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There was a late addition to the Sunday schedules for 26 February 2016 when a 5Z02 from Woking to Derby RTC showed up on Saturday evening. These are usually worth keeping an eye on and this was the case on this occasion when 73965 + 73965 were on the train on top-and-tail mode. Unlike the last time a similar working happened today's train ran close to right time throughout, being scheduled to pass Hatton at 13.40. With plenty of time to drive over I went to Hatton North Junction where I had only about 10 minutes to wait before hearing 73964's horn as it passed the station at Hatton. The light wasn't great but with just enough brightness to show the poor workmanship on the locomotive's panelwork which look as if it has had attention from a gang with rubber hammers.
After returning home from organ playing duties on Sunday 6 November 2016 I found on my 'phone a message from a friend saying that 73962 + 73965 were to top and tail a 1Z13 Woking to Derby test train, 1Z13, via Oxford and Hatton rather than the more usual route down the Midland Main Line. I have missed similar albeit southbound moves on 3 occasions through being on holiday (twice) and a light engine move (didn't bother) so was keen to get a shot this time. The booked time at Hatton wsas 16.47 which would have been in the dark but fortunately the train left Woking 55 minutes early, the earliness increasing to 121 minutes by Aynho Junction, which I took as my cue to leave home for Hatton. I wanted a shot with a recognisable background for such a rare picture so went to the station footbridge arriving just as 1Z73 was passing Leamington Spa. It soon appeared, now 127 minutes early, and although it was dull in the extreme neeeding ISO 800 to get a fast enough shutter speed the result is a new class for me in the area. The verticals for a shot here are awkward; I have taken the radio mast in the background as my guide because the lamp posts and shelter on platform 3 do actually lean "backwards" because the platform has quite a camber...
A example of Sod's Law at its best. A VSOE charter ran from London Victoria to Kidderminster on Saturday 16 May 2015 with 55009 providing the power. The forecast was for a nicely cloudy morning, essential on the Leamington Spa line at around 10.30. The train was booked to run along Hatton Down Goods Loop and given the extreme rarity value this would have been my first choice for a location but given that a down Chiltern service was to overtake 1Z55 there, hence the use of the DGL, and that an up train was also nearby, I felt that the chances of being stuffed were too great. So to Hatton North where a huge patch of unwelcome clear blue appeared which with the sun high in the sky and close to shining straight into the lens made it an especially awkward proposition. I heartily dislike excessive post-processing of images and always try to keep manipulation to a minimum for the sake of a natural appearance but on this occasion all the Photoshop CS2 tools came into play to produce a distinctly awful image that looks more like a watercolour painting than a photograph. Nice exhaust though...
Class 55 Deltics have never been a common sight on the Leamington Spa to Birmingham (GWR) line and would, I thought, make for a worthwhile image on 21 April 2015 even when running without a train in tow. I chose this location for 0ZO4 because 1) the head-on angle made the lack of a train less obvious and 2) I knew that there would be some exhaust smoke as 55009 + 55019 exited the down loop at Bentley Heath whilst on their way to Kidderminster SVR from East Grinstead. A train, 6X01, running on the up line had only just cleared the crossing when 55009 running on just one engine passed over the crossing belching out its smelly exhaust. Here is a view of rail blue 55019 as the pair recede from the footbridge.
I hardly ever photograph railtours these days 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, if the weather is right, simply screams out to be photographed. Such a train 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 photogtaphed 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!
As I have mentioned before, railtours hold little interest for me these days and I photograph one only if it runs within a short drive of my home and if the locomotive is something out of the ordinary. Even then I'll only go for one shot and unlike some won't waste time or petrol charging like a thing possessed around the countryside for yet another shot of the same train in whatever location, however poor, is close to the road. A Deltic on the Gloucester to Birmingham line fitted with all my criteria on Saturday 29 March 2008 and with the promise of some reasonable light coupled with sensible timings I went to Stoke Prior near Bromsgrove. Needless to say, the weather caved as soon as I arrived and stayed poor when the distinctive nose of 55022 appeared leaving the single track from Droitwich and onto the main line at Stoke Works Junction. The sound effects were excellent as 1Z47 accelerated towards Bromsgrove and the 1/37 of the Lickey Incline although the smoke effects had subsided a little by the train reached me. I much prefer this shot to one of vantage points on the Lickey itself as there is an identifiable background rather just a row of trees as at Pike's Pool. The crossing at Vigo would have been an option, but I suspect that this would have been heaving with enthusiasts and it would have been difficult to have parked without causing an obstruction in the very narrow lane.
Here is a much earlier shot of a Deltic, in fact it was the first mainline run of a class member in the preservation era. 55001 is seen some 9 minutes late leaving the wood at Croome Perry on 18 April 1997 with 1Z56, the 11.30 London Euston to London Paddington via Birmingham and Bristol Temple Meads. I have never seen so many photographers at this location; I guess that there were around 40 in the gallery. Before this run it was unusual to see more than a couple of locals here, but following the publication of a photograph taken here of 55001 it became much more popular and resulted in the removal of much vegetation from the roadside. The occasion was marred for many enthusiasts by the late arrival of a bunch of loud-mouthed individuals just a few minutes before the train. These characters barged their way into the assembled ranks and spoiled the shots of several photographers who had been patiently waiting for some time. The same group became well known for their loutish behaviour over the following years and were the cause of much ill-feeling around the country, particularly in South Wales. It is these people that put me off photographing railtours as they seemed to turn up everywhere en-masse, always at the last minute and always with the arrogant attitude that their photographs were more important than anybody else's as theirs would doubtless be published. Great... 645
A Deltic in a much more unusual colour scheme was seen on the network in 2002. 55016 was painted in the house colours of Porterbrook Ltd and ran around for a while, no doubt attracting approbation and approval in equal measures. On 6 April 2002 the purple locomotive ran at the head of a railtour from Crewe to York, from where 37521 + 37682 took over for the run to Scarborough. The train, 1Z40 is here seen at Lea Marston on a nicely lit bright morning. I totally messed up the shot as I was on the other side of the road when the train appeared and managed to skew the verticals by some 5 degrees, meaning that heavy cropping was necessary to straighten things up with the concomitant loss of composition. Still, it's the only photograph I am ever likely to get of 55016 so it will have to do.
One of the preserved class 55 Deltic locomotives, 55022, was scheduled to haul a railtour from Doncaster to Paignton on Saturday 9 July 2011. I don't very often photograph charters unless they are very local but I thought that this one would be worth a trip to the Worcester avoiding line, "The Old Road", because it ran at the right of time of day and not far behind it was an empty coal train from Ratcliffe Power Station to Avonmouth. There isn't usually any freight on the southbound line here in the morning so with a reasonably clear sky at home I made the journey here with a view to photographing a couple of locomotive hauled trains within around ten minutes of each other. Whilst there were a few clear patches in the sky over Worcestershire the sun completely failed to find one when 1Z32 appeared. I suppose that it is lucky that 55022 isn't in the awful colour scheme of the WCRC, as is 47804 on the back of the train, because that would have made for an even worse image in the poor light. It was though lucky that the 47 was attached because 55022 failed later on the trip and was stopped in Tiverton loop while it was run around to the front of the stock and dragged the whole lot forward to Paignton.