Tuesday 27th August 1985.
The day started off in an unpromising fashion. We were late and with no gen a situation we hoped would soon change once we arrived at New Street, off the 1O15 0900 Manchester P - Poole ( behind 86324 ). It didn't. We had a quick look around but could find none of the usual faces, in fact there appeared to be no bashers around at all.
We did know of a number of relief's that should be running. These included the 1100 Cardiff - York and 1041 Exeter - Edinburgh. Maybe we should make our way to Cheltenham to cover these? Or would we do better by staying put and hopefully the 1033 Bristol - Leeds relief or one of the regular turns might produce?
But then disappointing 47451 rolled up on 1V74, the Leeds / Hull - Cardiff and rather than fester we took a snap decision and took V74 to Cheltenham to cover the two reliefs from Cardiff & Exeter as reliefs were still good producers of NB locos.
We baled at Cheltenham and as soon as V74 departed we found out that the York relief was cancelled and a long wait until 1257 for anything back.
Eventually, the 1041 Exeter - Edinburgh arrived with 45077 in charge and a fine run up the bank followed and then onward back to New St.
We arrived at New Street and baled into a crowd of bashers in a flap and something about 20011 working and it looks like we may have dropped on and our luck as changed! But no, our mate John says 20011 is on 1V46 1255 York-Cardiff and caped New Street and no move up to last stop Derby for it. Hopes dashed again!
If we couldn't get 20011 in, I for one didn't want to be around to see it arrive and that was when I saw 45124 on 1E63, the Poole - Newcastle, one of my last couple of required 45/1's, so I decided to try and salvage something out of the day and get at least new one line in the book. So only minutes after arriving in New Street we left again leaving the crowd that greeted us behind and went our own way, off on E63 to Derby! Once underway, I tried to forget about 20011. It was just yet another one that had got away.
However, passing Burton, we realised we still hadn't passed the relief. Only now did I think to look at the timetable! Had E63 been on time ( and I don't recall it being that far off ) I found it should only be a -3 at Derby! What had my mate been talking about? Why did we leave everyone standing around at New Street? Why had so few people chanced on 1E63 making it? Could we make it after all? Passing Peartree we grabbed our bags and rushed through the crowded AIR CON rake. We made for the door that we thought would be closest to the footbridge ( a skill we had mastered down to a fine art back then ).
Then it happened, that traditional signal check at the last peg to the West of Derby station, just before the over bridge and the platform ends just out of sight of the platform ends. We could even hear the sounds of whistling Class 20s carried on the breeze. Was it 011 or just some others parked up on the curve! Seconds seamed like hours as we willed the peg to change until at last it did.
Slowly we crawl into Derby. Under the bridge and just as the platform ends come into view 20011 is just drawing to a stop on Platform 4!!! As the 1st coach of E63 reached platform 1, a couple of young and foolish bashers leapt and were running for it, but they would have done better staying put as the train still moving faster than they were! We stopped right by the bridge and then we were off and running. On reaching the stairs, whistles were already blowing and we were running against the solid wall of humanity that was slowly moving towards us with heavy suitcases, briefcases and swarms of unattended little children, dogs on leads. Finally reaching the far side of the bridge, the brakes were off! Doors were shutting and we were still fighting our way down the stairs taking what seamed like ages, finally crossing the platform reaching for the nearest door handles like sprinters ducking for the winning tape and then scrambling on board.
Once we made it on board, the staff who had seamed so very keen to get the train out before we'd made it seamed to loose all interest. The relief then stood there for what seamed like an ages (although is was only a couple of minutes) so we could have strolled over and still had plenty of time! There was a mini flap once someone suggested the man with the gloves had appeared, but no, we were off and the loco stayed on! Once we did depart we made our way forwards and found a seat with our mate Rob who had fallen onto 20011 at Sheffield!
It was quickly clear that any late running was not down to the engine. 20011 handled the five coach load with ease. The only thing wrong was it was over too quickly and the rest of the day could only be an anticlimax after that!
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