Although I can remember seeing class 52 Westerns in service I didn't have a camera until after they had been withdrawn from capital stock. This means that most of the photographs in this section are of preserved locomotives on the main line with a few on the Severn Valley Railway although these days I vary rarely go to preserved lines. Any taken on railtours before initial withdrawal are courtesy of other photgraphers whose permission I have to use them and their copyright is clearly marked.

The scene just south of Stratford station 26 October 1974, was very much the basic railway with none of the GWR infrastructure remaining. The West Box has gone along with the water tower, siding, headshunt and associated signalling. By this time, there was no connection from the up main line to platform 3 because the local passenger service, the only user of the connection, had long since finished. The entrance to the station was controlled by Evesham Road Crossing Box, some 1/2 mile down the line, but through the relatively infrequent traffic in 1974, this would not have caused any capacity problems. I suspect that the running of this train may well have occasioned the special opening of this signal box on a Saturday, when it would normally have been closed at this time, as no trains were scheduled over the weekend. Diesel hydraulic 1025 Western Guardsman has just taken over an enthusiasts' special from steam locomotive 35028 Clan Line and was pictured leaving the station for the south. I imagine, at this late stage in the life of the Westerns that more photographers were out for this leg of the journey than for the steam section. Tom Heavyside
Another Western to visit Stratford was 1052 Western Viceroy. This one came at the head of a Plymouth Railway Circle Railtour on 29 March 1975 and was photographed during a photostop in platform 2 having come north from Cheltenham. The two aspect repeater signal on platform 1 is worth a second look. The station was on a slight curve with a high roadbridge immdediately on the end of the platform making sighting difficult for drivers so the repeater was added. This device always fascinated me on my frequent visits to the station in the early 1960s - a signal moving without wires creaking! Westerns were never seen at Stratford on timetabled services, but I am told by one of the signalman from the Evesham Road Crossing Box that occasional visits were made by the class in the 1970s on trains from Birmingham used for brake tests around Toddington. Sadly, I didn't see any of these and as far as I am aware, no photographs exist of them. In fact, I have been quite unable to find any photographs at all of diesel-hauled freight in the immediate vicinity of Stratford-upon-Avon in the 1970s and should be most grateful to hear from anyone that either has or knows of any.The late Bert Wynn
Saturday 7 December 2002 was a cold, gloomy and very wet day; not the sort of of conditions in which I would usually bother taking a camera out the house. The attraction was Western D1015 in its first year of main line ceritification working Past Time Rail's "The Western Sunset" from London Paddington to Birmingham New Street, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Maindee Junctions, Chepstow, Gloucester, Swindon, Didcot and back to Paddington. The route from Leamington Spa to Birmingham included the climb of Hatton Bank and because of the foul weather I went no further than the station footbridge at a bleak looking Hatton station. I heard the train coming from some way off but at about the point it would have been passing the Dark Lane bridge the controller was opened wide and the volume increased very noticeably and that was when started my video camera and took this clip. My notebook says that the black and white photograph was taken on Kodak TRI-X 120 film on a Mamiya 645 using 1/500 second with an 80mm standard wide open at f1.8. Luckily, with 11 coaches in tow, the train,carrying a headboard at odds with the tour's actual name, wasn't moving too fast and so a sharp image was obtained.
Just a few yards to the north of Hatton station is the roadbridge from which this picture of D1015 with the "The Chiltern Champion", 1Z51 from Solihull to London Marylebone was taken. The train looked very smart with its matching stock and with no headboard it looked almost like a service train rather than a railtour. Class 47 47773 was on the back of the formation at this point and was used to power the train for part of the tour and some details will be found here.
Hatton North Junction is the location for this image of D1015 working light engine towards London on 6 February 2008 prior to hauling a Pathfinder railtour later that month. I was already there when I had a message saying that the Western was on its way south so moved from the footbridge to a spot on the footpath for a different viewpoint. These locomotives were a commmon sight on this line when they worked the London Paddington to Birmingham expresses unfortunately before I owned a camera capable of stopping a moving subject.
Another railtour hauled by D1015 ran on 17 August 2002 when the Western took 11 Mk1 coaches from London Paddington to Kidderminster via Oxford and Worcester before returning through Hatton and Leamington Spa. The tour was on the first leg when I photographed it approaching Honeybourne and passing the then disused Long Marston branch, just visible through the exhasut smoke. The locomotive had been opened up as it came near to the roadbridge and I did shoot some very noisy video which was unfortunately corrupted during the digitisation process. I also took a black & white image at Honeybourne which I think is preferable to the colour slide.
I went over to Hatton on the evening of 17 August 2002 for another shot of D1015 as it returned to London Paddington with the Western Noon railtour. The backlighting here at around 18.15 is a bit extreme and I completely messed up the colour slide's exposure; so much so that it wasn't recoverable even with modern digital software so this black & white image will have to do. At this point the train was crawling along against adverse signals as a local service was only one section ahead of it.
A convoy of preserved locomotives, 20001, 20227 and D1013, hauled by 45112 were taken from Kidderminster to Ropley on 12 May 2005. I took a second image from Dark Lane roadbridge to better show the Western as the train descended Hatton Bank. The RAW image seems to have been slightly corrupted during the transfer process which has caused the distortion around the bottom corners of the picture.
I don't very often photograph railtours but one that took my interest was a Leicester to Weymouth that ran on Saturday 7 September 2103. The locomotive from Bescot was D1015 on its first run after overhaul (other than a loaded test a few weeks ago) and with there being about a 50% chance of clear skies I went over to the Birmingham to Gloucester line. Here is 1Z52 passing the footbridge at Northway just about on time in some good sun just after a short cloudy spell; the exceptionally clean locomotive making an attractive sight in its maroon clolour scheme. The sides of D1015 were so clean that the reflection of a blue drain cover can be clearly seen just above the battery boxes. This location wasn't my first choice but a weekend road closure between Teddington Hands roundabout and the M5 meant that the A46 through Ashchurch was blocked. I had left home early enough to make it here with a few minutes to spare via some narrow lanes but there wouldn't have been time for the shot I originally planned which involves a walk of some 15 minutes across public footpaths.
From time to time a charter train comes along that simply screams out to be photographed. One such ran on Saturday 15 May 2010 when D1015 (running as D1012 Western Firebrand) + 40145 double-headed a tour to Penzance, the Western having been added as pilot engine from Birmingham International. The weather looked to be set fair so I headed to Banbury so that the location was easily identifiable rather than just a nondescript piece of track such as can be found in several places a few miles further north. By the by 1Z40 was due a lot of fluffy cloud was building up causing a certain amount of angst among the small gallery on the bridge adjacent to the Banbury Reservoir stone terminal. The charter was only 3 minutes beind a Chiltern Railways class 165 and was crawling along against adverse signals to its booked stop at Banbury station. Cloud was rapidly approaching the sun but in the event all was well and a nice sunny shot of this probably unique working was had by all. Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that it would have been possible to see such a sight on the GWR main line to Paddington.
The second of 2 private charters I photographed on 14 September was, judging by the headboard on Western Champion, to celebrate a 50th Birthday. The train was 1Z82, the 08.45 Victoria to Kidderminster VSOE which ran behind Clan Line to Salisbury from where D1015 took over for the run to Kidderminster, from where it ran over SVR metals to Bewdley South Junction, hauled by 67012 which was at the rear of the formation. The train is here seen thrashing away from Norton Junction towards Worcester Shrub Hill in some more poor light, having just missed a small sunny patch. It was great to hear a Wizzo in full cry again - I used to sit at Hatton Station in my spotting days and listen to them bringing heavy trains up the bank - today's train didn't have quite the same atmosphere without the accompaniment of creaking wires and clanking semaphore signals, but it was pretty good. I hesitate to think how much it must have cost to organise this charter, I have dropped hints to my wife; in vain I suspect! Just for the record the charter I had photographed earlier in the was also unusual being The Queen of Scots stock topped and tailed with 57315 and 57316,
I had a lineside pass for the Severn Valley Railway in 1989 which I obtained because I used to spend the occasional weekend in Kidderminster with my friends Jenny and John Holliday who at the time ran the King nand Castle pub at the station. This picture is from Autumn 1989 and shows 1041 Western Prince working up to the tunnel and adding some smelly smoke to the natural mistiness of theat gloomy morning.
By the time Western Ranger, 1013, was out and about on the SVR on this misty morning in Autumn 1989 much of the early fog had cleared. I was never very adventurous with my locations on this line and the shot at the tunnel was quick and easy to find. I did use my lineside pass to walk to Bewdley later in the day in the gaps between trains and a couple of those shots are to be found below.
It had brightened up a bit as can be seen in this view of D1013 leaving Bewdley tunnel returning from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster not long after the shot shown above was taken.
This and the following photograph were taken just outside Bewdley on the Severn Valley Railway sometime during the early Autumn of 1989 but I didn't make any notes because my visits to preserved lines were and still are infrequent to say the very least. The locomotive is 1062 Western Courier leaving Bewdley on its way to Bridgnorth. It was real "black & white weather" in the days before digital photography and I didn't even bother to take a camera loaded with slide film with me.
The driver of 1062 had just opened the controller on 1062 following a signal check on the approach to Bewdley on the SVR on a gloomy day in Autumn 1989. Judging my the number of heads at most of the windows I guess that this was one of the diesel galas held on the line.
The SVR diesel gala on 7 May 1988 took place in much better conditions than held in the Autumn of the following year. There were 2 Westerns in operation and first to appear was D1062 Western Courier. With a headcode nearly showing its number Courier is seen on the approach to Bewdley Tunnel making, I can still recall, a sound I hadn't heard for many years. My father took me on a few occasions to Hatton station to see and hear Westerns in action as they climbed Hatton Bank and in the days before the nearby M40 they could be heard from Warwick accompanied by the sound of semaphore signals being pulled off and clunking back once the train had passed.
The second Western class locomotive in action on 7 May 1988 was D1013 Western Ranger although the headcode suggests that it was masquerading as D1019 Western Buccaneer which was scrapped in 1974 after being withdrawn from service the previous year. For haulage enthusiasts the undoubted highlight of the weekend was the use of Foster Yeoman's 59001 on the first passenger train for the class but as far as I was concerned the photographic zenith was this shot of 55015 working up to Bewdley Tunnel in the still morning air.
I had only recently bought my first digital camera, a Nikon D70, when D1015 was booked on The Western Trident which ran on 24, 25 & 26 June 2005 and overestimated its low-light capability. The train was booked to pass Defford at around 07.00 on a very misty and rainy morning and ISO 800 was just about at the limit of the camera's capabilities. Loaded to impressive 13 coaches the Western had problems climbing the Lickey Incline when one of the engines had to be shut down due to having a defective turbocharger. as a result of which 37427 had to added for insurance, presumably somewhere in the Birmingham area.
In contrast to the train shown above this working was booked for the unusual combination of class 55 + 37 power. It was not a charter this time but a loaded test run, 1Z15, with the aim of gaining main line certification which started at Kidderminster SVR and went to the Sheffield area. It was scheduled to run via Whitacre Junction but following the failure of a class 66 on the Sutton Park line it was re-routed to run on the main line. Fortunately, a signaller friend was on duty and he called me and there was time for a quick drive around the corner to Lea Marston with D1015 with 37197 providing the mandatory insurance. The Western was running on one engine because of low oil pressure discovered after the stiff climb of Old Hill Bank but everything went well and a main line certificate was issued.
D1015 Western Champion at Gossington. The DTG's D1015 Western Chamption had been undergoing major engine works during 2022 including a power unit replacement sourced in Germany and needed a loaded test run before working a Pathfinder charter from Gloucester to Devon on 25 September 2021. The test run was, very unusually, for the locomotive to pilot GBRf 66719 on 6M42, the 09.20 Avonmouth to Penyyffordd empty cement tanks. This just had to be photographed and I went to Gossington, not far from Slimbridge, arriving about 90 minutes before the due time to allow for early running. The Western had run early most of the way from Kidderminster SVR to Avonmouth and was a few minutes early leaving. It was soon over 40 minutes early but was put into Charfield Loop to allow 2 passenger train to pass and was still about 17 early when it passed the 25 or so photographers on the road bridge. It was good to see it in BR blue and to hear Maybachs again - not quite so loud as my video from 17 December 2002 filmed at Hatton but still very welcome. The sun hadn't been forecast but was a huge bonus... It was unfortunate that a major failure was experienced with one of the engines towards the end of this run which resulted in D1015 having to be withdrawn entirely from service.