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Then and Now

1965 - 1967 

50 Year Anniversary of the end of Southern Steam

1967 saw the end of steam operation on the Southern Region. Over the last couple of years leading up to July 1967, I made many visits to experience the final rites of steam operation in the south of England. I was limited by finance (my paper round income only went so far) and school work with my 'O' levels coming up in 1968.

However I made many trips, not just to London but further a field to Weymouth, Bournemouth and Salisbury as well as traveling on a number of rail tours. Whilst most of 1966 and 1967 was about the end of southern steam, I did get to visit Crewe Works and Crewe South shed as well as a holiday in Germany. I should also mention that 1967 also saw the end of the offshore radio stations (except Radio Caroline) and listening to these stations ignited my interest in broadcasting which led me onto my chosen career. 

Fifty years on, I decided to revisit many of the places I discovered then as well as to try to recreate certain trips and rail tours as close as the exact anniversary as possible. The objective was to replicate original photographs with present day ones. This shows how in many instances things have changed over half a century, but how surprisingly, how some things are just the same.

This project has been put together as a talk and I recently presented this to members of the LCGB Dorking branch. This was delivered by Zoom.

I am available to give this talk to other societies so if interested, please email me.

I have produced a demo video which gives a taster of the talk. 


Waterloo Station (1965 and 2014)
The first picture shows West Country class locomotive 34048 "Crediton" with the 10.30am train to Weymouth in July 1965. Whilst quite clean (you could see it was green), the name plates and front number had been removed. One of the electric lights (on the right hand smoke deflector) had also been removed.

Move forward to September 2014 and we have a similar engine waiting departure from Waterloo. The engine is 34046 "Braunton" with a UK Railtours excursion to Salisbury. Apart from the immaculate condition of the engine, there are other differences. The train shed was significantly cleaner than in 1965. I understand the roof had been recently reglazed. The platform canopies had been replaced and generally the station has a clinical feel to it. Is Waterloo Station in 2014 a better place? It is certainly cleaner and there is a lot less clutter on the concourse but it still is a very busy station.

The links below will take you to my pages that tell the story 50 years on.

Rail Tours - 50 Years of Change
A look at how rail tours were run 50 years ago in comparison with today's offering.


Dorset Belle revisited
Retracing part of the route of the LCGB rail tour on the 27 February 1966
Revisiting Eastleigh station and works
Devonshire Rambler revisited 
Retracing part of the tour route from Waterloo and Exeter
Summer 1966 
Southern steam in Dorset and Hampshire in August 1966
Farnborough Flyer 
Flying Scotsman's visit to Hampshire in September 1966 
Isle of Wight  
My visit back to the island 50 years after the end of steam in 1966
The Shakespearian Rail Tour 
review of the 1966 "Shakespearian" Rail Tour and the 2016 Vintage Train's "Pannier Rambler" Rail Tour both taking place on 12 November but 50 years apart. 

London Miscellany
Visits to Waterloo, Nine Elms and other London termini.  
SW Suburban Rail Tour (5 February 1967)
A look at the 100th Rail Tour operated by the LCGB.
Crewe South (26 February 1967) 
The shed is no longer there but examples of engines seen in 1967 are.
Hampshire Branch Lines Rail Tour (9 April 1967)  
A review of three rail tours 50 years later (almost to the day) that ran through Hampshire.
Dorset Coast Express Rail Tour (7 May 1967)
The final rail tour run by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain with steam on the Southern Region.    
GuildfordWoking & Basingstoke and Salisbury (April/May 1967)
Pictures from trips 50 years ago with more recent visits.

If you have any comments or notice any inaccuracies, please email me.

How it all started

My interest in railways started in 1965. In January, I watched the funeral procession of Sir Winston Churchill on television and was intrigued to find that his train, from London's Waterloo station, was hauled by a steam engine. The engine was Battle of Britain no.34051 "Winston Churchill". 


Living in Essex, the Great Eastern line was one of the first to eliminate steam so I guess as a 12 year old I assumed that as we had no steam, it had disappeared completely. During 1965 I discovered there was plenty of steam on the Southern Region out of Waterloo and occasional trips with my father took me to London and beyond.

During the February half term that year, we went to Waterloo, Clapham Junction and later the Transport Museum at Clapham. Whilst I have no record of what I saw, I do clearly remember seeing Bulleid light pacifics 34041 "Wilton" and 34051 "Winston Churchill", both with departures to the West Country. We were lucky to be able to climb into the cab of 34051. It was exciting at the time! I also thought that Bulleids were painted black, such was the dirt and grim, particularly on Merchant Navy class locomotive no. 35005, which we saw arrive at Waterloo.

In June, during a school half term holiday, I had a day out visiting various London stations. There was no steam at Kings Cross but a vague memory of a Black 5 at Euston, which was being rebuilt at the time. I also went to Paddington but was unaware that the last scheduled steam train was due to leave that afternoon. I wondered why there were the crowds and someone mentioned that a steamer was due but I did not attach any importance to it.

For the record, what I missed was Castle no. 7029 ‘Clun Castle’ with the 4.15pm train to Banbury. 11 June 1966.


In August I visited Crewe Works on a tour organised by British Railways. This featured diesel haulage with a class 40 from London Euston to Rugby. Electric traction in the form of a class 86 took over for the run to Crewe. And yes there was steam as well that day. Stanier Black 5 no. 44761 took us on the short run from the station to the works. 

This was an eye opener as engines were still being repaired there although I did notice the cab of Britannia no. 70007 on the scrap pile (this was the first of the class to be withdrawn) and by the paint shop,71000 "Duke of Gloucester". It was still a complete engine and at that stage had been earmarked for preservation as part of the British Transport Commission collection. Things didn't turn out that way as the engine was taken off the list, it's outside cylinders removed for display at London's Science Museum and the remains of the engine ended up at Woodham's scrap yard in Barry, in South Wales.

Also present in the paint shop was Duchess class no. 46235 "City of Birmingham" which was being cosmetically prepared prior to it's removal to the new science museum in Birmingham.

In those days, I didn't take numbers of everything I saw and relied on my father for the few pictures I have. However there are some memories that have stuck. 

On the 16 October, I went to Basingstoke for the day. I have no record of engines seen but I did have an old Brownie Box Camera. I recall seeing Merchant Navy no. 35011 with the northbound ‘Pines Express’ and Ivatt Class 4 no. 43106 going towards Reading hauling a withdrawn Standard class 5 no. 73112. 

I have a poor quality picture of these two engines and if nothing else, it is a record of an unusual working. By chance, 43106 was saved for preservation and is based on the Severn Valley Railway.

I returned to Waterloo on the 12.59pm from Bournemouth with West Country class locomotive no. 34013. It is see here after arrival at Waterloo. 50 years later, to the minute, class 455 is seen in the same platform after arrival. 


The station is much cleaner 50 years on. The offices in the 1965 picture (behind the locomotive) have gone, to make way for the international station. However the metal railing on the right by the ticket barriers survives to this day.


In November there was another trip to Crewe Works. This was with "The Midlander" rail tour organised by the Warwickshire Railway Society. 


Two locos were used. Merchant Navy no. 35022 took us from Waterloo to Water Orton (near Nuneaton) and back from Wolverhampton Low Level, via the GW main line to Paddington. This was to be the last steam arrival at Paddington until the mid 1980’s.


The second engine was Britannia no. 70012 ‘John of Gaunt’. This worked the train from Water Orton to Crewe and via Chester to Wolverhampton.


The two sets of pictures below aren't quite 50 years apart.

'Duke of Gloucester'

The 1965 shot shows it outside the paint shop. It subsequently had it's cylinders removed for display at the Science Museum in London and the carcass ended up at Woodham's scrap yard on Barry Island in South Wales. 

As is well documented elsewhere, this engine was rescued and returned to working order and became a regular performer on the main line. 

The more recent picture was taken at an open day at the works in 1990. 

It is not in quite the same location as the paint shop had, by this time, been demolished. But it's close enough!

The picture on the right shows Britannia no. 70013 after an overhaul. It was out shopped in plain BR green and without it's nameplates. 

14 months later it was the final steam engine to be overhauled at the works and was turned out in full lined BR livery and was involved in the final months of steam on BR in 1968. 

Like the 'Duke of Gloucester' it survived into preservation and is also active on the main line. 

The more recent picture is of the 8F 2-8-0 no. 48151 at the same location, and taken in September 2005.





Personal Note.
I am not generally into 'nostalgia', preferring the present and looking forward. This is particularly the case with music. Whilst I grew up in the 1960's and was greatly influenced by 60's music, I prefer to listen to today's new music and emerging talent. That is not to say I have dismissed the music of my youth and I do play some 60's music on the radio where it is appropriate. 

Whilst I tend to look forward, we can learn from the past. Preserved railways are one way of keeping old skills and demonstrating a former way of life. But a preserved railway can only offer a rose-tinted look at the past and not accurately replicate it. If, say, the Bluebell Railway wanted to be 100 per cent true to the past, there would be smoking in station buildings and on the trains, the Bessemer Arms would only serve alcoholic drinks at lunchtime and after 5pm (with reduced licensing hours on Sundays). Locomotives would be dirty along with tobacco stains and ash in the carriages. Staff would be surly and what about replicating the BR sandwich? 

To survive in today's competitive tourist environment, facilities such as baby changing facilities, increased safety measures and themed activities (Thomas and Friends or War on the Line type events) need to be present. Some preserved railways appear too pristine and clinical for my liking. Others give a reasonable idea of what rail travel was like 50 or 75 years ago.

I enjoy traveling on preserved railways and introducing family members and friends to steam. I will always try to take creative pictures, either ones showing a railway as it is in 2016 complete with passengers in contemporary dress and modern buildings and structures in the back ground. That's how it is today and such pictures will tell the story for historians in 50 or 100 years hence. Lineside photography can offer interesting opportunities and the more creative photo charters, particularly when re-enactors are used, enables me to do more that an engine and train picture. 

Looking back at this project, I think 1966 will be a golden year for me. It was the last full year of Southern Steam and certainly until the Autumn it was very much business as usual. Bournemouth Central was unchanged with its track layout and shunting maneuvers whilst steam at Waterloo just seemed natural. The Southern N and U class engines (and the ugly Q1's) were even in action in the first few months of '66.

In contrast, 1967 was rather drab. Locomotives were by now very run down and dirty with many Bulleid pacifics losing their nameplates. Decay was very much in the air and Nine Elms had that air of dereliction not really present in 1966. That's not to say there weren't highlights in '67. There were some memorable rail tours and some fast running on scheduled services.  

Updated 17 May 2017

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