THE LAST YEARS OF SOUTH WALES
PASSENGER SERVICES. . . 1985
Photographs and text by B.Thomas
With the ‘Severn Tunnel Jcn. closure’ factor yet to be announced (Feb.’86), 1985 was undoubtedly the GWR150 celebratory year. Depot Open Days were held up and down the Western Region as well as a whole host of steam-hauled Specials. Around the Gwent area, there were a few locations I made attempts at pointing the lens, but I also ventured out to practise some shots due mainly to some of my less memorable, early forages with the SLR. All rather embarrassing! I refer to exhibit 1.
EXHIBIT 1 : A truly aweful shot of a DMU passing Magor in 1981, a few miles to the West of Severn Tunnel Jcn.. With images like these nagging at the back of my mind, there was every reason not only just to brush up on a technique but to find one! That footbridge …what was I thinking of??!!
However, through 1985, better locations, composition and general attention to detail began to deliver results I was happier with. Whilst waiting for some of those steam specials, or just out practising, some of the then contemporary scene was more interesting than others. To what do you think I refer?
19th April 1985 : Photographed against a hazey, Spring afternoon , 33027, the real ‘Earl Mountbatten of Burma’ approaches Caerleon, all guns blazing, on its way North towards Crewe. Cromptons on the North & West began in 1981 but eventually came to an end in October 1986.
33027 came to an end when cut up by Cooper’s Metals in Eastleigh Yard during September 1992. A main generator fault in July 1991 brought its career to a close.
19th April 1985 : Later in the afternoon, on the same day as 33027 (above), 33016 is seen leaving the younger of the two Hillfield Tunnels (1912) as it accelerates away from Newport, bound for Cardiff. It’s just about to traverse Gaer Jcn..
33016 succumbed to a bogie fire when working the 10.02 Sevington – Cliffe Brett Marine on the 24th August 1989. It was scrapped at MC Metals, Glasgow, in January 1992.
20th April 1985 : 33023 departs from Newport with what I had marked down as the 07.58 to Manchester. However, this is cast into doubt as ‘023’ clearly shows ’89’ on the route indicator for the Pompey service and further more, I believe operations beyond Crewe didn’t start for the Cromptons until May. Still, it was quite early in the day for me as I readily admit I wouldn’t normally be up at this time on a Saturday. However, there was a Monmouthshire Railway Society railtour to attend which introduced the early start.
023 has survived most of the others portrayed on this page having been moved from The Railway Age, Crewe to Barrow Hill in May 2000.
29th June 1985 : This was certainly one of those occasions where one passed the time waiting for the steam-hauled special to role up, 92220 ‘Evening Star’, I believe. Here,33046 goes about its business, taking out a mid-afternoon service towards Bristol, crossing the Usk bridge at Newport. This was the only photograph I ever took of 046 on the Portsmouth services.
2nd July 1985 : Near Marshfield, 33049 sprinting on the level section between Newport and Cardiff. The occassion was the moving of the GW150 Exhibition train that afternoon and this was one of the services that shot past during the wait.
049 sustained minor damage in a light collision at Fratton on 18/3/88, loosing a buffer. After component recovery it was cut up by Vic Berry’s on site at Eastleigh Works in March 1989.
9th September 1985 : The pioneer itself, D6500, also known as 33001approaching Dr.Day’s Jcn. on the outskirts of Bristol. This was the only opportunity that ever presented itself to get one of 6500, and mightily pleased I was to have got it.
The Crompton casualty list of losses in service is un-nervingly large for such a modest class and 33001 can be found on it. On 4th March 1988, 001’s brakes failed when stood at signals near Liss with a mail train, rolling back down the hill and stiking a stationary EMU. Impact damage brought withdrawal and scraping at Vic Berry’s hands on Eastleigh depot, 20-27th Feb. 1989.
Sat.10th Sept.1985 : On the occassion of a weekend break in Tenby,33060 provided the motive power to get us from Swansea to Whitland. At Carmarthen, 060 is pictured re-attached to the stock after runnning-round the late afternoon service.
That Saturday was the day of the Newport Freight Spectacular when, amongst other things, Great Western 2-8-0 no. 2857 was running about on vintage wagons. Unfortunately, I had to miss the finale.
060’s finale came on 24/3/90 when it caught fire working the 03.27 Grain – Shakespeare Cliff TML segment train with 33033. After stripping for spares at Eastleigh Works and spending some time in storage in the carriage sidings, it was cut up by Cooper’s Metals in Eastleigh East Yard by 1st September 1992.
12th Oct.1985 : An unidentified ’33’ dropping down into the Severn Tunnel on the Welsh side, in warm, Autumn sunshine.
The depth and sheer rock faces of the cutting on the Welsh side are apparent in this view. In contrast, the English side is a lot more open, having far more width to the cutting.
When time allows, the story is to continue with amongst other things, the final weekend run-up to the end of the Winter Timetable and Crompton operations. Just not sure when it’ll appear.