Last steam workings out of Brighton on Plymouth/Exeter trains

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AidWall

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I had always thought that steam workings on these trains reduced sharply after 1963 (when Brighton lost its allocation of Bulleid pacifics) and became very rare after mid-1964 when Brighton shed shut to steam.

However, I have come across a comment in the book 'Rail centres: Brighton' (by Basil Cooper, published around 1980) which says that there was a brief return to steam working at the Brighton end of the journey in 1966 (which time the train was only going as far as Exeter).

Furthermore, a fellow enthusiast has said that, as a child, he has a vivid memory of the westbound train arriving into Chichester steam hauled, where the locomotive was replaced by a diesel for the run west. He is able to date these observations to 1965/66, and says that this happened on multiple occasions.

Any comments/information much appreciated.

Many thanks in advance
 
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randyrippley

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This cropped up in a thread a few months back. It's tied into steam-heat only stock being used on the route, while the Southern's only diesels, the class 33 were electric heat only. During one or two winters Brighton-Salisbury had to revert to steam traction, with class 42 Warships hauling west of Salisbury.
By 67/68 enough stock had been converted to dual heat to allow the 33s to work the route again.
Doesn't quite fit in with your comment about Chichester, unless class 43 Warships or Hymeks were getting that far east: they were regularly running Bristol-Portsmouth so its not a lot further along the coast
 

Gloster

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Chichester was not an unusual place to change locos, although Fareham might have appeared a slightly better choice. I am not sure if South Western Division crews (except Fratton) only knew as far as Chichester for freight working, but no further, so it might normally have been a location for a crew change. If the crew for the Chichester-Brighton section were a Brighton one, they might not have traction knowledge of WR diesels. Even if that was not the cause, it could be that on arrival at Brighton the South Western Division crew handed the loco over to a Brighton crew for shunting, etc., and again the Brighton crew might not have the traction knowledge.
 

steamybrian

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I started work for BR Southern in October 1966 and can confirm that steam had finished on the Brighton-Plymouth passenger service by then but unknown when diesels took over. I agree with Gloster above that an occasional freight or engineers train was steam hauled from the Havant direction into Chichester but even that had finished by early 1967.
 

75A

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I've seen a picture of a Western (Class 52) 'dead' at the platform end of the 'middle road' (between Platforms 2 & 3 @ Brighton after failing on a West Country train.

Brighton's Top Link MT Drivers 'signed' as far as Salisbury in the 80's when I was there.
 

AidWall

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Many thanks to those who have responded, much appreciated.
From another source, I have been sent a photo of the westbound train from 1964/65 headed by a Standard 4 which (to my mind) corroborates the observation that locos were changed at Chichester, although it obviously doesn’t provide a explanation.
Although I do not have a date for the photo, I would be surprised if it was later than mid-1965 when Redhill and Eastbourne sheds were both closed (Brighton already having closed to steam by then). I agree that the use of steam in 1966 would have used WCs/BBs from Salisbury.
 

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Arglwydd Golau

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Paul Cooper in 'Southern Steam Swansong - The Final Years 1964-1967' states:

'...in the winter of 1965/66 the Class 33 Cromptons were not fitted with steam heating. Initially, Steam operated from Chichester on these services but steam was reintroduced from Brighton on some services in January 1966 until the Summer Timetable was introduced the following May'

This is illustrated with a photo of a BR 5 leaving Brighton with the 10.25 to Southampton in January 1966.
 

Bikeman78

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Some interesting information has been provided by a friend.

The loco change at Chichester started on 7 September 1964, the Brighton-Plymouth and return trains having been retimed since 15 June 1964 and routed direct between Havant and Cosham instead of going into Portsmouth for reversal. Heating requirements prevented use of diesels in winter so from 7 September 1964 a 2000x electric worked between Brighton and Chichester, and steam worked between Chichester and Salisbury.

The westbound loco change could take place in the platform at Chichester, but the eastbound loco change had to take place at the home signal before the station, and this disrupted timekeeping. From 28 September 1964 the eastbound loco change was dropped with the steam loco running through to Brighton. This arrangement continued through the 1964/65 winter timetable.

For 1965/66 winter the train was supposed to be ETH stock, allowing use of BRCW Type 3s in winter. The previous winter's use of electric and steam locos had been resumed for a short period in September and October 1965 because the ETH stock did not arrive until 11 October 1965. However, by November 1965 the ETH stock was redeployed to the East Grinstead line, and it was back to electric and steam haulage. There was briefly an eastbound loco change at Havant but by end December 1965 steam was used both from and to Brighton because of unreliability of the boilers in the electric locos. This continued through to the April 1966 timetable change.

The steam loco was usually a "West Country" but could also be a Standard 5MT. Railway Observer June 1966 provides a long list of locos recorded in the December 1965 to April 1966 period.
 

WesternLancer

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This has turned out to be a most interesting thread! Well done to all who have posted such interesting info.
 

AidWall

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Some interesting information has been provided by a friend.

The loco change at Chichester started on 7 September 1964, the Brighton-Plymouth and return trains having been retimed since 15 June 1964 and routed direct between Havant and Cosham instead of going into Portsmouth for reversal. Heating requirements prevented use of diesels in winter so from 7 September 1964 a 2000x electric worked between Brighton and Chichester, and steam worked between Chichester and Salisbury.

The westbound loco change could take place in the platform at Chichester, but the eastbound loco change had to take place at the home signal before the station, and this disrupted timekeeping. From 28 September 1964 the eastbound loco change was dropped with the steam loco running through to Brighton. This arrangement continued through the 1964/65 winter timetable.

For 1965/66 winter the train was supposed to be ETH stock, allowing use of BRCW Type 3s in winter. The previous winter's use of electric and steam locos had been resumed for a short period in September and October 1965 because the ETH stock did not arrive until 11 October 1965. However, by November 1965 the ETH stock was redeployed to the East Grinstead line, and it was back to electric and steam haulage. There was briefly an eastbound loco change at Havant but by end December 1965 steam was used both from and to Brighton because of unreliability of the boilers in the electric locos. This continued through to the April 1966 timetable change.

The steam loco was usually a "West Country" but could also be a Standard 5MT. Railway Observer June 1966 provides a long list of locos recorded in the December 1965 to April 1966 period.
Fantastic! Thanks so much for this, really does answer a lot of questions.
When you talk about eth-fitted coaches, presumably you mean Mark 1s which were retro-fitted (having been built as steam heat only)?
Many thanks!
 
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