8 hours at Blea Moor, S n C Apr 84

Thanks to Dave Spencer for the gen, write up and phots, good stuff!

Saturday 7th April 1984 was a day when the moribund S & C as it had become went totally mad. BR was trying to close the line on the grounds that Batty Moss viaduct or Ribblehead as it became known was in danger of collapse and the cost of operating the whole line was prohibitive.

Issuing of the closure notice produced a wave of protest. The freight service was non existent with the ending of stone trains from Ribblehead Quarry and the line appeared to operate on a single shift.

The normal service (If one can use that term) consisted of four trains only

09:06 and 16:00 Leeds to Carlisle and 10:40 and 16:00 Carlisle to Leeds, operating with type four traction they were pretty solid 45/1 workings. 20 minute “block” signalling sections were in operation with boxes open at Settle Junction, Blea Moor, Kirkby Stephen and Appleby

This Saturday was to see a total of 18 movements with charter trains galore.

I was phoned up at work during the week and given the times of the services. I forget who it was but narrowed the list down to four possible. Whoever it was thanks very much.

With information to hand Andy Chris and I were able to have a leisurely start driving up in Andy’s Morris Marina. (It always seemed to be going into the garage, but never let us down) His Allegro had been traded in by now. We had problems getting up a hill at Dent in that.

Arrival at Hellifield saw the only bit of brightness when a DMU on a Lancaster-Leeds service was viewed two times two car DMU.

The standby locomotives passed through at 10:38 from Skipton to Blea Moor these were 31152 and 31209

A steady drive to Horton In Ribblesdale (to give it its “correct name”) saw four movements in 43 minutes

40009 and 40033 on a Euston-Dundee charter “The Leuchars Aide” at 11:24. 40033 the rear loco was steaming well by the look of my photograph

On the up a Workington-Keighley charter consisting of a two car DMU passed at 11:36

Next on the down came a Stafford-Newcastle charter with 40122 at 12:01. This was apparently (according to Mr Ross) organised by a women’s volleyball team with (as he says) a lot of fit women! Link to report and phots of 40122’s Knotty Northern Circular tour “

At 12:07 on the up the 10:40 Carlisle-Leeds passed with 45142.

Now there should have been about an hour between trains with the next down service the “Cumbrian Mountain Pullman” so on the way to Ribblehead Viaduct we stopped at the rural pub for a swift “little pint”.

Imagine our surprise when a 47 headed north at 12:35 it was 47573 on a Yarmouth-Carlisle charter. We watched it through the pub window,

This service should not have run outward over the S&C but the “blacking” of the Steam special at Kings Cross led to a path being available  Yes we were in the middle of a miners strike! From what I recall it may have been the one where no ballot was held and resulted in the breaking up of the National Union of Mineworkers and the creation of a less militant union.

Arrival at the viaduct we viewed 47416 at 13:20 on a Hertford-Carlisle charter.

We had no news on the steam special which had started from St Pancras. This is the proper starting station for S & C trains in London.

Walking up to Blea Moor a Euston-Carlisle charter had not appeared. It was due there at 14:01.

Coming South at 14:41 Pathfinder Tours got in on the act when a Plymouth-Carlisle charter passed behind “strummer” 47537. This service had run via the West Coast main line to Carlisle.

That’s one tour I definitely wouldn’t have done.

34092 “City of Wells” passed north at 14:47 and as it was running late had run non-stop from Hellifield to Appleby. It was supposed to return via the S&C but due to late running and no diesel traction came back via the West Coast.  Returning Leeds passengers being dumped at Armathwaite to connect into the 16:40 Carlisle –Leeds making an additional stop.

Based on the Worth Valley for many years 34092 acquired the nickname “The Volcano”

Not for nothing were the un-rebuilt “Spam Cans” called the “coal miners friends”. They also needed a reservoir to generate steam and an oilfield to lubricate the motion. Half the oil splashed out on to the track. The rebuilt locomotives were much improved but with more route restrictions.

I’d sampled “Wells”  (That was its original name when constructed) about eighteen months earlier. Fair run with a photo stop at Ais Gill.

The best loco I’ve had over the S & C was 46229 Duchess of Hamilton when it kicked out over 3000 hp up the “Long Drag” Fireman Dave Phillips working his ****** off. HRH Price Charles declined to fire 46233 Duchess of Sutherland in later times, blaming a bad back. I’d give it a go now. Just for the hell of it! The art is getting coal in the back corners!

The lack of traction appeared to be that 40122 due to return the special had to work the “Staffordshire Rail tours” special to Newcastle as the 46 booked for it had an inoperable or isolated train heating boiler.

At 15:09 the Euston-Carlisle charter finally appeared behind 47510. 68 minutes late. We speculated if it would work back.

There now followed a lengthy interregnum from 15:09 to 17:24 with no trains

Chris and Andy attempted a siesta.

45142 passed at 17:24 on the 16:00 Leeds-Carlisle

47573 came back on the return Carlisle-Yarmouth at 17:32

The return Euston train from Carlisle had 47465 passing at 17:53 my guess here is that as 47510 would probably have needed fuelling it was easier to swap the loco.

A very wedged 16:40 Carlisle-Leeds with 45137 passed at 1813 despite being load 8 280 tons.

We then drove back to Ribblehead and viewed the Carlisle-Hertford charter 47416 at 18:34 and the light engines 31209 and 31152 at 18:58.

The 31’s had to stay at Blea Moor until the signalman got “out of section” from Settle Junction for the Hertford charter. Once the “Peds” had cleared Settle Junction the Blea Moor “bobby” could knock off. Long Day for him if single manned from 09:50 to open up and accept the 09:06 ex Leeds from Settle Jn He would then close by say 19:20.

With nothing further due. a day was called. We never saw the 09:06 Leeds-Carlisle in the morning as it was too early to get up for, driving from the West Midlands.

The DMU on the Workington-Keighley special probably returned via the “Little North Western” to Carnforth and round the coast. Running this back over the S & C would have overstretched the signalmen’s hours.

The organisation of this days train service was excellent despite late running and political machinations

An excellent day came to an end and I would like to thank Andy for his driving.

The turn out on this day shows what political pressure could do and contributed to keeping the line open.

I must add that the final decision was extremely delayed and on travelling over the line 30 months later on 8th November 1986 behind 33207 and 33202. There appeared to be an aura of finality that the line would close.

Can I issue a warning here, with the down turn of rail freight and the pandemic. Someone may just get the idea that closure might just be an option, don’t let it happen!

07-Apr-84 Hellifield 10:38 DN 31152 LD Skipton-Blea Moor

07-Apr-84 Hellifield 10:38 DN 31209 LD Skipton-Blea Moor

07-Apr-84 Horton  11:24 DN 40009 Euston-Dundee Charter

07-Apr-84 Horton  11:24 DN 40033 Euston-Dundee Charter

07-Apr-84 Horton  11:36 UP DMU Workington-Keighley Charter

07-Apr-84 Horton  12:01 DN 40122 Stafford-Newcastle Charter

07-Apr-84 Horton  12:07 UP 45142 10:40 Carlisle-Leeds

07-Apr-84 Ribblehead Pub 12:35 DN 47573 Yarmouth-Carlisle Charter

07-Apr-84 Ribblehead Via 13:20 DN 47416 Hertford-Carlisle Charter

07-Apr-84 Blea Moor 14:41 UP 47537 Plymouth-Carlisle Charter

07-Apr-84 Blea Moor 14:47 DN 34092 St Pancras-Carlisle Charter

07-Apr-84 Blea Moor 15:09 DN 47590 Euston-Carlisle Charter

07-Apr-84 Blea Moor 17:24 DN 45142 16:00 Leeds-Carlisle

07-Apr-84 Blea Moor 17:32 UP 47573 Carlisle-Yarmouth Charter

07-Apr-84 Blea Moor 17:53 UP 47465 Carlisle-Euston Charter

07-Apr-84 Blea Moor 18:13 UP 45137 16:40 Carlisle-Leeds 

07-Apr-84 Ribblehead Via 18:34 UP 47416 Carlisle-Hertford Charter

07-Apr-84 Ribblehead Via 18:58 UP 31209 LD Blea Moor-Skipton

07-Apr-84 Ribblehead Via 18:58 UP 31152 LD Blea Moor-Skipton

Dave observed 13 locos that grey day namely

31152, 31209, 40009, 40033. 40122, 45137, 45142, 47416, 47465, 47537, 47573, 47590

and steam 34092.

Thanks again to Dave Spencer for the phots, gen and epic memories


%d bloggers like this: