Class 37/5 to 37/9 locomotives
37503 emerges from Park St tunnel, Walsall, with the 6G33 Bescot - Bloxwich trip. This was taken at 10:02 on Monday 25th June 2001,
which was an hour or so late for G33 if memory serves me correctly. At the time I tended to think of the early 2000s as a fallow period,
but in retrospect it was something of an Indian summer in which there were still daily trains around Bescot producing Class 37s and 56s.
The consist of 6G33 on this day reflected the changeover from bogie wagons to four-wheelers. Soon the VAA and OBA/OCA variants would
take over completely, before in turn being displaced by VGA/VKAs which were used until the train ceased running.
37507 powers through Tipton with 6E28 Wolverhampton - Lackenby at 13:17 on Monday 1st May 1989. The mission on this day had been to
photograph 37350 on the "Power to the Tower" tour as it went around Oxley Chord. That shot was bagged at 11:47, but on the
way out we'd seen 507 in Wolverhampton Steel Terminal. The obvious move was therefore to take the local train back to Brum and stop off at
Tipton for the platform-end shot of 6E28, a reliable Bank Holiday runner. As is often the way with these things the opportunistic shot turned
out to be better than the planned one.
Tuesday 1st May 2007 produced a 6Z37 Stoke Gifford - Ashford special, a stoneblower hauled by 37510. The train ran the long way round,
via Cheltenham, Birmingham and the WCML, presumably for pathing or (more likely) route knowledge reasons. Having arrived early in the
Birmingham area 6Z37 was held for its path at Water Orton West. It's seen here just about to pass under the M42 at 12:39. Another two
trains with DRS 37 power ran through the West Midlands on this day: a Crewe - Oxley ECS with 37229, and the Bridgwater - Crewe flasks
37513 approaches Tirphil with 2F06, the 07:41 Rhymney - Cardiff. This is the second stop out of Rhymney, after Pontlottyn. This photo
was taken at 07:52 on Monday 21st June 1999.
37521 is seen here acting as the pilot loco in the Virtual Quarry at Bescot on Saturday 20th March 2004. This job was originally booked
for a Class 08, but the duty had just been abolished as part of the 2004 EWS shunter cull. Main-line locos were used for a while, before
the upside pilot took over this work. In this shot the mechanical grab is being used to pat down the ballast to level it off. The
sunshine makes it look like a pleasant spring afternoon, but when this shot was taken there was a gale blowing sufficiently strongly that
trees were being uprooted in the West Midlands.
37602 and 37605 top-and-tail a 1Z14 Derby-Worcester-Oxford-Worcester Serco test train as it returns west through Charlbury at 14:44 on Monday
11th September 2006. In railway terms Charlbury is probably most famous for being the home station of Sir Peter Parker when he was Chairman of
the British Railways Board between 1976 and 1983, and there's a small plaque on the platform in his memory.
37604 and 37610 pass Leamore, just south of Bloxwich, at 14:50 on Saturday 9th July 2011. The train is 2Q88 Derby - Tyseley, a test
train which covered lots of routes in the West Midlands metropolitan area, including a round trip from Walsall to Rugeley Trent Valley
and back. Some luck was required to get this in sun, but payback time came on the second attempt when the sun was out at the right time,
but the train was about five minutes later than expected.
37606 leads a 1Q18 Tyseley - Crewe test train leaving Bescot UDG Loop at 13:29 on Wednesday 3rd February 2016. The consist is
OLE test coach Mentor, with 37608 trailing at the rear. It had been tootling around the New St/Soho/Perry Barr loop during
37606 and 37038 leave Bescot at 14:59 on Tuesday 25th September 2018. The train is 6D95 to Toton, on this occasion
formed of JNAs and Coalfish loaded with ballast and making a decent noise as it accelerated away once on the main
line. Although it's normally a 66 or 68 this diagram can still turn out the occasional pair of 37s or 57s.
A 1Z30 Exeter - Hexham charter ran on Friday 29th March 2013. This was the first day of a four-day trip, Pathfinder's "Easter
Highlander". 37607 and 37409 are seen leaving Bescot at 09:44, with remnants of snowfall from the previous weekend still
visible on the ground.
On Tuesday 11th September 2012 a pair of DRS 37s were hired by DBS to work the 4C03 Washwood Heath - Carlisle
concrete sleepers. This shot was taken at 11:39 and shows 37609 and 37608 trundling towards a red light
on the down goods as they approach the RMC sidings. Needless to say I waited for 4C03, which
inevitably came by in awful light, sunlit sky and heavily shaded foreground. Demolition of the gas
holders, a feature of many railway shots taken around Washwood Heath, commenced in 2015.
37609 and 37218 slow for the junction at Aston with a 4Z32 Carlisle - Daventry special working. The consist was a dead 66712 and a
rather disappointing short rake of empty flats. The train was running via the Grand Junction route due to engineering work on the
Trent Valley line. 66712 returned north that evening double-headed with 66710 on 4S49 Daventry - Grangemouth, also diverted via
the Grand Junction. This shot was taken at 15:48 on Monday 5th May 2003.
37609 works a rather more prestigious duty in this photo. It leads the 1Z37 "Wedding Belle" private charter past Leaton at 17.07 on
Saturday 2nd April 2005. This train was a circular tour from Crewe via Chester, Wrexham, Shrewsbury, Oxley and Stafford. 37606 was trailing
on the rear of a lovely set of carriages.
37609 again, this time leading a 1Q14 test train through Willington at 11:40 on Thursday 10th September 2009. This train was pootling
around the East Midlands for much of the day, with 37059 on the other end. At lunch time it was due to work from Derby to Burton
before returning north.
And yet another shot of 37609, this time arriving at Small Heath at 13:56 on Thursday
24th September 2009. It had taken several DRS locos from Crewe to Eastleigh Works, and was returning north with
re-painted 20304 and 20305. The signals on this stretch of line are now two-lamp, four-aspect, LEDs. They're
controlled from the new West Midlands Signalling Centre at Saltley.
37612 passes Hamstead at 12:04 on Monday 2nd October 2006. 6Z65 Crewe - Kidderminster conveyed a Stoneblower. A similar
train had been scheduled for the previous Friday but didn't run.
37667 and 37668 power through Coseley at 16:52 on Monday 29th August 1988. The train is 6E28 Wolverhampton - Lackenby, which was
one of very few revenue-earning freights to run in the West Midlands on a Bank Holiday at this time. I don't think the car park
had been built when this photo was taken, so this is the view from the end of the down platform.
37669 had just drawn to a stand in the parcels platform at Walsall Tasker St when this shot was taken at 08:48 on Monday 29th April 2002.
The train is 6G30 Walsall - Bescot, which on this day was formed of two Ferrywagons, two BEAs and three Cargowaggon flats, plus Queen Mary
brakevan ADS56299. The normal shunt involved drawing the train out of Midland Yard, located beyond the road bridge in the background, and
then running round it while it stood alongside the platform. The train would then be hauled back into Midland Yard before being propelled
the half-mile or so back into Walsall station, from where it was finally hauled back to Bescot. It was the propelling move which required the
use of the brakevan on this train.
37670 and 37401 round the curve at Wistanstow with a 1Z51 Mossley Hill - Cardiff charter, booked to run via the Central Wales line.
This shot was taken at 09:55 on Saturday 2nd May 2009, another day when the West Midlands weather forecast was hopelessly awry, at least
with respect to the amount of sunshine. Fortunately a 90 minute break in the otherwise continuous cloud cover co-incided with this
train's journey through Shropshire.
37670 had been painted into DBS livery by the time it and 37401 came south to Bescot late on Saturday 29th August 2009. The next day they
worked a 6P03 spoil train to a worksite just north of Hamstead station where the up line was being renewed. Engineers trains were running
southbound on the down line, with three spoil trains on site at lunch time. After their train had been loaded the 37s drew the train forward
to this spot just north of Hamstead station, where another spoil train stood a few yards ahead. By this stage the early sunshine was long
gone, and it was pretty dull. But there was at least some sort of photo available through the Walsall Road bridge from the up platform.
37674 climbs away from Ryecroft at 09:51 on Monday 7th May 2001. The train is 6T90 Bescot - Rugby.
37676 climbs away from Walsall with the 6L78 Bescot - Parkeston tanks. This shot was taken at 17:55 on Sunday 25th June 1995. The
Carless tanks came south from Longport on Saturday afternoon and were recessed at Bescot until the railway had finished its weekend
gardening, which in those days was at tea-time on Sunday.
What a nice morning this was. There was crisp bright sunshine on Monday 23rd February 2004, and I headed to Lea Marston to photograph
37682 on 6G36 Bescot - Birch Coppice. A Freightliner had derailed at Washwood Heath and no passenger trains were running between
Birmingham and Tamworth, so freights to and from Walsall had the line to themselves. 37682 was eventually bagged at 09:50, but before
it came I got word that 37674 was heading south with 6G32 Toton - Bescot. Normally it's touch-and-go whether a train like this would
get routed via Whitacre Jct, or come down the main line through Lea Marston - but with no passenger trains around I was pretty
confident it would come main-line. And it did, passing me at 10:29. So I was there for an hour, I saw two trains, and they were both
It's more than a 15 years now since the heydey of solid Class 37s on the Birch Coppice trip. 37682 worked 6G36 from Bescot on Monday 23rd
February 2004, and is seen passing Lea Marston at 09:49. It was always a risk photographing this train between Water Orton and
Kingsbury, but this is where the best locations lay. From memory the outbound was always a decent bet - albeit not guaranteed -
to use the main line via Lea Marston. The return 6G42 was less predictable, and would go via Whitacre Jct more often.
Most Berkeley and Bridgwater trains run via Bromsgrove, Camp Hill and Walsall these days, however if the train conveys containers
rather than flasks the northbound leg invariably runs via Kidderminster and Galton Jct. Such was the case on Monday 19th May 2014, when
37682 and 37688 conveyed a single PFA wagon while working 6M56 Berkeley - Crewe. It had paused briefly south of Kidderminster waiting for
the 15:25 to Whitlocks End to leave, before following that train north. It had passed me by that local trains now turn back at Whitlocks
End rather than Shirley. At Kidderminster most turnbacks seem to use the down loop rather than the upside turnback siding, now that the
former can be reached by the new facing crossover immediately south of the platforms.
92203, 37683 and 20308 make for an interesting line-up at Crewe Heritage Centre on Saturday 9th April 2011. The build dates for these
three are early 1959; early 1964; and early 1967 respectively. All three were relatively late builds within their classes. The 9Fs were
built between 1954-60, the Class 37s between 1960-65, and the Class 20s between 1957-68 - hence the later 9Fs were built after the earlier
37688 and 37380 approach Oxley with 1A44, the 1010 Aberystwyth - Euston. This photo was taken at 13:21 on Saturday 25th June 1988.
Buxton-based no-heat 37s were the booked traction for Cambrian summer Saturday trains at this time.
37694 coasts downhill through Leamore (Walsall) with the 6G55 Bloxwich - Bescot trip at 11:59 on Thursday 18th December 2003. Although
the sun is as high as it will get on this day it's only just illuminating the southbound track in the shallow cutting near Green Lane -
but at least it's casting quite a good 37-shaped shadow. Mixed wagon consists like this are mainly a thing of the past on the Bloxwich
trip now, just like 37s in fact. The standard fare is now a uniform rake of VGA/VKAs.
37707 and 37801 pass Burton-on-Trent with 6M15 Toton - Round Oak at 10:33 on Monday 25th September 2000. The steel traffic on this flow
emanated from the port of Boston. BYA wagons were still fairly new at this time and their distinctive shaped hoods meant that they were
immediately nicknamed "Pigsheds" in my neck of the woods. The cloud to the north is somewhat deceptive because the following southbound trains
also passed Burton in the sun on this morning: 60040 on the Burton - Bescot trip (10:27); 58045 on the Chaddesden - Bescot spoil empties
(11:14); 60089 on the Kingsbury tanks (11:44); and 47849 on a Cross-Country passenger service (12:06).
From the days when EWS 37s were used on RHTT trains, this is 37707 leading the Sunday 1Z96 Nantwich job back into
Bescot at 13:30 on 24th October 2004. 37895 was the trailing loco. Both of these 37s were withdrawn from traffic at the end of
the 2004 RHTT season, then briefly re-instated before being withdrawn again in January 2005. 37707 started life as D6701; one of
the very earliest Class 37s delivered new to Stratford in December 1960. It therefore lasted 44 years in traffic, and was over 50
years old when it was finally disposed of in 2011.
37707 on the Nantwich job again, this time leading the train away from Bescot at 09:33 on Sunday 14th November 2004.
Regular partner 37895 was still the trailing loco. I had planned to chase the train for further pics on this occasion, but a great
swathe of dark cloud was blowing in from the north, visible to the left in this shot. Consequently I didn't bother in the end.
37707 was withdrawn from service in January 2005, but festered at Bescot for many years before it was eventually disposed of. It
moved from Bescot TMD to Kingsbury scrapyard on Friday 25th March 2011. In this shot the lorry conveying it is seen at 14:47 in
Woden Road East, Wednesbury, approaching the junction with Wood Green Road. In the early 1970s my walk to school took me along
Woden Road East, at which point the former 6701 and later 37001 was allocated to Thornaby. Seeing this loco anywhere in the Black
Country would have been relatively unusual back then, but at no point could I possibly have imagined that one day it would trundle
along the local roads on the back of a lorry.
37712 storms away from Wednesbury with the 6V69 steel empties to Cardiff. This shot was taken at 18.46 on Tuesday 9th August 1988, in warm
evening sunshine. The tight framing is by accident rather than design. I'd intended to take something like my standard shot for this location,
but in the event I fired a bit early - probably over-excited by the sight of the clag.
37717 blasts away from Brierley Hill with 6M40 Cardiff - Wednesbury at 08:23 on Thursday 30th August 1990. On a still day the sound of Class 37s on
full power would be audible for a good five minutes until they reached Dudley tunnel. Imagine living in the nearby houses and being treated
to the sound of this every weekday morning while eating your breakfast. Fantastic while it lasted. This stretch of line is still open to
serve Round Oak steel terminal, but the last 37s to work along here on steel trains were 37669 and 37670 in the spring of 2006.
37293 banks at the rear of 6M40 Cardiff - Wednesbury, the train that 37717 is hauling in the previous shot. 6M40 was booked for a banking
loco at this time, and the load on this occasion certainly merited one.
37718 climbs towards Golds Hill crossing with 6V43 Wednesbury - Margam at 09:00 on Tuesday 21st February 1989. This shot is a little
mis-framed but I'm still quite fond of it. To the left is part of the forest of pylons emanating from Ocker Hill power station, and to the
right are the spires of St Mary's and St Bart's churches in Wednesbury. During the late 1980s economic boom rail-borne steel traffic was
particularly buoyant. Wednesbury had two trains from South Wales each weekday, in addition to a number of other services. The morning train
was 6M40 from Cardiff, returning as 6V43 to Margam; and the afternoon train was 6M12 from Cardiff, returning there as 6V69.
37798 heads 4S64 Corby - Mossend through Langley Mill at 17:05 on Thursday 2nd September 1999. The down slow was long-term out-of-use at this time,
so all northbound freights were on the fast line.
37798 and 37707 draw up to signal SY288 at Water Orton with a 6P07 Wilnecote - Bescot engineers train. The time is 12:47 on Sunday 16th
January 2005, and I was more than a little fortunate to get this shot in the sun. The engineer's possession finished about 400 yards
to the rear of this spot, just under the M42 motorway. When the train drew up there the sun had just gone behind a big black cloud. But
the formalities took a couple of minutes, and SY288 was at red so the driver approached it slowly. All this meant that the sun had found
another hole in the cloud by the time the locos reached me. In fact this was the third shot I managed to get off as the train drew to a
stand. It consisted of 20+ fully loaded JNA wagons, and it stood here for 15 minutes before the signal came off. Incredibly,
given that this was a Sunday, it was being held for two freight trains (not engineer's trains) heading towards Nuneaton. The 37s
eventually departed at 13:03, arriving at Bescot at 14:20. Neither of these locos had been properly cleaned since coming off
leaf spraying duties in the autumn, hence their filthy condition. In the event this turned out to be the last working for both of
these locos, and they were switched off for the last time when they reached Bescot. 37798 was moved to Margam for storage
shortly afterwards, while 37707 remained at Bescot until March 2011, when it was moved by road to Kingsbury scrapyard (see above).
37893 approaches Ryecroft Jct with 6P36 Burton - Bescot in this photo taken at 09:43 on Friday 27th February 2004.
For the first time Bescot had two water-cannon trains worked by top'n'tail 37s during the autumn of 2004. Unfortunately they mostly worked at
night. Hence my visit to North Wales on Friday 8th October to have a go at one of Wigan's workings. The weather was
fairly grim on the way up, but Conwy Bay was clear, so I found myself at Llanfairfechan for 4Z07 Wigan - Holyhead. 37893 and 37706
came past at 12:44, water jets on the go and the driver looking back to check something. 4Z07 didn't actually go all the way to Holyhead very
often, and it didn't make it on this day. The turnback point was usually Gaerwen.
I made another trip to North Wales on Saturday 9th October. The weather forecast looked promising, and in addition to the regular Arriva 47
diagram there was a second 47 out on a footex, plus the water cannon. In the event there was a lot of cloud on the coast, but all four of the
trains I was after came past in the sunshine. Two were close shaves, including the water cannon which belted through Abergele at 12:20 with
37893 and 37706 doing the honours again. It came so fast that I fired slightly later than planned, but I was fairly happy with the outcome.
Once again it didn't go to Holyhead, turning short at Gaerwen instead.
37894 waits by the loading pad at Pontycymer while a mechanical shovel is used to load its train. The last pit in the Garw valley (Garw
Colliery) was a little further north of this spot. It closed in 1985, and when this picture was taken in 1996 the railway went only
as far north as the opencast disposal point in Pontycymer. I'd been to Pontycymer on Tuesday 16th July - a glorious day on which 37704
worked the trip which was then running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. While photographing 37704 at Tondu one of the locals confirmed
that the train was definitely running on Saturday 20th, and as the fine weather held out I decided to make a second visit, this time
with a friend. The Garw trip ran in the afternoon, so at lunchtime we went to Barry to wait for it to move. 37894 was the loco, and when it
left Barry we had time to beat it to Pencoed and then Pontyrhyl on the way out. This shot at Pontycymer was taken at about 14:45, and we
also got shots at Pontyrhyl and Tondu on the return. A very pleasant day out.
37895 trails on the back of the 1Z96 Bescot - Shrewsbury - Nantwich water cannon as it returns south through Cosford on Sunday 24th
October 2004. This picture was taken at 13:01 so it was pretty much on time. Although this train was booked to run to Nantwich the
trailing crossover there was worked from a ground frame, so in practise 1Z96 went to Crewe to reverse. On this day the outbound working
stood in the platform at Nantwich for about five minutes, for reasons that weren't obvious.
Another shot of 37895, this one taken earlier in 2004. At this time the Bescot - Birch Coppice trip was still a solid 37 turn, and had
yet to become a job creation scheme for an underemployed Class 67. 37895 worked it on Monday 24th May 2004, and is seen here in the
cutting near the Kingsbury Link industrial estate at 09:59.
37897 is winched onto a lorry at Bescot, in readiness for its last journey to the EMR scrapyard at Kingsbury.
This shot was taken at 13:24 on Wednesday 6th February 2008, and 897 was broken up later that month.
37903 climbs away from Cwm with a coil train for Ebbw Vale on Wednesday 16th April 1997. There were four such trains from Margam on weekdays at
the time, and I photographed three of them on this day. 60015 did the first one, the return empties passing Cwm at 08:50. I was elsewhere when
the second one was due, but was at Ebbw Vale to see the third one leave at 15:55 behind 60096. 37903 was assumed to be on the last one (6B84),
albeit running very early when photographed at 17:02.