Locomotive Club of Great Britain (LCGB) ran a tour from London to
Stratford upon Avon and Stourbridge on Saturday 12 November 1966. 50
years to the day, I retraced part of the route - with main line steam, courtesy
of Vintage Trains.
tour in 1966
The train left London Waterloo behind West Country no. 34015
"Exmouth", taking the train via Staines to Reading.
There was a brief photo stop at Ascot. At Reading, Merchant Navy
no 35023 took over for the run to Banbury. The reason for the two
locomotives was the lack of water facilities for 35023 on the
locomotive change at Banbury saw Castle no. 7029 "Clun
Castle" take over for the run to Stratford upon Avon.
time it was in private ownership but in a rather scruffy
condition. Following this trip, it was to be repainted and
reappeared resplendent on special trains to Chester in March 1967.
The tour in 2016 - The Pannier
Rambler IV The tour planned to use two former GWR pannier tanks, 9600 and
9466, both resplendent in BR black livery.
The tour route was Tyseley -
Stratford Upon Avon - Birmingham Snow Hill - Stourbridge Junction
- Worcester. The train returned to Tyseley via the Lickey Incline
and Birmingham New Street.
The train ran to Stratford upon
Avon with the engines top and tail. It was a pretty rousing run
with the train ahead of what was quite an easy schedule. At
Stratford the lead engine, 9466 ran round to join 9600 ready for
the bunker first run to Worcester. Whilst water was taken it was
apparent that something was amiss with 9600.
the only survivor from the 1966 tour engines, it wasn't possible
to see "Clun Castle" in 2016 as it was under overhaul in
the workshops at Tysley.
Stratford, Britannia no. 70004
took the train from Stratford, through Birmingham Snow Hill to
Stourbridge Junction. A photo stop was made at Henley in Arden
before a rather sedate run to Stourbridge Junction. Originally two surviving GW 57xx pannier
tank engines were to take the tour train to Stourbridge Town
station. However the last remaining pannier tanks were not in a
suitable condition so a DMU shuttle was run instead.
to water the dining car were unsuccessful so an extra stop was
made at Birmingham Snow Hill station.
train left Stourbridge Junction on time but "Clun
Castle" made rather heavy weather of the various climbs. With
the extra ten minutes at Snow Hill, the train arrived back at
Banbury around 20 minutes late.
had been serviced at Banbury shed and took over for the run to
London Victoria, stopping at High Wycome for water. The Banbury
crew were unfamiliar with the engine and the running was poor, Old
Oak Common being reached some 41 minutes late. The train
eventually arrived at London Victoria 56 minutes late. The LCGB
report said the tour was not outstanding but was quite a pleasant
It turned out that it was running
hot. The train left Stratford 52 minutes late and with 9466 doing
most of the work at a reduced speed, the train arrived back at
Tysley. It was a noisy run with the train cresting Wilmcote Bank
At Tyseley the decision was taken
to remove 9600 but continue the tour with a class 47 diesel
There was a further delay in
watering 9466 due, I gather, to a burst water main and low water
pressure. The 1966 tour had a similar problem as the dining car
could not be watered due to low water pressure.
I decided to leave the train at
Birmingham Moor Street but I gather the journey to Worcester was
uneventful with the class 47 leading 9466.
After servicing, the train left
Worcester on time and with 9466 leading and making a fine attempt
at tackling the 1 in 37 Lickey Incline.
My decision to leave the train
early was a pragmatic one. I wanted to try and revisit Stourbridge
Junction and possibly Henley in Arden to replicate some of my 1966
pictures as close to 12 November as possible. I toyed with the
idea of driving up to Birmingham the following week but
circumstances on the day enabled me to visit Stourbridge Junction
on the actual anniversary date. This is no reflection on the
efforts of staff at Vintage Trains who did their best to complete
the tour on what was a difficult day. I am looking forward to
another tour with Vintage Trains next year.
There were some great pictures and
videos taken of the 2016 run to Stratford upon Avon and return. This one
shows the noise and steam from the two engines.
Copyright: Marsh Steam Videos
The station today retains much of its Great Western heritage with
the buildings and footbridge. Even the new footbridge and lift
shaft are sympathetic to the GWR style. I hope that with two
footbridges side by side, the older (Great Western) one is not
The station also has some rather
ornate platform lamps.
The sidings beyond the station
have long gone, as have the semaphore signals. The picture on the
right shows 70004 "William Shakespeare" waiting
departure from platform 1. This picture was taken from platform 2
where 50 years later, the two pannier tanks wait
with their train.
The 1966 picture of 70004 was
taken at 12.20pm whilst the 2016 shot of the two panniers was
taken at 10.55am - one hour and 25 minutes short of 50 years!
The 1966 tour stopped at Henley
in Arden for a photographic stop.
Just eight minutes were allowed,
yet most passengers got off the train to get their shots and were
back on board in time for the departure.
The picture was taken from the
footbridge and shows the bay platform and line to the left.
The 2016 picture (courtesy of
Clive Hanley) shows how things have changed.
The signal box and semaphore
signals have gone. There are new station lamps and whilst the
running-in board is still there, the rather worn-out original is
replaced by a smart one. However it only shows the station name on
the side of the running line. It is still set within a stone
flowerbed and looks quite smart today with the trimmed bushes. (I
wonder whether the stones are original?)
The 1966 picture was
taken between 12.40 and 12.48pm. Clive's 2016 shot was taken at
12.33pm - as near as 50 years apart as one could get!
This station has been rationalised with
the extensive sidings replaced by a car park. The station once boasted 4
platforms, sidings and an engine shed. The branch line to Stourbridge
Town is still used.
The 1966 picture of "Clun Castle" was taken at the
Birmingham end of the station, roughly where the last coach of the
departing train is. This 1966 picture gives some idea of the sidings
there were here as well as the semaphore signals.
Looking at the 2016 picture, the branch line to Stourbridge
Town runs off to the left behind the trees. The GW signal box
still appears to be in use.
"William Shakespeare" arrived with the tour train in
1966 it came into platform 4. This no longer exists, the area
being used by the station car park.
The 2016 picture shows the three remaining platforms. The one on
the right (platform 1) is used by the shuttle to Stourbridge Town.
Whilst the GW platform buildings are intact the distinctive GW
awnings have given way to the rather ugly steel sheets.
The 1966 picture of "Clun
Castle" was taken at platform 4 which today no longer exists
but would have been to the left of the 2016 shot. It is now part
of the car park.
The pictures in 1966 were
taken between 2 and 2.30pm on the 12 November.
2016's pictures were taken around 4pm - 50 years and 2 hours
After arrival, the train was shunted to the adjacent sidings and
both this and the 2016 pictures were taken from platform 3/4.
Rail Tour - Route Map
For those interested (and there were quite a few fellow passengers on
the Pannier Rambler tour) below is the route map from the 1966 tour.
This is reproduced from the tour booklet.
14 November 2016
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