Newport freight, Westerns and a hippy chick, Feb 77

Newport freight, Westerns and a hippy chick, Feb 77

Friday February 18th 1977

With the freedom of the world purchased, (a South Wales Explorer ticket) for £ was aboard the HST 253010 on the 1805 Swansea – Padd, a much more rateable 37189 was steaming away on the 1810 Swansea – Carmarthen.

We passed still green liveried 47195 on Canton, whilst a Cardiff bail saw me join 47190 on the 1910 Cardiff – Bristol. A 4 hour session recording 46 different locos in Newport’s buffet from 1940 to 2330 was fascinating and is listed in full here.

The local bashers exchanged words and gen but i didn’t join them as they requested on the likes of 47037 to Cardiff. The highlight of the session was the mighty impressive sight of 37302, 37304 and 37241 coasting through with loaded iron ore from Port Talbot to nearby Llanwern.

A disappointing 47143 on the 2125 Swansea – Bristol ( i was expecting a 37) took me to Bristol for a midnight arrival at Temple Meads

Saturday February 19th 1977

The buffet and assorted well heated waiting rooms provided comfort for the next 5 hours or so. Passing traffic was pretty limited with 37 different locos recorded. 1071 Western Renown was on Bath Road, sadly withdrawn. 2 china clay trains rumbled through Temple Meads in the small hours with 45058 and 46009 powering, 50003 was on a TPO.

31213 arrived nice and early steaming nicely on a short rake with a few vans forming the 0512 Bristol – Weymouth. I quickly dossed out in my compo but stirred at the extended stop at Yeovil Pen Mill where we crossed 47190 (again) on the 0608 Weymouth – Bristol.

An hour or so later we arrived at Weymouth and after finding a bakers, i walked to footbridge  North of Weymouth near Radipole.

33103 soon arrived with hauled stock off the 0716 ex Bournemouth, whilst 33101, 33107, 33112  and 33117 all passed with 4TC’s bound to and from Waterloo. 31213 returned to Bristol and around 1055, the main event with 1013 Western Ranger arriving on the “Southern Belle” Railtour with my vantage point being well placed to watch 1013 run round too.

1013 Western Ranger on approach to and running round the “Southern Belle” railtour from Waterloo on February 19th 1977

50695, 59588 and 50731 returned me North on the 1215 to Bristol.

I bailed at Frome and waking out onto Christchurch Street (the A362) i attempted to hitch a lift from the bus stop. Success came almost immediately with an open top sports car (it was February!) stopping. The driver was a gorgeous hippy chick who seemed well impressed by me coming “all the way from Weymouth”, i was in love instantly! but alas she didnt invite me back to her “pad” but dropped me off in Radstock as she was Bath bound.

A gentle amble along Radstock Road to dear old Midsomer Norton and i arrived at my grandparents for loads of food!!

Sunday February 20th 1977

The early 0925 175 bus (probably an RE) whisked me to Bath where i met up with 3 Gloucester enthusiasts in their car as planned who were pleased i wasn’t Welsh on me chattering away about Western Ranger the day before.

Our first phot spot was Chepstow where i logged 47024 on Parcels, 51587/59580/51578 and a 30 late D1010 Western Campaigner on the Western Requim tour. Our Gloucester friends reckoned she was in trouble, so was i, my camera (a basic Instamatic) was playing up.

Thanks to John Williams for this image of by then failed 1010 at Cardiff on February 20th 1977

We then hit the valleys passing an ex BR 08 at Nant Guru steel works then at Trehafod in the Rhondda we awaited what seemed a late tour. DMU’s 50858/59366/50911/50904/59504/50851 passed then a moment that will remain in my memory for ever. A large number of enthusiasts were waiting to phot the tour here, Western mania had seen many older enthusiasts return to the hobby. When a snarling growl and large dirty nosed loco approached one of these shouted “its a Peak”!!!, a filthy 37179 then growled past with the tour! So 1010 had failed we belatedly realised.

Thanks to John Williams capturing 37179 running round at the then freight only Aberdare High Level, 37179 was standing in for a failed 1010 on February 20th 1977

We next stopped at Mountain Ash  colliery  which had ex BR pannier 7754, Industrial steam Llantarnam Abbey, Sir Gomer, Sir John, an 0-6-0ST and an 0-4-2 diesel all unfortunately stabled silent round the colliery sidings. We then headed for Aberdare and stabled near then then closed station were:

08351, 37254, 37280, 37281, 37286

A magic moment, we could hear the mighty Maybachs climbing up to Merthyr Vale with the Western Requim tour on February 20th 1977

Next stop was a scenic wooded Merthyr Vale overbridge where i finally sorted my camera out and we were pleasantly surprised when 1023 Western Fusilier (having come light from Old Oak) gently strummed through the Merthyr valley in fading light.    

My Gloucester colleagues dropped me off at Merthyr in virtual darkness, they had given me a superb day in the valleys. The tour was also in at Merthyr and i mused weather to jump the tour back to Cardiff. I was unsure if the tour would run round at Cardiff G or use some dodgy freight loop and return me to London! so i opted for the humble DMU 50869/59035/50922 on the 1700 Merthyr – Pontypridd for 51348/59340/51390 forward on the 1700 Treherbert – Barry

Not long after arriving at Cardiff General the tour followed with 1023 running round. Anyway a considerable personal event followed with me boarding 25063 on the 1845 Cardiff – Crewe. The 11.75 mile thrash to Newport was my first ever recorded class 25 haulage and i was hooked!

From Newport 51092/59423/51064 took me back to Bristol where obviously 1071 was still dumped on Bath Road. 45067 on the 1822 Plymouth – Cardiff and 47028 on a return Adex from Cardiff passing 1010 dumped on Canton, saw me back in Swansea  about 2300, dog tired but a few days with plenty memories that survive until today and beyond…


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