As some of you may knnow my layout is loosely based on the Woodhead route between Manchester and Sheffield if it had stayed open, and until recently I had settled on the idea the overheads were removed and diesels ruled the roost. But the production and subsequent purchase of a couple of 319 kits has made me look again at it. Then, yesterday, the Hurst models Pantographs for the 319s arrived, and as my drilling skills are zero, I thought I would settle for a pan down model, which then begs the question again of how could it reasonably be excused to run.
So, I wondered how you all think the Woodhead route would have turned out if it was still in use.
Ahh! Misty look in eyes - my first trip across the Woodhead route was in 1965, I was 13 and had an ER rail rover for a week. Of course, I had to write first and get a ticket for the Penistone to Manchester and back bit, because this was not 'in area' and I was on a through express, actually may have been the one from Harwich or some such. It was EE type 3 to Sheffield Victoria where 27004 came on. I was really impressed with the speed, the tunnel etc and it would surely have been better than the nose-to-tail B-doubles on the M62 we see today. Once again though pre-1948 factions (maybe even pre1923 !) came to the fore, and the old MR men put their foot down "let us keep our long tunnel open for Manchester - Sheffield and we'll let you close our route from Manchester to London (i.e. the Peak route through Millers Dale)" no thought for the fact that by that time, since electrification, Woodhead was by far the best route.
Anyway I went back with the returning express after about 45 mins or so on Piccadilly trainspotting - don't forget there were no electrics yet in Euston and from memory this was my last day of the ticket, and the new spur had just been completed at Retford so I changed here and then took the Pullman train I think running as 'Master Cutler' (loco hauled new Pullman stock) back to London. I had a little decadent tradition of making my last trip, on my last day of a Rover, on a Pullman (it was the dirty-little-trainspotter-with-money-from-his-paperround-getting-surly-blokes-to-make-him-a-cup-of-tea-syndrome).
On this ticket, I had one of my most interesting trips on the first day a Saturday - took the 9.30 from Liverpool Street to Norwich, then there picked up a Summer Saturday Holiday Special to York or somewhere, which ran via the reverse loop at Ely, March, Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln, Gainsborough to Doncaster, where I changed and got a train back to London. A poignant day came when I again went on the 9.30 out of Liverpool Street, then got a Norwich to Kings Lynn (reversing at Dereham then through Swaffham and Narborough) train, the Kings Lynn to March via Wisbech, then March to Cambridge on the Chatteris/St Ives branch - all these lines were to close in the next year or so. While it was a disgusting dmu from Norwich to Lynn, the next two legs were loco-hauled with a Brush 2. The March to Cambridge train was made up of Gresley corridor stock. Another day was Kings Cross to Peterborough, Peterborough to Grimsby via Louth, Grimsby to Barnetby, Barnetby to Doncaster via Scunthorpe, then back to KC.
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