20th January 2007
Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Lancashire Witch Merrymaker
|Locos Used||31128, 31454 & 33103|
1Z31 : Birmingham New Street to Preston
1Z62 : Preston to Birmingham New Street
|31128 + 31454||Birmingham New Street - Proof House Jn - Landor Street Jn - Water Orton - Kingsbury Jn - Tamworth HL - Wichnor Jn - Burton-on-Trent - Stenson Jn - Derby - Ambergate Jn - Clay Cross South Jn - Chesterfield - Dore Station Jn - Sheffield - Nunnery Main Line Jn - Wincobank Jn - Holmes Jn - Aldwarke Jn - Swinton - Moorthorpe - South Kirkby Jn - Hare Park Jn - Calder Bridge Jn - Wakefield Kirkgate - Horbury Jn - Heaton Lodge Jn - Bradlwy Wood Jn - Greetland Jn - Hebden Bridge - Hall Royd Jn - Copy Pit - Blackburn - Lostock Hall Jn - Farington Curve Jn - Preston|
|31128 + 31454||Preston - Euxton Jn - Chorley - Lostock Jn - Bolton - Salford Crescent - Deal Street Jn - Manchester Victoria - Miles Platting - Philips Park West Jn - Ashton Moss North Jn - Stalybridge - Greenfield - Huddersfield - Heaton Lodge East Jn - Mirfield East Jn - Horbury Jn - (reverse of outward route) - Derby|
|33103 + 31454||Derby - (reverse of outward route) - Birmingham New Street|
Sources : Nick Ross (on the train throughout) &
(from Nick Ross)
Out of bed at Hotel Selly Oak and onto some 323 to New St. The morning was grey and damp with just a few “ronnie” drags providing interest, Cranks hovered on all platforms as out merrymaker was worryingly not on any screen displays. As the 0832 departure time came and went the worry set in but gen from Jed calmed the flappers with the ECS’s late running and expected platform advised.
It was a great relief when the quoted 31128/31454 arrived 30 down on a Mk IIe rake. A sizeable mainly crank consist piled aboard all in good spirits. The Fragonset black and Inter City mainline liveried pair looked good from our 4th coach viewpoint as they weaved through Proof House and Landor Street. On passing heavily stripped 08’s and 20’s at Kingsbury our power opened up with some quality fast running and the half hour lateness was steadily pulled back.
A blue 03 was a surprise to us near Virgins “Muddy waters” Voyager depot whilst the acceleration and noise on climbing away from our Burton stop was pretty good. On leaving Derby just 5 down the train appeared virtually full with good views of the swollen Derwent river before being looped at Ambergate.
After some voyager I sampled the unfamiliar MK II Irish rail style counter from the “gourmet goyle buffet”. As we passed Chesterfield many commentated on our more pedestrian pace but we continued to hold time on slack schedules. The charity raffle was announced as we climbed towards Dore with the inevitable wags suggesting "a Fragonset engine should be the prize", a bit harsh. Some doss and a burst of sun as we passed the massed graffittied lines of “for sale” at Healey Mills. EH 47’s were the main types visible including recent cross country star 47750 looking a state. 56’s and 37’s were more tucked away.
From Sowerby Bridge we climbed higher into more wild hill country. A 25 mph restriction made the climb to Copy Pit very enjoyable with impressive scenery all around. Floodwaters poured down a waterfall near “Frostholme”. On passing Holme tunnel a burst of unwelded track saw us clatter through Burnley “Manchester Road” and Rose Grove. It seemed hard to believe that not long ago the tiny shack of Rose Grove was a starting point for Paignton Holiday trains that featured goyles on the New St-Paignton leg. More good views of the power on a spectacular tight curve at Accrington and then an on time run at Preston.
A sizeable crowd photted the power before they departed light engine to the South. Venturing out of Preston station during the 2 hour fester was a bit of a farce as half the shopping centre was cordoned off due wind damage from the storms 2 days earlier. On finding a chippie we returned to the station to as Virgin services to the North collapsed due to a “power failure” and the inevitable road coaches were summoned.
The goyles returned having been turned on the Lostock triangle to allow 31454 to provide the therms. New “loud” 185’s various 150’s and much plastic passed by, then a bit of classic quality with a DRS convoy of 47802 dragging some 66, 37510 and 37038 North. These were photted from every angle by the assembled masses. A right time 1515 departure with the light eventually fading as we climbed through Diggle at a steady pace. Once over the top we stormed, passing Huddersfield at a good pace. Our now 20 early running was cut by a lengthy pathing stop in the Swinton area before arriving back in Sheffield.
In total darkness now the tour mood dropped a little as expected on a long, slow return run. Despite a booked pathing stop in Ambergate’s up loop our “plus 20” M.Keynes connection still looked safe. A prolonged stop at Derby saw us 25 late but on the plus side we had “Crompton” 103 in exchange for 31128. After a green signal check near Peartree our unusual 33/31 pair got us on the move with pulses of that distinctive “Hankton” thrash being heard at times.
Most of the train were well pleased with the bonus engine, a good few of the Burton bailer’s leapt straight onto a Voyager back to Derby and it presumably not the Voyager mileage they had made the bail for!
Checks outside New St saw our Pendo connection pass us near the tunnels meaning an unwanted hour’s fester. Phots of the rare pair, a swift beer then reality in joining the incredibly rancid 3900027 with 57306 dragging. A very light load meant we were gripped before New St tunnel! After lights out for “firing up” the computer at Nuneaton we departed at great speed only to totter via Northampton and through Roade.
At a chilly M.Keynes the N’bound Wolves and Northampton services were delayed by a points failure with delays of over an hour around midnight not good. I joined some mouldy coach to arrive back in Leighton around 0040 with that shredding Crompton and warbling goyle thrash already a memory.
Timings (Booked & Actual)
|0.00||Birmingham New Street||08.32d||09.01||20.20a||20.58˝||344.67|
|0.68||Proof House Jn||08/35||09/04˝||20/17||?||343.79|
|1.45||Landor Street Jn||08/37||09/06||20/16||?||343.22|
|30.18||Burton-on-Trent||09.06a ~ 09.09d||09.32˝ ~ 09.34˝||19.44a ~ 19.47d||20.14 ~ 20.15˝||314.49|
|35.71||North Stafford Jn||09/20||?||19/39||?||308.76|
|41.19||Derby||09.32a ~ 09.46d||09.52 ~ 09.55||19.28a ~ 19.31d||19.28˝ ~ 19.54˝||303.48|
|61.20||Clay Cross South Jn||10/06||10/28||19/01||?||283.47|
|65.30||Chesterfield||10.10a ~ 10.13d||10.32˝ ~ 10.33˝||18.52a ~ 18.55d||18.52 ~ 18.53||279.37|
|73.60||Dore Station Jn||10/25||10/45˝||18/42||18/43||271.07|
|77.50||Sheffield||10.30a ~ 10.33d||10.52˝ ~ 10.54||18.24a ~ 18.35d||18.26 ~ 18.35||267.17|
|78.07||Nunnery Main Line Jn||10/35||?||18/22||?||266.60|
|96.34||South Kirkby Jn||11/04||11/14||17/38||17/39||248.33|
|-||Hemsworth Loop||-||-||17*21 ~ 17*33||17.27˝ ~ 17.33˝||242.34|
|102.33||Hare Park Jn||11/13||11/22˝||17/15||17/18˝||238.55|
|103.62||Crofton West Jn||11/18||?||17/12||?||237.26|
|104.74||Calder Bridge Jn||11/20||?||17/10||?||236.14|
|115.45||Mirfield East Jn||11/39||?|
|116.49||Heaton Lodge Jn||11/47||?|
|118.39||Bradley Wood Jn||11/50||11/51˝|
|124.76||Milner Royd Jn||11/59||?|
|134.37||Hall Royd Jn||12/10||12/10˝|
|154.49||Blackburn||12/46||12.47˝ ~ 12.49|
|163.71||Lostock Hall Jn||13/04||13/05|
|165.11||Farington Curve Jn||13/10||13/08|
|166.60||Preston||13.14a ~ 15.15d||13.13˝ ~ 15.15|
|194.49||Ordsall Lane Jn||16/00||15/54˝|
|195.13||Deal Street Jn||16/06||15/59|
|197.07||Philips Park West Jn||16/13||?|
|198.10||Baguley Fold Jn||16/14||?|
|201.12||Ashton Moss North Jn||16/17||16/15˝|
|225.45||Heaton Lodge East Jn||16/46||16/47˝|
|227.14||Mirfield East Jn||16/48||16/53˝|
|227.71||Thornhill LNW Jn||16/49||?|
Timings continue in first table.
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