The Stilton and Branston Ploughman railtour, Saturday 11th July 1987
Its 6am at Leighton station,railman Bob enquires where i'm off too today. "Sheffield" came my reply, "well your going the wrong way then!, he joked Always seemed to be banter and humour on the railways back then, alas less so today.
Meeting up with Steve from Wolverton and with a wave from Bob we were screaming South in the power car of 310084. Despite it being high Summer, the heating was on making it very cosy as we dossed on the sofa proportioned seats!
At the Cross the famous green pair 20064 and 20030 were at the head of our 11 Mk I's. I was pleased to finally get these in, although i was never a great 20 fan, unlike my Wolverton colleague. Unfortunately Gasworks tunnel thrash was very limited for us as we were in the rear BSK, never rated compos on tours unless there was 6 of you. Cant remember much of the journey North, our 20's must have been the first 20's to stop at Potters Bar since the early 60's we discussed. By Stevenage i gave up recording the times so it was likely i dossed out!
After an atmospheric storm through the site of Sheffield Victoria and memories of a July 73 DMU trip to Penistone through here came back. We were hoping to see 30 class 76's electrics, we saw just 3!!
We continued the steep climb passing more DC girders, wires and other bits for 5 miles to lonely Deepcar, the end of the line for us. A photo stop at Wadsley Bridge on our return had a depressing air of dereliction about it with rubble filling our steps to the platform subway. However "footexs" continued to run here until 1993 for the nearby Hillsborough ground so i assume other platforms were better maintained.
At Woodburn Jn (near Sheffield Victoria) our booked loco change took place with 20126 and 20022 replacing the green machines. 20126 was a winner but 20022 was dud having been raked in on 260786's 1E02 1043 Skegness - Sheffield. Still we were now at the business end and it was good to hear the 20's whistling or chopping away through their familiar haunts of Chesterfield and Derby. Rumours of a third pair on our tour began to circulate as 20126 was chucking out coolant However a watering/battering stop in the Saltley area sorted this problem out, but saw us now 40 odd late.
A good photo stop venue of Shirley saw us all bail to record the scene, then we continued South along the then threatened Stratford on Avon branch via Henley and Wooton to the Bard's homeplace itself.
An hour's break allowed a welcome escape from our warm, sticky compo and plenty food was raked in. A sunlit evening run took us via Hatton, Aynho, Oxford and Reading which was very pleasant. Around 30 down we arrived back in Paddington making a very rare sight on the blocks. A quick phot then another pair of 310's home, an enjoyable day was finally over with me leaping at Leighton around 2240...