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Glasgow To Colchester Overnight Service


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Hi All - while browsing through the 1964-1965 Scottish Region Passenger Train Marshalling Book as posted on line by Robert Carroll I came across the very interesting 5:15pm (SX) Colchester to Glasgow Queen Street, which returned south at 10:00PM from Queen Street to Colchester.  What an interesting train, it was formed of three passenger vehicles and an assortment of parcels vans, with fish vans attached to the southbound service at Edinburgh!

 

I was wondering if anyone had any knowledge of the origin of this service, when it ceased to run and what haulage it would have in the 1960s, I was planning an overnight parcels/seated passenger service for my layout and lo and behold here is a prototype!

 

Thanks

 

Jim

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Hi All - while browsing through the 1964-1965 Scottish Region Passenger Train Marshalling Book as posted on line by Robert Carroll I came across the very interesting 5:15pm (SX) Colchester to Glasgow Queen Street, which returned south at 10:00PM from Queen Street to Colchester.  What an interesting train, it was formed of three passenger vehicles and an assortment of parcels vans, with fish vans attached to the southbound service at Edinburgh!

 

I was wondering if anyone had any knowledge of the origin of this service, when it ceased to run and what haulage it would have in the 1960s, I was planning an overnight parcels/seated passenger service for my layout and lo and behold here is a prototype!

 

Thanks

 

Jim

Tony Wright and I were discussing this train the other week. I suggested was related to Colchester being a garrison and British Overseas Post Office sorting office. BPFO mail from Scotland and the north of England. It is an odd train and I would like to know what its main purpose was, it wasn't for just squadies going home on leave.

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Here is a photo of D5856 at Cambridge TMD in April 1963 showing headcode 1E38

which the caption states is the Glasgow - Colchester working, is this the return?

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/30111110554/in/photolist-MSPj7w

 

edit - and the caption of this photo from 1985 seems to mention the working,

the 04.30 Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street being the final remnant of the northbound working,

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15374623203/in/photolist-pqAXQp-FFyKKC-xgVdAT

 

cheers

Edited by Rivercider
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Tony Wright and I were discussing this train the other week. I suggested was related to Colchester being a garrison and British Overseas Post Office sorting office. BPFO mail from Scotland and the north of England. It is an odd train and I would like to know what its main purpose was, it wasn't for just squadies going home on leave.

Clive, I think you're pretty close with the idea of it being primarily for military traffic. Thinking back to the sixties and seventies, there were still a lot of Service personnel travelling around the UK- they were a reliable source of lifts when I hitch-hiked. Lower ranks often couldn't stretch to a car, so relied on trains and coaches. Trains from the North and Midlands to the West Country were often rammed out with military personnel; the trains that divided at Newton Abbot would have the Torbay portion full of families with holiday impedimenta, and the Plymouth one packed with Service personnel. I still remember the chaos that ensued when a train was reverse-formed at New St, with the passengers from the 'wrong' portions trying to pass one another on a narrow platform. I would surmise,also, that a lot of the sleeper services to and from places like Milford Haven relied a lot of MoD custom.

Whilst such traffic is now but a memory here, in continental Europe, where National Service continued much longer, special trains, and normal ones with strengthened formations, were a feature of Friday and Sunday traffic. I travelled on a few over the years, most notably one from Mulhouse to Lille, which had a refreshment stop at Charleville-Mezieres. In France, certain stations would act as exchange points, where 'permissionaires'  would change between services to or from their bases, and those to their home regions. Reims was one such, where the night-time station was controlled by military police, and an RSM who bawled instructions as to which train was going where. As we found in our non-air-conditioned hotel room, several hundred metres away, he had no need for a Tannoy.

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Clive, I think you're pretty close with the idea of it being primarily for military traffic. Thinking back to the sixties and seventies, there were still a lot of Service personnel travelling around the UK- they were a reliable source of lifts when I hitch-hiked. Lower ranks often couldn't stretch to a car, so relied on trains and coaches. Trains from the North and Midlands to the West Country were often rammed out with military personnel; the trains that divided at Newton Abbot would have the Torbay portion full of families with holiday impedimenta, and the Plymouth one packed with Service personnel. I still remember the chaos that ensued when a train was reverse-formed at New St, with the passengers from the 'wrong' portions trying to pass one another on a narrow platform. I would surmise,also, that a lot of the sleeper services to and from places like Milford Haven relied a lot of MoD custom.

Whilst such traffic is now but a memory here, in continental Europe, where National Service continued much longer, special trains, and normal ones with strengthened formations, were a feature of Friday and Sunday traffic. I travelled on a few over the years, most notably one from Mulhouse to Lille, which had a refreshment stop at Charleville-Mezieres. In France, certain stations would act as exchange points, where 'permissionaires'  would change between services to or from their bases, and those to their home regions. Reims was one such, where the night-time station was controlled by military police, and an RSM who bawled instructions as to which train was going where. As we found in our non-air-conditioned hotel room, several hundred metres away, he had no need for a Tannoy.

Hi Brian

 

As a squadie stationed in Colchester in the 70s I know most of my mates went via London if going northwards on leave. More trains, open buffet, possibly more young ladies to impress, and home to mum a lot quicker.

 

One journey by train while I was a solider will remain with me for the rest of my life. June 1977 and we were on exercise on Bodmin Moor, I had become unwell and the RN MO at Plymouth thought it was best for me to head back to Marchwood where I was stationed at the time. I know I changed trains at Exeter and possibly Salisbury. All the trains were packed with Skates Matelots Sailors going to Portsmouth for the Silver Jubilee fleet review. Me the only squadie. At Exeter a young lady joined me in my compartment and we got chatting and music became part of the conversation. She asked me what music I liked, then the standard Zepplin, Who, Genesis etc but I did mention I was liking the Ramones and the Stranglers, with that she said I had to listen to "God Save the Queen" by the Pistols. I wonder if she still listens to punk, I do.  

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The military connection does seem to make sense.  I remember doing a Freedom of Scotland run back in 1978 which started with a run up the West Highland on the 06:00 from Queen Street which conveyed the overnight sleepers and seating coaches from London, I was surprised to find the train packed, mainly with young men.  The reason they were there was revealed at Helensburgh Upper, where they all left the train to head for the Faslane Submarine base, presumable heading back after leave.

 

Thanks for the replies so far!

 

Jim

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The only thing close that I can rethink of would have been boat trains running or connecting with Harwich, but there was a specific boat train (the European or Rinelander) and this would have left from Harwich early in the morning and the reverse working arrived around 10 at night.

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I run this train at least once a week through my Ely simulation. Somewhere i'm sure i have seen mention of soldiers or military personnel on furlough. A check through the net may produce more answers. I think there may have been Scottish Regiments based at Colchester.

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I run this train at least once a week through my Ely simulation. Somewhere i'm sure i have seen mention of soldiers or military personnel on furlough. A check through the net may produce more answers. I think there may have been Scottish Regiments based at Colchester.

Hi Richard

 

My experience of being at Colchester in the 70s was most chaps went via London. Three passenger coaches wouldn't take many soldiers, if it was for leave then more coaches would be needed and certain times of the year you are looking at a few thousand blokes going on leave at about the same time. Scottish battalions have been posted to Colchester at various times but there isn't one there on a constant basis. 3 years is the normal posting time for an unit at a location.

 

As a side note the British Army dosen't do furlough, that is something the Yanks seem to do.

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There did use to be a lot of military personnel using Britain's railways, travel warrants were in wide use and in the 1960s there were still RTO s (military Railway Transport Offices) at a number of major stations.   .

 

I was at MN college in Plymouth in the 1960s and often travelled back from weekend leave on a Sunday night. As I couldn't get into the residence until about seven thirty, the closer the train arrived to that time the better. The train I normally picked up at Didcot ran from Paddington to I think Penzance and AFAIR it arrived in Plymouth at 04:18. It was a parcels/passenger train with two or three coaches and a bunch of GUVs and newspaper vans and ran via Bristol so it wasn't exactly the world's fastest train. It was usually fairly quiet when I got on it- I think there were better trains to Plymouth from Paddington- but it got very crowded with mainly RN personnel at Bristol so must have connected with trains from the Midlands and North.  I tnink it was that train I once overslept on and woke up in time to get off at Bodmin Road. I then got the early morning up DMU to Plymouth and at every station a small knot of yawning sailors got on. That had clearly happened further down the line as the train wasn't exactly empty when I got on it.

Edited by Pacific231G
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What routing did this train take at the Southern end?

 

Unfortunately I don't have any WTTs covering the period in question, but was wondering whether it took the Stour Valley line between Colchester and Cambridge (which would still have been open).  All I can say is that it didn't take that route (didn't run?) during the late 1950s.

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What routing did this train take at the Southern end?

 

Unfortunately I don't have any WTTs covering the period in question, but was wondering whether it took the Stour Valley line between Colchester and Cambridge (which would still have been open).  All I can say is that it didn't take that route (didn't run?) during the late 1950s.

Watch out for the C1 restriction at Sudbury.

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I hadn't been on Robert Carrolls Yahoo site for a while so went for a look this morning, his list of data has expanded and there is now a 1968-69 working book and the Glasgow to Colchester is still there!  The Core formation was now 1 x BG, 1 x SK and 1 x CK with an additional SK on Fridays Only.  Additional vans (3 x BG and 2 x GUV) from Colchester, Liverpool St, Biggleswade, Spalding and Yarmouth which were detached at Edinburgh for Glasgow Parcels Station (Salkeld Street).  Interestingly the train now was used to convey the Kings X to Fort William overnight Sleeping/Day cars (BSK/SLF/SLSTP and BCK) from Edinburgh to Queen Street (MSX) which were detached from the Aberdeen sleeper at Waverley and were then attached to the 06:00 to Fort William (see my post above) so the train must have arrived at Glasgow around 05:30.

 

Edit Further reading shows that the train did not appear on the Carraige working booklet from 1971 - 1972, so this service met its end in May 1971, in its last year it ran under the headcode 1S38 (down) 1E50 (up)

 

JIm

Edited by luckymucklebackit
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I don’t know about this service but there was a Crewe Cardiff mixed train that ran until the early 80s.

 

I remember catching it arriving into Cardiff in the early hours

 

I'd be amazed if there was a Mixed Train running between Crewe and Cardiff in the 1980s - there certainly wasn't one in the 1970s when I worked at Cardiff and it would have taken an awful long time to get from Crewe - Cardiff and therer wasn't one in teh 1980s when i was in WR HQ.  I suspect what you are thinking of is a train which conveyed both parcels/mails vans and a passenger section - and that is very definitely not a Mixed Train

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There did use to be a lot of military personnel using Britain's railways, travel warrants were in wide use and in the 1960s there were still RTO s (military Railway Transport Offices) at a number of major stations.   .

 

I was at MN college in Plymouth in the 1960s and often travelled back from weekend leave on a Sunday night. As I couldn't get into the residence until about seven thirty, the closer the train arrived to that time the better. The train I normally picked up at Didcot ran from Paddington to I think Penzance and AFAIR it arrived in Plymouth at 04:18. It was a parcels/passenger train with two or three coaches and a bunch of GUVs and newspaper vans and ran via Bristol so it wasn't exactly the world's fastest train. It was usually fairly quiet when I got on it- I think there were better trains to Plymouth from Paddington- but it got very crowded with mainly RN personnel at Bristol so must have connected with trains from the Midlands and North.  I tnink it was that train I once overslept on and woke up in time to get off at Bodmin Road. I then got the early morning up DMU to Plymouth and at every station a small knot of yawning sailors got on. That had clearly happened further down the line as the train wasn't exactly empty when I got on it.

That was the final years of an amazing train which I think at one time stopped at almost every station between Bristol and Penzance (and definitely all stations west of Exeter) - must have been quite a journey in the old days.

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Post #100 in this thread has a photo of 1S11 hauled by D5638 leaving Bury St Edmunds on 28th May 1968.  This was the Colchester - Glasgow and the general consensus in succeeding posts was that it was for military personnel. 

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/91758-chris-ts-photo-archives-updated-6th-march/page-4 

 

Chris Turnbull

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I found a mention of the service in the book "British Main Line Services in the age of Steam 1900-1968" by Michael Harris.

 

"To improve through journeys for service personnel, two trains were put on during 1940 between Colchester and Leeds and Colchester and Edinburgh, both routed via March and Peterborough and the ECML rather than the GN/GE route through to Doncaster."  so the train ran from 1940 to 1971. 

 

Jim

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All of these once a day train journeys reminds me of other long lost services.

 

The Thames Clyde express from Glasgow via the Midland main line over the years was cut back to Nottingham and then just a Leeds Carlisle service.

 

I can't remember where it was but there was an overnight service consisting of one coach (not sure if it wasn't just standard) plus a stack of parcel vans shunted on and off at various locations. I think it was nicknamed the milk train!

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That was the final years of an amazing train which I think at one time stopped at almost every station between Bristol and Penzance (and definitely all stations west of Exeter) - must have been quite a journey in the old days.

It was a long time ago during the 1967-1969 academic  years. I didn't always use that train and sometimes travelled via Reading rather than Bristol but the Plymouth arrival time of 04:18 and the sight and sound of a Western diesel hydraulic IS  etched in my memory. 

 

Slightly off the topic of Glasgow-Colchester but in those days there were quite a few other overnight trains. Apart from the predominately sleeping car trains to and from London most of them seemed to carry more parcels and newspapers than passengers. Some of the cross country parcels/passenger trains even had a sleeping car. I doubt whether many service personnel used those but, for a University interview in Exeter, I did once travel in the sleeper of a direct train from Newcastle. For the first hour or so that stopped rather frequenty with the banging, crashing and shouting of parcels being shifted making sleep impossible. I think it went down the coast via Sunderland before heading cross-country presumably after York but by then I was asleep.

 

It was services like that which made railway operation so much more interesting even after the end of steam. In the mid 1970s I lived for a while near Paddington and the operations between about 22.00 and 01.00 when I sometimes went there to buy tomorrow's paper when restless after a late shift were fascinating.    

Edited by Pacific231G
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Talking of overnight trains, when a friend and I decided to visit Barry in 1969-70 the only way to get there and back was using overnight trains.

Starting at Nottingham at 23.30 on a train to Derby, then a 00.30 or so to Gloucester arriving around 04.00 after much loading and unloading of parcels and mail on the way. Walk across the long bridge from East gate to Central station.

Then 04.24 to Cardiff arriving around 06.00 to await an early morning DMU to Barry.

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I’m going purely from personal memories of the early 60’s, as a spotter in my early teens, and living in Cambridge.

 

Many stations at the time displayed posters giving departure times of all passenger services, each departure being arranged in chronological order.  I certainly recall an evening train in the departure timetable with a through service to Glasgow.  This stuck out because no other service from Cambridge offered anything approaching such a faraway destination.  I never gave any thought to the fact that the service may have originated in Colchester.  The Stour Valley branch line from Colchester was still open at the time, although via Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds would have been a possible option with a reversal at Cambridge.

 

I never actually saw the train, and have no idea of its make-up, but I would imagine that the class 31 (Brush type 2 in those pre-TOPS days) could have well have been the standard iron horse for that service in that area, as it was for numerous other services in East Anglia.  They were generally regarded as pretty mundane by local spotters in those days.

 

John

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I never actually saw the train, and have no idea of its make-up, but I would imagine that the class 31 (Brush type 2 in those pre-TOPS days) could have well have been the standard iron horse for that service in that area, as it was for numerous other services in East Anglia.  They were generally regarded as pretty mundane by local spotters in those days.

 

Yes, you are quite right and to prove it here's the photograph that I mentioned in my earlier post #17.

 

post-13986-0-38074600-1526625257.jpg

 

This was the Colchester - Glasgow  leaving Bury St Edmunds on 28th May 1968 hauled by D5638.

 

Chris Turnbull

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I travelled on this train as a young boy with my father from Ipswich to Glasgow Queen Street and back every summer from the late 1950s until 1966. My father was originally from Glasgow, moved to Ipswich in 1951, and would go back home once a year to see his family. It was a very convenient - and I believe cheap - direct rail service for us. I found it all very exciting, and still remember every station en route, particularly Peterborough East then North, and York at midnight. I recall the train stopping once in Cambridge and another time in Sleaford but generally the route was March - Peterborough East. Station stops were generally of long duration. Arrival time in Glasgow at 0530 was not popular with my uncle who had to pick us up. We always had a compartment to ourselves. I do not recall seeing many fellow passengers. I do not recall the types of steam loco which hauled us, except being very impressed when I saw an A4 Pacific at the front when we got off in Glasgow on one occasion.

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Interesting that this thread has popped up. I'm reading a book about the GE mainline and one of the photos is of a Colchester - Edinburgh train. I thought it rather a strange service but should have thought of the Military link.

 

@Clive Mortimore - a lot of the photos in the book are credited to a G Mortimore - any relation? :)

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