Every now and then, even in this internet age, a test train or light locomotive working manages to pass me by. Recently it was a top and tailed Class 73 test train which visited our local area when I was tucking into Sunday lunch. Last year I was thwarted in seeing a Class 56 in Dorset due to a traffic queue created by roadworks and because I had dinner in the oven. This last weekend I missed seeing Class 37 No. 37612 heading up a test train from Westbury to Dorchester West and return. I was having a lovely afternoon looking around a National Trust property near Yeovil (and yes, enjoying a cuppa) when the heritage loco passed by a few miles away. We are able to share the following photograph of the Class 37 working with grateful thanks to Jim Smith.
The following video shows 37612, along with sister locomotive 37610, during a previous visit to Dorchester West on December 2nd 2020 working the 0820 Tyseley L.M.D. to Bristol High Level Siding test train. Last Sunday’s working was in beautiful bright sunlight, whereas this earlier visit clearly wasn’t.
As well as visiting stately homes on Sunday, our morning was spent at the Yeovil Railway Centre which is situated on a site covering the turntable and the former Clifton Maybank branch adjacent to Yeovil Junction railway station. The event celebrated Peckett & Sons 0-4-0ST Works No. 1579 Pectin which formally returned to traffic on 20th March 2022. We enjoyed watching turntable displays and taking a train ride along the former Clifton Maybank spur.
The first Yeovil Railway Festival organised by the South Western Main Line Steam Company was held on the 8th and 9th October 1994 and was opened by Jim Morgan, Director of Railtrack South West. Drummond Locomotive Society’s 0-4-4T Class M7 loco 30053 (as 30129) ran shuttles to Yeovil Pen Mill and trips to Maiden Newton while BR Standard Pacific No. 70000 ‘Britannia’ and examples of classes 47 (Lady Godiva from Waterman Railways), 33 and 37 were on display. S15 4-6-0 No. 828 hauled Pathfinder steam excursion, The Exe-Parrett (suitably adorned with parrot toy on the smoke box), through Yeovil from Bristol to Exeter and back to Bristol via Taunton on the Saturday and returned from Bristol for display on the Sunday. Before heading to Yeovil, our first video of the weekend sees 828 first at Westbury but also GWR Castle Class 4073 4-6-0 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ working the London Paddington – Cranmore Capitals United Express rail tour organised by Flying Scotsman Services. You can also catch a glimpse of one of my favourite railway and wildlife artists David Shepherd with the train.
Things didn’t run quite to plan for Pathfinder on the Sunday when the Dorset Docker rail tour hauled by a pair of Class 20 diesel locomotives en route to Weymouth and Weymouth Quay was deemed a failure at Yeovil Pen Mill when No. 20187 expired. Class 37 No. 37375 which had been on display at Yeovil Junction, working in multiple with 20075, was rostered to work the tour back as far as Westbury. The 37 was substituted for Class 47 No. 47475 which hauled the tour and the Class 20’s onward from Westbury to Wolverhampton. Our next video, filmed mostly on the Sunday captures a glimpse of the Class 37 and Class 20’s at Yeovil Pen Mill.
On 4th and 5th October 1997 the second Yeovil Railway Festival was held, once again opened by Jim Morgan now Director of GB Railways. USA Tank No. 30075 was in the upside sidings whilst S15 No. 828 and M7 No. 30053 joined in once again taking turns at operating a shuttle service to Castle Cary. Class 20 No. D8188 was named “River Yeo” by Murray Brown, editor of Rail Express magazine. Two failed Class 73 locomotives, 73104 and 73128, were unofficially on display with an engineers train. On the second day Hertfordshire Railtours ran The Blackmore Vale 125 Special HST excursion from Paddington with power cars 43006 and 43185.
This past week saw the return of the Snow & Ice Treatment Train (SITT) to the Bournemouth – Weymouth line with GBRf Class 66 locomotive No’s 66799 and 66760 ‘David Gordon Harris’ remaining in charge. We’ll share our video of these workings in our next blog.
We saw the SITT leave Totton Yard on Thursday 17th March 2022 before we headed off to Eastleigh to visit an old friend and visit McDonald’s. While there, we took the opportunity to spend a few hours watching trains before and after lunch. There’s a video after this collection of photographs.
Class 701 testing continues, as evidenced in the image below as 701037 waits for a clear road before departing from Eastleigh.
In other local news, Swanage Railway have announced the postponement of their Summer 2022 planned 90 selected day trial of a Wareham to Swanage and Corfe Castle service using heritage British Railways diesel multiple units because of ‘challenging trading conditions and economic uncertainty. Plans are now being made to run the trial in 2023.
Fifty historic railway structures originally earmarked for demolition or infilling may be spared after an independent review of National Highways plans found that they could be readily preserved for active travel schemes. The government ordered review carried out by Sustrans concluded that two-thirds of the 75 structures could be useful for use as part of the National Cycle Network (NCN) or as local walking and cycling routes.
One such bridge deemed useful for the NCN is the bridge which carried the former Bridport branch line at Barrowland Lane, Toller Porcorum. Local residents were left angry last year when National Highways felled trees on land next to the disused bridge. The Historical Railways Estate Group, made up of engineers, sustainable transport advocates and greenway developers – want to use the bridge in its ambitious plans to develop a sustainable railway and cycle link from West Bay to Maiden Newton.
The images below show both ends of the proposed cycle / walk way; Maiden Newton and WestBay.
For our final video clip this time, we have included a brief view of the last day of operation on the Bridport Branch filmed by John Chappell showing a diesel multiple unit formed using No.’s 55033, 51345 + 59497 + 51387 which ran the final services on the line. This silent cine film also offers a glimpse of Southern Electric Group rail tour The Dorset Dawdler which utilised Diesel Electric Multiple Unit No. 1131. Passengers on this tour were able to transfer to the DMU service for a trip to Bridport and back. The SEG DEMU tour also took in the Fawley branch and Weymouth Quay Tramway earlier in the day.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and hopefully we’ll be back with an update in seven days.