Electric multiple units
An unidentified Class 304 heads south along the Stour Valley line at 13:05 on Friday 5th February 1993. The location is just south of
the erstwhile Bloomfield Jct, near Tipton station. Nowadays it's almost impossible to take wide angle views like this around the Black
Country due to a combination of tree growth, fencing and new buildings. My lunchtime outing from work on this day wouldn't have
been to take shots of units, but probably to try and photograph the 6E28 Wolverhampton - Lackenby empty steel, which was being diverted
that week due to a problem at Galton Jct. An assisting loco was being attached to the rear of 6E28, which reversed at (Tipton) Watery
Lane loop and was dragged back north to Wolverhampton station. Here the assisting engine was removed and the train proceeded via Portobello
Jct to regain its booked routed at Pleck Jct. Evidently I didn't see 6E28 on Friday 5th, but I had caught it on Wednesday 3rd, on which
day 37883 was the train engine and 31423+31405 were the assisting locos.
304002 arrives at Dudley Port with a Wolverhampton - Walsall service. A photo taken in the autumn of 1988.
1994 was very much a transition period on the Walsall line. Hednesford trains were being worked by Class 150s, plus the occasional Class 156.
Meantime Walsall trains were being worked by a mish-mash of first generation DMUs including Classes 116, 117 and the odd 119, plus
EMUs of Classes 304, 308 and 310. I rather regret not taking more shots of
the 308s, although I did manage some of the DMUs. Now very much in the autumn of its life 304008 is seen just north of Hamstead, forming the
14:03 New St - Walsall on Saturday 23rd March 1994. The earliest batch of 304s, including this one, were new in 1960. The last ones ran in 1996.
304021 rolls off the Stockport line into Wilmslow with a train for Alderley Edge. This picture was taken at 17.29 on Monday 15th April 1991.
I can't remember what prompted me to alight at Wilmslow on my way home from Manchester, other than the glorious light. As well as this unit
I also photographed 86209 on 1G62, the 17.18 Piccadilly - New St, and 304013 on a local to Crewe. I remember the 304s with great fondness.
The doors in each bay could lead to icy draughts when people alighted in the winter, but the heaters were so good that you were instantly
warm once the door was shut. Not that heat was an issue on this lovely spring day, as the number of open droplights testifies.
309611 and 309615 head north past the site of Tipton Gas Works with the "Network Exile" railtour on Saturday 15th November 1986. In
the mid to late 1990s there were workings for Manchester-based Class 309s that brought them to the West Midlands - but this 1986 railtour
produced bona fide Eastern Region units that never normally appeared on the LMR. In later years other railtours would take them away from
their usual Essex haunts, but this one was, I think, the groundbreaker. It also visited Walsall using the Darlaston - Pleck chord (rarely
used by electric trains), and eventually ended up in the Manchester area, taking in the Hadfield branch which hadn't long been converted to
The Network Exile again. 309615 leads 309611 around the curve as it diverges from the Grand Jct main line at Darlaston Jct and heads towards Walsall.
Electric trains have been almost unknown on the Darlaston - Pleck chord for several decades now. Diesel/electric loco changes at Walsall ceased
back in the 1980s, and subsequent electric workings have been limited to occasional unit moves, mostly ECS workings.
310053 pauses at Bescot while working the 14:05 Walsall - Stafford via New St. This shot was taken at 14:09
on Monday 12th September 1988.
310054 approaches Dudley Port while forming a Wolverhampton - Walsall service. Local services between Wolverhampton, Walsall and
Coventry have all been integrated at various points in time, as well as running as separate services to and from New St. At the time
of writing, in 2013, the Wolves and Walsall locals are once again combined into a Cross-City service - albeit with Class 323s
rather than 304s or 310s. Once headcodes were abandoned these units showed two dots at the second class end, and three dots at the
first class end.
Class 310 EMU 070 stands at New St with a Manchester train in the summer of 1980. These units still had the original rounded cab windows at
this time. I don't recall AM10s being all that common north of Stafford, this being Class 304 territory. Of course I'm assuming the
destination blind is accurate, which I suspect it is.
310102 heads north out of Tipton with 2K11 17:05 Walsall - Stafford on Friday 26th May 1989. This photo was taken
at 18:05, with the unit running five late. My somewhat ambiguous notes show that it was followed by 85007 on a train
believed to be from International to either Glasgow or Edinburgh, which passed at 18:07. Next was 86401 on 1G37 16:10
Euston - Wolverhampton, also five late, which passed at 18:11. And finally 86260 on 1S81, the 17:59 New St - Perth
parcels, which came past at 18:13.
313109 arrives at Clapham Jct off the West London line. This shot was taken at 11:23 on Thursday 9th September 2004.
321402 leaves Bescot with a local service from Walsall to New St. This was taken at 08:36 on Thursday 15th November 2007, the first
week of the then brand new London Midland franchise. 321402 is now used by FCC on Great Northern suburban services in the London area.
Class 321s started working Walsall line services in 2007, but by the end of 2008 it was all over. This is 321420
forming the 16:00 Walsall - Birmingham International, passing over the River Tame south of Tame Bridge at 16:09 on Monday 30th June
323212 approaches Bescot station with the 15:57 New St - Walsall local. This shot was taken at 16:22 on Thursday 4th September 2008,
so it was running 5 late - no surprise given the amount of traffic on the Grand Junction during this week. The Trent Valley line was
closed, and as usual the hourly Birmingham - Walsall semi-fast trains were cancelled to create some extra paths, leaving the
twice-an-hour stoppers and the hourly Cannock line service. The latter was also terminating short at Hednesford, with a replacement
bus covering the Hednesford - Rugeley - Stafford leg.
4-EPB unit 5248 departs from Petts Wood with a down service. Headcode 12
indicates that this was a Charing Cross - Orpington train, and thus Petts Wood would have been the penultimate stop. 4-EPB units were
later designated Class 415, and they came in two varieties: the S.R. variant and the later B.R. design. The S.R. units were built between
1951 and 1957, and 5248 was one of the later ones. This picture was taken in autumn 1989. EPBs lasted on the South-Eastern division until 1995.
Thanks to Frankie D for pointing out that this isn't a facelifted unit.
This is another photo from the same session which yielded the shot of 5248 above. This pic shows a pair of
4-CEP units, with refurbished 1516 leading. Headcode 18 is Charing Cross
to Margate via Tonbridge, Ashford, Dover and Deal.I don't recall seeing too many blue and grey units on this day, they were getting a bit
scarce at this stage. I have a similar shot of one in Jaffa Cake livery, and NSE liveried units were also quite common - but this blue-and-grey
one looks better in my view. v I always had a soft spot for CEPs, with fond memories of seeing 13 and 14 coach boat trains at places like Ashford
and Tonbridge. These were formed CEP+BEP+CEP, plus MLV or
A pair of 2-EPBs, namely 6262 and 6411, head past Wandsworth Road at 15:23 Monday 7th June 1993. The first unit is renumbered,
but not facelifted, and retains BR livery and non-corridor compartments. In their latter years these compartments were
signified with a red cantrail stripe. Rear unit 6411 has been facelifted and painted into NSE "toothpaste" livery.
Headcode 70 suggests an Orpington - Victoria service via Herne Hill.
4-VEP 7827 arrives at Portsmouth Harbour in this shot which was taken
in the spring of 1980. Route 82 indicates that this is a semi-fast from Waterloo. To the best of my recall I've only ever been to
Portsmouth Harbour while en-route to the Isle of Wight, and taking a few pictures from the platform end would have almost certainly
been a time filling move. Looking back I wish that I'd taken more pictures of first-generation units, especially Southern Region EMUs
like this one.
A pair of 4-CIGs with 1395 bringing up the rear leave Clapham Jct en-route to Waterloo. This shot was taken at 11:21 on Thursday 9th
Lymington branch aside, the final workings of slam-door units on the Southern Region took place at the end of November 2005 - and I took my
last photos of these units in the previous June. This shot shows 4-VEP 3454 passing Wandsworth Road at 15.31 on Tuesday 7th June 2005. I'm not
sure what the actual working was, but route 64 is Hastings/Eastbourne to Victoria.
An hour or so before the previous shot 3587 headed south past Wandsworth Road at 14.23. Not my best composition this, being something of a grab
shot as I'd only just arrived when this train came by. By mid-2005 slammers were getting uncommon and I didn't manage a better shot of a
southbound train, despite hanging around for quite a while.
I wasn't at Clapham Jct to photograph units on Thursday 9th September 2004, but I took a few. This is 455868 on a Kingston Loop
service, photographed at 12:10. By this stage I'd lost touch with unit liveries, but this turns out to have been a one-off effort,
in celebration of the Queen's golden jubilee in 2002.
508128 passes Bidston West Jct with a West Kirby train. This was the 13:10 from Hooton, which went round the loop and was due off
Moorfields at 13:32, before being photographed here at 13:47 on Wednesday 7th September 1988. Nowadays trains on the loop generally
return to their origin, e.g. West Kirby to West Kirby, New Brighton to New Brighton, etc. The chord from Bidston West to
Bidston North was once heavily used by iron ore trains between Bidston Dock and Shotton. These finished in March 1980 when steelmaking
at Shotton ceased. The chord was apparently taken out-of-use in 1983, but was still extant when this shot was taken.
A Class 506 unit calls at Guide Bridge with a Hadfield - Manchester Piccadilly train. Note the Class 76 loco just visible to the left of the
signalbox. I've got no date for this picture but it would have been taken in 1979 or 1980 I think. Although this is almost certainly a
midweek picture most of my visits to Guide Bridge were made at weekends using "Saturday Saver" tickets from Walsall or Birmingham.
Our itinerary never varied: train to Reddish North and walk to Reddish depot; back to Piccadilly and out to Guide Bridge for the stabling
point there. Then walk to Victoria for a train to Dean Lane and Newton Heath depot. Back to Victoria for an hour watching the units, having
something to eat and a sit down. And finally walk back to Piccadilly for the train home. Manchester's depots had a friendly reputation and
we were never refused at any of these sheds or stabling points.
M77181 and M65460 approach Bowker Vale with a Bury - Manchester Victoria train. This shot was taken at 14:01 on Wednesday 18th July 1990.