Down stopper – back fast

One Saturday, early in January 1965, I was booked on a regular three link duty, the 08.35 Waterloo – Weymouth stopper. It was a turn where you might get a Merchant Navy, West Country, or even a BR class 5 Standard. On the day our engine was No.34022 Exmoor and we left Waterloo with 11 on for 395 tons gross. Our first stop was Surbiton and we arrived 50 seconds late, we pulled into Woking, our next stop, 25 seconds to the good.

The 08.35 down wasn’t a flyer but, we did have a bit of fun accelerating all the way, from our start out of Working, to the summit at MP31 which we passed at 54mph – we kept up a pretty even mid seventies all the way from Farnborough to Hook where we were stopped by signals.  However, despite being brought to a dead stand we still rolled into Basingstoke only 38 seconds adrift.

Twenty four minutes was the time allowed from Basingstoke to Winchester – we passed Wallers Ash box at over 80mph arriving in   Winchester a shade over two minutes early. After leaving Winchester things carried on in much the same style and we went through Eastleigh nudging 70 and nearly a minute up. It wasn’t to last, signal checks between St Denys and Northam Jct. saw us roll into Southampton almost 3 minutes late.

The journey onwards from Southampton wasn’t logged but we called at Brockenhurst and then  all stations to Bournemouth, where we were relieved. After being relieved, the usual routine was to walk back down the platform, to the London end, where there was a BRSA club. A couple of pints of brown and mild, a Cornish pastie and agame of bar billiards before crossing over to the up road for the back working. The back working, an ‘up fast’ from Weymouth, was almost always a Merchant Navy, and a very different run altogether, of which, more later.

Sadly, No.34022 Exmoor, wasn’t one of the survivors and the photo shows No.34053 Sir Keith Park getting into her stride after departing from Quorn & Woodhouse station on the Great Central Railway. I did work on No.34053 Sir Keith Park but I don’t have access to the details of any of my runs with her.

My thanks to Terry Jackson whose log of the run I made with 34022 Exmoor on 02 / 01 / 1965, between Waterloo and Southampton, was used to provide the details of the trip recounted above.

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

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