What a fascinating article sent in by Laurence Hansford on the end of St Ives signalling – there’s no substitute for being there and witnessing such events first hand (that’s how I know Warship 805 Benbow visited Wadebridge 45 years ago, although sadly unlike Laurence I didn’t have a camera to hand so you’ll have to take my word for it!) They certainly didn’t waste any time on the dismantling. I was particularly interested to see the photos of the inspection saloon which was one of three (DB999506/8/9 – ‘507 was a departmental railbus) built at Swindon Works to the BR Mark I design on a 57’ underframe around 1960. What makes this so interesting is that until now I had never seen a photo of one of these in original lined maroon, and the lining wrapping around the ends in similar fashion to ex-GWR autocoaches is especially eyecatching! No yellow warning panels either.
Since I have no knowledge of the other two getting anywhere near the West Country I am sure that this would have been the now-famous DB999508, as this vehicle was the South West area inspection saloon well into the 1970s as far as I know – it was certainly around in the early ‘70s, as the attached photos will testify (these are scans of prints not taken by myself but a school friend, William Heggie) and show a by-then blue/grey DB999508 accompanied by a battered, snowplough-fitted and very nearly life-expired D6322 at Truro in I believe March 1971. Just like at St Ives, its presence at Truro turned out to be a harbinger for serious rationalisation!
Why famous? In 1987 this vehicle was modified into a track recording coach and in more recent years was seen all over the country sandwiched between Network Rail locos. I have just learned that it was retired in 2012 and now resides in (well-earned) preservation on the West Somerset Railway.
Neil Phillips Many thanks Neil