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Last Mainline Steam Departure Plymouth


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I am researching for a book on the history of the Western Region and wondered if anyone knows what the last mainline steam departure from Plymouth was? The last one I know of is a summer working on the 24th August 1963 when 1011 County of Chester headed out of North Road piloted by D6305 as far as Newton Abbot. By last I mean the last genuine steam hauled scheduled train that could be boarded with an ordinary ticket. Most steam was freight at the time and I believe Laira had lost all it's allocation of tender locos so this may have been a Summer Saturday working. As the Cornubian railtour was a Southern loco maybe this was the last Western loco ever to visit Laira? Was anyone on the train that can fill in the details of the working?

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  • 3 months later...

I think that the last passenger steam from Plymouth may have been on the Southern line to Waterloo. I have a feeling that the Bulleid light Pacifics based at Friary ran on after all the Western steam had been withdrawn.

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A very brief look at Irwell Press's Okehampton Line book reveals a snap of 34107 Blandford Forum leaving Devonport King's Road 11th August 1964 with the 4.52 p.m. Plymouth - Eastleigh. I do not think that was a "last day" pic, either.

 

EDIT : More steam - while regular SR steam working to Plymouth finished 6.9.64, on 3.10.64, 34054 Lord Beaverbrook worked the 08.55 Exeter - Plymouth, so must have worked back somehow.  

Edited by Oldddudders
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  • 2 weeks later...

BPs worked off Laira until it shut. They were usually 72A but not exclusively. I did see a Castle there in '64 and have a poor photo of it somewhere, but have no idea if it had worked passenger. I think dudders is therefore correct. You know it is sad but I can't remember exactly when Laira closed. Was it the end of '64?

Phil 

Edited by Mallard60022
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There was a short period after Friary closed when the southern locos worked out of Laira, using the site of the former straight shed as their base.

 

For a long time the last steamer to leave Laira under its own steam was 1466!

 

When the G W S took their stock from Totnes to Didcot it stayed the week at Laira to allow for main line running inspection. On the Friday evening I lit up the14 and my mate did Burton Agnes Hall, when the stock went off shed the 14 was inside the hall and so was the second loco out.

 

Many people went on what can only be called "a private excursion" unfortunately in those days we worked alternate Saturday mornings and I was unable to swop days off so had to stay in Plymouth and miss the fun.

 

Wally

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  • 2 months later...

I am researching for a book on the history of the Western Region and wondered if anyone knows what the last mainline steam departure from Plymouth was? The last one I know of is a summer working on the 24th August 1963 when 1011 County of Chester headed out of North Road piloted by D6305 as far as Newton Abbot. By last I mean the last genuine steam hauled scheduled train that could be boarded with an ordinary ticket. Most steam was freight at the time and I believe Laira had lost all it's allocation of tender locos so this may have been a Summer Saturday working. As the Cornubian railtour was a Southern loco maybe this was the last Western loco ever to visit Laira? Was anyone on the train that can fill in the details of the working?

W.R steam continued for some time after 24/8/1963.

Laira's last two allocated locos were

4978 "Westwood Hall" which left Laira for the last time on 9/2/1964

4920 "Dumbleton Hall" which left Laira for the last time on 9/3/1964 

 

The last G.W. locos to visit Laira via W.R route were

14th May 1964

6990 "Witherslack Hall" left assisting 0030 Plymouth-Paddington sleeper

 

15th May 1964

6821 "Leaton Grange arrived at Plymouth with a fertiliser train

2886 arrived with a cement train from Westbury

5971 "Merevale Hall" left assisting 0030 Plymouth-Paddington sleeper (this was the last recorded steam passenger working to leave on the G.W. route)

 

16th May 1964

2886 and 6821 left light engines to Taunton

 

There was one other strange visit occured on 25th June 1964

6936 "Breccles Hall" (a Cardiff engine) arrived via S.R. route with a cement train then departed with the1156 to Exeter (via S.R.) and arrived back again with a train from Waterloo at 1905.

The next day it departed light to Exeter (via S.R.)

 

So this was the last G.W. loco to visit Laira Shed

 

The last sceduled long distance steam hauled trains at Plymouth were (all by S.R. route via Okehampton)

 

4th September 1964.

 

34107 "Blandford Forum" left with1110 Plymouth-Brighton

34079 "141 Squadron" arrived with Brighton-Plymouth (arr approx 1800)

 

5th September 1964

73030 left with 0840 Plymouth-Waterloo

34066 "Spitfire" left with with 1146 Plymouth-Waterloo

73030 left with 1652 Plymouth-Eastleigh (This loco had returned after working 0840 as far as Exeter)

 

After this date the S.R. route via Devonport Kings Rd and Ford was closed and trains diverted via Keyham.

There were still spasmodic steam passenger duties/frieght to and from Okehampton/Exeter with locos supplied by Exmouth Jcn. shed using this line until the last one on 2/1/1965 when 80041 arrived with a unrecorded train and left with the 1648 Plymouth-Okehampton

 

Then they were gone!

Edited by robertthedevil
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Not exactly sure what you regard as 'mainline' but here is 41317 arriving at Plymouth on 04 September 1964 -

 

attachicon.gif41317 arriving Plymouth 040964.jpg

Very interesting photo of 41317. This was the next to last day for this working, (a Friday) which involved the train working from Bere Alston (your photo), then going to the sidings at Laira to deposit the coaches before going on Laira Shed for the afternoon. Later it would collect the coaches and return to Plymouth to work the 1709 back to Bere Alston.

The following day the same loco worked the last working.

Edited by robertthedevil
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For a long time the last steamer to leave Laira under its own steam was 1466!

 

When the G W S took their stock from Totnes to Didcot it stayed the week at Laira to allow for main line running inspection. On the Friday evening I lit up the14 and my mate did Burton Agnes Hall, when the stock went off shed the 14 was inside the hall and so was the second loco out.

 

Many people went on what can only be called "a private excursion" unfortunately in those days we worked alternate Saturday mornings and I was unable to swop days off so had to stay in Plymouth and miss the fun.

 

Wally

2nd December 1967. I was one of those fortunate enough to be 'invited'.

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An interesting and informative topic! I vaguely remember seeing BR 5MT's et al steaming past the Bush factory at Ernesettle in the distance from my lab window in the early sixties. Funny what kicks off a memory.

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2nd December 1967. I was one of those fortunate enough to be 'invited'.

Ah but, were you involved the previous weekend when we rode down from Totnes on the positioning run?

 

I was and it was only when we dropped the fires at Laira we realised that although we were home in Plymouth our cars were still in Totnes. Not a good situation to be in on a Sunday evening!

 

Wally

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2nd December 1967. I was one of those fortunate enough to be 'invited'.

Very true 1466/6998 did leave Laira shed 2/12/1967 en route to Didcot, but these were preserved locos, and there was only the straight shed remaining of Laira Shed, the rest being demolished in 1966. There have been other preserved steam locos on the site since then. e.g.  6000 at Laira Open Day 29/3/1972 and 4930,5051,6000,7029 and 7819 for the GW 150 celebration trains in 1985.

I followed 6998/1466 to Teignmouth and photographed them at Hemerdon,Newton Abbot and Teignmouth

I remember a Wally Watson, who used to be a member of the model railway club in a old warehouse on the Barbican in the 1960's, could this be the same person?

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I remember a Wally Watson, who used to be a member of the model railway club in a old warehouse on the Barbican in the 1960's, could this be the same person?

Drat exposed at long last, I am that man, but you do not win five pounds.

 

The P & D M R C is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and I am the only member who can claim to have attended the inaugural meeting. One other person on here, the schoolmate I went with, attended that meeting but never joined the club we were not really impressed with the boring seniors who did all the talking.

 

How things change!

 

Wally

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Ah but, were you involved the previous weekend when we rode down from Totnes on the positioning run?

Not on that one but (to digress a bit) I was on the transit when the GWS moved their stock from Taplow to Didcot after the last Taplow open day on 16th September 1967 (I was part of Pendennis Castle's crew at the time). I was in the Super Saloon hauled by 3205 as the electrics went potty and all the light bulbs started popping.

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the schoolmate I went with, attended that meeting but never joined the club we were not really impressed with the boring seniors who did all the talking.
How things change!

Blimey, I'd forgotten that.  I'm still thinking about joining and will probably never reach a decision as with most of my railway projects......

So come on Robert the Devil, tell us who you really are; a Prefect from Plymouth High perhaps?

Phil

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the schoolmate I went with, attended that meeting but never joined the club we were not really impressed with the boring seniors who did all the talking.How things change!

Blimey, I'd forgotten that.  I'm still thinking about joining and will probably never reach a decision as with most of my railway projects......

So come on Robert the Devil, tell us who you really are; a Prefect from Plymouth High perhaps?

Phil

This is getting more interesting by the minute, and your memory is definitely failing Phil.

 

Plymouth High school was and indeed still is only for girls!

 

Wally

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This is getting more interesting by the minute, and your memory is definitely failing Phil.

 

Plymouth High school was and indeed still is only for girls!

 

Wally

Oh dear so it is. I meant Plymouth College so apologies to Robert the Devil (unless, of course, he was lucky enough to attend/teach at Plymouth High School?)

Anyhow, I have enjoyed this thread but find it a bit sad as I really loved Laira with all it's decrepitude and atmosphere.

I lost my deep interest in railways after '64 when steam had 'left' Plymouth but it was rekindled at Weymouth in 1967 and that involved a woman - story to be told only if really, really necessary. I have never again, since May/June 1967, lost interest (in railways)!

P

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thankyou for the information.There is so much history hidden in peoples notebooks that has never seen the light of day.If this book ever gets to print there will be recognition of sources of information, It was  fascinating to see that the up sleeper once again provided a last chance event from Plymouth. It provided the last revenue earning Western diesel passenger haulage I believe. I must say I was expecting the Goodrington service to throw up the last steam on the GW mainline out of Plymouth. On another note it's worth mentioning that steam did pass by later with 1369 working it's passage from Wadebridge to Totnes, this movement is well documented, but more difficult to track down is the working of the steam shunter from Meldon Quarry to ? Someone once told me it passed through Totnes 1967? A USA 0-6-0 tank?

I'm also trying to track down any photographs of Kingswear taken on  July 18 or 25 1959 that show when three 9F's were present at the same time. Someone was there as it got reported in 'Trains Illustrated'. Quite remarkable. Thanks once again 'Robertthedevil'. 

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Thankyou for the information.There is so much history hidden in peoples notebooks that has never seen the light of day.If this book ever gets to print there will be recognition of sources of information, It was  fascinating to see that the up sleeper once again provided a last chance event from Plymouth. It provided the last revenue earning Western diesel passenger haulage I believe. I must say I was expecting the Goodrington service to throw up the last steam on the GW mainline out of Plymouth. On another note it's worth mentioning that steam did pass by later with 1369 working it's passage from Wadebridge to Totnes, this movement is well documented, but more difficult to track down is the working of the steam shunter from Meldon Quarry to ? Someone once told me it passed through Totnes 1967? A USA 0-6-0 tank?

I'm also trying to track down any photographs of Kingswear taken on  July 18 or 25 1959 that show when three 9F's were present at the same time. Someone was there as it got reported in 'Trains Illustrated'. Quite remarkable. Thanks once again 'Robertthedevil'. 

USA DS234 (30062) Arrived at Meldon Quarry in January 1963, was transferred to Eastleigh in August 1966 where it worked as yard shunter until withdrwan in March 1967. (I don't think this loco was painted malachite green like other members of the class that were transferred to service stock) It is extemely unlikely that the loco would have passed through Totnes en route from Meldon to Eastleigh.

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