I was surprised to see Craig Munday’s photo of 25261 near Par in 1980? (regular Cornish Class 25 operation ended in October that year) because, although ‘foreign-allocated’ Class 25s were not unknown at Exeter I have seen little evidence that they traversed the Devon banks to reach Plymouth, let alone crossed the Tamar. So this was quite a scoop by Craig, even more so if he’s certain it was 1981!
25261 was outshopped at Derby Works in April 1966, the first of thirteen (D7611-23/25261-73) destined for the Scottish Region, so fitted with recesses in the driver’s cabside panels for tablet catcher equipment which, in common with some other Scottish types (Clayton Class 17s, BRCW Class 27s and most EE Class 20s) was never fitted. The recess can be seen in Craig’s photo. This very Scottish feature was quickly overlooked as reallocations to depots south of the border occurred almost as soon as the batch had been delivered to Scotland!
D7611-23 should have been Derby’s last Class 25 output, but Beyer Peacock’s financial difficulties meant that the construction of the final eighteen class members, D7660-77, was switched from BP to Derby, and the last three of these, D7675-7, were amongst the very first to reach Cornwall, e.g. D7676 seen at Truro on 21st October 1971. Being built between December 1966 and April 1967 this batch skipped the attractive two-tone green livery and appeared in BR blue from new.
Michael L Roach
Location: Bishop's Waltham, Winchester; England.
Looking through my old books I find the following information, some of which is well chronicled but some may never have been recorded elsewhere.
To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of 3440 City of Truro running at 100 miles per hour down Wellington Bank on an Ocean Liner Special and, with the steam locomotives reaching the end of their days in the West of England, British Railways Western Region organised what they described as HIGH SPEED TRAIN – THE GRAET WESTERN to run from Paddington to Plymouth outwards via Newbury and return via Bristol Temple Meads to be hauled by Castle Class locomotives throughout. The fare for participation as a passenger was £20.50 later reduced to £14.95. This can be found on a search at 9 MAY 1964 HIGH SPEED TRAIN - THE GREAT WESTERN.
For some time before the running of the special train tests were carried out on lines radiation from Gloucester and Worcester of the remaining Castle Class Locomotives and it was decided that 4079 Pendennis Castle would power the leg from Paddington to Plymouth and 7029 Clun Castle would power the train from Plymouth to Bristol Temple Meads and that 5054 Earl of Ducie would have the honour of powering the last leg of the journey from Bristol Temple Meads back into Paddington.
For those around at the time they would probably recall that 4079 Pendennis Castle, which was running 6 minutes early at the time, was taken off the train with melted firebars in the grate at Westbury to be replaced by 6999 Capel Dewi Hall, due to Westbury having no Castle Class locomotive, and took the train as far as Taunton, to be replaced by 7025 Sudeley Castle which had been stationed as standby if needed, and this locomotive then powered the train for the remainder of the journey to Plymouth. The train was logged at Daignton Tunnel at 1.03 pm on the outward journey and 5.21 passing Cockwood Harbour on the return.
Less known was the fact that there were 5 standby Castle locomotives purposely stationed along the route. 7024 Powis Castle at Paddington, 7025 Sudeley Castle at Taunton, 7008 Swansea Castle at Milbay (Plymouth), 7032 Denbeigh Castle at Bristol Bath Road and 7022 Hereford Castle at Swindon.
Some interesting Castle Class movements were recorded and of note in the week before the running of the train.
On 7 May 1964 7003 Elmley Castle had worked the 3.32 pm Pylle Hill (Bristol) to Plymouth parcels throughout.
On 7 May 1964 4089 Donnington Castle had worked the prestigious TORBAY EXPRESS in to Newton Abbot, where it was replaced for the remainder of the journey to Kingswear, and 4089 Donnington Castle ran light engine to Laira.
On 5 May 1964 7025 Sudeley Castle had arrived at Taunton.
On 7 May 1964 7008 Swansea Castle had worked a freight from Newton Abbot to Plymouth.
Visible on Laira on 9 May 1964 were 1363, 41317 and 75022.
Not a regular visitor to Taunton but went there on 1962.09.09 due to the fact that, as far as I can remember, this was the last guaranteed steam on the Minehead Branch which was going over to DMU
On that day OBSERVED AT TAUNTON
Steam 4110 with 4 coaches on the 11.50am Taunton to Minehead
4110with 4 coaches on the 1.40pm Minehead to Tainton
4143 with 4 coaches on the 1.15pm Taunton to Minehead
4143 with 4 coaches on the 3.10pm Minehead to Taunton
4103 with 4 coaches on the 5.10pm Taunton to Minehead
D861 with 10 coaches on the 4.40pm Paignton to Paddington.
D801 with 12 coaches on the 3.30pm from Paddington to Plymouth
Fairwater Pilot D416Taunton coach yard Steam 4593, 5554 and 4143
OF MORE INTEREST WAS THE LOCOS AT TAUNTON SHED ON THE DAY
On arrival GW STEAM 4707 D856 LMS 43036 YES THE ONLY ONE I EVER SAW THIS FAR WEST BUT IT WAS FROM SALTLEY SO WOULD HAVE BEEN NOT TOO RARE AT BRISTOL
On departure STEAM 5554,4143,82022 and 43036 still there