For the last few years Gloucester Shed had members of the 14xx-class 0-4-2 tanks flowing in from sheds where their work had disappeared and flowing out to the scrapyard with the last one being withdrawn in December 1964. They worked the Chalford Auto and the Berkeley Road to Sharpness service. When no 0-4-2T was available almost any class of locomotive could turn up on the Chalford Auto. For me it was Hawkesworth Pannier tank number 8471 of Gloucester Shed which turned up on the morning of Monday 12 October 1964. The Railway Observer was good at recording the rostering of strange locos on the Chalford Auto in its last summer. It recorded 1474, 4100 and 9493 working the trains on 13.08.1964. Nine days later it was 1444, 1458 and auto fitted pannier 6412 (now preserved) on 22.08.1964. On 29 August the Chalford Auto was seen arriving at Gloucester Central with super-power in the form of 4-6-0 Hall class 6993 hauling two auto trailers. On the 18 April there were three 0-4-2 tanks taking turns on the workings, 1444, 1451 and 1472. Yet even on a normal day like this there could be surprises with the RO recording that the 5.15pm off Gloucester was double headed by 1472 and Peak class diesel D39 piloting. 135 tons of diesel locomotive with the rest of the train only weighing around 105 to 110 tons. Based on this pairing modellers can feel free to put together almost any combination of locos.
My only trip on the Chalford Auto was on Saturday 31 October 1964, the last day of passenger services, when I went out from Gloucester on the 18.22 and returned on the 19.10 from Chalford with 0-4-2T number 1458 propelling two auto coaches (nos. 242 and 237) downhill back to Gloucester. The sun had set around 16.45 so my trip was in the dark which probably added to the atmosphere in the steam heated coaches. The RO tells us that locos in use on the last day were 1458, 1472 and 6412. The withdrawal of Gloucester – Chalford and Berkeley Road – Sharpness services marked the end of auto working on former GWR railway lines. However this was not the end of auto trains on the Western Region as the former Southern Railway branch from Yeovil Junction to Yeovil Town was still being worked by ex-GWR locomotives in the 14xx and 64xx series.
MLR/ 6 November 2020
Cowley Bridge Jct.