1960: Continued Change
By the early sixties, members of older steam locomotive classes were being withdrawn rapidly, and lines of stored locos started to appear. In Gloucester, Hayes Metals began cutting up redundant steam engines at Monk Meadow: a collection of older GW 0-6-0PTs, 0-6-0s and 2-8-0Ts were dumped at Over sidings awaiting the welder’s torch. Surprisingly, the first members of the relatively modern Hawksworth ‘9400’ class tanks were also being withdrawn, although this might be in part a consequence of certain design features such as a taper boiler: perhaps unduly sophisticated for locomotives that spent much of their time shunting. Steam engines continued to be constructed until, on 18 March 1960 the last steam engine, ‘9F’ No. 92220 Evening Star emerged from Swindon works after a naming ceremony.
On 7 March, the Cheltenham – Honeybourne local auto-train service was withdrawn, leaving only about six through trains daily between Stratford-on-Avon and Cheltenham. The line had opened to through traffic between Birmingham and Cheltenham in 1908, to provide the GWR with an alternative route to Bristol, albeit using running powers over the MR between Standish Junction and Yate. New junctions and a spur were constructed in 1959 at Stratford and Fenny Compton to enable freight trains from the SMJ line to be rerouted to the Stratford – Cheltenham line. This was particularly useful for iron ore traffic from the Northamptonshire ironstone quarries to steelworks in South Wales, long the preserve of 2F (previously 38E) ‘WDs’ although some freight originating on the GC for South Wales travelled via Swindon. For a while from 1959, 85E did have two ‘WDs’ on its allocation, Nos. 90565 and 90685, to work these trains. In spring, two of Woodford Halse’s rarer engines, ‘L1s’ Nos. 67740/3, were recorded on route training at Stratford – I’d always thought how good it would be to see something other than ‘WDs’ from 2F at Gloucester. However, LNER locos such as ‘K3s’ did not normally penetrate beyond Banbury.
One rather surprising announcement in the railway press during the year was the proposal to build a marshalling yard at Brookthorpe to sort NE / SW traffic. However, the scheme was never implemented as dieselisation was rendering it unnecessary, and all sorting could be done at Westerleigh or Stoke Gifford. In any case, by now wagon-load freight was in serious decline, and whilst other yards were constructed, at Margam, Healey Mills and Carlisle for example, none ever worked to capacity. Such a yard at Gloucester would have become a white elephant prior to use, and the proposal was formally abandoned in autumn 1964.
On 25 October, a major disaster occurred in the Severn Estuary at Sharpness at 10.25pm, when two Harker oil tankers, the Arkendale H and Wastdale H collided with and brought down the old Severn Bridge, built in 1879. The bridge had formed part of a diversionary route when the Severn Tunnel when occupied for engineering work. On winter Sundays DMUs between South Wales and Bristol and Portsmouth used this line between Lydney and Berkeley Road. Two other Sunday services diverted from the Severn Tunnel took the Hereford – Gloucester branch. The 10.35am Manchester – Plymouth express passed through Gloucester at about 4pm, and the return working leaving Plymouth at 8.45am passed Gloucester at 2pm. They were normally double-headed by a pair of GW Moguls, running non-stop between Hereford and Bristol apart from a water stop in the middle road at Gloucester Central. The heavy Swansea – Paddington trains also ran via Gloucester, and were often double-headed eastbound over Sapperton, between Gloucester and Swindon, sometimes by two ‘Castles’. These ran at about 12.30pm and 3.30pm eastbound, whilst the equivalent westbound trains passed through Gloucester at 1pm and 4pm.
Interestingly the 1955 working timetable also showed the Sunday 9.20am Sheffield Victoria – Swansea train that was routed via the GC line, Banbury and Swindon being diverted through Gloucester in both directions, but I cannot recollect ever seeing it. It would certainly have been a roundabout way of travelling between the two places! This service was later curtailed at Swindon and became a duty for a Woodford Halse ‘B1’, enabling this locomotive to take up the return working by making a rapid turn-around. Its timing meant that it could be seen if we made a Sunday afternoon visit to Swindon Works, and thus on a works visit on 9 October 1960, No. 61271 turned up on this duty.
In June 1960, with the adjustment of Divisional boundaries, the WR revised their shed codes:
|Old shed code||Name||New shed code|
With the advent of the summer timetable on 13 June 1960, four-digit reporting numbers were introduced on the WR. One new service introduced then was a through Saturday Exmouth – Cleethorpes service which traversed the Somerset & Dorset and was rostered alternately for a set of Gresley coaches in maroon livery or a standard set in Southern green. ‘9Fs’ were now being employed over the S&D route, and Bath Green Park was seeing regular visits from ‘Jubilees’ as weight restrictions had been relaxed. ‘B1s’ also became regular performers on Bath trains. No. 61152 (41C) was seen there on 18 May, whilst others observed at Bath included No. 61167 (41F) on 18 June (11.10am Bournemouth to Sheffield), and No. 61176 (51A) on the northbound ‘Pines Express’ on 6 August. No. 61041 also worked 12.45pm Bristol – Sheffield on the same day. This loco had also been seen on Barnwood MPD on 14 June.
In July 1960, I acquired my first 35mm camera, an Ilford Sportsman, and went with Roger Speck on one of our regular local trips, to Bristol for the afternoon on 16 July. We took the 2.33pm from Gloucester (10.15am Sheffield – Bristol), with a Sheffield ‘B1’ in charge. In the evening we caught back the 7.25pm Bristol – Newcastle mail, a 55A turn, being the loco off the earlier down ‘Devonian’. On this occasion were treated to a 12A ‘Jubilee’ with a Fowler tender, No. 45716 Swiftsure, which certainly lived up to its name: unfortunately, my attempt to photograph it was unsuccessful. [Interestingly, there is a photo of the same well-travelled engine on Beattock bank earlier on 7 July!] On 27 July, another 12A ‘Jubilee’, No. 45724 Warspite, had charge of the same train.
Scottish ‘Jubilees’ from 67A also turned up very rarely, having been appropriated by 55A: No. 45665 Lord Rutherford of Nelson and No. 45687 Neptune (on the 9.20 am Paignton – Bradford on 2 July) being notable examples.
1960 saw the reallocation of a batch of ‘Royal Scots’ to Sheffield (41C), and on 23 July we were surprised to see one of their new acquisitions, ‘Royal Scot’ No. 46164 The Artists’ Rifleman, at the head of the down ‘Devonian’. However, probably the most exciting event of the summer of 1960 occurred on 9 July, with the appearance of a Kingmoor ‘Clan’ Pacific, No. 72005 Clan Macgregor on the 7.45am Paignton – Newcastle. A school classmate of mine, Terry Fry photographed the working leaving Gloucester Eastgate (September 1960 TI).
‘Royal Scot’ 4-6-0 No. 46164 The Artists’ Rifleman heads south with the ‘Devonian’ past ‘the boards’ next to Tuffley Junction signal box on 23 July 1960. On summer Saturdays, this service ran non-stop from Birmingham to Bristol, apart from a timetabled stop for water on the Gloucester avoiding line.
By late summer, ‘Scots’ and ‘Patriots’ were becoming less rare in Gloucester and were working through to Bath. On 11 September, No. 45536 Private W Wood VC (41C) was recorded on the southbound ‘Devonian’. On 30 October No. 46139 The Welch Regiment worked a troop special between Gloucester and Cardiff. Finally, No. 46109 Royal Engineer (55A) was seen at Bristol on the northbound ‘Devonian’ on 12 December, still quite a rare occurrence at this time.
Other visitors to Gloucester I did not see, but not otherwise mentioned, were recorded during 1960. On 5 March No. 46128 The Lovat Scouts worked a special from Rugby to Cardiff. On 14 May ‘K3’ No. 61853 piloted ‘Jubilee’ No. 45662 Kempenfelt on the 12.48pm York – Bristol (photographed in TI), whilst another ‘K3’, No. 61808 was seen on Barnwood shed on 30 October. Another interesting double-headed combination turned up on 4 June, when the Newcastle – Cardiff train arrived behind ‘B1’ No. 61249 FitzHerbert Wright and ‘Jubilee’ No. 45668 Madden.
Stanier ‘Crabs’, including No. 42961, also made a number of appearances on summer Saturday extras, as did ‘9Fs’. One class of engine I do not recall seeing in Gloucester but did penetrate down from the Birmingham area occasionally, were the ex-LNW ‘Super Ds’, or ‘Duck 8s’ as we called them. No. 49452 was photographed working north light engine through Churchdown on 30 August, whilst No. 49106 was recorded at Tewkesbury on 25 September. Finally, most unusually, LNER ‘O1’ 2-8-0 No. 63610 was recorded on a northbound freight on 12 June, whilst ‘O4’ 2-8-0 No. 63754 was on Barnwood shed on 17 December.
Other locomotive movements during the year included the reallocation from Tredegar of Stanier ‘3’ 2-6-2Ts Nos. 40126/61/71 to Bristol Barrow Road. However, I do not recall seeing them in use much, as the Ivatt ‘2’ 2-6-2Ts seemed to be preferred on local Midland duties in the Bristol area. The ex-Lancashire & Yorkshire ‘Pugs’ in use at the Avonside wharf were replaced by ‘D2000’ shunters. 82E also collected ‘2P’ 4-4-0 No. 40501, although she was withdrawn in August. On 11 September Bristol Bath Road was closed to steam in anticipation of wholesale dieselisation of the Bristol area. ‘Jubilees’ became regular visitors to South Wales as far as Cardiff. Horton Road depot also acquired three new ‘Castles’ during the year, Nos. 5071 Spitfire, 7003 Elmley Castle and 7035 Ogmore Castle.
In early December widespread flooding occurred in the south west especially in the Exeter area. A landslide on the Somerset & Dorset at Midford resulted in the diversion of the ’Pines Express’ and through working of ‘WC’ Pacifics to Birmingham on 5th and 6th December. No. 34053 Sir Keith Park worked the train as far as Gloucester on 7th December. The New Year of 1961 would see far-reaching changes taking place due to wholesale dieselisation, helping to eradicate any remaining loyalties that railwaymen had to the ‘Big Four’ pre-nationalisation companies.
Changes were made at Barton Street level crossing on 3 December 1960 when lifting barriers were installed, replacing the traditional gates. Previously they had been worked in part manually by a gateman from a hut adjacent to the tracks under the control of the signalman. Barton Street Junction signal box was perched on a gantry over the railway lines at the southern end of Eastgate station. Pedestrians could avoid waiting at this busy road crossing by using a subway on the north side.
The New Year of 1961 would see far-reaching changes taking place due to wholesale dieselisation, thus almost eradicating any remaining loyalties that railwaymen had to the ‘Big Four’ pre-nationalisation companies.
- An Illustrated Review of Midland Locomotives in four volumes: Essery and Jenkinson, Wild Swan, 1984
- Steam Days, no. 139: Gloucester MR, LMS and BR: Jenkins, Redgauntlet, March 2001
- A History of the Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Limited: Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1960 [see also: www.glostransporthistory.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk]
- British Railways Mark 1 Coaches: Keith Parkin, Pendragon, 1991
- Midland Record, no. 19: The New Docks Branch, Gloucester, Wild Swan, 2003
- Steam on the Great Western; Severn and Cotswolds: Rex Kennedy, Ian Allan, 1993 [see pp. 23, 34 for photos of Nos. 1661, 29, 2034/51, 2144]
British Railways Steam Locomotives 1948 – 1968, 2nd ed: Longworth, OPC, 2013
British Railway History in Colour, vol 4A: Gloucester Midland Lines, Parkhouse, Lightmoor Press, 2019
Great Western Railway Journal, no. 44 Autumn 2002: Gloucester New Yard or T-sidings, Wild Swan
Great Western Railway Journal, no. 45 Winter 2003: Gloucester Old Yard, Wild Swan
Great Western Railway Journal, no. 46 Spring 2003: Gloucester Over & Docks Branch Sidings, Wild Swan
Great Western Railway Journal, no. 47 Summer 2003: Gloucester Docks, Wild Swan
Great Western Railway Journal, no. 48 Autumn 2003: Gloucester Passenger Pilot, Wild Swan
Great Western Railway Journal, no. 49 Winter 2004: Gloucester Horton Road Shed, Wild Swan