RIGHT: A very mixed Healey Mills-Warrington freight heads west behind a smart 45 049 The Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’ Own) on the 16th June 1983.
LOWER: The wires must be down on the WCML as 47 089 drags 86 314 and its rake of Mark 3s towards Manchester on the 4th March 1983.
locomotive turned up on the same train! Over the next few years it became quite normal to see a Class 31 maybe once a month, only rarely on the Newcastle-Liverpool, but more likely on the aforementioned 12.05. Usually, but by no means always, they would be eth fitted Class 31/4s. Another surprise came on the 13th April 1983 when 40 028, once known as Samaria, hauled the 12:05 Liverpool-York. It was making a very nice noise indeed, with plenty of smoke too.
The Class 40s were amongst the most common locomotives seen on the line, their English Electric presence always being welcome. Several Manchester-Bangor services were to be seen each day, one of them following closely behind the 13:05 Liverpool-Newcastle service. On an exceptionally good day this would bring the 40 hard on the heels of a Deltic; two aural delights in the space of five minutes. The 40 would have made its way from Warrington via the Earlestown curve, on the way passing its birthplace at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows.
Most lunchtimes would see at least one freight working, often in the shape of a 25 or 40 on parcels stock. Looking back at my old photographs now, it is an eye-opener to see so many of the old Southern Railway 4-wheeled Utility vans in use, alongside BR designed CCT vans and their bogie equivalents the GUVs. Equally frequent, judging by my photographic collection, were Civil Engineer’s trains, often of antiquated spoil wagons
Other freight traffic, which didn’t seem to run to any discernible timetable, might take the form of bogie chemical tanks, Freightliner container trains or coal trains. Most were in the hands of 40s, a few might have a 25 or even a pair, or a 45 or 47, but a sighting of a 31, or even a 37, would make it a red letter day. Indeed my records show that I had been going up the Junction for a couple of months before I saw my first 37, number 37 171, on a westbound train of chemical tanks. Interestingly, it had a barrier wagon directly behind the locomotive and a brake van at the rear.
Within a year or so, the Class 37s were to become much more common on freight, especially on what was known by local spotters, for obvious reasons, as the ‘Healey Mills’ . This train was a mixed freight, which passed through Kenyon bound for Warrington Arpley yard at around 12:15. Normally, motive power was a 37 or a 40, with the very occasional 25 or 45. The biggest Class 37 thrill came on the 11th December 1981, when I saw the grand total of nine locomotives in half an hour, including 37 160 and 37 163 double heading a westbound oil train and 37 073, also on oil tanks, all in a howling blizzard and with no chance of taking a worthwhile photograph.
As for the 31s, I saw 31 320 on a similar freight on the 14th December 1979, but then didn’t see another for several years!
1983 brought the addition of one extra locomotive-hauled train each lunch time, as the Nottingham-Glasgow was routed away from the Settle-Carlisle line, travelling via Manchester and the Liverpool-Manchester route as far as Parkside Junction, where it headed north onto the West Coast Main Line. Motive power was normally a 47, bringing the chance of a rare Scottish example with it, often in the relatively new large logo blue livery, complete with Eastfield’s trademark Scottie dog. Peaks were occasionally spotted on this service as well.
As for one offs, I saw one Class 58 only, that being 58 042 on an enthusiasts’ special on Saturday June 27th 1987. The small knot of photographers who had gathered to record the passing of such a rare class were slightly disappointed, as we understood that a pair of them were booked for the train.
The only class 08 I saw was on a track laying train, 08 624 being spotted on Sunday 11th
March 1984 as I passed the Junction on my way elsewhere. I had to stop of course but was camera-less!
And what was the most unusual thing I saw? Without a doubt, it was the pair of light 33s I spotted from my classroom window one afternoon, heading from Manchester towards Liverpool. I believe they had worked into Manchester from Brighton, and were on their way to Allerton depot for servicing. I must confess that I might have been tempted to break my own golden rule of number taking; that if I hadn’t actually seen the number on the locomotive myself I wouldn’t count it. A few weeks later, I read the numbers of the two locomotives in RAIL magazine! Maddeningly, I didn’t need either one of them...
Out of the Ordinary Some classes were never commonplace at Kenyon, and I had to wait until the summer of 1983 before I saw a Class 56 at the Junction, and that wasn’t even at lunchtime. In the summer in those days the National Coal Board used to drop the price of coal and the Central Electricity Generating Board would stock up at the power stations, extra MGRs running at www.traction.co.uk