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.

This picture shows 50023 climbing out of Hatton cutting with the 17.40 Paddington to Wolverhampton on the 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.
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 was always been a popular viewpoint for photographers but is probably quite different in 2021 given the complete remodelling of Reading station and advent of 25kv overhead electrification. 50s always seemed to leave this spot on full power in order to keep to the quite tight schedule required on the run up the capital.
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.
This shot shows 2 class 50s, 50031+50049 climbing the Lickey Incline on 3 August 2002 with a Pathfinder Railtours Carlisle. The Lickey has always been a popular location for photography, but in my view it offers some pleasant enough but slightly dull spots given the complete lack of identity. It's better for video than stills, especially for English Electric locos. Here is my poor quality video taken of this tour.
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. Class 50s 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
50007 at Long Marston Four more HST power cars, 43196, 43071, 43086 & 43075, were taken out of Long Marston on Thursday 17 December 2020 and went for warm storage at Wetmore Sidings at Burton-on-Trent. The motive power was 50007 unusually working without its usual partner 50049. After arrival at Long Marston and being coupled to the power cars the usual checks took quite a while and with only the nose of the locomotive being in the bright sun I thought that something different in the way of a picture might be worth a few minutes work.
50007 at Honeybourne I knew that 5Z92 led by 50007, for some reason carrying the number of 50014 on this side only, would still be be slightly backlit at Honeybourne on 17 December 2020 but was mostly interested in making sure that the power cars, including an East Midlands Train example, would be visible hence coming here yet again. Given that it was nearly the shortest day of the year the shadows weren't as bad as some places and the branch line was clear.
43075 at Honeybourne For me the most photogenic part of 5Z92 from Long Marston to Burton-on-Trent was the East Midlands Trains power car. The best place for a picture of it Honeybourne was the end of the up platform as the train moved away towards the North Cotswold Line via Honeybourne North Junction. The sky was beginning to cloud up by this time but it was still bright enough for a reasonable image.
50007 and 50049 at Wyre Piddle On Wednesday 4 November 2020 the usual Tyseley test diagram continued with a working from there to Bristol via Evesham and Oxford. Running about an hour before 1Z22 was due GBRf's 50007 + 50049 were booked to take 2 barrier coaches from Leicester to Long Marston before picking up some HST stock to be scrapped at Newport. It was a perfect morning and I fancied a picture from the road bridge at Wyre Piddle near Pershore. The train, 5Z50, was close to right time when I heard several hoots from 50007 as it approached the many foot and farm occupation crosings on the single track.
50049 + 50007 at Evesham My plans for Wednesday 4 November didn't include a shot of 5Z21 from Long Marston and after photographing the test train with EMR power cars at Evesham I had packed my camera away. The sound of a class 50 being throttled up soon became audible and even though I don't really like going-away images took a grabbed shot as 5Z21 accelerated towards Evesham West Junction and the single line to Norton Junction. At least the sun was on the backside. :o)
50049 + 50007 at Honeybourne The exodus of coaching stock for scrapping from Long Marston to Sims at Newport continued on Tuesday 6 October 2020. On this occasion GBRf operated the train and sent 50049 + 50007 light engine from Kidderminster to Leicester on 5th October to collect 2 barrier coaches all of which were due to arrive at Honeybourne just after 10am on the following morning and a few minutes after 230008 cleared the branch and headed up to Moreton in Marsh. The weather had been dreadful in Stratford-upon-Avon when I left home but there were a few clear patches in the sky over Honeybourne and one of these was just reaching the sun as 5Z98 climbed the incline from the North Cotswold main line. Over the past years I have taken far too many pictures from the footbridge a few yards behind the camera so chose to do this shot over the fence where there is just about enough room for the pair of 50s and 2 barrier coaches. With over 2 hours to wait for the return working I went home and in the event didn't go out again partly because the train was due to be operated in top-and-tail mode which is less favourable from a photographic point of view.
In the late 1980s I used to go to the Black Country on occasions to photograph freight on the Stourbridge Junction to Bescot line which in 2020 has been closed for many years. On 27 June 1987 a more unusual working went over the line in the form of a Southern Electric Group tour, The Walsall Concerto. It is seen here with 50031 dropping down the bank from Dudley with Dudley Castle visible on the hill in the background. This image was taken from the island platform at Dudley Port station and I was peeved at the time that the family on the footpath nearer the line was in the shot but in retrospect their presence adds something to the scene as the train runs through the relatively modern housing estate complete with lines full of washing. The train set off with 50023 + 31463 but the former failed and the 31 took over for a run to Long Marston which I uncharacteristically ignored altogther for reasons now forgotten. After the return to Worcester 50031 was provided for the rest of th day's itinerary.
The working of interest from Long Marston on 23 March 2020 involved GBRf's 50007 + 500049 sandwiching a green GWR coach which was to used s a barrier for the transport of HST power car 43091 to Laira. This must be quite an expensive move as the 50s had run light engine from Kidderminster SVR to Reading on the previous day returning late in the evening with the coach shown before coming along here first thing in the morning. It was really too early for decent images especially as arrival at the gates was 23 minutes early when everything was in shadow. This was the first image with any light and shows 50049 drawing 43092 forward before propelling it onto 50007 and the barrier coach.
It wasn't too long a wait at Honeybourne before I heard 5Z44 coming along the line from Long Marston on 23 March 2020. The sound could best be compared to a combine harvester going at full belt a few feet away and came mostly from 50049 which was in full vacuum cleaner mode. One of the crew went into the cab and switched something off when it arrived at Honeybourne and reduced the noise level to something approaching normality. Extreme backlighting when the sun is quite low can be quite effective and the bright reflections from the metalwork help lift the scene a bit. I took another view as the train drew to a halt at the signal as this gives a better view of 43091 not to mention Kevin Payne lining up his shot on the station bridge!
This was my final shot of 5Z44 on 23 March 2020 as I have a daily commitment for the next couple of weeks which cannot be missed. A shame, as I should have liked to have moved onto the Birmingham to Gloucester main line for another shot, especially as the train reversed at Norton Junction rather than Worcester TC. At least the light was good although some cloud was beginning to build up but I imagone that this soon evaporated leaving clear skies.
This is one of those images that makes you wonder, "Why did I bother?". GBRf's 50007 + 50049 took some sleeper stock, 3 in number, from Wembley to Laira on 22 January 2020 and then on the following day a single Caledonian sleeper coach from Laira to Long Marston. I really had no intention of going out given the dreadful weather of low cloud, mist and drizzle but about 45 minutes before 5Z50 was due at Evesham the weather at home brightened up a bit so I made up my mind to have a quick trip to Worcestershire. The weather hadn't improved at Evesham as can be seen by this view of the slightly silly little train passing the signal box on the appracohes to Evesham station some 12ish minutes early.
Another trip out for old locomotives, another sunny day and another trip to Hatton. This time, Monday 9 December 2019, GBRf liveried 50007 (for some reason also carrying the number 50014) and 50049 were employed on a lightweight train of 2 barrier coaches from the SVR at Kidderminster to Reading Traincare Depot and as I hadn't before taken an image of the pair in this colour scheme made a mental note to go out if it ran. The NR and other data feeds to most timing and mapping sites were not functioning but a timely email mesage from Roger Cutts at Blakedown confirmed that 5Z50 was on its way and that the consist was just the 2 barriers. It's a shame more people don't post sightings especially when automated systems are OOS... I had originally planned to go to Leamington Spa station but thought that the shorter than expected train would fit better into the sunny spot just before Hatton station road bridge. The fly in the oitment was that 66720 on 6M26 to Mountsorrel was running about 30 minutes early and was a real candidate for being a nuisance for the southbound shot but it was fortuitously looped in hatton DGL thus clearing the line for this shot as the colourful pair passed the small group of photogaphers waiting in the cold wind.
Here is an evening shot taken on 4 July 1989 of 50036 standing at Banbury, having just arrived with the terminating commuter service from Paddington which had run via the Chiltern line. The locomotive was about to run round its train and prepare for departure to the capital. I feel that this type of photograph is much more interesting in retrospect than one taken in an anonymous piece of countryside. The semaphore signal and other non-railway infrastructure such the gas holder are no longer part of the scene and were worth recording. 645
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.
Longbridge station in the West Midlands conurbation was a popular spot for photography in the 1980s as there was a lot of locomotive hauled traffic and the layout there consisted of 4 tracks so there was plenty of room to get a good angle on trains. This image shows 50024 heading into Birmingham with an unknown Saturday morning service on 14 June 1986 with the well-known background of the British Leyland motor factory in the background and the ubiquitous class 116 DMU waiting for a path to leave the station, cross over to the up side and return to FourOaks on the Cross City line. Overhead electrification and the replacement of the factory with a retail park has changed the scene and the station itself is, in 2019, in the throes of work to upgrade its facilities.
This picture taken on Sunday 22 January 1989 shows 50030 passing the site of Blockley station, on the then single-track 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 and the way that the wooden electricity pylon to the left of the tree in the field is highlighted. 645
During the late afternoon of 4 July 1989 50024 was pictured 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 meaning that the passengers did not have to go through the subway to reach the exit. From a photographic point of view this was clearly a better bet than rolling into the station to use the main down platform.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 any passengers going beyond Basingstoke towards Salisbury and Exeter also had to change there. The class 50s used west of Basingstoke had to run round their trains in Barton Hill carriage sidings giving a rare opportunity to photograph diesel locomotives using the crossover to access the sidings and here is 50007 doing just that on 30 March 1991.
The Reading Road bridge to the east of Basingstoke station gives a good view of the sidings mentioned above and here is my picture of 50007 running round its train at 11.10 on 30 March 1991. A good stock of 4 VEP "slammers", then so commonplace, are also visible.
There are plenty of images around from the footbridge at Worting Junction, Basingstoke taken from the south side of the line in the morning and early afternoon but fewer from the other side during evenings in the summer. I went there on a few occasions on Sunday evenings to photograph a down parcels train, 3B01, from London Waterloo to Bournemouth usually in the hands of a class 73/0 and on this occasion, 20 August 1989, 73006. I also photographed 50005 with 1V19, the 17.00 Waterloo to Salisbury shown here as it accelerated towards Battledown viaduct where it would turn right towards Salisbury. 645 The picture of 3B01 was taken by my then girlfriend on an Olympus OM2 and it seems that she didn't notice the bridge's stonework in the corner of the frame!
This is the first transparency I took of a class 50 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. Before many years had passed the old 'box had gone and a new state-of-the-art signalling centre had been put in place on the opposite side of the line. That itself has now been superseded and the line's control passed to the more modern centre near Saltley.
I said in the preamble to this section that I have many photographs of 50s taken in Hampshire. Most of these are in the immediate vicinity of Basingstoke and they are so numerous that 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 MkII stock forced the use of TC stock on a few workings. This stock was normally hauled or propelled by class 33 or 73 and the use with non push-pull locomotives was unusual.
Here is a photograph taken on the Cotswold line showing 50025 on the Sunday London Paddington to Hereford train at Thistley Hill, Mickleton on 19 June 1988. The line, still single-tracked at this time, descending from Campden Bank towards Honeybourne became quite overgrown for some years but was cleared in 2018 as can be seen in this shot of 66543 taken on 2 May of that year. How long it will stay like this is open to doubt. 645
For a few days towards the end of April it was, in 1990, possible to obtain some interesting lighting effects at the west end of Reading station - if the sun shines. The headlight on 50033 helps with the scene as it is seen arriving from Oxford at 19.39 on 30 April 1990 while en-route to London Paddington. Exposure for this sort of lighting was always a bit hit and miss on slide film unlike with today's digital equipment where one would simply set bracketed exposures and use high-speed multiple shots secure in the knowledge that at least one or two would be acceptable. This isn't a shot for the light police with the sun being anywhere but on the locomotive's nose unless they apply double-standards to what some may call a "glint shot"... 645
On Thursday 8 August 2019 50008 was sent light engine from Leicester LIP to Whitemoor Yard to collect a couple of HOBC wagons and haul them to Long Marston. On arrival it was discovered that the wagons were actually at Doncaster so the locomotive was sent straight there. Yes, honestly! The story was that the train would go to Long Marston over the next few days. It was in fact the next day, Friday 9th, and 6Z25 was due at Evesham at around 17.00 so I decided to go over for a shot as long as the forecast heavy and thundery showers didn't become too unpleasant. They didn't and on arrival at Briar Close some 20 minutes before the train was due the sun was in and out of some thin cloud. I saw that 6Z25 had left Norton Junction ahead of schedule and the early running continued and indeed had increased to 12 minutes before right time. The sun came out just as 50008 appeared behind the signal box and this is therefore definitely not an image for the light police given that the scene here is backlit at this time of day.
What a difference a day makes... The second run from Bristol SPM to Long Marston of 50007 with redundant HST stock was on 24 January 2019 and took place in very poor lighting conditions incomplete contrast to those prevailing on the previous day. The weather was cold, damp and gloomy, so much so that the only shot with which I could be bothered was one as 5Z50 arrived at its destination. Ironically, there was a touch of brightness to illuminate 50007's roof as 5Z50 was drawing to a halt prior to entering the site where the stock is to be stored but this wasn't enough to dispel the mist and murk doing its best to obscure everything else. Still, 50s and FGW HST coaches have never been commonplace here so it was a worthwhile if brief outing for me.
It was only a matter of time until some FGW HST stock was sent for storage at Long Marston. The first move took place on Wednesday 23 January 2019 when 5Z50, moving OC44, was sent from St Phillips Marsh, Bristol to the Warwickshire site. During the previous day there should have been an ROG locomotive with a couple of barrier coaches to Bristol from Leicester but this was cancelled and rumours were circulating that 50007 was to run from Eastleigh, where it was present for painting into GBRf colours, to SPM to drag the HST set. It all worked out well and the sunny morning saw 50007 run close to time to Worcester where it was scheduled to run round and reverse towards Evesham. I left my health club after a swim with the intention of going to Briar Close at Evesham but part-way through the drive saw that a lot of cloud was building up to the West so diverted to Honeybourne. The timings slipped a little and it about 10 minutes down on the booked time when I heard 50007 pull away from Honeybourne North Junction and join the Long Marston branch. A medium telephoto lens was required because of the shadows cast by the footbridge but this does have the advantage of foreshortening the perspective and thus increasing the impact of the shot.
The train returning the 2 barrier coaches from Long Marston to Bristol, 5Z51, took quite a while to arrive at Honeybourne becasue it clearly took a long time to sort out and shunt the 2 coaches from the incoming train and marshall them behind 50007. I wanted to take a different shot from my usual one from the road bridge at Honeybourne so stayed on the station to take an image framed by the rusty ironwork of the bridge. The sun had dipped while 5Z50 was at the staff hut but luckily picked up nicely as it moved away towards the station and the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction.
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.
A 1998 arrival at Stratford-upon-Avon is here seen as preserved 50050 arrives at the terminus, by now signalled remotely from Bearley Junction, with the VSOE from London Victoria. Privately owned locomotives were used on this exclusive dining for a while before EWS (now DBS) took over responsiblity for providing the power. The timings for this train were convenient and fitted in with my lunch break from the office, the train arriving after the 12.27 local to Birmingham had cleared the platform giving plenty of time for the passengers to alight and for the train to shunted into platform 2. Here is 50050 running round the stock on the locomotive release headshunt on the other side of the Alcester Road bridge from the station.
The VSOE visited Stratford-upon-Avon on 9 September 1998, arriving at lunchtime and departing sometime, if I remember correctly, around 5pm. It is here seen passing Wilmcote station the first out of the terminus, behind 50050 having just made a noisy climb of the 1/75 of Wilmcote bank. The light had been very poor all day and I didn't even bother to take my cameras loaded with colour transparency film out of the house. This picture, taken on 120 size TRI-X 400asa, was shot at 1/250 at f2.8 so it is probably a good job that the train was yet to reach much of a speed...
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, 50048 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! On this occasion the locomotive ran round the stock and drew it into the loop prior to steam locomotive 777, pictured here at Wilmcote, taking the train to Marylebone.
Another SLE, this time on Sunday 27 July 1986 produced 50050 at Stratford-upon-Avon. The arrival shot was taken only on black & white film and I have yet to find on which of many folders the negative is stored but here is the view as it leaves Stratford a few minutes after the steam-hauled train had gone with the long-gone semaphores and gas holders prominent. Blatant trespass by both photographers and casual watchers would probably not be tolerated as it was then!
This was the first class 50 that I photographed at Stratford-upon-Avon. The "Bard 'n Brush" came here on the very dull and freezing cold 1 February 1986 behind 50011 which is here seen in the down goods loop after the locomotive had propelled the stock into the loop, been detached and run along the main line to a crossover on the other side of the signalbox, entered the loop, reattached and was in the process of pushing the train back into platform 1. Things are much easier today as there is a loco release facility on the other side of the Alcester Road bridge.
Some out of the ordinary trains between Tyseley and Birmingham Moor Street are planned for shoppers over the Christmas period of 2018. These will apparently run with a steam locomotive topped and tailed with a diesel, probably 47773, with 50007 acting as a back-up in case of any problems. The class 50 made a crew familiarisation run from Kidderminster SVR to Tyseley on Friday 16 November 2018 running via the North Warwickshire Line and Stratford-upon-Avon. I had previously photographed just 4 class members in the station environs so had a walk down for a shot of a different example. The arrival time was 15.29 and although one wouldn't want the sun out for a platform 3 arrival at that time of day some light would be have welcome as 0Z65 ran slowly along the platform line.
After having a chat with the driver about another class 50 move with which he was involved in 1986 there was time on 16 November 2018 for a couple more images as 50007 stood under the bright station lights.
I do like to include people in photographs on stations as long as their presence is appropriate! Here is a view of the crew alongside 50007 on 16 November 2018 just before departure time. The starting signal was already on green and it wasn't long before everyone was on board and 0Z65 was on its way to Tyseley.
There were a few trains of interest to me on Tuesday 18 September 2018 including 50008 taking a few flats from Long Marston to Wembley and Vivarail's 230003 going to its new home at Bletchley. As planned there would have been an inconveniently long gap between the two but 50008 was delayed for ages at Landor Street resulting in a very late arrival at Long Marston. This made things a bit easier so I went for the 50 which I probably wouldn't have if everything was on time and decided to go straight to Honeybourne for a shot as 4Z68 approached the station running about 90 minutes late. The light was pretty awful but a 50 on even a not very inspiring freight is worth a frame or two especially against a backdrop of foliage beginning to gain its Autumnal tints. I later saw that the lost time was made by the sensible expedient of running 4Z68 from Landor Street to Rugby and the WCML via Nuneaton rather than by the convoluted booked route through Sutton Park, Walsall, Bescot and some twiddly bits around Birmingham.
I don't often photograph charters but there are one or two that make me think, "I suppose that I really should go out...". Such was the case on Sunday 5 August when 50049 + 50007 worked a train on a circular route from Birmingham International via Worcester, Ledbury, Hereford and Bristol. It was due at Defford at around 16.30 and with the weather decent enough I went there for a shot, with Bredon Hill in the background, from the road bridge. There was quite a lot of cloud around the sun and when the gathered throng heard 1Z50 approaching from Eckington the line was in shadow but it cleared at the last moment with no more than 3 seconds to spare. The sun was just round enough to please everyone so no fiddling about with the Magnetic Lassoo tool on Photoshop should be needed. For some unfathomable reason the locomotives are numbered 50011 and 50006 respectively on the side visible here but have the correct numbers on the other side - ridiculous! Seeing 50007 paired with another of the class reminded me of my shot from November 1986 when it was leading the Saturday morning Cardiff to Glasgow service through Longbridge before the BL factory disappeared. No-one who saw the Boston steel also on a Saturday morning but in 2014 would forget that sight in a hurry...
One of the occasional railvac moves from Toton to Long Marston took place on Monday 23 April 2018 and as has been usual in recent months 50008 was the motive power; a humble task for the former 100mph express locomotive. This notwithstanding it was very welcome to me as this was one of the classes of locomotive I was yet to photograph on the branch as the first visit took place before daylight one morning last Winter. Thankfully the light was a little better today and it wasn't far from right time when 6X50 appeared in the distance and soon came to the end of the branch amongst the blackthorn blossom. The rapeseed is coming into flower in the adjoining fields and whilst I am not especially keen on the sometimes overwhelming yellowness a bit of background wasn't unwelcome.
It didn't long for 50008 to be uncoupled from the railvac and run to the points at the far end of the exchange sidings before returning along No. 2 road. As the sun was shining and the background nicely filled with a variety of stock the chance for a shot or two was taken in view of the unusual locomotive for the yard at Long Marston.
Within a few minutes 50008 had left Long Marston yard on 23 April 2018 and stood in the sun while the gates were closed. I don't always take light engine shots but on this occasion I relented to take advantage of the sunshine and background panorama.
What is apparently a new Loram railgrinding set was taken from Okehampton to Derby on Saturday 13 January 2017. The motive power was originally 50008 topping with 56104 tailing the formation as far as Gloucester where it reversed to allow 56104 to lead as the 50 wasn't supposed to head a train up the Lickey Incline. Things with old locomotives don't always run smoothly and I saw on one of the mapping sites that 4Z03 was sent into Eckington loop where it sat despite there being nothing behind it for miles. It soon transpired that 56104 had failed and that 50008 ran round and prepared to lead again. Clear signals was the order of the day and an on-time Hereford to Birmingham New Street was held at Stoke Works Junction to allow the railgrinder, now about 2 hours late, to have a clear run at the bank. The gaggle of photographers waiting in the dark and cold heard 50008 coming from miles away and it was certainly having a good run when it passed us.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.