The old Great Central route to London Marylebone was slated for closure by the Beeching Report of 1963. In truth this meant most of the route that was known as the “London Extension”. It would mean closure of the largest station on the line north of London. This was Nottingham Victoria. It was a huge cathedral of a station built in a giant sandstone cutting. It had an excellent city centre location and was considerably larger than its nearby Midland neighbour. As was the custom in the 1960s, railway enthusiasts organised railtours and visits to doomed lines, stations, sheds and works. It was no surprise to find that railtours were scheduled to visit Nottingham Victoria in 1966. The route through the station and down to London was to be permanently closed in September of that year.
The first railtour to visit in 1966 was the RCTS Eight Counties Railtour which began at Northampton on Saturday 27th March 1966 – that is exactly 50 years ago today! As the name suggests it was to travel through eight different counties and travel over some lines slated for closure. It set off behind Class 24 diesel D5016. On arrival at Leicester Midland station, a Leicester shed 8F, 48467 backed on the train to take it onwards and into my own county, Nottinghamshire. It paused at Nottingham Midland station to allow some railfans to join the tour. Look carefully at the first image above. The train consisted of just six coaches but three (coaches 2,3 and 5 ) were painted in the latest BR livery, XP64 a combination of blue and light grey. ( Note there are four bridges in view in this shot …and now only one remains…..)
The second image above shows the train ready to leave and set off for Netherfield and Colwick station. Look carefully at the first coach. In the 1960s some trains ran with long destination boards on them just below the roofline.. The first coach has a long paper label over one such board which not surprisingly reads RCTS EIGHT COUNTIES RAILTOUR .The train departed Nottingham Midland and then gained the Great Northern lines through the GN yard and steamed off to the first station which is now known simply as Netherfield. Here the 8F left the train and Colwick B1 61302 backed onto what was the rear of the train as it had to be reversed. The train then set off in the opposite direction down the old Great Northern lines towards Nottingham. It ran through Sneinton and through London Road High Level Station.
It passed through a short tunnel and then entered Nottingham Victoria Station. It did not pause but ran through non-stop and then exited via Mansfield Road tunnel.In the image above the train can be seen running through a small patch of daylight that penetrated the central section of the station. This all too brief visit was significant for a number of reasons. It was almost certainly the last time a Colwick B1 hauled a passenger train through Victoria. It may also have been the first time that XP64 liveried coaches had been seen in the Vic. There were only two regular loco hauled services at this time and the twice daily Nottingham to Marylebone services and return used maroon only coaches right to the last day. The only other train was the York-Bournemouth and return and I only recalled seeing XP64 coaches in the final month of operation.
61302 took the train up as far as Wath Junction where it was replaced by DC sparky EM1 E26000 Tommy which took the train to Godley Junction. Here it was replaced by Jubilee 45596 Bahamas which took the train on to Crewe where AC Sparky E3093 took the train back to Northampton. The tour did not end well for the Colwick B1. On its return to Colwick shed it was declared a failure on the following Monday and immediately withdrawn. It seemed almost a sign of the times.Was it poor maintenance, neglect,…. or had the Colwick driver pushed the loco too hard?
For or information on this tour including full detail of route and timings visit the excellent Six Bells Junction web page below.
Please note all text and images are copyright of Mike Sheridan. Feel free to share the blog but text and images may NOT be copied and/or published elsewhere. The three images here are scanned from my original medium format 120 black and white negatives at 1200 dpi. Anyone interested in my archive images is invited to contact me.
Next blog: One of the most unusual of railtours to visit the Vic in its last days……….