“The Silver Hammer”, Saturday August 3rd 1985
85035 1Z26 Euston - L.Buzzard - Weedon - Nuneaton - Crewe - Wigan NW>
20090} 1Z26 Wigan NW - Lostock - Blackburn - Hellifield - Settle - Carlisle
25286} 1Z26 Carlisle - Dumfries - Maxwelltown (and back)
20104} 1Z26 Carlisle - Shap - Preston (non stop) - Wigan NW
85035 1Z26 Wigan NW - Crewe - Nuneaton - Weedon - L.Buzzard - Euston
At a deserted very wet Leighton station around 6 I was wandering if doing a tour on a Summer Saturday was the best move….On joining warm, steamy 310046 Northampton’s finest soon piped up “tour allocated 85035” so spirits lifted. By 1985 with no “rats” on the Cambrian and hardly anywhere else it was the prospect of 2 into SW Scotland that tempted the 2 of us to do this tour.
A big yellow front rounding the curve at Watford Jn meant Dave’s gen was right and an exworks glossy 85035 arrived with the tour around 0715. Despite being allocated a class 81-5 in the STN and in tour literature, Euston control loved to put 86’s on tours so this was a bonus. 85035 didn’t disappoint, we were screaming through Leighton 20 minutes later and storming down the Trent with 10 Mk I’s in tow in daylight made a nice change.
There was more interest in the allocated 20’s for the tour than the rats in the sociable crowd around us as they were both in new railfreight livery. At a grey Wigan NW 20104/090 coupled to the rear of the tour and took us towards the S n C on a morning that remained dull. 47150 passed us on departure on the 0927 Liverpool-Edin/Glas portion. The 20’s had attracted a fair few fast car, line in the book merchants, so I assume they were “big un’s.
The S n C was so much part of every tour back then, boredom set in once past the Hellifield photo stop. Awaking on approach to Carlisle the sun was out and 2 “rats” were ticking over small Sulzer style. 27025 was stabled here too. At Dumfries 25200 and
the rarer 25286 were split into top and tail for the run down the Maxwelltown branch. This was big track for most despite being the surviving part of the old “Paddy line” from Dumfries to Stranraer.
At Maxwelltown we all piled out for a few phots before a virtual right time departure (1446) back South. Outside Dumfries problems began, a points failure delayed further progress. 37009 passed us on the main line with the 1045 Euston -Ayr warm “coffin” stock! Much flailing fromm the bashers aboard both trains!!!
Approx 70 down we returned into Dumfries where the topped locos were put back into a pair.
At Carlisle we were advised of a change of plan which was very well received by the vast majority aboard in that instead of the 20’s returning us to Wigan via the “S n C” we would go via Shap to make up the lost time. A good run followed with a few Preston enthusiasts not expecting a pair of 20’s to approach from the North on a tour and then open up in style under the station roof!
Back at Wigan NW we were pleased 85035 hadnt become 86235 and we departed just 10 late. More fast running with lots of sounds, a flail passing Leighton, then Watford was reached around 2130. 310086 returned us North, an enjoyable tour for all.
The Maxwelltown branch is now sadly a cycle path after closure for the ICI traffic in the early 90’s privitisation pruning. I suppose, in hindsight that’s its just another good reason we did the “Silver Hammer” at the time……….