The “Christmas Cracker Tour” remembered, December 1983

17128340028hr.jpg Hereford, 171283

Friday 16th December, 1983

"You're the one who's crackers" was the girlfriend's fond farewell as me and a mate left Leighton Buzzard for the "Christmas Cracker II" railtour. Friday's last morning Northampton - Euston "cobbler" was a "solid" roarer turn or so we thought until 86323 droned in to whisk us South to Euston.

With a day return to Oxford bought at Paddington 50008 gave a characteristic noisy run to Reading where even on a cool, grey December morning there was always something of interest. ETH power dominated all passenger traffic including a few pre-Christmas relief's. Booked but unfamiliar to us was 45124 arriving with the 0945 Cardiff-Padd returning with the 1307 Padd-Liverpool. We waited for the 1246FO Portsmouth-Leeds with it's booked Crompton to New St. Today 33018 obliged, passing preserved Hymek 7018 on show outside Didcot's steam centre. We wished we could stay on for more respectable mileage but the Liverpool St rush-hour beckoned so we settled for 50008 to thunder us back to Paddington.

Escaping from a seriously crowded tube, Liverpool St that night was to produce some reasonable loco haulage amongst the endless units. 47135 was steaming superbly on our departure from the Street.

Typically, 37049 appeared to work the 2205 Liverpool St - Cambridge but we had to turn this machine down for haulage as the main event beckoned the 2300 Kings X-Edinburgh. Our early boarding gave us good front coach seats before the returning late evening commuters all piled aboard. Immense good fortune saw 46044 back on at the business end , this was my last 46 for haulage, all those years on the Gloucester-Bristol circuit finally paying off out of London. A ritualistic bellow as we left the Cross alarmed a few normals!

The Moves - 16/12/83 Fr

86323  0817 Northampton-Euston                 L.Buzzard-Euston

50008  0950 Padd-Oxford                             Padd-Reading

50004  1115 Padd-Oxford                             Reading-Oxford

47471  0920 Manchester-Poole (in)                Oxford-Reading

33018  1246 Portsmouth-Leeds                      Reading-Oxford

50008  1515 Oxford-Padd                             Oxford-Paddington

47135  1735 Liverpool St-Cambridge            Liverpool St-Audley End

47458  1835 Liverpool St-Kings Lynn           Audley End-Cambridge

47596  2023 Cambridge-Liverpool St            Cambridge - Liverpool St

46044  2300 Kings X-Edinburgh                   Kings X - York


Other Gen - 16/12/83

31138 Wolverton-Ilford ER unit drag

47444  0738 Wolverhampton-Brighton

47489  0847 Brighton-Manchester

31108 - RG

47559  0920 Bristol-Padd

50033  1020 Oxford-Padd    

47442  0720 Liverpool-Poole (out)

47487  0720 Liverpool-Poole (in)

45124  0945 Cardiff-Padd

47510  0940 Poole-Newcastle (out)

47462  0940 Poole-Newcastle (in)

47488  Paignton-Padd Addit

47466  1313 Paddington-Penzance (vacs)

45124  1307 Padd-Liverpool

50044  Plymouth-Padd relief

47445  1023 Manchester-Brighton

47462  1240 Poole-Manchester (in)

47497  1240 Poole-Manchester

50038  1415 Padd-Oxford

47130  1650 Liverpool St-Lowerstoft

47579  1630 Liverpool St-Norwich

37021  1654 Liverpool St-Cambridge

47596  1715 Liverpool St-Cambridge

47580  1730 Liverpool St-Norwich

47439  1425 Norwich-Liverpool St

47158  1805 Liverpool St-Norwich

37049  2205 Liverpool St-Cambridge

Saturday 17th December, 1983

By Peterborough the front coach was much quieter with a few "hard core" peak bashers building on their impressive mileages. Getting off any overnight train in the early hours whether at York like this morning, or Edinburgh, Bristol or Birmingham is much the same, rancid!

Bleary eyed photos of our 46 followed as her boiler was watered before continuing North. We camped out in a DMU to keep warm. The "Christmas Cracker II" was to start from Leeds but our tour tickets were valid from York on 45136 on the 0710 Liverpool and the first 2 coaches were soon filled.

At Leeds the 11 coach tour rake was already in with 40028 "Samaria" at the head with her boiler steaming away strongly. Once on the move that special atmosphere perhaps unique to CFPS tours soon had us all contributing to enjoy the "crack".

40028 thrashed over Standedge in style before passing the familiar 40 haunts of Stalybridge and Guide Bridge where 40001 was stabled amongst her class 37 replacements and doomed class 76 electrics. Stockport, Crewe and the underrated "Marches" line followed to Shrewsbury and Hereford . Here the photo stop included Father Christmas who no doubt had flagged his reindeer for some quality mileage. Once in South Wales 40028 generated much interest from the locals an uncommon rare beast for them.

Cardiff offered a two and a half hour break for 40028 to be refuelled and the stock watered. Many opted for some "Brains" pubs, others a blast on the "top" Cardiff-Newport corridor with it's many freight and loco hauled services. 33027 on a Crewe-Cardiff, 33065 on a Brighton-Cardiff, 45120 on a Cardiff-Birmingham and 45139 on a Portsmouth-Cardiff were to oblige.

Just after three o'clock 40028 reappeared from Canton and departed on what was to be a memorable journey for many of us. 4 minutes of a wall of sound followed through the Severn Tunnel then Swindon and Didcot West Jn for a crew change at Oxford where we were still just about right time. A saunter through Evesham followed to arrive at Worcester Shrub Hill. Here the quoted Salvation Army band produced for some noisy Christmas Carol renditions. "Jingle Bells" will never sound the same anywhere else! Here also the guy who carried a Christmas tree round with him all day was still much in evidence.

The atmosphere dipped a little during the ascent of the Lickey as we were banked not by 2 massive south Wales's syphons but by 45146! At New St 40028 was replaced by another namer 40034 "Accra" who returned us across the Pennines and on to York in style. Near midnight she ran round to return the ECS to Leeds. We didn't expect as we admired the beast that this would be her last passenger turn. 40034 was withdrawn on Jan 6th just three weeks after the "Christmas Cracker II".

The Moves - 17/12/83 Sa

45136  0710 York-Liverpool                                      York - Leeds

40028  1Z36 Christmas Cracker tour                          Leeds - Cardiff

            (via Staly, Stock,Crewe,Shrewsbury)

43022}            1230 Swansea-Padd                                      Cardiff - Newport


45139  1010 Portsmouth-Cardiff                               Newport - Cardiff

40028  1Z36 Christmas Cracker tour                          Cardiff - New St

            (via Didcot W, Oxford, Worcester)

45146                                                                          (banking) Bromsgrove-Barnt Grn

40034  1Z36 Christmas Cracker tour                          New St - York

            (via Stoke, Stock, Leeds)

The Gen - 17/12/83 Sa                                                          

47527  0005 Kings X-Edinburgh      

45112  0754 York-Llandudno

45146  0705 Liverpool-Scarborough

33027  1003 Crewe-Cardiff

33065  0820 Brighton-Cardiff

45120  1335 Cardiff-Manchester

47140  1935 Birmingham-Padd


Sunday 18th December, 1983

Still in high spirits after such a good day a few of us awaited the overnight South. 47428 was our power on a lightly loaded rake of Mk1's here we all drifted off to sleep on the long way round via Lincoln.

Kings X at nine on a Sunday morning was a world apart from the night before at York and there was much "Humbug" in the air!. We walked to Waterloo where 50047 was power for the 1110 Exeter. At Basingstoke we made the 1200 Reading-Portsmouth with it's booked 33/1 and 4-TC. These trains were only hauled on Sundays and were always something special. 33107 powered us from Basingstoke to Winchester for 33115 back to lonely Michledever, a Sundays only loco hauled haunt. The pub followed before 33108 returned us to Basingstoke for 50005 to Andover on an Exeter. Here condemned 2-BIL and 4 SUB units were the only thing of interest before 50001 returned us to Waterloo. 310055 did the honours in returning me home to end a cracker of a weekend.

The Moves and Gen- 18/12/83 Su

47430  2025 (17/12) Kings X-Aberdeen                   

47412  1E35 up

47522  2140 (17/12) Edinburgh-Kings X

47428  2230 (17/12) Edinburgh-Kings X       York - Kings X (via Lincoln)

50047  1110 Waterloo-Exeter                         Waterloo - Basingstoke

33107  1200 Reading-Portsmouth                  Basingstoke-Winchester

33115  1208 Portsmouth-Reading                  Winchester-Michledever

33108  1308 Portsmouh-Reading                   Michkedever-Basingstoke

47471  1322 Poole-Newcastle

50005  1410 Waterloo-Exeter                         Basingstoke - Andover

50048  1225 Exeter-Waterloo

50001  1345 Exeter-Waterloo                         Andover - Waterloo

055      1803 Euston-Rugby                            Euston - L.Buzzard


Christmas Cracker Phot Spot

16128333018r.jpg 33018 at Oxford with the 1246 FO Portsmouth - Leeds, 161283

17128346044r.jpg 46044 is watered during her stop at York with the 2300 (16/12) Kings X -Edinburgh, 171283

17128340028apgbr.jpg 40028 approaches Guide Bridge from the Stalybridge line, 171283

17128340028cfr.jpg Journey’s end, 40028 with the tour at it’s Cardiff destination, 171283

17128345139r.jpg Trev Rolfe was also on the tour, his phot is of 45139 at Cardiff with the 1010 ex Portsmouth, the peak having worked from Bristol, 171283

181283500471110wer.jpg Vintage Waterloo! 50047 with the 1110 Exeter, 181283

181283bilr.jpg  Ex stores unit 022 a former 2-BIL awaits her fate dumped in Andover Goods depot, 181283

This article first appeared in Traction many years ago, the proceeds going to the CFPS who ran the tour…………….








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