The “Mersey Ratcatcher” remembered, Sunday 28th September 1986
Despite the “STN” showing no major planned Sunday morning alterations I was soon joining the 3 other local “rat men” at around 6am for a huge, safe plus onto the “farewell rat tour”. 310079 was our power to Euston, inside the power it was warm
and we soon dossed out in the deep cushions of the 310’s bench seats.
At Euston, once allowed onto the tour’s departure platform was the mighty fine spectacle 2 class 25’s at the head of our train. The morning sun helped to pick up the “rats” polished bodywork and the “handle with care” stickers below the loco numbers!
We were lucky in that Hertfordshire had allocated our group front coach seats in the 10 coach rake of Cobbler Mk I’s. The thrash was very loud on Camden Bank, all droplights windows were open, there was much hanging out of windows, the atmosphere superb!
We settled into a steady 80 ish thrash through WCML haunts the class were now rare at. A Leighton and Bletchley PSB flail and then discussions began over what the tour’s “Saltley kick out” would be. Sunday morning engineering works had enforced alterations to those in the tour brochure
The circular route into New St via Aston was out because of the West end of New St was closed for engineering work. Our stock was vacuumed braked so that restricted what the “Kick out” could be but a big Eastern 47 will do nicely we thought.
We were routed into Birmingham International’s platform 1 for a mass photting session before the “kick out”, an immensely dull 86237! took the tour forward to New St, where the “rats” rejoined us albeit at the other end of the stock
More former class 25 strongholds followed on a high mileage route taking in Nuneaton, Derby, the South Pennines, Piccadilly, Eccles and Lime Street. At Lime St the requested petroleum sub sector 25’9’s quickly backed onto our stock and what was now the front coach was swelled by a few “scratch men” and a few from further back to enjoy a rare first and last “burst” of 25’9 power.
The sun continued to shine as 25904 and 910 (25283 and 25315) took the tour over less familiar (to us) semaphore signalled Wirral country around Helsby before, to the Liverpool joiners concern, running straight through Chester station. To get the stock the right way round after the New St reversal, we were turned on the Chester triangle. This gave us good views of Chester depot where another 25 was stabled.
A booked photo stop was advertised in the tour brochure and on stopping, we all piled out to phot the 25’9’s. My colleague noticed a green peg for our train on arrival at Chester but with several hundred tour participants on the platform this was perhaps a case of people power overcoming a station supervisor who was less keen on the advertised photo stop on his shift
The 25’9’s continued to Crewe, we wandered how many more 25’s would pass the familiar Beeston Castle landmark, before the usual protracted loco change at Crewe. A return Chelsea? Footex from Manchester was on the through line and much withering in both directions followed, did they deserve such a respectable 85012 as their power though?!
079 0602 Bletchley-Euston LB-EU
85005 xxxx Stirling-Euston Motorail
25313} 0830 Euston-Liverpool Railtour EU-BI
86237 0830 Euston-Liverpool Railtour BI-NS
25249} 0830 Euston-Liverpool Railtour NS-LS
25904} 1645 Liverpool-Euston Railtour (via Ch) LS-CR
85009 1345 Dover-Liverpool
85018 1725 Birmingham-Liverpool
85012 Manchester-Euston Footex
85008 1723 Brighton-Liverpool
25313} 1645 Liverpool-Euston CR-EU
304032-at Watford Jn on the down.
072 2202 Euston-Rugby EU-LB
Class 25 activity didn’t completely finish locally with this farewell tour, the class gamely hung on in service until March 87. Our popular summary of the known local last class 25 action from October 86 to March 87 is available here