13th June 1998

Pathfinder Tours
The 'Slug & Slog' and 'Birthday Bash
'

Celebrating Pathfinders 25th Birthday!

Locos Used 37675, 37697, 37717, 47241, 47245, 47280, 56065,
58028, 58030, 60025, 60065, 73128 & 73131

Route : 1Z55 throughout

Loco(s) Route (1)
73128 + 73131 (2) Watford Junction (4) - St Albans Abbey
47245 (3) St Albans Abbey - Watford Junction (4)
73128 + 73131 Watford Junction - (via WCML, Weedon) - Rugby - Coventry - Birmingham International - Proof House Jn - Birmingham New Street
73128 + 73131 (5) Birmingham New Street - Selly Oak - Barnt Green - Redditch
58030 (3) Redditch - Barnt Green - Selly Oak - Birmingham New Street - Aston - Perry Bar North Jn - Portobello Jn - Wolverhampton
58030 Wolverhampton - Dudley Port - Soho North Jn - Perry Barr South Jn - Aston - Proof House Jn - Birmingham New Street - Selly Oak - Lifford West Jn - Lifford East Jn - St. Andrews Jn - Water Orton - Nuneaton - Hinckley - Leicester
60025 Leicester - Loughborough - Trent Jn - Nottingham - Bingham - Grantham
37697 + 37717 Grantham - Claypole Loop - Retford - Thrumpton Crossing Jn - Worksop - Woodhouse Jn - Woodburn Jn - Sheffield
56065 Sheffield - Dore Station Jn - Edale - New Mills South Jn - Marple Wharf Jn - Romiley - Ashburys - Philips Park No.1 Jn - Miles Platting - Manchester Victoria - Ordsall Lane Jn - Eccles - Earlestown - Winwick Jn - Warrington Bank Quay
60065 Warrington Bank Quay - WCML - Crewe
47280 + 47241 Crewe - Norton Bridge - Stafford - Portobello Jn - Bescot Up Loop
58028 shunt release from Bescot Up Loop (6)
37675 + 73128 Bescot Up Loop - Perry Barr North Jn - Soho South Jn - Birmingham New Street (- Landor Street Jn - Water Orton - Nuneaton - (via WCML, Weedon) - Watford Junction

Notes :
(1) Watford to Birmingham New Street and return ran as "The Slug & Slog", the remainder of the itinerary was "The Birthday Bash".
(2) 47245 on rear.
(3) 73128 + 73131 on rear.
(4) Departure time was due to be 00.15 but problems with one of the 73's delayed departure to 01.13 - to/from the St. Albans Platform. On return (01.48) we were all thrown off for the train to be moved to the WCML platforms for our onward journey to Birmingham New Street (departed 02.15), we had to go from platform to platform on foot.
(5) 58030 on rear.
73131 derailed as it was being put onto the train in Bescot Up Loop. Give EWS their due they soon got 37675 and, after shunting us out of the loop using 58030, had us on our way with 37675 and 73128 just 66 minutes late.

Source : Gary Thornton (There for every last mile of both tours!)

Tour review
(by Gary Thornton)

To celebrate 25 years of organising railtours, Pathfinder laid on a tour (The Birthday Bash) that was claimed to have something for everyone. This included lots of changes of locomotive (some quite unusual) and a route covering some scenic lines and a few relatively rare pieces of track. Starting from Birmingham at a somewhat unsociable 04.14, an add-on tour was also arranged to get people to and from the London area. This "mini-tour" also featured a pair of Class 73 ED's on the branches to St. Albans Abbey and Redditch plus the thrash up and down the WCML from Watford.

Getting organised for this day proved a little more of a challenge than normal - in my case it involved having a colleague pick me up as he passed Northampton on the M1 motorway en-route from Thirsk to Watford (Ian, thanks again for the lift!). Time for a Chinese meal before leaving Northampton, but we still arrived at Watford Junction with plenty of time to spare (alright, so my estimate of the journey time was a little generous!). After a debate about how to pay a non-existent parking attendant to park our car (anyone else reading this who was also parked at Watford will understand what I mean), we wandered on to the station to see a whole load of freight workings pass through, headed by 47's, 86's or 90's.

By midnight Watford Junction station was packed with both "normal" passengers along with a not inconsiderable number of railtourers. An announcement was made to the effect that our tour would leave from platform 11. We all wandered over to the said platform, though being very short it meant most of us ended up queuing on the path leading to the platform. Departure time soon came and went with no sign of the tour train's arrival. Eventually news drifted back to us that there was a problem getting the two ED's to talk to each other and, as a result, it was left to one of them to get the train to Watford. It's at times like these that I do sometimes question why I do so many railtours! Around 1am the train arrived behind 73128 and 73131, with 47245 bringing up the rear. Loading the train through just three coaches took quite a while and by the time we were all on board the problem with the ED's had been sorted.

We departed for St. Albans Abbey round an hour down. At the back of the train we never saw St. Albans Abbey station as it too has a short platform. On arrival back at Watford (now nearly 2 o'clock) it was announced that we would all now have to get off and walk over to platform 8. Reason? The train was to be reversed in the yard and no-one was on hand to clip the facing points! The one bit of track I wanted on the tour (from platform to mainline) and I didn't get it!! Once the train was at platform 8, the 47 was decoupled as we had no further use for it (although maybe it could have sped things up if we had had it pushing the ED's along the WCML...).

We were back aboard and on our way at 02.15 for what turned out to be a long, quite slow journey to Birmingham. For comfort, myself and colleagues had chosen to book in first class as it only cost an extra 7.50 and what a good decision that proved to be. As we left Watford one of the stewards came round and turned out the coach lights in favour of the table lamps. These also had individual switches in each bay, so we were soon totally in the dark as everyone in the coach turned their lamps off to get some sleep. I recall passing Hanslope Junction then my next memory was as we pulled in to Rugby station to let a freightliner past (headed by 47204 & 47301). Arrival at New Street station was at 04.29, just over half an hour behind schedule.

Whilst in the platform, 58030 was added to the back of the train. As we set off we were now technically on our second railtour of the day! The run to Redditch was not too eventful although it was surprising just how many people were out photographing us as we passed through stations en-route. 58030 now took over for the run back to New Street and on to Wolverhampton via Aston and Bescot. Just after Bescot the roar of a passing light engine was instantly recognisable as being that of a Deltic - D9000 on its way to New Street to form the 06.58 Virgin XC to Ramsgate. On arrival we were all turfed off the train to allow it to go to Oxley for cleaning and refilling the water tanks. What most of us thought to this move at 06.30 is left to your imagination - I am too polite to go into print! Oh yes, I forgot to mention, it was raining too...


58030 upon arrival into Wolverhampton (photo: Gary Thornton)


The 73's, after removal from the train at Wolverhampton (photo: Gary Thornton)

07.55 and 58030 (now on our end of the train) appeared and right on time we set off back to New Street. This time the route was via Dudley Port, Soho, Perry Bar South Jn and Aston. With more passengers on board (who looked distinctly more perky than most of us that had, by now, been on the train some 8 hours) we headed on our way to Leicester taking the route through Selly Oak, the Lifford curve, past Saltley depot and Nuneaton. Just short of Leicester station we stopped and 58030 was released in favour of 60025. We romped on towards Nottingham where we then headed towards Grantham. We were platformed there to allow our next locomotive change.


Grantham - the 37's go on after 60025 came off (photos: Gary Thornton)

Tour locomotives number's 5 and 6 were 37697 and 37717. Our run along the ECML to Retford was, as expected, quite a lively affair. We were pathed in to the loop at Claypole to let a Class 91 past. Just as we entered the loop 89001 went past in the opposite direction. At Retford we turned off the ECML and headed for Sheffield, passing through Worksop on the way. Sheffield was billed as the lunch stop, though as it was drizzling heavily and I was nodding off, I chose to get some shut-eye whilst my colleagues went off exploring. Whilst I slept, the tractors were removed and 56065 took over at the head of the train.


Sheffield - 37's on arrival and 56065 ready to depart (photos: Gary Thornton)

The route to Warrington (next scheduled loco change) was definitely for the scenery lovers as we went via Dore, Edale and Chinley to Manchester. Our course through Manchester (where, by the way, it was raining) was from New Mills via Romiley, Ashburys, Miles Platting and Victoria station to Eccles. Beyond there we carried on to Earlestown and then branched off onto the WCML for the short run to Warrington. Here 60065 was waiting and, after a short delay, we set off again.


60065 readies to leave Warrington (photo: Gary Thornton)

A mere 24 miles later and we lost the 60 in favour of a pair of named, but extremely grubby, 47's (241 and 280).


47280 leads 47241 at Crewe (photo: Gary Thornton)

In case you are wondering, we have now reached tea-time as departure time from Crewe at 18.10 was bang on-time. So for some of us it was now almost 18 hours since we had joined the tour(s). The clag coming from the 47's suggested their internal mechanical condition was on a par with their filthy external condition. That said, they did motor a bit as we ran on towards Bescot. Along this stretch I was taking some stick about the amount of food I still had left, most of my colleagues having by now almost run out. As I said to them, no matter how close you are to completing a railtour, there is always a chance things can go horribly wrong....

Our final loco change was from the 47's back to the ED's. After about 20 minutes where nothing much seemed to be happening, word filtered through to our coach that we had a "little problem". Err, like what? Um, like 73131 has just derailed in the yard at Bescot! Right chaps, it looks like we'll be here some time. At this point I was accused of being a jinx on the tour following my earlier comments disasters befalling tours at a late hour. I of course deny having any influence over such disasters. The fact that I have been on many that went pear-shaped late in the day, I maintain it's just coincidence that I was on board! Now here I think all on board would agree that EWS (etc) did a superb job and soon a plan of attack had been formulated. Firstly, nearby 58028 was used to drag us back towards Bescot station (certainly an unexpected haulage) then 37675 was called upon to partner the remaining 73 (128) to get us home.

There were certainly a lot of smiles about, despite the delay caused. We continued our journey at 20.44 only a little over one hour down. Although both locomotives were working, the 73 (leading) was not heard at all over the sound of the tractor! At Birmingham we resorted to our first railtour name and headed home via Nuneaton and, due to the delay, the Northampton loop as an engineers possession had been taken on the mainline. Without doubt, for me at any rate, the thrash home with the 37/73 combo was the days highlight. A majority of the time we were bowling along at an extremely respectable lick. Finally, at a tad after 23.35, a trainload of tired but (mostly) happy punters was deposited at Watford Junction station.

Verdict : Simply a superb tour! If you weren't there, you really missed a "good 'un".

Gary Thornton
 
Timings (Booked and Actual)

"The Slug & Slog"

73128/73131 & 47245

M.C

Location

Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Watford Junction 00.15d 01.13   01.15a 01.36 6.30
6.30 St. Albans Abbey 00.38a 01.33   00.53d 01.48 0.00

73128/73131 out, 73128/37675 back

M.C

Location

Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Watford Junction 01r47d 02.15   21.59a 23.37 103.02
14.18 Tring 02/08 02/39   21/44 23/19 88.88
29.11 Bletchley 02/21 02/56   21/31 23/03 73.71
32.30 Milton Keynes Central 02/23 03/02   21/27 23/01 70.52
39.12 Hanslope Jn 02/36 03/10   21/21 22/55 63.70
52.39 Weedon 02/54 asleep   21/08 DIV ?
65.05 Rugby 03/15 03.44a   20/55 22.13 35.50
- Nuneaton   20.38a ~ 20.40d 21.50 ~ 21.51 21.00
- Whitacre Jn   20/22 21/32 10.36
- Water Orton   20/17 21/27 7.51
- Landor Street Jn   20/09 21/19 1.45
76.44 Coventry 03/28 04/05        
87.20 Birmingham International 03/38 04/17        
91.53 Stetchford 03/44 04/22        
95.38 Birmingham New Street 03L54a 04/29   20.06d 21.12 0.00

Note : Table adjusted for diversion via Northampton on return leg.

The following performance log was provided by Andy Flowers for the return journey between Nuneaton and Watford;

Load: 12 Mk.1 380/410 tons

Location Distance (miles) Time (hrs.mins.secs) Speed (mph)
Nuneaton 0.00 0.00.00 0.0
Bulkington 3.55 0.06.34 51.7
Shilton 5.69 0.08.54 61.0
Brinklow 9.05 0.12.25 58.0/62.6
Newbold 12.05 0.15.19 64.6/64.3
Rugby 14.55 0.22.37 0.0
Rugby 0.00 0.00.00 0.0
Long Buckby 9.33 0.13.40 69.2
Althorp Park 12.83 0.16.45 68.6
Northampton 18.98 0.27.43 15.0
Hanslope Jn 28.33 0.40.45 65.1
Wolverton 32.50 0.44.32 70.3
Milton Keynes 35.03 0.46.41 72.0
Bletchley 38.20 0.49.23 73.1
Linslade Tunnel South 0.44.10 54.15 72.6
Leighton Buzzard 44.67 0.54.44 72.4
Cheddington 48.74 0.58.17 60.4
Tring 53.15 1.05.20 32.4
Berkhamstead 56.94 1.09.55 62.6
Hemel Hempstead 60.35 1.13.14 60.0
Apsley 61.77 1.14.35 60.2
Kings Langley 63.90 1.16.42 62.4
Watford Junction 67.42 1.23.18 0.0

"The Birthday Bash"

73128/73131 & 58030

M

Location

Booked Actual   Booked Actual M.C
0.00 Birmingham New Street 04L14d 094.43   05/22 06.06a ~ 06.09d 15.47
3.31 Selly Oak 04/21 04/56   05/12 05/58 13.16
5.45 Kings Norton 04/24 04/59   05/09 05/55 11.02
7.78 Longbridge 04/27 05/04   05/06 05/53 7.49
10.53 Barnt Green 04/30 05/11   05/04 05/49 4.74
15.47 Redditch 04.42a 05.24   04.52d 05.35 0.00

58030 (73128/131 on rear of train)

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
18.23 Aston 05/28 06/15
20.45 Perry Bar North Jn 05/31 06/18
22.55 Bescot Stadium 05/38 06/25
27.19 Portobello Jn 05/43 06/33
29.03 Wolverhampton 05.52a 07.58

58030 (continued)

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
29.03 Wolverhampton 07.59d 07.58
34.43 Dudley Port 08/06 08/06
38.08 Galton Jn 08/11 08/13
39.34 Soho North Jn 08/12 08/16
42.04 Perry Bar South Jn 08/20 08/24
43.60 Aston 08/27 08/27
44.36 Birmingham New Street 08.34a 08.36
44.67 Selly Oak 08/43 08/47
46.37 Lifford West Jn 08/51 08/51
46.62 Lifford East Jn 08/52 08/53
51.29 Bordesley Jn 08/57 09/00
51.55 St. Andrews Jn 08/58 09/01
52.13 Landor Street Jn 09/02 09/04
58.19 Water Orton 09/07 09/10
61.04 Whitacre Jn 09/16 09/25
71.48 Nuneaton 09.29a ~ 09.31d 09.38 ~ 09.40
75.67 Hinkley 09/37 09/46
87.18 Wigston North Jn 9/51 09/59
90.34 Leicester (Up & Down Goods) 09L56a 10.06

60025

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
0.00 Leicester (Up & Down Goods) 10L16d 10.22
4.71 Syston South Jn 10/25 10/31
12.39 Loughborough 10/32 10/38
20.09 Trent Jn 10/41 10/47
26.57 Mansfield Jn 10/48 10/55
27.40 Nottingham 10/54 10/58
30.11 Netherfield Jn 10/58 11/05
35.69 Bingham 11/07 11/14
41.57 Bottesford West Jn 11/13 11/22
46.65 Allington Jn 11/22 11/26
50.18 Grantham 11L30a 11.33

37697/37717

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
0.00 Grantham 11L52d 11.52
4.18 Barkeston South Jn 11/58 11/59
9.69 Claypole Loop 12*04a ~ 12*10d 12.05 ~ 12.09
14.50 Newark North Gate 12/17 12/14
33.11 Retford 12/32 12.29a ~ 12.32d
34.12 Thrumpton Crossing Jn 12/36 12/36
40.62 Worksop 12/44 12/43
42.64 Shireoaks 12/53 12/46
50.64 Woodhouse Jn 13/06 12/54
55.11 Woodburn Jn 13/12 13/00
56.08 Nunnery Main Line Jn 13/18 13/05
56.45 Sheffield 13L23a 13.08

56065

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
0.00 Sheffield 14L44a 14.44
3.70 Dore Station Jn 14/50 14/50
9.22 Grindleford 14/57 14/56
19.24 Edale 15/10 15/09
24.01 Chinley North Jn 15/27 15/18
26.44 New Mills South Jn 15/32 15/21
31.456 Marple Wharf Jn 15/41 15/28
32.44 Romiley 15/43 15/30
38.50 Ashburys 15/57 15/42
40.79 Philips Park No.1 Jn 16/04 15/49
41.19 Miles Platting 16/18 15/56
42.49 Manchester Victoria 16/22 16/03
43.61 Ordsall Lane Jn 16/25 16/24
46.40 Eccles 16/31 16/31
46.45 Astley 16/38 nodded off
59.31 Earlestown 16/46 16/44
60.67 Winwick Jn 16/48 16/46
64.23 Warrington Bank Quay 16L55a 16.54

60065

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
0.00 Warrington Bank Quay 17L15d 17.16
1.67 Acton Grange Junction 17/19 17/19
7.69 Weaver Junction 17/25 17/25
16.50 Winsford 17/34 17/34
24.11 Crewe 17L49a 17/49

47241/280

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
0.00 Crewe 18L10d 18.10
1.64 Basford Hall Junction 18/16 18/15
8.06 Madeley Junction 18/22 18/21
19.08 Norton Bridge 18/37 18/35
24.37 Stafford 18/44 18/41
38.14 Bushbury Junction 18/58 18/57
40.62 Portobello Junction 19/05 19/01
43.61 Darlaston Junction 19/09 19/04
45.26 Bescot (Up Loop) 19L13a 19.13

At this point, 73131 became derailed prior to coupling up on our train and as a result 37675 was substituted. In order to attach this and 73128 on our stock it was necessary to set our train back approximately 1/2 a mile. This was achieved using 58028.

73128/37675

M.C

Location

Booked Actual
0.00 Bescot (Up Loop) 19L38d 20.44
4.10 Perry bar North Junction 19/50 20/55
7.01 Soho South Junction 19/58 21/03
9.02 Birmingham New Street 20.02a 21.08


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