Great Eastern services before electrification to Norwich and Class 86?

Status
Not open for further replies.

itfcfan

Member
Joined
7 May 2011
Messages
299
I grew up close to Stowmarket (Suffolk) in the 1980s and I'm interested in what trains would have run through at this time.

What locomotives / carriages were used on GEML services between Liverpool Street and Norwich before the class 86 locomotives were introduced upon electrification around 1986~87? Did the "Intercity" branding start with the class 86s on this route or had it existed here previously? Did the frequency of services or journey time change much with electrification to Norwich?

If anyone has any memory of this or photos I'd be really keen to hear / see them! Thank you!
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,899
Location
Herts
Other people will have more correct detail but my Ipswich time was working for freight in 1980 to 1983 roughly.

The base service was hourly to Norwich , - first down one at about 0700 but there was an odd gap in the evening where after 1930 - the Ipswich connection was the 2150 to Clacton (a 309) with a 2 car Cravens DMU onwards , on reflection this was probably a balancing move to get the unit off maintenance at Colchester for more work locally. The last direct train from London was 2300. The 1620 off Liverpool St was the "crack" East Anglian which might have been first stop Ipswich.

There was I think one through London train each way off the East Suffolk line with a 37 and MK1's - the main Norwich services were very smart Stratford 47's with Mk2 stock and a MK1 buffet.

There were odd workings from the Ely direction to and from Harwich PQ - short MK1 sets , no doubt connecting with day and night sailings.

Electrification clearly doubled the service with an extra EMU to Ipswich (back extended from Colchester ?) and eventually more Norwich - London services but I had moved on by then. After the 1982 strikes , many thought that electrification was lost , but pleased to see it was pushed through.
 

306024

Established Member
Joined
23 Jan 2013
Messages
3,246
Location
East Anglia
Chief Planner has a good memory.

The Lowestoft - London working was around 07.20 from Lowestoft, returning at 16.50.

There was also an Ipswich - Cambridge - Liverpool St working and return, something like 16.56 from Liverpool St, with a 37 and Mk1s

The North Country Continental was running from Parkeston to Manchester via Stowmarket at that time too.

The pride of the locomotive fleet though were Stratford 47s on the Norwich service.
 

Welly

Member
Joined
15 Nov 2013
Messages
343
I remember going by train from Norwich to London on a day trip with my Grandad around 1980, it was a 47 haulage outwards and a 37 haulage return.
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,899
Location
Herts
Chief Planner has a good memory.

The Lowestoft - London working was around 07.20 from Lowestoft, returning at 16.50.

There was also an Ipswich - Cambridge - Liverpool St working and return, something like 16.56 from Liverpool St, with a 37 and Mk1s

The North Country Continental was running from Parkeston to Manchester via Stowmarket at that time too.

The pride of the locomotive fleet though were Stratford 47s on the Norwich service.

Thank you Sir - there was also an UP TPO from Norwich at about 2000 hrs - non stop from Ipswich to "The Street" - very handy for late posting of urgent letters and of course for putting BR internal mail onto it.

I was there one night doing so , and a passenger burst onto the platform asking "Colchester ?" - Yes , I said and bundled him on as the guard flagged it away. Penny dropped as the tail lamp entered the tunnel. A word with the box at Colchester put the train in for an unscheduled call - try that today. Customer service par excellence. Nothing in the log of course.

Those Stratford 47's were superb to see in action and presentation.
 

306024

Established Member
Joined
23 Jan 2013
Messages
3,246
Location
East Anglia
The up TPO was a strange train. For a while three passenger coaches were detached off a normal Norwich train to be replaced by the TPO vehicles.

Also around this time engineering work on the Bury road meant there was no path for a light engine from March to Parkeston. Solution? Couple it to the North Country Continental. 2 x 47s were an unusual sight on that train for a couple of months. Again, try that today!
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,899
Location
Herts
The up TPO was a strange train. For a while three passenger coaches were detached off a normal Norwich train to be replaced by the TPO vehicles.

Also around this time engineering work on the Bury road meant there was no path for a light engine from March to Parkeston. Solution? Couple it to the North Country Continental. 2 x 47s were an unusual sight on that train for a couple of months. Again, try that today!

Memories further awake - the down TPO did some complex shunting at Ipswich to sort out the "Haughley Mail" - the Peterborough portion and the Norwich section , which involved the station pilot (an 03) in real passenger use.

I have to say , from a freight perspective and the explosion of traffic into Felixstowe at the time - how brilliant the staff were at dealing with extra traffic , - there was an urgent need for a Sat special of 20 empty flats to Coatbridge and seeing it away (on unpaid overtime) - it was a pleasure to see "County of Essex" with a Stratford driver taking him home and the train on its way. He should have gone light engine off an inwards special and after a bit of debate he took it. (a bacon sandwich and tea helped clinch it and the guarantee of relief) - the value of that ECS move was a lot I assure you as they came back as export traffic on the Sunday night.

A quieter railway then , but some pedants would say it was overmanned and over resourced but pretty good I think in handling appreciated extra short term business. Where else could Ipswich Lower Yard be set up as an extra Freightlner terminal in the handy 2 weeks when the Area Manager was on leave , and fair play to him he laughed and let the assistants and me get on with it. The wages were sorted out.
 

Bevan Price

Established Member
Joined
22 Apr 2010
Messages
5,853
I think it was the first batch D200-D209. Their performance was no better than the Britannias they replaced.
Five 40s were sent new to East Anglia, and joined later by the five 40s initially at Finsbury Park. They all moved to ECML depots when some Class 47s arrived in East Anglia.

Other trains in the area were an early afternoon service from Harwich Town to Peterborough, which returned in late afternoon, and for many years booked for a Class 31.
Then there was the Harwich Parkeston Quay to Manchester (and previously to Liverpool Central until it closed) - for many years booked for Stratford 37s, and later, 47s.

Not sure when it finished without checking old timetables, but at one time there had also been a Colchester to York/Newcastle loco hauled service.
 

AM9

Established Member
Joined
13 May 2014
Messages
10,421
Location
St Albans
... Those Stratford 47's were superb to see in action and presentation.
They were indeed. In the ''70s there was even a few still in two-tone green, a livery that I thought suited them well. Some of the Liverpool St trains were reversed at Norwich and sent on to Yarmouth (Yarmouth Vauxhall as it was named then). In those days the 17:30 down train had a struggle keeping to its path times as it was being hotly pursued by the 17:40 to Clacton comprising 2x2 cars and 2x4 cars giving the EMU over twice the power per tonne. If the Southend Victoria services weren't keeping to their path, the 17:30 was sometimes delayed beyond recovery before Shenfield.
The 16:50 from Liverpool St to Lowestoft often had a party feel to it especially in the winter, in the '70s it was usually all MKI stock.
 

O L Leigh

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2006
Messages
4,995
Location
In the cab with the paper
I'm probably a similar vintage to @itfcfan and grew up in Norwich before moving to Bury St Edmunds, so I have childhood memories of the GEML and connected lines both pre- and post-electrification.

The mainstay of the Norwich-London traffic was Stratford silver-topped Cl47s on rakes of Mk2Ds cast off from the WCML complete with a Mk1 RBR Buffet. At some point these coaches were supplemented with/replaced by Mk2Fs, although I have no idea if this pre-or post-dated electrification However, it was not impossible that you could get virtually any loco hauling a rag-tag mix of A/C and non-A/C stock. Certainly the InterCity brand would have been in evidence prior to sectorisation. I also have memories of the Shenfield bottleneck and the race to get to the end of the 4-track section in order not to be delayed by a slower service being put out ahead.

There were also the inter-regional services originating from Norwich, Ipswich and Harwich and heading across country towards Peterborough which, right up until replacement with Cl156 Sprinters, were generally Cl31 hauled non-A/C Mk2 trains. The exceptions to this were the Harwich boat trains, such as The Continental, which were often Cl47 hauled.

I seem to think that electrification did accelerate the service, as I have a memory of being told that, even with a traction changeover from diesel to electric, the total journey time to London was the same as if it had been diesel hauled throughout. However, I have no evidence of this as I was only a child at the time.
 

ac6000cw

Established Member
Joined
10 May 2014
Messages
2,240
Location
Cambridge, UK
This post - https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/light-engine-movements-shunts-at-stations.215375/post-5054741 - has a video of electric <-> diesel loco changes at Ipswich in 1987, definitely Inter-City branded and liveried (including the 86's).

I moved to East Anglia in 1980 and my recollections of motive power and train services match those of the other contributors - 47's on LST - Norwich, 31's and 37's on other loco-hauled trains in the region (LST - Kings Lynn went from 37's to 47's over time and as steam heat was phased out, before a brief period of 86's and loco changes at Cambridge until Kings Lynn electrification was completed).

Were there still any loco-hauled Summer Saturday workings to Cromer by the 1980s, or were they long gone by that stage?
 

CW2

Established Member
Joined
7 May 2020
Messages
1,395
Location
Crewe
Memories further awake - the down TPO did some complex shunting at Ipswich to sort out the "Haughley Mail" - the Peterborough portion and the Norwich section , which involved the station pilot (an 03) in real passenger use.
Ah yes, I once sampled 37036 on the 23:55 Liv St - Ipswich to pick up the Up Haughley Mail, which also benefitted from an 03 shunt. 03179 was duly employed to shunt together the Peterborough and Norwich portions, to form the 02:45 departure back to Liv Street. I noted at the time that the Norwich portion was several very busy TSOs, whereas the Peterborough portion was a solitary - and empty - declassified BFK. No guesses which section I travelled in! 47573 was the power back to Liv St. (This was all prior to spending a day doing March - Spalding with a selection of motive power in the last summer season before closure).
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,899
Location
Herts
They were indeed. In the ''70s there was even a few still in two-tone green, a livery that I thought suited them well. Some of the Liverpool St trains were reversed at Norwich and sent on to Yarmouth (Yarmouth Vauxhall as it was named then). In those days the 17:30 down train had a struggle keeping to its path times as it was being hotly pursued by the 17:40 to Clacton comprising 2x2 cars and 2x4 cars giving the EMU over twice the power per tonne. If the Southend Victoria services weren't keeping to their path, the 17:30 was sometimes delayed beyond recovery before Shenfield.
The 16:50 from Liverpool St to Lowestoft often had a party feel to it especially in the winter, in the '70s it was usually all MKI stock.

A good number of Ipswich drivers used to make the comment that there was no fear of invasion in WW2 , as Shenfield invariably stopped everything. Bit harsh really as in those days it was localised signalling and no CCF to scan the horizon as to what was approaching on converging lines.

I had the pleasure of a cab ride on a 47 on the 1620 down Norwich one evening (with a pass) and it was quite an experience for the sheer density of both trains and signals. One wishes that had been filmed.
 

hexagon789

Veteran Member
Joined
2 Sep 2016
Messages
12,024
Location
Glasgow
The mainstay of the Norwich-London traffic was Stratford silver-topped Cl47s on rakes of Mk2Ds cast off from the WCML complete with a Mk1 RBR Buffet.
I thought they were ex-ER displaced out by HSTs, the first rakes appearing from December 1980?
 

delt1c

Established Member
Joined
4 Apr 2008
Messages
1,828
Anyone else remember travelling on the ex ECML Mk1 Pullman seconds which were used as 1 st class on Liverpool St Norwich and Harwich services?
 

Taunton

Established Member
Joined
1 Aug 2013
Messages
6,697
There was I think one through London train each way off the East Suffolk line with a 37 and MK1's
When the East Anglian lesser lines were reduced to the "Basic Railway" in the 1960s, with short dmus, one outstanding oddball loco-hauled train was this one, Lowestoft to Liverpool Street and back, into London before 10am, returning at about 5pm. Among the places it stopped on the East Suffolk line was Saxmundham. In charge of the ER in the 1960s was the redoubtable Gerry Fiennes - who lived near Saxmundham. He used it most days. Personal parking slot for his black Morris Minor convertible at the station. Apparently he still put in an appearance on the service from time to time coming up to London well after his retirement.
 

AM9

Established Member
Joined
13 May 2014
Messages
10,421
Location
St Albans
When the East Anglian lesser lines were reduced to the "Basic Railway" in the 1960s, with short dmus, one outstanding oddball loco-hauled train was this one, Lowestoft to Liverpool Street and back, into London before 10am, returning at about 5pm. Among the places it stopped on the East Suffolk line was Saxmundham. In charge of the ER in the 1960s was the redoubtable Gerry Fiennes - who lived near Saxmundham. He used it most days. Personal parking slot for his black Morris Minor convertible at the station. Apparently he still put in an appearance on the service from time to time coming up to London well after his retirement.
I have a memory of the 16:50 LST to Lowestoft one New Years's Eve. The train was stopped somewhere on the way up to Bethnal green, (comm, cord I think). It eventually got moving much behind its schedule. The buffet was teeming, mostly alcohol being consumed. I alighted at Colchester as usual but I was told a few days later that a rather inebriated gentleman stopped the guard when he passed through just before Manningtree, asking him how much the fine was if the communication cord was pulled without good reason. The guard informed him, (I think that it was about £50 in those days) so he then pulled it. As the train shuddered to a halt, the scribbled out a cheque which he gave to the guard. He then opened a door and disappeared into the dark!
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,899
Location
Herts
Yes, but he was already 60 when he left BR and carried on working elsewhere - as he was Mayor of Aldeburgh in 1976 I assume he continued to live in Suffolk.

I believe he lived in Aldburgh to his death - his second book (quite rare now ,outstanding) - (( Fiennes on Rail)) - if ever there was a railwayman's railwayman. I know some people who knew him and they had nothing but praise for his style - albeit a few bits of over emphasis from time to time.

I tell you , if there is an "upstairs" - it will have a railwayman's corner and I will be seeking him out for a good chat. (and a few others too)
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
12,156
Location
Airedale
Were there still any loco-hauled Summer Saturday workings to Cromer by the 1980s, or were they long gone by that stage?
Memory says they had long been replaced by a DMU all the way to Sheringham (and back!) which I think was cl101s or similar. Cromer Beach had lost its run-round facilities by the mid 70s (which is when I started buying the national timetable and discovered the DMU....)
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
6,899
Location
Herts
Speaking of books when are you (and whilst I'm thinking about it @Bald Rick) going to get around to writing your memoirs and publishing them? ;)

Well I can think of more senior managers than me (not that I was ever that senior really) , busy writing their stuff up - so possibly a crowded market ? , need to focus maybe and start sketching out issues and so on.

Thank you for your kind thoughts. I joined a local Ipswich rail facebook page recently and was impressed with the quality of their stuff. (and not so long ago "historical" material)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top