Class 50 locomotives were much admired both by haulage enthusiasts and photographers. A relatively small class, 50s spent the vast majority of their life on express passenger work, although freight workings were not too uncommon. The pictures shown here depict the class from 1985 to the end of their BR service. Many of the pictures in my collection were taken in Hampshire and I have many shots on Exeter and Salisbury turns. I hope the images shown here bring back some happy memories.

A railgrinding unit has been in the railway news recently following the failure of 31452 with a Derby to Lydney run over the weekend of 24 June 2017 which resulted in the train being dumped in Abbotswood Loop for a couple of days before a rescue was effected by 56303. On Thursday 29 June I had been practising the organ for a wedding in a local church where I left my smartphone and noticing too late to retrieve it, the building by then having been locked. Luckily, I checked emails at home and found a message from a friend saying that 50008 was to take the same unit from Chaddesden Sidings to Okehampton during the mid-afternoon. This was rare enough to tempt me out even in very poor weather with low cloud and drizzle so I went to Croome Perry which is just the spot for a short train. I had left with plenty of spare time as 4Z01 was about 20 minutes early approaching Water Orton and I knew that I would no access to any updates after leaving home. It turned out that the train was back to the booked times and here it is leaving Croome Perry wood running behind a Great Malvern to Brighton service and 6V92, the Corby to Margam empty steel coil carriers.
There has for some time been speculation that privately owned 50007 would have a test run on one of the Washwood Heath to Boston steel trains and messages flying around during the evening of Friday 16 May 2014 suggested that this would happen the following morning. This was something too odd to miss so I had a drive over to Lea Marston, just to the north of Water Orton, which offered the best chance of a conventionally lit photograph if, of course, the sun stayed out. It did and here is 50007 leading 56105, 11 IHA vans and 47739 dead-in-train on the rear. This is one of the more colourful shots I have taken for a while and the hawthorn blossom and buttercups add some natural brightness to the scene. It nearly all went wrong as this image taken as Roger Cutts goes for a shot of 47739 shows only too well.
One of the better photographic locations on the Basingstoke to Woking line is (or was...) this bridge near the village of Old Basing andI used to go there on occasions mostly with the intention of photographing the class 50s on the trains from Exeter and Salisbury to Waterloo. Here is 50003 about to pass under the footbridge on 13 May 1989 with the 09.15 up express from Exeter in a nice patch of sun, which if my mempry serves, didn't last very long. I used to use 3 cameras in those days, a Mamiya 645 and an Olympus OM1 mounted on a aluminium frame for black & white and 35mm slides respectively together with another 645 on a tripod for medium format transparancies, the latter operated with a rubber bulb powered air release that I pressed with a foot at the right moment. Thank goodness for digital technology; the strain on my back has reduced immeasurably! 645
This is the first transparency I took of a Hoover and shows 50003 arriving at Leamington Spa with a Manchester to Paddington train on 20 October 1984. The signal box towards the back of the train was still operational at the time although semaphore signalling had ceased some 10 years earlier.
50007 was repainted into a GWR-style livery and re-named Sir Edward Elgar in 1984. The re-naming from Hercules caused a huge controversy at the time , although as a life-long fan of Elgar's music I thoroughly approved, but the paint job seemed to atract almost universal approbation. It was just about the first celebrity locomotive in the modern era and others such as 47484 were not far behind. 1985 was the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway and the green livery was obviously a precursor to the associated celebrations. This rather unsharp image was taken as 50007 passed Leamington Spa early, slightly too early for the light, on the morning of Saturday 8 December 1984 with the VSOE routed over the Settle and Carlisle line. My notes indicate that I had to use a shutter speed of 1/60th sec and an aperture of f1.8 with Ektachrome 100asa film on my then new Olympous OM1.
The weekend of 29 March 1986 saw main line trains diverted via Worcester Shrub Hill due to major engineering work around Spetchley. An unidentified southbound working headed by 50013 approaches Shrub Hill station, passing a lower quadrant semaphore and the sad-looking remains of the steam shed, now occupied by a class 116 DMU and an 08 shunter.
In May 1985 there were still locomotive-hauled trains between Paddington and Banbury via the then partly single track Chiltern Line via Bicester North. On 16 May of that year, I photographed 50001 preparing to leave Banbury with the evening up service, just as 56086 opened up while working a return MGR from Didcot Power Station. One of the idiosyncrasies of Banbury station was the provision of a clock at either end - the one at the up end being visible between the two lower-quadrant semaphore signals. The instrument at the north end was just off the end of the main down platform by the road bridge.
Saturday 25 March 2006 saw 50049 + 50031 take a railtour from Cardiff to the Redmire branch in Yorkshire. The train, 1Z27 05.58 Cardiff - Redmire is here seen passing Lea Marston and just about catching the sun. It also very nearly caught a Leeds to Southampton freightliner; click on this hyperlink to see how close...  66 on liner at Lea Marston. Remarkably, despite many visits to this location, this is the first time I have come close to being bowled out here. Perhaps this is a reflection on the amount of traffic on the line these days.
Friday 16 June 2006 saw Pathfinder's 1Z27 Swindon to Inverness, "The Orcadian", utilise class 50 power in the form of 50049 + 50031, which appeared, as shown here, at Droitwich about 5 minutes late. For some reason, the locomotives had been been re-named and numbered 50028 and 50012 respectively. Personally, I don't see the point in this - it smacks of the silly stunts pulled by kettle fans on preserved lines - but each to his own, I suppose. A nice touch though, was the application of the Highland Stag logos to the cab sides and it was good to see a pair of big-logo 50s on the main line again. The bridge just visible in the background is also a good viewpoint, and here is   Andy Williams'   photo taken from there.
The steam locomotive Tangmere visted Stratford-upon-Avon on 3 July 2007 and to facilitate the loco release and ECS shunting 50049 was sent from Tyseley. I do not normally bother with static locomotive shots, especially when there is no train attached, but took this picture purely as a record of 50049's first visit to the terminus. It is standing at the end of platform 2 some 30 minutes before the steam tour arrived.
Radley, just south of Oxford, was a great place to spend an afternoon in 1989. There was an hourly class 50 working each way, regular InterCity locomotive-hauled trains and a procession of freight, including MGRs to and from Didcot power sation. Here is 50023 heading towards Oxford with the 17.48 from Paddington. 645
For a few days towards the end of April it is possible to obtain some interesting lighting effects at the west end of Reading station - if the sun shines. 50033 is seen arriving from Oxford at 19.39 on 30 April 1990 while en-route to London Paddington. 645
This picture was taken at 17.32 on 27 September 1990 as 50017 made an impressive exit from Basingstoke. I had ridden on this train from Waterloo and on arrival at my destination made the sprint through the subway and along the platform to obtain this shot in some low evening light. I shall never forget the sound these locomotives made as they pulled away from station stops and hammered off.
This shot shows 2 preserved and main-line ticketed hoovers, 50031+50049 sailing up the Lickey Incline on 3 August 2002 with a Pathfinder Railtours charter. The 1/37 gradient proved very little obstacle to these 2,750 hp beasts. The Lickey has always been a popular location for photography, but in my view it's yet another pleasant enough but slightly dull spot given the complete lack of identity. It's better for video than stills, especially for English Electric locos.
By way of contrast, the same locos as shown on the picture above are seen again on 23 July 2004 just having been repainted into the chunkier large-logo livery. 50031+50049 are seen approaching Banbury with an ECS working from Crewe to Old Oak Common in preparation for railtour duties the following day.645
Going back in time to Sunday 22 January 1989, this picture shows 50030 passing the site of Blockley station, on the Cotswold line, with the afternoon Hereford to Paddington train. Using a 210mm lens with the camera on a tripod, the exposure on 100asa Fujichrome was, according to a note on the reverse of the slide mount, 1/125 @ f5.6. There were few locations where the sun made such a spotlit appearance and I particularly like the contrast between the locomotive and the atmospheric Cotswold background. I love the way the wooden electricity pylon to the left of the tree in the field is highlighted. 645
Here is another photograph taken on the Cotswold line. It shows 50025 on the Sunday Paddington - Hereford train at Thistley Hill, Mickleton on 19 June 1988. This picture sticks in my mind for one reason. I was told by a photographer who had a couple of photographs published around that time that this was a "135" shot. I presumed by that, that he meant using a 35mm camera that it was necessary to use a 135mm lens to get a close-up of the locomotive. Whilst accepting that opinions of this nature are subjective, I suggest that a standard lens view, showing the south Cotswold background, is in retrospect, far more appealing. 645
I spent a few hours near Radley, just south of Oxford, on 4 July 1989. At this time the hourly Paddington to Oxford trains were 100% class 50 turns and with 47s on inter-regional expresses, 56s and 58s on MGRs to and from Didcot Power Station, and various other classes on other freights, it was an interesting place to be. 50031 is seen here passing the station with the 13.10 from Paddington. 645
Later on the same day as the picture above, 50024 is entering Oxford Station with the 19.10 from Paddington. The train had crossed over to the up line in order to arrive at platform 1. This meant that the passengers did not have to go through the subway to reach the exit. 645
My final shot on 4 July 1989 was this of 50036 standing at Banbury, having just arrived with the terminating commuter service from Paddington which had run via the Chiltern line. I feel that this type of photograph is much more interesting in retrospect than one taken in an anonymous piece of countryside. The ephemeral railway and other infrastructure, even down to the yellow BR van on the right of the picture and the gas holder, are part of the scene and were worth recording. 645
There was a severe motive power shortage on the Waterloo to Salisbury and Exeter line at the end of March 1991. Up trains terminated at Basingstoke with passengers being sent up to London via alternative services. The same applied to workings from the London terminus meaning that passengers for the LSWR line beyond Basingstoke had to change at that station. The class 50s used west of Basingstoke had to run round in Barton Hill carriage sidings giving a rare opportunity to photograph diesel locomotives at that location. Fortunately, the Reading Road bridge gives a good view of the sidings where I pictured 50007 running round it's train at 11.10 on 30 March. A good stock of 4 VEP "slammers", then so commonplace, are also visible.
This picture shows 50023 climbing out of Hatton cutting with the 17.40 Paddington to Wolverhampton on the fine evening of 14 June 1985. This train was unusual in that in ran via High Wycombe and then the Solihull route from Leamington Spa to Birmingham. Most inter-city trains at the time went via Coventry and Birmingham International to maximise on the passenger potential.
Moving into the West Midlands, here is a another photograph of 50023, now in Network South East colours, approaching Stechford with the 14.20 Birmingham to Paddington train. Stechford is the junction for the line to Aston used by any freights routed heading for Bescot and beyond. It looks as if the speed restriction sign for the junction has recently taken a hefty clout.
Yet another picture of 50023 shows it arriving at Reading with an afternoon Oxford to Paddington service on 30 January 1987. This location, at the London end of platform 4 has always been a popular viewpoint and is, I'm sure, still in use by enthusiasts today. 50s always seemed to leave this spot on full power, doubtless in order to keep to the quite tight schedule required on the run up the capital. Great entertainment for the bashers!
To complete the views at Reading here is 50003 on the same afternoon as the shot above, 30 January 1987 heading for Oxford from Paddington. I always liked this view from the London end of the Waterloo platform and thought the gasholders really gave the picture some identity. The steepness of the gradient faced by incoming trains from the Ascot line can clearly be seen on the right of the photograph.
The winter timetable of 1986 had at least one very welcome working for fans of the class 50. A Saturdays only Cardiff to Glasgow train was diagrammed for a pair of Hoovers. The first of my pictures was taken at Longbridge station on 15 November 1986 and shows 50007 leading 50045 in sun just high enough to ensure that the sides of both locomotives were lit.
By the end of January, in fact the 31st, the sun was just about strong enough to obtain this shot of the Cardiff to Glasgow behind 50049+50029 just beyond Birmingham University station. The weather was exceptionally cold as can be seen from the ice covering what was left of the water in the adjacent canal. It is a great pity that this train did not continue with the same motive power throughout the summer.
Judging by the small number of photographs I have of the Saturdays only Cardiff to Glasgow, I surmise that the weather was not brliiant all winter. However, on 17 March the sun did make an appearance and I decided to head for Barnt Green to have another crack at the train. Sod's law operated and the train appeared in the sole charge of 50006. I assume the second loco was declared a failure before departure as the train was pretty much on time when I saw it.
The Sunday Luncheon Express features in several section of this site because of the variety of diesel power used to haul the train from Banbury to Stratford-upon-Avon before returning to London Marylebone behind steam. Class 50s were the most infrequent visitors and did not appear in sun on the days I was able to photograph the train. Here, 50028 arrives at Stratford's outer home signal on 18 May 1986. The smaller semaphore arm controlled access to the down goods loop and was very infrequently used. in all the years I photographed there prior to re-signalling, I only managed to obtain 3 photographs with the signal "off" and 2 of these were by arrangement with the signalman who kindly put the weedkiller into the loop for me!
I said in the preamble to this section that I have many photographs of 50s taken in Hampshire. Many of these are in the immediate vicinity of Basingstoke and there are so many it is difficult to know which to show here and which to leave out. One that had to be included was this of 50050 leaving Basingstoke on 14 August 1989 on the 08.09 Salisbury to Waterloo. At that time a shortage of conventional MkIIs forced the use of TC stock on a few workings. This stock was normally hauled (or pushed) by 33s or 73s and the use with non push-pull locomotives was unusual.
On the morning of 8 August 1988 one of the early morning Exeter to Waterloo train was declared a failure at Basingstoke as the speedometer on 50009 became non-functional. 50004 was summoned to assist and here is seen leaving Basingstoke and crossing to the up slow line with the stock, now ECS as the passengers went forward to London in a class 442 held for 10 minutes to enable the move to take place.
This bridge, just to the east of Basingstoke was a good viewpoint for morning trains heading towards London. 50018 is seen here on 11 September 1989 with an Exeter to Waterloo working. Barton Mill carriage sidings can be seen towards the rear of the train.
Further still to the east of Basingstoke lies the historic village of Old Basing which benefits from a handy footbridge offering decent views of up trains from early morning until mid-afternoon. In this shot, 50018 is seen again with another Exeter to Waterllo train on 13 May 1989. These expresses were almost guaranteed to run on the up fast line because of the 20 minute frequency of the local services. These were usually in the hands of 4 VEPs.
Winchfield station lies about half-way between Basingstoke and Woking and in 1988 benefited from a 20 minute service in each direction. The regular loco-hauled expresses nearly always ran on the through lines giving good photographic opportunites. On 17 May 1988, 50007 is seen hammering through the station with an afternoon Waterloo to Exeter service. This piece of line saw some of the highest speeds attained on the LSWR, with 100mph being regularly seen.
Woking was the only intermediate stop between Waterloo and Basingstoke for the Exeter and Salisbury services. 50036 is pictured leaving the station with the 13.10 Waterloo to Exeter train on 23 February 1990. Various EMUs can be seen in the background and a class 73 can just be glimpsed in the up holding sidings. This photograph was taken using a 200mm lens to bring up the background of the town.
Basingstoke station was not at all a bad location for railway photography in 1987. It had quite a bit of character and as the line ran east to west, the sun was in the right place for a large proportion of the day. In contrast to today, there were many loco-hauled services including the hourly trains from Waterloo to Salisbury or Exeter, regular Intercity cross-country runs behind 47s, 73s on Southampton to Waterloo trains and regular freight workings with almost any class of loco. 50040 is seen here pausing with the 13.10 Waterloo to Exeter train on 7 April 1987. I always enjoyed the sound of the 50s leaving here. Most drivers gave it a good handful when moving off and I regret that I had no video camera in those days.
One of the stations on the line to Salisbury is Whitchurch, situated close by the attractive village with many attractive properties and one of Hampshire's finest trout streams. The station was served by the two-hourly Salisbury trains and 50049 is seen here departing for London on 11 September 1990.