Class 25 - The final months, some local gen and tales



After the superb “Mersey Ratcatcher” farewell railtour with much bellowing from the lead coach as 25249/313 powered the return leg through Leighton on  September 28th 1986,  things on the class 25 front locally went quiet for a few months. November and December saw 2 unlikely local passenger workings alongside occasional visits on parcels and ballast turns. Heavy snow countrywide in mid Jan 1987and beyond saw the availability of 31’s hammered, resulting  in a massive increase in local class 25 activity with some outrageous turns.


An attempt to log some of the local 25 turns over their last 6-7 months of local service  are detailed below. 


280986 Sun 25249/25313 Euston-Liverpool Farewell Tour (and back)

                        25904 and 25910 worked tour Lime St-Crewe via Chester


Cracking farewell railtour, “rats” to the blocks at Euston for the last time 



221186 Sat 2221 (21/11) Birmingham-Euston 25176 drag 310


A “rat tale” in which Northampton Mick was “lucky” enough to be aboard and quoting him. “This was a “Network day” and there were a good few bashers aboard the 310 forming 2A06- 2221 Birmingham-Euston through service to be in position for exotic early morning hauled passenger/paper services out of London termini. At Wolverton the usual drunks boarded the train and shortly after departure pulled the cord on the unit as often occurred on this train. Now this time the “drunk Doris” in question pulled the cord for the brakes to come on hard and the unit to be trapped in the Wolverton neutral section!. A very long delay followed, transport police ect joined the train and hopes of Network Day 73’0 overnight bashes went out of the window for those aboard. Rescue eventually came from Bletchley HS in the form of 25176 for a short drag to Bletchley”. 


141286 Sun -25173 drag 870xx 1F28 -1250 Euston-Liverpool (Bletchley-Hanslope Jn) isolation overrun



This Sunday morning saw a booked down isolation Bletchley-Rugby. Considering 4 was a large number of bashers at Bletchley, for in excess of 30 to be there, caught the attention of the powerbox staff. Cue an announcement “ the next train to arrive at platform 3” (DF as it was then) , will be hauled by “Thomas the Tank Engine!”. Brilliant! A Blue tank engine would perhaps have been more welcome than umpteen “peds” incl 31144/31183/31187/31247/31260/31290/31294/31423/3144/31446 that dragged Sunday services from Bletchley to Northampton that morning. To add insult 25173 was parked on Bletchley HS “spare” that morning and didn’t work any drags. Now comes the twist, it is claimed by a good source that there was a brief overrun of the isolation and 25173 was summoned from the HS to work an emergency drag Bletchley-Hanslope of the first booked through electric service, the 1250 ex Euston. Never seen a phot of this working though, so the very last Southern WCML “rat” passenger working remains slightly in doubt, as do all the best tales!


100187 Sat 25059 stabled – Sudbury LHS, then engineers to Bletchley

110187 Sun 25037 Failed in Northampton area.

140187 We 25059/45106(d) 0700 SP-Nottingham Passenger ex Bedford (M10 stock)


160187 Fri -25059 Luton-Dunstable l/e /snow clearing (plough fitted 25)


My offices at work for much of the 80’s adjoined the freight only Luton-Dunstable branch near the Church Street overbridge in Dunstable. Internal phones used to ring in abundance when a train passed from suitably trained “normal” staff whos office directly overlooked the line, This allowed the 3 cranks working in other offices could have a look at the power coming back from the cement works or wherever 20 minutes later. With thick snow causing chaos in the local area we were amazed at getting the call “a train had gone down”. 15 minutes later we enjoyed seeing not just “any old train” but 25059 returning light engine after using her plough to clear the line, probably as insurance for a branch DMU Railtour the next day. This, we believe was the first “rat” down the branch for nearly a year and was, probably, the last “rat” working of thousands down the Dunstable branch.


180187 Sun- “25313” 1A02 0235 Euston – Bletchley “papers/staff train”


I hauled myself out of bed, joining Neil Evans down at the station around 0340 on a freezing, foggy Sunday morning. On the Leighton station night turn that bitter morning was Graham Wayling. He was most amused for us turning up for the “papers” at such an early hour. Our claim of it being “allocated a rat” saw him advise “the isolation is cancelled, due extreme temperatures”!  Suitably withered, we hung around to view the “papers” arrive, chatting with Graham in his warm office. For once we were disappointed to hear and then see a “roarer” emerge from the wintry darkness, 85023 rather than 25313 being the power…We trudged home through the fog and lying snow as the blowers of 85023 filled the still, silent morning air, I suppose I was glad (especially with hindsight) we’d made the effort.. ……..


200187 Tu 25059/47449(d) 2254 Nottingham-SP Passenger ex Leicester

210187 We 25059 0005 SP-Derby ex CW replaced 31423

250187 Su 25201 Bedford stabled

250187 Su 25059 Northampton stabled

260187 Mo 25201 Bletchley – failed

260187 Mo 25173 Sudbury LHS stabled

300187 Fr 25059 3G20 Northampton - Curzon St Vans

020287 Mo 25279 Sudbury LHS stabled

090287 Mo 97252 (Ethel) dragged by 31116 to BY TMD

110287 We 25109 M.Keynes - vans 

220287 Su 25059 1P32 St Pancras- NottinghamVans

230287 Mo 25059 stabled – Sudbury LHS

240287 Tu 25059 Luton - Willesden car trip


250287 We 25323 1B25 1915 Bletchley-Northampton Vans


I’d been doing the normal evening “Cobbler” roarer bash and was in the power car of a 310, windows down for the thrash, like you do. During the brief stop at the Keynes, I heard that unmistakable chatter of a class 25 approaching at speed. Cue 25323 thrashing hard through the darkness and then the bright lights of Milton Keynes station on 1B25 1915 Bletchley-Northampton “vans”. Although we had a few more local visits, this was my last rat viewing.


270287 Fr 25323 Hemel-vans


As far as we know March 87 saw few or possibly no local class 25 turns, the last action in March 87 being further North and then it was all over for our 25’s…


Class 25 the final months - phot spot


 The white sticker under the data panel, read “handle with care”. 25313 prior to departure from Euston with the farewell tour, 280986


 25313 and 25249 at Bir Int’l with railtour crowds looking on, 280986


 25173 spare at Bletchley on 141286, she is reported as being kicked out on an emergency drag a few hours after this phot was taken.


Mark Beal was lucky enough to capture one of the last local "rat" views with 25037 (possibly failed) stabled in Northampton yard, 100187. See more of Mark's excellent views here.


Thanks also to for some of the gen and inspiration.


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