Class 31 locomotives
31106 leads 4Z33 Bristol - Derby through Willington at 12:35 on Saturday 25th September 2010.
31112 and 31420 depart from Hednesford with a Bescot - Brereton ballast train. This picture was taken at 10:53 on Sunday 9th July 1995, and
the train is running wrong-line in an engineer's possession. From memory the northbound train had crossed over to the southbound track at
Hednesford, where 31462 and 31467 had also been attached at the rear (they're just out of sight behind the bridge). Of note was that the four
31s working this train were painted in four different liveries. 31112 was in Dutch livery, 31420 in the old Mainline livery, 31462 was in the
incredibly drab plain grey, and 31467 was in BR blue. The return working passed Ryecroft at 16:17 the same afternoon, with 462+467 leading,
and 420+112 trailing on the rear.
31113 stands outside Norwich shed, in a picture taken circa 1980. Not a particularly well-framed shot, this one required a close crop and
the removal of a pole at the left corner of the building to make a decent image. The loco was boiler-fitted, and allocated to March
depot at the time. It may have been working Birmingham trains.
55009 leads 31128 as they pass Barrow-Upon-Trent at 14:41 on Wednesday 27th February 2019. This was an 0Z35 Burton Wetmore - Sheffield,
which ran via Toton and the old road via Beighton. The return was via Dore so presumably the Deltic led both ways.
31155 rounds Bescot Curve at 17:07 on Friday 19th March 1993. This is 8T84 Wednesbury - Bescot, a rake of spoil empties
which was the last train on the Bescot/Pleck to Round Oak line on the day it closed. It was followed a few minutes later by
56053 running light engine as 0Z11 Round Oak - Bescot. 0Z11 was the final movement before the line was formally
taken out of use.
31177 has just arrived at Birmingham New St with a train from Norwich, while 50001 waits to take over a train on the North West/South West axis.
The slide mount is undated, but this is likely to be a late 1970s shot.
Friday 31st May 2013 provided a 6Z31 Weymouth - Bescot special, comprised of 31190 and the RailVac
machine. This was due Bescot at 16:28, but was photographed between Pleck Jct and Bescot at 16:45, after apparently being caught in
congestion around Walsall. I'd hoped it would appear about 30 minutes earlier, with more light on the nose, after it had passed Park
Lane Jct at 15:28. This loco dates from May 1960, so was 53 years old when this shot was taken. I wonder when Bescot last received a
train from Weymouth.
In the early days of road movements a police escort was normally used for the heavier rigs conveying main-line locos.
Or at least this was the case for those leaving Bescot. Eventually hauliers provided their own escort vehicles for
larger loads. This scene was captured just before noon on Wednesday 15th March 2000, when 31248 was going for scrap.
It had been loaded onto the trailer and driven up the steep depot drive. Normal practise would then be to pause in
Pemberton Crescent while the trailer height was adjusted and the securing chains checked. Here the lorry crew confer
with the police, shortly before departure. The loco was en-route to Thompson's in Stockton I believe. Since the last
Class 08 left in August 2017 the only rolling stock leaving Bescot by road has been wagons for scrap.
A little while later 31248 is seen again near Bentley, heading east on the A454 (Black Country Route). It had left Bescot
around 11:50, and was photographed here at 12:15 not far short of the M6 at Junction 10. At
this time the route for main-line locos leaving Bescot by road involved turning left out of Woden Road East onto the A461,
heading away from the M6 at junction 9. The route continued through Wednesbury town centre and Moxley, before taking the
A454 to junction 10. I presume this arrangement was intended to avoid the elevated sections of the M6, although in later
years the direct route to junction 9 was used for all locos.
31249 trundles downhill towards Ryecroft Jct with the 9M09 Tuesdays-only departmental working from Doncaster to Bescot. This was a
short-lived train, which as the picture suggests conveyed mainly ex-works engineer's wagons from (I presume) Doncaster Works. The picture
was taken around 1989, and at this time everything on the engineer's side was being painted into "Dutch" yellow and grey livery.
This train was normally hauled by a plain-grey or Dutch-liveried Class 31. However on this occasion one of the diminishing number of blue
31s appeared, which was nice as I don't care much for the Dutch livery.
31285 leads a 1Z18 test train through Coseley at 15:25 on Saturday 11th March 2006. 31105 was trailing at the rear. This train was testing
the catenary, and a raised pantograph is visible on the fourth carriage, the yellow one. In fact the pantograph area was illuminated by
lights which were all too visible on this very gloomy afternoon, although this light hasn't rendered in the picture. Despite the appalling
light I managed to get away with ISO400 for this shot (at 1/500 f4.5). All-over yellow isn't really a great livery for a locomotive, but
it was a blessing on this occasion.
31324 is the Saltley banking engine, assisting a steel train up the Camp Hill line at Bordesley Jct. I believe this was taken on
Tuesday 30th May 1989 when I'd visited Bordesley to photograph 97561 heading the Midland Counties Railway anniversary railtour
from Derby - Bristol. That date falls within the period covered by a lost notebook, which is consistent with my inability to locate
the original notes for this shot.
31324 again, this time starting away from Bolton with 1V03, the 14:40 parcels to Bristol. This shot was taken at 14:33 on Friday 26th June 1992,
and the train is heading towards the station after coming out of the sidings to the right.
Here's a shot
of the same train near Leominster, with a fresh loco and the vans in reverse order after the reversal at Preston.
31415 approaches Mills Hill with 2J92, the 13:20 Blackpool North - Manchester Victoria - Oldham loop - Manchester Victoria
service. This one went anti-clockwise around the loop, and was en-route from Rochdale back into Manchester when I took this shot
31421 coasts into Llandudno Jct at 14:41 on Friday 15th September 1995. I didn't record the train details, but going by the time it's
probably 1D72, the 13:24 Crewe - Holyhead. The Conwy bay microclimate seems to have provided the sunshine here, not for the
first time in my experience.
31422 and 31407 approach Wednesbury at 13:09 on Tuesday 28th July 1992. This was a T90 Worcester - Wednesbury trip that had gone to
Bescot in error and is seen here returning to Wednesbury. It's a spoil train and was, I believe, a test trip to
31434 runs slowly along the up line at Smethwick Rolfe St during an engineers possession. This picture was taken at lunchtime on Sunday
17th March 1996. I must confess to a bit of manipulation with this shot. A lamp post and telegraph pole have been removed from the background
to improve it a little.
The driver of 31437 looks back for the right-away. His train is 1E47, the 15:45 Liverpool - Cleethorpes, due off Sheffield at 17:44.
Sprinters took over Hope Valley services in May of that year. Unlike the Class 45s, the 31s would continue in traffic for many more
years. There were plenty of passenger workings to come as well, but both locos and coaches would increasingly be painted in various
31450 and 31229 run slowly along the up line at Spetchley. A possession was in force, hence the train facing the wrong way when
photographed at 10:17 on Sunday 15th September 1996.
31454, 31601 and 31190 climb through Leamore (Walsall) with the FM Rail coal trial formed of PGA stone hoppers. This train ran on Tuesday
25th July 2006 as 6G20 Daw Mill - Rugeley. It's seen here at 14:56, running about three hours late on the original schedule, mainly
due to problems with the wagons. Freight trains with any sort of load are never going at speed in this location as it's quite a substantial
climb, and I'd estimate that the 31s were making about 15mph. An incredible working this, and one that will be long-remembered by those who
were out to see and photograph it.
31459 trails on the back of the ECS for 2N97, the 15:49 to Blackpool North, as it draws out of the sidings at Chester. This shot
was taken at 15:11 on Tuesday 30th March 2004, and 31602 was at the other end of the train. The shunt move required the train to
head out onto the Warrington line, before reversing into platform 2.
Significant numbers of withdrawn locos were stored all around Bescot Yard for much of the 1990s, with around 70
being present at one point. They were usually kept in the Local Sidings, but for a period most of them were moved into
the Storage Sidings. This never struck me as a good idea given the proximity of these sidings to the perimeter fence -
which backs onto public open space and isn't overlooked in this area. The predictable vandalism duly occurred, as witnessed
here on 31512. This picture was taken on the afternoon of Sunday 17th May 1998.
An 0Z69 Derby - Washwood Heath light engine move ran on Wednesday 5th September 2012. It was about 10 minutes down when it passed
Water Orton at 13:19, thankfully still running main line as booked. The locos were 31601, 31602 and 56303. The green livery used
by DCR on 31601 and 56303 is rather smart, and suits the 31 especially well.
This is from the 2012 Severn Valley diesel gala. On Saturday 6th October 31601 arrived with the 14:02 shuttle from Kidderminster,
and ran-round the stock in platform 1. Once the 14:39 to Kidderminster had departed, 31601 set back towards Arley before running into
platform 2 to work the 15:01 Kidderminster service. This shot was taken at 14:51.