“Class 08, Gronks no more”..
The distinctive sound of the station pilot’s whistling hoot or the unique rumbling “thrash” of one on the move, was once a long established part of our local railway. With the decline of news, parcels and wagon load traffic plus cost cutting measures the humble “gronk” is almost history on our railway today.
The decline in shunter duties probably began as early as the late 50’s, soon after many were introduced as new as various lines and yards were closed.
Swanbourne Yard closed in May 69 and with this went one of Bletchley’s turns with the likes of 12049/12089/12099 losing a regular rural turn. In the late 70’s/early 80’s the decline in shunter duties continued with, for example, at least the following local turns being confined to history.
Hitchin pilots (3 duties)
Watford Yd pilot
Bedford station pilot
Wellinborough yard pilots
Exact dates of when such long lost turns are not as yet known. Into the late 80’s and 90’s and the decline continued with at least these local turns also becoming history as news and parcel duties largely finished
Bedford Yard pilots
St Pancras pilot
Cricklewood yard pilot
Bletchley station pilot
Camden CS pilot
2000 and beyond saw the final shunter workings at
Rugby (reinstated for “modal” work in 2010/11) then ceased.
The local survivors
The surviving big yards at Willesden/Wembley saw big fleet reductions and only an as required WN depot pilot duty remains. Stonebridge Pk CS and works still retains a small fleet of grand prix/blue liveried machines which occasionally can be seen from the DC lines dragging “pendo’s” through the shops.
The new yard at Daventry still retains a busy 08 duty. Sadly Forder’s yard lost their resident gronk in 2008 as the new yard was mothballed. For a short while in 2003 even lonely Calvert “yard” hired in a HNRC gronk, although it’s not sure if it ever worked.
Bucking the trend, is the former BREL Wolverton Works now “Railcare Wolverton” have retained 2 shunters for internal works duties and stock transfers “under the boards” to the exchange sidings just south of Wolverton station. Also Aylesbury “Turbo” depot surprisingly gained a gronk in 2009, albeit a /Ruston industrial machine.
Local Celebrity “gronk” 08011 remains operational on the preserved Chinnor Railway whilst Quainton has a celebrity 04. Former Bletchley legend 12049 has been in active preserved service on the Mid Hants for many years now until destroyed in a fire during 2011.
So when you are next whizzing past Willesden or Wolverton look out for these classic relics of the past, the humble 08 is still doing the business, true survivors from the days of a real railway.
Local “gronk” phot spot
Former Bletchley station pilot 12049 in preserved service at Ropley on 220504. She in DAYS aggregate livery from her 80s service as an industrial shunter at Brentford. In 2011 this loco was destroyed by fire and although 12049 reaapeared courtesy of a renumbered classmate the Bletchley link is gone.
12099 is seen as Brignorth depot pilot on May 30th 2015. She has been preserved on the SVR since March 90. She was new in 1952 and was Bletchley based from 1969 until withdrawl in 1971. Industrial use mainly in South wales before SVR preservation..
Leighton logs “gronk”links..
Other Leighton logs “gronk”links..