Last Days of the Great Central – The Fourth Last Railtour

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.

48467 six counties railtour Nottingha  Midland 27 March 1966 web for blog smaller

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…..)

48467 six counties railtour Nottingha  Midland 27 March 1966 web for  blog smaller

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.

61302 web for blog 500 pix

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……….



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