Wednesday, 8 June 2016

A brief history of... Stoke - Llandudno

"If Timewarp was a loco it's status would be: Stored Serviceable."

The 08:40 Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno service running as a SX summer dated loco hauled turn started operating for the Summer Season in 1979 replacing a dated through service to Holyhead formed of DMU stock of previous years.  The service was usually formed of a set of Mk I coaching stock based at Crewe CS.  The service ran from late June to mid September and was coded 2D52 outward and 2K52 return in the first year, amended to 1D32 and 1K38 from 1980.  Until the 1986 season, the loco and stock would first work ECS from Crewe CS to Viaduct siding, just South of Stoke-on-Trent station and run around there, although, if the stock arrived late, then the run around took place in one of the platforms, usually, but not always platform number two.   Departing Stoke-on-Trent at 08:40 and calling at most stations out to Llandudno and likewise there was a corresponding return working early evening with an arrival back at Stoke-on-Trent just after 20:00.  The Stock would then be returned empty to Crewe CS.  During the Stoke Area 'Potter's ' holiday weeks the outward service would often start back at local stations such as Longton, or more usually Blythe Bridge and the return would be extended to Blythe on some dates.

The diagram started out as a simple SX out and back working to the seaside, and was booked for Class 40 haulage for the first four seasons of operation although Class 47's would make increasing appearances on this turn.  A taste of things to come was to take place on Thursday the 19th August 1982.  40131, which had earlier worked the usual 1D32, was then called upon to work a couple of round trips to Blaenau Ffestiniog and back using the stock off 1D32 vice the booked DMU.   This was understood to be the LMR conducting timing trials with a view to this becoming a regular thing.  Obviously, the timing trials must have been deemed a success, as from the Summer of 1983, the diagram, now a booked Class 47/4, was duly amended also work two round trips between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog before the evening return to the 'Potteries'.

In 1983 the diagram was therefore now as follows:

1D32 08:40 Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno
2D64 11:05 Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog
2D81 13:30 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Llandudno
2D65 14:53 Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog
2D86 16:25 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Llandudno
1K38 18:00 Llandudno - Stoke-on-Trent

This new pattern of operation would only continue through to the end of the 1984, just two seasons, but in 1985 the diagram was again amended so that now only a single Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog round trip was included.  A second hauled round trip to Blaenau Ffestiniog was now covered by a loco and stock on a Birmingham Diagram.  It should also be noted, that during the period of the Crewe Station Remodelling, 1D32 & 1K38 were not only diverted out and back via the Manchester area, but also, the stock was serviced and motive power provided by Derby, this resulting in a more varied selection of locos being used than the standard EH fitted 47/4 that had become the norm, at least for those few weeks.  The return working was also extended through to Derby on a handful of evenings during this same period.  1986 saw the final season of this working (as a hauled turn at least) and with the turn now booked to run for an extra week during late May.  It was also retimed to run slightly earlier than when compared to earlier years.

By 1986 the diagram was as follows:

1D32 08:20 SX Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno
2D11 14:40 SX Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog
2D18 16:05 SX Blaenau Ffestiniog - Llandudno
1K38 18:15 SX Llandudno - Stoke-on-Trent

1986 in more detail.

D200 made no less than 15 visits (out of an expected 20) on the diagram during 1986.  There were four complete weeks that D200 was expected to work, vice the booked 47/4, and these were widely known about well in advance amongst the enthusiast community.  These dates were expected to be, the extra week, 26/5-30/5, all of which D200 did work without fault.  The second week was to be 4/8-8/8, where D200 worked as booked on the 4th, but 47616 was an unpopular and disappointing substitute when turned out to work the turn on both the 5th and again on the 6th.  D200 was back on the 7th, but further disappointment again followed on the 8th when 47538 was turned out.  D200 was next expected 'out to play' on this turn for the final two weeks of the season, and we already knew that this would be the last year of loco haulage for this diagram. Many hoped that this would be something of a grand finale for the popular Class 40 on the Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno service. The third and penultimate week with D200 went well, working each day, Monday-Friday 1/9-5/9 with an oft noisy but good-natured crowd of followers in attendance throughout.  The final week of operation for this diagram, 8/9-12/9 was off to a promising start with D200 again in attendance, but at Llandudno after working 2D18, a derailment resulted in the cancellation of 1K38 on the 8th and the appearance of 47453 on the 9th.  Thankfully, D200 was back on the 10th and in top form once more, but it was already known by this point that everyone's favourite 'Green Machine' would not be available for the last ever Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno which was to be Friday the 12th.  So it was, on Thursday 11th September 1986, that D200 became the last ever Class 40 to work the Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno service (and also the last Class 40 passenger turn at Blaenau Ffestiniog  until 11th June 2005 when the CFPS took 40145 back there on a Railtour.  For the record, it was 47459 that worked the last ever Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno bringing to an end 8 seasons of SX summer dated loco hauled action.

1987: The final year.   Again SX but now running right through the summer timetable period rather than just for the summer peak, again as 1D32 08:20 SX Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno with a 17:36 SX Llandudno -Stoke-on-Trent return.   As a rule, this was formed of DMU stock, but on Tuesday 16th June 1987 sprung a final, loco hauled surprise in the form of 31105 along the north Wales coast when provided as power.  31105 however, returned, not to Stoke, but to Birmingham with another, previously hauled, but now DMU turn, the 1G54 1726 Llandudno - Birmingham New Street.  In 1988, through trains between Stoke-on-Trent and North Wales were maintained by the combining of certain Derby - Crewe (table 80) and Crewe - North Wales (table 83) trains, but these inevitably formed by Sprinter type DMU's.  Therefore, the power for the last loco hauled Stoke-on-Trent - Llandudno, unless you know different, was 31105.

These notes are revised and updated from those posted on the old Timewarp site.
Listings of the loco's that worked these trains can be found in the Classic Haulage pages.

'UD' & 'Clayhead' - Preserving the gen online since 1999...

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