton bank, and 73 mph near Lyndhurst Road. But a signal check at Millbrook, and slight station overtime at Southampton made us 6 mins late away. We topped Roundwood summit at 54 mph, reached a maximum of 80 mph at West Weybridge, and looked set for an almost punctual arrival at Waterloo. But we got checked all the way in from Surbiton and were 6 late in. Net time from Southampton was 79.5 minutes. [view log of 35011]
In 1961, I went, with two friends, on (another) "lads holiday" to Butlins. This time at Bognor Regis. Outwards we travelled on 6845 Paviland Grange from Birmingham Snow Hill to Kensington, then onwards to Brighton with N class 2-6-0 no 31411. We (meaning I) decided that on the return journey, we would travel via Portsmouth and Basingstoke. And so it was that we joined the 1.11pm from Portsmouth Harbour to Birmingham Moor Street, headed by King Arthur class 4-6-0 no 30770 Sir Prianius. With a 312/325 ton load, we ran non stop from Portsmouth & Southsea, dep 3 late, to Basingstoke, where we were to give way to Western motive power. 30770 ran normally to Eastleigh in just over 32 minutes. Then I found out what an Arthur could do. We accelerated up the 1 in 252 to 52 mph at Weston box, where we were checked. With a further slight check after Worting Junction, we were 1 late into Basingstoke, where 6930 Aldersey Hall took over . [view log of 30770]
So, had things improved since 1956, and how did the rebuilt Bulleid's compare with the originals. And how were the Maunsell engines, the Lord Nelson, King Arthur, and Schools class performing in their final years.

I find it very difficult to come to any conclusions concerning the Bulleids. I still encountered some very poor running. Possibly the ratio of reasonable running to poor running was better in 1960 than it was in 1956. 

The Lord Nelson runs were a great disappointment. Uphill they were slower than both the Arthurs and the Schools, and I had no high speeds on them. But the King Arthur runs on 30770 and 30788 were excellent, particularly uphill.  The three runs I had on the Schools on the Lymington services were good, the 30911 run especially so. But it was a pity that they were only given a chance on Summer Saturdays, when signal checks were inevitable.