Total blockage at Watford Jn, May 85

Total  block at Watford Jn, 11th May 85

The last Saturday of the Winter timetable rarely brought much interest so i planned for a normal day at home in Leighton with the girlfriend.  On hearing on the 8am radio news that a derailment at Watford Jn had “closed the WCML”.  I was out of bed like a shot, muttered some excuses after making my still dozing partner a cup of tea.

I was out of the door soon after, with the prospect of big drag engines in and out of Padd. Back in the days of the proper railway any WCML blockage normally saw hourly Wolves – Padd additional services with power ranging from 47 to 58. Also Manchester/Liverpool services were diverted  to Pancras but these were always harder to cover being RA ex Nuneaton with 20/25/45/47 traction

The gen obtained years later was that various 37s, nb 47s and 58016 had dragged diverted overnights into Euston/Padd via Oxford. A liner train had derailed on Watford North crossover bringing down overhead stantions, wires etc.

 Thanks to Trev Rolfe for this view of the liner derailment in the early hours of May 11th 1985 at Watford North jn

So it was a protracted journey North from Leighton to Brum, 310057 quickly arrived on a local to the Keynes which i did to Bletchley to cover any diversions via the Bletchley – Bedford branch. There were no diversions just confused passengers wedging out 310’s to Hemel for a bus forward to Watford. An hour or so later 310095 arrived on a busy Birmingham service and a spare seat was secured in the power car for that unique 310 thrash.

50 minutes or so later after a journey along a virtually dead WCML i bailed at Coventry to do the Northbound diversions. Southbound services generated the first interest 47365 was on a 1027 Wolves-Padd additional, 85011 followed on 1O03 0650 Liverpool – Poole being swapped for a very dull 47434. 47490 was then done on 1S39 to International and a long fester for something decent in either direction.

Various 47’4s and 50 were of little interest and dud 47355 was flagged  too in the hope there was something better following. Announcements that the diverted and very late “Clansman” to Inverness (it was now near 1400!, the Clansman was booked as departing Int’l at 1040) was on approach. Initially i thought it must be a freight but i then was staggered to see a 37 on approach with a rake of coffins! Whilst 37189 had been raked in many times during my Swansea years it was outrageous to hear her thrashing away for the all, too short 8 miles to New St in the company of many happy West Midlands bashers. 37189 and 37180 had worked from Bristol to Derby the previous evening with a “Skirl” tour. The 37s had returned light to Saltley before dragging 1M14 (37189) and 1M16 (37180) overnights South via Oxford. That must have woken a few Thames Valley residents, a single tractor on load 13/14!  

 With a sizeable crowd of bashers aboard, 37189 makes a very rare appearance at Birmingham Int’l on the down Clansman May 11th 1985

37180  returned to the Midlands working the regular SO  0915 Euston – Carlisle National Express saga coach tour charter i was later told, 58016’s return (she’d gone in on 1A04 0115 Holyhead – Euston) was on 1S74 1020 Euston – Stranraer, which must have arrived whilst I was in Wolves having had a welcome blast of required 47366 on the 1152 Padd – Wolves.

A short fester at Wolves then 47366 returned on a 1527 Wolves – Padd so the WCML was still blocked we deduced. A Birmingham Int’l bail for required 47365 back to New St where we just missed 81007 on a Blackpool – Euston, This meant Watford had probably reopened so there would be just a few more drags to do but 47518 and 47597 were raked in on Inter Regionals before 47365 back to Cov on another diversion to Padd. 310063 returned me home on what was expected to be a through “Little London” to Euston so again this was a busy train.  Rushed apologies on getting home and a quick trip to the local pub to keep the other half fairly happy. A cracking day out!     

11/5/85 Sa   The moves

          057        0819 Hemel H-M.Keynes                   LB-BY

          095        0929 Hemel H-Birmingham                BY-CO

          47365    1027 Wolverhampton-Padd               

          85011    1O03 0650 Liverpool-Poole                          

          47434    1O03 0650 Liverpool-Poole

          47490    1S39 0740 Poole-Glasgow                 CO-INT

          50013    0933 Padd-Wolverhampton               

          50046    1127 Wolverhampton-Padd

          81005    xxxx Manchester-Portsmouth Adex

          47321    xxxx Manchester-Portsmouth Adex

          47527    1M50 0850 Brighton-Manchester

          47355    1052 Padd-Wolverhampton               

          47619    1019 0805 Newcastle-Poole

          37189    1S59 1120 Padd-Inverness                 INT-NS

          47366    1152 Padd-Wolverhampton                NS-WO

          47366    1527 Wolverhampton-Padd                WO-INT

          47365    1352 Padd-Wolverhampton                INT-NS

          81007    1A57 1259 Blackpool-Euston

          47518    1627 Wolverhampton-Padd                NS-INT

          47597    1E13 1413 Portsmouth-York              INT-NS

          47365    1730 Wolverhampton-Padd                NS-CO

          063        1921 Birmingham-Euston                   CO-LB

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