The Mersey Ratcatcher, Sep 86

The “Mersey Ratcatcher” remembered, Sunday 28th September 1986


Despite the “STN” showing no major planned Sunday morning alterations I was soon joining the 3 other local “rat men” at around 6am for a huge, safe plus onto the “farewell rat tour”.  310079  was our power to Euston, inside the power it was warm

and we soon dossed out in the deep cushions of the 310’s bench seats.

At Euston, once allowed onto the tour’s departure platform was the mighty fine spectacle 2 class 25’s at the head of our train. The morning sun helped to pick up the “rats” polished bodywork and the “handle with care” stickers below the loco numbers!

 tour brochure thanks to Trev Rolfe

tour ticket

We were lucky in that Hertfordshire had allocated our group front coach seats in the 10 coach rake of Cobbler Mk I’s. The thrash was very loud on Camden Bank, all droplights windows were open, there was much hanging out of windows, the atmosphere superb!

We settled into a steady 80 ish thrash through WCML haunts the class were now rare at. A Leighton and Bletchley PSB flail and then discussions began over what the tour’s “Saltley kick out” would be. Sunday morning engineering works had enforced  alterations to those in the tour brochure

The circular route into New St via Aston was out because of the West end of New St was closed for engineering work. Our stock was vacuumed braked so that restricted what the “Kick out” could be but a big Eastern 47 will do nicely we thought.

We were routed into Birmingham International’s platform 1 for a mass photting session before the “kick out”, an immensely dull 86237! took the tour forward to New St, where the “rats” rejoined us albeit at the other end of the stock

More former class 25 strongholds followed on a high mileage route taking in Nuneaton, Derby, the South Pennines, Piccadilly, Eccles and Lime Street. At Lime St the requested petroleum sub sector 25’9’s quickly backed onto our stock and what was now the front coach was swelled by a few “scratch men” and a few from further back to enjoy a rare first and last “burst” of 25’9 power. 

The sun continued to shine as 25904 and 910 (25283 and 25315) took the tour over less familiar (to us) semaphore signalled Wirral country around Helsby before, to the Liverpool joiners concern, running straight through Chester station. To get the stock the right way round after the New St reversal, we were turned on the Chester triangle. This gave us good views of Chester depot where another two 25s were stabled.

A booked photo stop was advertised in the tour brochure and on stopping, we all piled out to phot the 25’9’s. My colleague noticed a green peg for our train on arrival at Chester but with several hundred tour participants on the platform this was perhaps a case of people power overcoming a  station supervisor who was less keen on the advertised photo stop on his shift

The 25’9’s continued to Crewe, we wandered how many more 25’s would pass the familiar Beeston Castle landmark, before the usual protracted loco change at Crewe. A return Chelsea? Footex from Manchester was on the through line and much withering in both directions followed, did they deserve such a respectable 85012 as  their power though?!

25904 and 910 thrashed off into the sunset and 25313 and 249 were reattached.

The front coached remained incredibly noisy with small Sulzer sounds aplenty as we returned South down more WCML haunts including Stafford, Bescot and Coventry before a welcome storm through Weedon.

Bletchley power box staff were all out to give us a wave again, we did likewise at Leighton.  Another WCML classic site on passing Watford Junction was 304032 heading North, common in the 70’s, very rare by 1986 though.

The tour mood dipped a little in the last few miles, as the realisation that this was probably the end for “rat” class 1 action, game over, a classic tour was over too. At Euston we did’t dwell long as it was tight plus onto the 310 home…………….

The Gen

28/9/86 Su

079      0602 Bletchley-Euston           LB-EU

85005  xxxx Stirling-Euston Motorail

25313}            0830 Euston-Liverpool Railtour EU-BI


86237  0830 Euston-Liverpool Railtour BI-NS

25249}            0830 Euston-Liverpool Railtour NS-LS


25904}            1645 Liverpool-Euston Railtour (via Ch)       LS-CR


85009  1345 Dover-Liverpool

85018  1725 Birmingham-Liverpool

85012  Manchester-Euston Footex

85008  1723 Brighton-Liverpool

25313}            1645 Liverpool-Euston           CR-EU                                                           


304032-at Watford Jn on the down.

072      2202 Euston-Rugby    EU-LB

The Phots…….

Under the data panel of 25313 was a “handle with care” sticker!

 At Birmingham Int’l before being removed for 86237! To “power” the tour to New St where the rats would return to the rear of the tour

 25249 and 313 power out of Whiteacre Jn bound for Nuneaton and Leicester, a Trevor Rolfe phot

More rats as we passed Chester shed on the tour

 25910 and 904 at Chester having worked the tour from Liverpool ,

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