Euston - Northampton local trains pre electrification

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778

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I am interested in finding out about local services in out of Euston in the 1950s/60s before electrification. Did the 310s replace steam hauled trains, or did DMUs take over the local services for a few years? Also did any local services go beyond Northampton?

Thanks
 
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delt1c

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I believe initially it was 304’s that operated the setvice prior to the 310’s
 

Andy R. A.

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The Local Northampton services sometimes started or went to Rugby. The services were often a mixture of Suburban non corridor stock and a few Main Line ex LMS corridor coaches or BR Mark 1s. The last few years before Electrification they were hauled by class 24s or even 40s, plus the former Diesel prototypes 10201-3 and 10000/10001. 10203 | 10203 near Watford in 1960 on an up local train prob… | Flickr
 

RT4038

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I am interested in finding out about local services in out of Euston in the 1950s/60s before electrification. Did the 310s replace steam hauled trains, or did DMUs take over the local services for a few years? Also did any local services go beyond Northampton?

Thanks

In 1964 on Mon-Fri there were 4 'starting' local trains from Northampton to Euston (0659, 0749, 0817 and 0925) and 4 local trains through from Rugby (dep. 0815, 1235, 1601 and 1721, [departing Northampton about 30 minutes later]. There was also a 1920 from Rugby to Bletchley. The Saturday service was similar, with slightly different times of some trains, and an extra at 2212 from Northampton to Bletchley.
In those days some main line trains also stopped at Northampton, departing at 0357 (to Marylebone), 1010, 1111, 1353, 1447. 1822, 2111 and 2140.
All these trains would have been loco hauled up to electrification.
There was also an irregular service (of DMUs I think) that travelled between Rugby and Northampton (some through from Birmingham and/or Coventry marked*) 0717, 0830, 1001, 1122, 1301*, 1645 (FO), 1825*

This was the timetable being operated during the height of electrification works, where services had been slightly reduced and journey times extended.

In 1956, when all would have been steam hauled, there were 'starting' local trains at 0638, 0655, 0800, 0840 and 1000 with only 1 through from Rugby dep 1545. The main line trains were at 0416, 1127, 1355, 1432, 1820, 2104 and 2135. The intermediate stations between Rugby and Bletchley were still open then, and there was an infrequent 'local' service in operation between Rugby and Bletchley via either route, some terminating/starting at Northampton and some requiring a change at Blisworth for travel to and from Northampton. The timetable is a bit complicated, but suffice to say that Northampton to Bletchley was at 0730 (to Roade only), 0815 (change at Blisworth to a train from Rugby via Weedon), 1043, 1309 [We & Th only], 1750 and 1912 (again change at Blisworth). The Saturday pattern was slightly different including a late train at 2210
An exotic train was at 0747 from Leamington to Northampton arr 0858, via Rugby 0830.

It was a completely different world then!
 

Taunton

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The main line local services were loco and carriages, typically non-corridor LMS types, until electrification. By that time Class 24 pretty much monopolised them, it was one of their first duties from the late 1950s, although the odd Black 5 or 2-6-4T might appear to the end. The actual service, especially outside peak hours, was notably sparse, hours between trains. The odd main line service did serve Bletchley and/or Northampton. Some of the locals terminated at Watford and one needed to continue to London on the interminable all-stations DC Line, especially during the period when the electrification was live to Watford but not to Euston, commonly by Class 304 until the 310s were available.

The front 1952 Harrow accident train was a morning peak local from Tring, actually running on the main line although stopping at Harrow, and the majority of the fatalities were in its rear coaches, where by tradition many of the LMR staff at the head office at Euston who commuted on the line typically travelled. The rear two carriages were in fact LNWR pre-grouping timber-bodied vehicles, still in use on main-line services at this time.
 

Andy R. A.

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There are a few videos on Youtube by A G Denyer showing some of the Local services pre Electrification when Diesel hauled British Railways Diesel & Electric 1960's Hemel Hempstead - YouTube The DMUs in the pre Electrification period seemed to be mainly confined to the connecting Branch services Harrow-Belmont, Watford-St. Albans, Oxford-Bletchley-Cambridge, and Bletchley-Buckingham-Banbury, plus as has been mentioned some northbound services from Northampton to the Birmingham area. I think one of the Bletchley-Watford services was a DMU working to provide a changeover set for the St. Albans branch ?
 

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There are a few videos on Youtube by A G Denyer showing some of the Local services pre Electrification when Diesel hauled British Railways Diesel & Electric 1960's Hemel Hempstead - YouTube The DMUs in the pre Electrification period seemed to be mainly confined to the connecting Branch services Harrow-Belmont, Watford-St. Albans, Oxford-Bletchley-Cambridge, and Bletchley-Buckingham-Banbury, plus as has been mentioned some northbound services from Northampton to the Birmingham area. I think one of the Bletchley-Watford services was a DMU working to provide a changeover set for the St. Albans branch ?

Of course back then Milton Keynes was a little village, and Hemel itself was a small market town. Even Bletchley wasn't anywhere near as big as it is now, with much of the housing being 1960s/70s build - indeed, Bletchley village centre was originally at the crossroads by the Three Trees/Old Swan pubs, the present town centre is much later, probably again 1960s. Northampton too is mostly 1960s-70s new town/overspill development. So past Watford (which had the DC line) it was basically rural backwater after rural backwater until you got to at least Rugby.

Has any other line had such a significant change in its demand over such a relatively short period? Other than possibly Metroland where the railway basically built the houses to create it business?
 

tbwbear

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Just to mention that the excellent website Timetable World has some old LMR timetables from 1955, 1958 and 1962.

Hours of fun to be had with those !
 

Taunton

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The DMUs in the pre Electrification period seemed to be mainly confined to the connecting Branch services Harrow-Belmont, Watford-St. Albans, Oxford-Bletchley-Cambridge, and Bletchley-Buckingham-Banbury
Lesser-known still were the 1950s "Flying Brick" 4-wheeled diesel cars, 11 in all, precursors of Pacers I guess, which ran on the various branches mentioned.

ACV / BUT (railcar.co.uk)
 

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Has any other line had such a significant change in its demand over such a relatively short period? Other than possibly Metroland where the railway basically built the houses to create it business?
Hitchin-Huntingdon on electrification?
Airedale/Wharfedale?
Peŕhaps various electrified bits of the SR beyond the Green Belt?
But I agree, the ex LNW was particularly thin
 

DerekC

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I certainly recall some steam right up to the start of electric services. I have a vivid memory of what I think may have been my last steam run from Euston to Berkhamsted, behind a Black 5 on a crisp winter's evening with the firebox glow thrown out onto the track*.

*of course I wasn't hanging out of the lead window on the front carriage, how could you think such a thing?
 

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Has any other line had such a significant change in its demand over such a relatively short period? Other than possibly Metroland where the railway basically built the houses to create it business?
The Colchester/Clacton and Kent Coast Phase 1 (Gillingham-Faversham-Herne Bay-Thanet) electrifications both developed an almost instant long-distance commuting culture beyond what had previously been an 'urban' phenomenon (largely to Shenfield/Southend and Dartford/Medway Towns).

The difference was that many people who moved to coastal Essex and North East Kent had retirement in mind, whereas the Northampton axis was obviously more for the longer term.
 

RT4038

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I certainly recall some steam right up to the start of electric services. I have a vivid memory of what I think may have been my last steam run from Euston to Berkhamsted, behind a Black 5 on a crisp winter's evening with the firebox glow thrown out onto the track*.

*of course I wasn't hanging out of the lead window on the front carriage, how could you think such a thing?
It appears that Northampton and Willesden sheds closed on 27.9.65, Bletchley having closed slightly earlier on 5.7.65. I guess no steam locomotives would have worked suburban service after then. Electric working from Euston commenced on 12.11.65 with full operation from 18.4.66.
 

Journeyman

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It appears that Northampton and Willesden sheds closed on 27.9.65, Bletchley having closed slightly earlier on 5.7.65. I guess no steam locomotives would have worked suburban service after then. Electric working from Euston commenced on 12.11.65 with full operation from 18.4.66.
Was the station fully rebuilt by then?
 
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And the Watford to Tring area, including Hemel and Berkhamstead was pretty well serviced by London Country buses from the 1930s onwards. Why take an irregular dirty train when a regular, cleaner bus is available to take you where you want to go, not where the railways builders decided would be a nice place for a station.
 

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The Colchester/Clacton and Kent Coast Phase 1 (Gillingham-Faversham-Herne Bay-Thanet) electrifications both developed an almost instant long-distance commuting culture beyond what had previously been an 'urban' phenomenon (largely to Shenfield/Southend and Dartford/Medway Towns).
Agree, though in the case of Kent Coast 1 the first big growth was in places like Longfield and South Gillingham/Rainham (similarly Staplehurst in Phase 2) - Longfield (then Fawkham) had gone electric pre-WW2 but obviously development was deferred!
 

RT4038

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Has any other line had such a significant change in its demand over such a relatively short period? Other than possibly Metroland where the railway basically built the houses to create it business?
It was certainly the last line to have such a significant change in demand that close to London.
 

70014IronDuke

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I believe initially it was 304’s that operated the setvice prior to the 310’s

Not how I remember it. It was AM10s. For AM4s we had to go to Rugby, where they would be in the north bays to work Stafford & Crewe.

As others have said, the locals were dominated by Cl 24s - some of the very low numbered ones too, after they came back from the SR.

Prior to that, it was Class 5s and 750xx, and on the 'crack' trains, Rugby had some Jubilees - 5722 Defence was a favourite, and also some parallel boilered Patriots up to 62-3. I once had 46239 as late as Easter 64 on an up local from Wolverton. (Only time hauled by a Duchess in the real world.)

I never saw 2-6-4Ts on the outer suburbans.

As for 'transformation' - the obvious comparison has to be (KX) - Hitchin - Peterboro. This service 60 - 66 (not sure after that), barely existed. Two up through trains in the morning peak and back in the evening. Otherwise, it was 2 x 2-car Cravens units trundling every FOUR hours between Hitchin and Huntingdon/Peterboro. Even Woodford Halse arguably had a better service!
 

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As for 'transformation' - the obvious comparison has to be (KX) - Hitchin - Peterboro. This service 60 - 66 (not sure after that), barely existed. Two up through trains in the morning peak and back in the evening. Otherwise, it was 2 x 2-car Cravens units trundling every FOUR hours between Hitchin and Huntingdon/Peterboro. Even Woodford Halse arguably had a better service!

I suppose Peterborough and Stevenage have in common with Hemel, MK and Northampton in having grown substantially as overspill/New Town developments, meaning a substantial and quite quick increase in demand. Add to that high London house prices and you've got your "perfect storm".
 

RT4038

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As for 'transformation' - the obvious comparison has to be (KX) - Hitchin - Peterboro. This service 60 - 66 (not sure after that), barely existed. Two up through trains in the morning peak and back in the evening. Otherwise, it was 2 x 2-car Cravens units trundling every FOUR hours between Hitchin and Huntingdon/Peterboro. Even Woodford Halse arguably had a better service!
Yes, but Biggleswade is much further out of London than King's Langley!

The transformation on this line was at a slower pace, with services gradually building, rather than the sudden uplift of th Euston line.
 

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Yes, but Biggleswade is much further out of London than King's Langley!

The transformation on this line was at a slower pace, with services gradually building, rather than the sudden uplift of th Euston line.

Though to be fair after that jump Euston line services have slowly but steadily grown longer and more frequent.
 

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I suppose Peterborough and Stevenage have in common with Hemel, MK and Northampton in having grown substantially as overspill/New Town developments, meaning a substantial and quite quick increase in demand. Add to that high London house prices and you've got your "perfect storm".

Maybe the intensification of services towards Gatwick and Horsham including Crawley - the former was rather small before the 1960s/1970s and Crawley also a new town. Redhill and Horley have also grown moderately.
 

etr221

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It appears that Northampton and Willesden sheds closed on 27.9.65, Bletchley having closed slightly earlier on 5.7.65. I guess no steam locomotives would have worked suburban service after then. Electric working from Euston commenced on 12.11.65 with full operation from 18.4.66.
As I recall, all services to/from Euston were electrically worked from January 1966: 18th April was when the new timetable started. Until then there were still a couple of 'beyond Watford' peak hour services to/from Broad Street, loco hauled by BR Sulzer Type 2s as they were than (later class 24).

In 1966 there were a few of the AM4/304 working out of Euston - I assume due to a shortage of the AM10s at that stage.
 

778

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In 1964 on Mon-Fri there were 4 'starting' local trains from Northampton to Euston (0659, 0749, 0817 and 0925) and 4 local trains through from Rugby (dep. 0815, 1235, 1601 and 1721, [departing Northampton about 30 minutes later]. There was also a 1920 from Rugby to Bletchley. The Saturday service was similar, with slightly different times of some trains, and an extra at 2212 from Northampton to Bletchley.
In those days some main line trains also stopped at Northampton, departing at 0357 (to Marylebone), 1010, 1111, 1353, 1447. 1822, 2111 and 2140.
All these trains would have been loco hauled up to electrification.
There was also an irregular service (of DMUs I think) that travelled between Rugby and Northampton (some through from Birmingham and/or Coventry marked*) 0717, 0830, 1001, 1122, 1301*, 1645 (FO), 1825*

This was the timetable being operated during the height of electrification works, where services had been slightly reduced and journey times extended.

In 1956, when all would have been steam hauled, there were 'starting' local trains at 0638, 0655, 0800, 0840 and 1000 with only 1 through from Rugby dep 1545. The main line trains were at 0416, 1127, 1355, 1432, 1820, 2104 and 2135. The intermediate stations between Rugby and Bletchley were still open then, and there was an infrequent 'local' service in operation between Rugby and Bletchley via either route, some terminating/starting at Northampton and some requiring a change at Blisworth for travel to and from Northampton. The timetable is a bit complicated, but suffice to say that Northampton to Bletchley was at 0730 (to Roade only), 0815 (change at Blisworth to a train from Rugby via Weedon), 1043, 1309 [We & Th only], 1750 and 1912 (again change at Blisworth). The Saturday pattern was slightly different including a late train at 2210
An exotic train was at 0747 from Leamington to Northampton arr 0858, via Rugby 0830.

It was a completely different world then!
Thanks for this information. Did the trains that stopped at hemel mainly terminate at Tring?

I know this is slightly off topic but I seem to remember back in the early 90s, DMUs substituted the 321's for one weekend. I cannot remember the reason why though (I think it could have been to do with snow?).

My dad used to work at Berkhamsted station, and I remember seeing DMUs arriving, on thier way to Euston. I think it was 1990 or 91, cannot be sure though.
 
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RT4038

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Thanks for this information. Did the trains that stopped at hemel mainly terminate at Tring?
The short answer is no! Only a few terminated at Tring.
In the 1964 timetable (the 1956 was quite similar), the northbound trains Mo-Fr were:
6.5am Watford Junc-Bletchley (HH 6.20am)
7.5am Euston-Tring (HH 7.49am)
7.25am Euston-Rugby (HH 8.14am)
9am Euston-Bletchley (HH 9.45am)
11*53am Euston-Rugby (HH 12.37pm)
1*43pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 2.23pm)
3.33pm Watford Junc-Bletchley (HH 3.49pm)
4.21pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 5.7pm)
4.55pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 5.36pm)
5.6pm Euston-Tring (HH 5.51pm)
5.25pm Euston-Northampton (HH 6.9pm)
5.21pm Broad St-Tring (HH 6.16pm)
5.43pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 6.29pm)
6.6pm Euston-Northampton (HH 6.40pm)
6.5pm Broad St-Tring (HH 7.6pm)
6*38pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 7.19pm)
7*15pm Euston-Northampton (HH 7.57pm)
8.1pm Euston-Tring (HH 8.45pm)
9*1pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 9.43pm)
10.7pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 11.1pm)
11.10pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 11.51pm)
11*56pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 12.40am)

For completeness, although not stopping at HH, there was a 6.12pm Euston-Bletchley, stopping at Bushey, Watford, KL, Apsley, fast to Tring then all stns.

Trains marked * ran fast from Euston to Watford Junc, the others stopping also at Harrow and/or Bushey. The 6.6pm from Euston ran fast from Euston to HH, clearly the premier commuter train!, and didn't call at Tring . North of Watford all trains stopped at all stations, except the last train to call at Cheddington was the 7.15pm from Euston. The evening 'rush' service was quite respectable, but the daytime service marked by its paucity.

The service was broadly similar on Saturdays, although the afternoon 'rush' period was reduced, and the Broad St trains did not run.
 
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Taunton

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Even Stanier, LMS Chief Mechanical Engineer in the 1930s, when he moved house from Swindon to take the position up, lived at Rickmansworth, and commuted to the LMS head office on the Metropolitan to Euston Square.
 

778

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The short answer is no! Only a few terminated at Tring.
In the 1964 timetable (the 1956 was quite similar), the northbound trains Mo-Fr were:
6.5am Watford Junc-Bletchley (HH 6.20am)
7.5am Euston-Tring (HH 7.49am)
7.25am Euston-Rugby (HH 8.14am)
9am Euston-Bletchley (HH 9.45am)
11*53am Euston-Rugby (HH 12.37pm)
1*43pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 2.23pm)
3.33pm Watford Junc-Bletchley (HH 3.49pm)
4.21pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 5.7pm)
4.55pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 5.36pm)
5.6pm Euston-Tring (HH 5.51pm)
5.25pm Euston-Northampton (HH 6.9pm)
5.21pm Broad St-Tring (HH 6.16pm)
5.43pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 6.29pm)
6.6pm Euston-Northampton (HH 6.40pm)
6.5pm Broad St-Tring (HH 7.6pm)
6*38pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 7.19pm)
7*15pm Euston-Northampton (HH 7.57pm)
8.1pm Euston-Tring (HH 8.45pm)
9*1pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 9.43pm)
10.7pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 11.1pm)
11.10pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 11.51pm)
11*56pm Euston-Bletchley (HH 12.40am)

For completeness, although not stopping at HH, there was a 6.12pm Euston-Bletchley, stopping at Bushey, Watford, KL, Apsley, fast to Tring then all stns.

Trains marked * ran fast from Euston to Watford Junc, the others stopping also at Harrow and/or Bushey. The 6.6pm from Euston ran fast from Euston to HH, clearly the premier commuter train!, and didn't call at Tring . North of Watford all trains stopped at all stations, except the last train to call at Cheddington was the 7.15pm from Euston. The evening 'rush' service was quite respectable, but the daytime service marked by its paucity.

The service was broadly similar on Saturdays, although the afternoon 'rush' period was reduced, and the Broad St trains did not run.
Did the trains from Broad Street, join the west coast main line at Primrose Hill? Also in an earlier post you mentioned that one of the trains from Northampton terminated at Marylebone. How did it get there? I did not think it was possible to get into Marylebone from the west coast main line?
 

Andy R. A.

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Did the trains from Broad Street, join the west coast main line at Primrose Hill? Also in an earlier post you mentioned that one of the trains from Northampton terminated at Marylebone. How did it get there? I did not think it was possible to get into Marylebone from the west coast main line?
The Broad Street services did travel via Primrose Hill. There were a number of diverted services in the run up to Electrification that ran to Marylebone from Bletchley taking the Oxford Line and then via the spur down to Calvert on the Great Central Main Line to access Marylebone. Even after the Great Central closed as a through route to Rugby the Calvert spur still catered for some freight and Parcels traffic, and for transferring DMUs from Aylesbury to Bletchley TMD.
 
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