Stewartby brick traffic remembered
A section of the Marston Vale stretching from Ridgmont to Kempton Hardwick was once host to many brickworks. This generated brick and coal traffic aplenty some of which was carried in 1966 on 8C22 Bletchley – Bedford freight which picked up/set down traffic at:
Ridgmont Brickyard arr 1541 dep 1648
Marston Vale Brick sdg arr 1658 dep 1759
Wooton Fillings sdg arr 1807 dep 1830
Stewartby (Forders) arr 1836 dep 1936
Bedford arr 1957.
Bricks to London were conveyed on 8A32 2041 Forders – Willesden
By 1968 COY trains of bricks (bogie brick wagons) linked Forders with Guide Bridge (4H24), St Helens (4F48), Bordersley (4H08) and Willesden (4A32).
In May 73 a £200,000 new brick loading facility was opened at Forders using 2 overhead cranes to load “pallets” of bricks onto freightliner wagons. Composed on 15 “fletliners” normally 2 x 25 would power these heavy 1,000 ton plus trains to Garston, Trafford Park and Kings X Goods and what a fine racket those small Sulzers made! The first week of the Garston flow was worked by 1877 (later 47358) but 25s took over the following week. By June 76 the 1000th brick train had run from Forders carrying 32 million bricks.
The May 84 Timetable listed the following Forders “Fletliner” traffic
4A54 0420 MO Rugby – Forders via Bletchley (dep 0540) empties
4A54 0059 WFO 0059 Garston – Forders via Bletchley (dep 0540) empties
0F53 1150 MWFO Bedford – Forders light engine
4F53 1240 MWFO Forders – Garston (via Bedford, Wigston, WCML)
4M80 1025 Kings X Goods – Forders via Bletchley (dep 1221) empties
0Z00 1330 Forders – Bletchley light engine
0E78 1730 Bletchley – Forders light engine
4E78 1930 Forders – Kings X
4E78 has special memories for Leighton cranks as it was the highlight of most weekday evenings usually passing around 2015. You could hear the “brickies” 5 minutes before the thrashing 25s passed Leighton station and for another 5 minutes as they climbed towards Cheddington. On a few occasions one of the pair of 25s had failed leaving Bletchley and the rasping, crackling thrash from a single 25 with a driver determined to keep his train moving at speed was quite something!
Sadly the fun didnt last long into 1985 as we noticed a wreath carried on the lead 25 one February night and that , sadly was the last ever “Fletliner” we saw, lorries taking over the traffic. The Garston flow ended around the same time, 25249 working the final loaded train on January 25th 1985, a great loss to the local railway scene.
The cranes at Forders were later modified to also take GLC rubbish train containers from Cricklewood in Nov 79, in later years came the contaminated waste flows from Barking and Hoo Jn but these flows (to be detailed soon) didnt have the character of the brick trains .
Fletliner Phot spot
Thanks to NL Cadge for this superb image of 25309 and 25310 passing Bedford St Johns Jn with 4F53 Stewartby – Garston on July 17th 1974
25315 heads for the Bedford branch at Bletchley with 4M80 Kings X Goods – Stewartby Fletliner empties around midday on January 5th 1982
The late Tony Ewer catches 25266 slogging up Sharnbrook with 4F53 Forders – Garston with 8 loaded flats in tow (the maximum for a single type 2) on January 21st 1983, this train was worked by Bedford crews as far as Wigston, WCML men presumably taking over here.
A busy freight scene at Leighton Buzzard with 25249 and 25265 thrashing South with 4E78 Forders – Kings X Goods on April 15th 1983
Showing the brick “pallets” clearly 25231 and 25178 pass Leighton Buzzard with 4E78 Forders – Kings X Goods on May 10th 1983
25236 and 25181 shatter the peace as they approach Leighton Buzzard station with PW vans looking on with 4E78 Forders – Kings X Goods on June 28th 1983