Locomotive Performance

Hydraulics in the West

In June 1964, I repeated what I had done exactly six years previously. I had week on the Western Region with a "Western Railrover" ticket. My objectives were twofold. Firstly to travel behind the fine looking, and even better sounding, Western Hydraulics, and secondly, to get in some steam mileage, firstly on the Atlantic Coast Express, and secondly on the Saturday trains on the Birmingham to Bristol line. 

I had a good week for weather, and managed 8 runs on Westerns, 2 on Warships, together with five steam runs and two Hymeks. (both dealt with elsewhere). 

22nd June 1964: D1065 Western Consort. On my first day, I chose the 12.30pm Paddington to Penzance, and travelled as far as Exeter St Davids. The train called at Reading, Westbury, and Taunton, and loaded to 11 coaches. Top speed was 87 mph at Curry Rivel, and again at Langport, but we suffered severe delays beyond Taunton which made us 8 minutes late into Exeter St Davids.  [view log of D1065]

22nd June 1964: D1035 Western Yeoman:  I returned to Paddington on the 2.30pm from Plymouth, due away from Exeter St Davids at 4.00pm, with stops at Taunton, Westbury, Newbury, and Reading. With a 12 coach load, there was no need to hurry, since we had an inflated 44 minute schedule over the final section from Reading to Paddington. Running was modest throughout, the top speed being 80 mph at Keinton Mandeville. And we ended our journey 9 minutes early. [view log of D1035]
23rd June 1964: D1023 Western Fusilier: Next day I caught the 11.00am Paddington to Swansea, and travelled as far as Newport. Heavy engineering works at Ealing Broadway were causing delays to all services out of Paddington, and we lost 12 minutes, including a diversion to and from the relief line. But 83/84mph out to Reading, and 85/86 mph up the Vale of the White Horse, pulled back all but 3 minutes by Swindon. Then 86 mph at Little Somerford and at Westerleigh should have meant on time at Newport. But a p.w.slowing at East Usk and a check outside Newport made us 4 minutes late in. Net times totalled 116 minutes, well inside the 130 minutes allowed. [view log of D1023]
23rd June 1964: D1018 Western Buccanier: I returned to Paddington on the 1.30pm from Cardiff, which had booked stops at Didcot and Reading, and a load of 2 vans and 9 coaches, 369/395 tons tare. A p.w.s at East Usk and another at Highworth Junction caused a 3 minute loss to Didcot, with nothing higher than 83 mph. We managed 85 mph on to Reading, but then were diverted to the relief line from Twyford to Slough. So we unded up 4 mins late into Paddington. But D1018 seemed a weak machine. [view log of D1018]
23rd June 1964: D1034 Western Dragoon: But better was to follow on the 4.55pm from Paddington to Cheltenhan Spa, as far as Gloucester. We were into Kemble, 91 miles booked in 87 minutes, in 91 mon 55 sec, notwithstanding 7 minues lost by the engineering works at Ealing,  together with signal checks at Steventon and Swindon. And energetic running on to Stroud, and the Gloucester, brought us in 5 minutes early. The most enjoyable run of the week, despite the fact that I stood all the way.  [view log of D1034]
24th June 1964: D855 Triumph: Having travelled down from Birmingham on a D39, I caught the 12.05pm Plymouth service from Bristol. D855 had an 11 coach load, reduced to 8 at Exeter St Davids. We called at Weston-super-Mare, and with an 81 mph at Durston, were inside schedule at Taunton. 41 mph at Whiteball summit was followed by signals at Cullompton, causing a slight loss to Exeter. With a load now reduced to 8 coaches, and stops at Dawlish, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot, lacklustre  running meant a 1 minute late arrival at Plymouth. Seemed like poor judgement by the driver.  [view log of D855]
24th June 1964: D1003 Western Pioneer: I then returned to Paddington on the 4.30pm from Plymouth. D1003 had 8 coaches plus a van to Newton Abbot, where 3 Torbay line coaches were added, making 411/440 tons. There were stops at Exeter St Davids, Taunton, Westbury, and Reading. 85 mph at Curry Rivel was the max speed  to Reading, but we then ran up to Paddington with a 90 mph at Slough, arriving 3 mins early. [view log of D1003]

24th June 1964: D1009 Western Invader: Instead of returning home to the Midlands, I had decided to travel back down to the West of England on the Penzance Sleeper. This was my first experience of a sleeper, and I wondered whether I would get any sleep. It seemed unlikely as we claterred over the points at Slough. But the next thing I knew was the morning sun was shining through the blinds somewhere in the vicinity of Gwinear Road. The rest of the journey was magic, though I had no idea what was up front. At Penzance, the loco turned out to be D1009 Western Invader, and I confirmed that it had worked through from Paddington. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, though it was to be another twenty years before I travelled by Sleeper again (Fort William in 1984).

25th June 1964: D867 Zenith: So I was able to catch the 7.45am out of Penzance, a Paddington service. This was a 6 coach load, and the train called at all the principal stations. Even with a light 6 coach load, the Warship had to work hard on the fierce gradients. We kept to schedule easily, arriving at Plymouth at 10.18am, 2 minutes early. But this journey was not about speeds and performance. It was about enjoying the Cornish scenery in the morning sunshine. Something to remember for ever. [view log of D867]
25th June 1964: D1001 Western Pathfinder: At Plymouth, I stayed on the 7.45am from Penzance, as far as Exeter St Davids. The load was now 9, 314/340 tons, and with stops at Brent, Totnes, and Newton Abbot, we ran well and easily kept time. Speeds were 28 mph at Hemerdon summit, and 29 mph at Dainton. Top speeds were 68 mph at Tigley, and 77 mph beyond Exminster. [view log of D1001]  At Exeter St Davids, I headed up the hill to Exeter Central for a run to Salisbury on the "Atlantic Coast Express", and returned to Exeter on the 2.43pm service, the 1.00pm from Waterloo.
25th June 1964: D867 Zenith: Then home to the Midlands. Firstly to Bristol, on the 5.32pm off St Davids. The loco was once again Zenith, my second run of the day. The load was a substantial 10 coaches & 2 vans, 406/430 tons. After such a long day, I put away the stop watch, and noted station passing times only. So the has station to station averages only. We were 2 late from Exeter and 4 late into Bristol, after two signal checks and one p.w slowing. [view log of D867]  I finished the day heading back to Birmingham on D42.
2nd October 1965: D841 Roebuck: On this date, the Ian Allan organisation ran a railtour from Paddington with Castle class 4-6-0 no 4079 Pendennis Castle to and from Exeter St Davids. From Exeter, the train continued with a double headed steam combination of 2-6-2T no 4555 and 0-6-0 no 3205 as far as Totnes. Then Warship no D841 Roebuck took over for the continuation to Plymouth, later working back to Exeter. From Totnes, Roebuck fell to 27 mph at Rattery, but followed with 81 mph down Hemerdon. The return from Plymouth to Exeter was beset with delays, resulting in an 18 minute late arrival. But Hemerdon bank was topped at 26 mph, and Dainton at 29 mph. [view log of D841]
And sadly, these were the my last Hydraulic runs on BR. I would very much liked to have had another "Western Railrover" in 1968 or 1969, when schedules had been tightened up. But Marriage, and subsequent Parenthood, brought their own responsibilities. And I have always been allowed plenty of leeway. So why "Rock the boat?"