The magic of the drags, 1983-85
Thanks to Trevor Rolfe
Dragging during engineering work when the OHL was off was always a great source of non-passenger haulage….if you got the gen or where just plain lucky!! During the 80’s there were loads of opportunities for 25’s around the southern end of the WCML and I bagged many a fine engine! There were of course the memorable Lostock drags as well, a long trek from London , but a must for an avid 20 fan like myself! Of course as well as these major events, there were the slightly more interesting moves….20002 on a late wet evening hauling an 87 and a full rake of stock over Shap after an OHL failure…AWESOME noise! A Cricklewood 25 pushing an Aylesbury bound Class 115 DMU up the banks between Rickmansworth and Amersham during the leaf fall season! But by far and away the most frequent source of freight loco haulage was supplied by the diversions around Nuneaton, known simply as ‘The Drags’ by most bashers as they were that frequent. I have lost count of the 47’s, some being rare North East freight examples like 47275 and 47297 and some plain old Bescot ETH offerings that turned up, along with a continuous supply of Toton Class 56’s and in later years 58’s, but I have listed below some of the more memorable offerings during those Summer weekends!!
21/8/83 was a great day for unusual ‘drag’ loco’s. Departing Euston on the 1000 to Wolves bagged a very nice, but not unusual 25173 & 25191 from Bletchley to Rugby where an hours wait would have dropped you onto 56007 on the 1100 from Euston to Wolves. Although 56’s in them selves were not rare at all, a Tinsley machine was!
27/8/83 produced 25117 & 237 on the 0735 Euston to Aberystwyth from Rugby right through to Aber, but after alighting at Nuneaton to cover the 1010 Euston to Aberystwyth, there was the amazing sight of 40135 in the siding….surely not!! Oh yes, she coupled up and headed off for the Welsh town, I bailed at Wolves to bring 25250 & 25287 back to New Street on the 1010 from Aberystwyth, so I am not sure if 135 went all the way or was pulled off at Shrewsbury, but she was on Crewe shed the next day when I passed behind 81020 on the way to Scotland.
10/7/83 totally unpredicted amongst the booked sea of ETH loco’s, 37242 worked the 1200 Wolves Euston forward from New Street and returned on the 1200 ex Euston from Nuneaton, with a very rare 45072 being chucked out by Saltley to work the 1500 Wolves to Euston from New Street to Nuneaton.
8/7/84 was one of those drag days when the Saltley shed man must have been a basher….37176 & 37206 from the Cornish contingent, were on shed and amazingly dropped onto the 1200 Euston to Wolves from Nuneaton !
15/7/84 amongst the usual 47’s out this day, was 45043, plus a nice surprise with 45042 on the last drag of the day from New Street to Nuneaton .
Peak power, 45043 at Nuneaton prior to dragging the 1710 Euston-Wolves, 150784
23/9/84 was ‘fixers day’ on the drags, as very rare for passenger use 56105 and 56107 were ‘borrowed’ from Bescot shed to work a couple of New Street to Nuneaton drags, and they were looking great in large logo livery!
14/9/85 after a day of 58 haulages (005, 018, 020,and 023) on the usual drags, it was reported that although the line via Coventry had reopened, the first Euston to Wolves train would be loco hauled with engines provided by Rugby . A quick dash to Coventry produced a fine run back To New Street behind 31154 & 31229.
…and a cheeky winter example on the 20/2/84 when 50038 worked the 1200 Wolves – Euston as far as Rugby !