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Train Services During The Severe Winter of 1962/63

'The coldest winter since 1740' (Met Office)

The severe winter weather which swept in on Boxing Day 1962 and carried on through to March 1963 caused big problems for all forms of transport. Not least on the railways. Everything was frozen – locos, carriages, wagons, points, train heating boilers on diesels, and, of course, not forgetting the staff who had to try and maintain a service. BR got it 'in the neck' from the national press, MPs, the man in the saloon bar and and anyone else who could voice an opinion. But somehow trains continued to struggle through most of the time, better late than never if you were a frozen passenger. Substitution of diesel by steam was a regular occurrence for some weeks and locos from distant sheds would appear when the motive power situation called for anything that could turn a wheel to be utilised to get trains on the move, adding further interest to lineside observations.

It has been reported that diesel availability on the ex-Midland Birmingham – Bristol route fell from 80% to less than 50%. The main line diesels working on the line were the Sulzer Type 4 'Peaks', number series starting at D11; there were also DMUs on some services.

As for the Honeybourne line, from September 1962 the 'Cornishman' and Birmingham - South Wales DMUs had been diverted to the ex-Midland route and in the winter timetable there was a minimal daily service of two return trains between Gloucester Central and Leamington Spa with a DMU or single diesel railcar (on Sundays there was just one return, between Birmingham Snow Hill and Gloucester).

Not all latenesses could be blamed on the motive power. Points  - there were not enough point heaters - and signalling were frozen, as were carriages, heating pipes and steam heating boilers on diesel locos. The effect of severe frost on the tracks led to the imposition of speed restrictions. There weren't enough large snowploughs to cope with the deeper snow drifts. Trains were held at stations to await late running connections and train crews got delayed en route, meaning services could be held waiting for diagrammed crew changeovers to take place.

What follows are –mostly – my own observations of that period at Cheltenham.

BOXING DAY Wednesday 26 DECEMBER 1962

On Boxing Day the snow lay deep and crisp and even, with more coming out of the sky. I decided the only safe way to get to Lansdown station was to walk. How would the weather be affecting train running? Though all regular cross-country express passenger trains, plus some fast fitted freights, on the Birmingham – Ashchurch- Bristol line were now officially diagrammed for diesel haulage there would be Christmas relief workings which had a good chance of being steam.

I left home about midday and after trudging carefully alongside almost deserted roads, including the main A40 between Cheltenham and Gloucester which crossed over the railway at Lansdown Bridge, arrived at the station.

I had just missed 1N70, 10.40am Bristol - Newcastle, which went north behind Barrow Road 'Jubilee' 45685 'Barfleur', one of the three 'Jubs' retained at that shed as standby for diesel non-availability. Obviously it was needed this day! Have a recollection that this was the first passenger train to head north, earlier ones having been cancelled, but I stand to be corrected on that.

There was activity including announcements about late running trains. I took a position overlooking the up platform and waited for something to happen.

The first arrival I saw,at 12.51pm, was 1V36, 7.8am Bradford – Bristol, due 11.44am, 67 minutes late, but at least it was running. And steam worked too, by Caprotti Class 5 Standard 73140.

Not far behind was 1V71, 11.25am Birmingham – Cardiff ,due in at 12.28pm, only 35 minutes late,  hauled by 'Peak' D99, though diagrammed to be a DMU.

There was a long gap until anything else appeared. What's happened to 1V38, 10.28am Sheffield – Bristol, due in at 1.45pm? No sign of it even an hour later, but announcements are saying it has been delayed.

At 2.43pm 1N84, 1.40pm Bristol – York arrived. Only 8 minutes late. No real problem there. The usual diesel was absent, instead it had 'Black Five' 45308 – a rare one to me. The loco was shedded at 2E, which was then Northampton – not a depot whose locos usually graced Cheltenham.

Over on the Western line through Malvern Road, there was activity with local Prairie Tanks 5184 and 4100 on workings to and from Gloucester Central.

At Lansdown station, the down 'Devonian', 10.38am Bradford – Paignton, went through non-stop behind 'Peak' D54, which I recorded at 2.59pm, actually 1 minute early. So things can't be all that bad in the north.

Then 1V38 arrived at 3.11pm, 86 minutes late with 'Black Five' 45268. Steamed up, snow covered carriages. At least the passengers were receiving steam heating.This train came down via Worcester and may have been held to allow services direct down the 'old road' through Spetchley to precede it.

Another 'Black Five' 45260 passed through – I have no record of what it worked, but not a passenger – and then well after 3pm came a late running 2H73 1.45pm Gloucester – Worcester local due 1.58pm with Prairie Tank 4124. This should have been a DMU. The working stopped at Ashchurch and Eckington en route to Worcester Shrub Hill.

After a break to warm up I came back and saw a couple of relief passengers on the down: 1V48 with 'Black Five' 45342, 28 minutes late and 1V49 with 'Peak' D164, 37 minutes behind schedule.

On the up side, things were not running too badly, with 1N87 5.35pm Bristol – York due at 6.35pm just seven minutes behind time with another 'Black Five' 44859.

Next came 2V73, 4.40pm Birmingham – Gloucester via Worcester, at 7.10pm, 40 minutes late, behind 'Jubilee' 45682 'Trafalgar' of Bristol Barrow Road, working its way home on this snowy, freezing night.

It was followed fairly closely by another stopping passenger, 2V74, 5.25pm Birmingham – Bristol , due 7.10pm, but arriving at 7.25pm with BR Standard 5 73028, also a Barrow Road engine.

Train, 1M72, with 'Jubilee' 45618 'New Hebrides' passed through on the up, probably a relief to the DMU worked 1M78, Swansea – Derby service.

7.44pm saw the arrival of 1V45, 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol, running 1 hour 50 minutes late. Seemed like things were deteriorating to the north of Cheltenham. Motive power was another 'Jubilee' 45594 'Bhopal'.

In the station at 7.55pm on the up was 2M73, 7.4pm Gloucester – Birmingham stopping passenger, 38 minutes late, behind 'Black Five' 45335 – again a rare one. It was at the time allocated to 15E Leicester Great Central shed.

Compared with 1V45, the 4.55pm Sheffield – Bristol, 1V46, was doing quite well, only 30 minutes down, arriving at 8.15pm, headed by Canklow 'B1' 61104 – and a 'cop' for me at last!
The 6.30pm Bristol – Birmingham stopper, 2M74, had 'Black Five' 44944, Saltley based, a modest 12 minutes late.

Next on the up was 1E60, a relief to the up 'Mail', 19 minutes behind time, with BR Standard 5 73094, a Gloucester Barnwood engine.

My final sighting – I was frozen solid by now - was the 'Mail' itself, 1N59, 7.25pm Bristol – Newcastle with D121 doing the honours, a mere 15 minutes late arrival at 8.54pm.

So that was the first day of 'The Big Freeze' - timetables disrupted quite a bit, though to be fair, some services had managed pretty well in the circumstances. Motive power certainly not as diagrammed, less diesel and more steam locos than usual, also some DMU services being loco worked.

Two pictures showing the scene at Hatherley Junction during 'The Big Freeze'. Photos Robin Stanton

Thursday 27 DECEMBER

A similar pattern to Boxing Day emerged in terms of lateness and replacement of diesel by steam.

1V28 3.0am Leeds – Bristol was steam worked; this could produce a rare loco, but I did not see the train.

1N28 7.55am Swansea – Newcastle displayed a combination of diesel and steam which became familiar over the winter, with a steam loco between the diesel and train to provide steam heating. In this case it was 'Peak' D34 and 'Black Five' 44775.

DMUs suffered from lack of heating too and were replaced by loco and coaches. 2H81, 9.30am Cardiff – Cheltenham St James and 1.35pm return to Gloucester was 'Mogul' 6326 and coaches, not the diagrammed DMU.

1V33, the down 'Cornishman' , was 69 minutes late with D36, while going north 1N70,10.40am Bristol - Newcastle,with D164 had a similar lateness.

1V36 7.8am Bradford – Bristol had Leeds Holbeck 'Jubilee' 45639 'Raleigh' instead of a diesel.

1V38 10.28am Sheffield – Bristol was a 'Black Five' 44858 of Saltley shed.

The latest train I saw this day was 1V70, 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea, 112 minutes late passing non-stop through Lansdown station behind 'Jubilee' 45557 'New Brunswick' which worked to Gloucester. On arrival at Barnwood shed the driver reported the loco was priming and in need of attention. From expecting a diesel to having a rundown steam loco did not make a happy day for the engine crew.

The return working from Gloucester for the loco off the 8.20am ex Newcastle was 1N61 3.15pm Cardiff – Leeds. With 45557 unavailable, it was worked by classmate 45649 'Hawkins'. Again this train did not stop at Lansdown.

The down Leeds – Cardiff ,1V67, also had steam with 'Black Five' 44694, a visitor from a rare shed , 56F Bradford Low Moor.

Due around the same time, about 5.30pm, was the up 'Cornishman' 1E24, another non-stop train through Lansdown, and headed by 45682 'Trafalgar', one of Barrow Road's trio of 'Jubilees'.

My only records after that show steam on the down evening parcels, not particularly unusual, and on the 6.30pm Bristol – Birmingham stopper – perhaps the rostered diesel was put on a more important service.

At some point during the day, 0-6-0PT 4697 went through on the down with a breakdown crane.

Friday 28 DECEMBER

At least eight passenger trains during the daytime and evening had steam instead of diesel, the highlight being the down 'Devonian' 1V39 with 45739 'Ulster', a regular on the service before dieselisation.

1N84 1.40pm Bristol – York had the steam plus diesel combination of 'Black Five' 44776 and D163. 

Two down evening locals from Birmingham to Bristol were around 20 minutes late.

Saturday 29 DECEMBER

Three down expresses in the morning and early afternoon through Lansdown were between 20 and 35 minutes behind schedule; only one was steam, 1V31, 7.35am Nottingham - Bristol with 44858.

The down 'Devonian' was hauled by 45557 'New Brunswick'.

The heavy up mail 1N59, 7.25pm Bristol – Newcastle had 45579 'Punjab'.

Both these 'Jubilees' were shedded at 17B Burton, which received 18 of the class late in 1961, having had none previously. They were employed on beer trains from the brewing capital to various destinations, but also came in useful for working relief passenger trains in the summer and now they were covering for unavailable diesels in this severe winter. But as already seen with 'New Brunswick' they were often not in the best of condition.

If a regular service was running very late, sometimes a relief was rustled up. Today the down 'Devonian' mentioned above must have been in that category as a relief was run with rare BR Standard class 5 4-6-0 73158 of 14A Cricklewood.

Sunday 30 DECEMBER

The highlight on this day was rare 'Black Five' 45438 from Mold Junction shed, 6B, on 1V39, 9.30am Bradford – Bristol running an hour late.

Monday 31 DECEMBER

1N28, 7.55am Swansea - Newcastle and 1N70, 10.40am Bristol - Newcastle were down by 58 and 22 minutes respectively, both diesel hauled.

'Black Five' 44981 was on the down 'Cornishman', one of at least seven expresses hauled by steam in place of diesel. 

Over on the St James services, 1H55, 9.5am from Paddington, was 22 minutes late with local 2-6-2T 4142 and 2H31, 1.20pm Swindon - Cheltenham with 0-6-0PT 8491 was 25 minutes adrift.

'Black Five' 45346 hailing from a very rare shed, 27F Brunswick ( Liverpool),had charge of 1V70, 8.20am Newcastle - Swansea, 56 minutes down at Lansdown.

Northbound services were still experiencing delays in the afternoon, with 1M22, 2.40pm Bristol - Nottingham 48 late behind D36 and 1N61, 3.15pm Cardiff - Leeds 42 minutes late with 'Black Five' 44945.

Whilst 1V43 11.53am York – Bristol was 67 minutes late with the combination of D20 and rare 'Black Five' 45235 from 12A Carlisle Kingmoor, 1V67 1.8pm Leeds – Cardiff was doing well to be only 12 minutes down headed by rare 'Jubilee' 45742 'Connaught', another Kingmoor engine. Yet a third Kingmoor loco was observed today, 'Black Five' 45148 on an up freight -  in normal circumstances none would would be seen in Cheltenham.

The snowplough was out on the line with Gloucester Horton Road's Collett 0-6-0 2232 and 4-6-0 5951 'Clyffe Hall' doubleheaded. 

Notgrove, in the high Cotswolds between Andoversford and Bourton-on-the-Water. There was no great incentive to shift the snow as services ceased after the last train - on which I was a passenger - 9.20pm Kingham - Cheltenham St James hauled by Large Prairie tank 4109, called here on Saturday 13 October 1962. I can recall one snowy Boxing Day (not 1962) seeing a light engine, a 41XX, going up the line early one morning, presumably to check the line was clear for trains to get through. Photo Robin Stanton


Continuing blizzards over the South of England were described as the worst for 82 years.

There was plenty of snow around and still falling. I have seen a photo taken this day of a 'Jubilee' coming into Lansdown station on a northbound express with snow covered smokebox and buffers.

Hard working 45557 'New Brunswick' was on 1V38 10.28am Sheffield – Bristol running an hour late. The down 'Devonian' was 48 minutes in arrears with 26A Newton Heath based 'Royal Scot' 46140 'The King's Royal Rifle Corps'. But a number of long distance workings were not so bad. The 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea, 1V70, was only 25 minutes late with D56.

On the up side, 1M22, 2.40pm Bristol – Nottingham, 26 minutes late, had D54 and Gloucester Barnwood's Standard class 5 73096, the latter for steam heating.

The evening up mail, 1N59, had steam haulage again, with ex-Barrow Road 'Jubilee' 45572 Eire, 28 minutes down. 45572 was now a Shrewsbury engine, but back in its old territory. Freights were running as well and parcels train 3V20, 1.32pm Derby – Bristol was getting through, albeit two hours 15 minutes behind schedule with BR Standard Class 4 75061 of 15C Leicester.

Wednesday 2 JANUARY

The 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea, 1V70, was 62 minutes late today headed by 73096 returning home.

The 1.20pm Swindon - Cheltenham, with through carriages from Paddington,due into St James at 2.46pm, was 48 late with 0-6-0PT 8491.

1V43, 11.53am York – Bristol, was even further behind time, 77 minutes, with 'Black Five' 44819.

46140 was still around, being in charge of 1V46, 4.55pm Sheffield – Bristol, 35 minutes down, departing Lansdown at 8.21pm.

Apparently 1V47, 4.5pm Newcastle - Bristol, due into Lansdown at 10.36pm,was steam-hauled, but I had long since given up and gone home.

The new diesel motive power on the Birmingham - Bristol line struggled at times in the winter conditions, but here is a 'Peak' on 1V70, 8.20am Newcastle - Swansea, a long distance service which could be running very late by the time it went through Cheltenham. Looking at the timetable for 1962/63, it is surprising how many cross-country services did not stop at Lansdown, including this one and the corresponding up service, also 'The Devonian' and 'The Cornishman' in both directions, presumably an attempt to speed up trains compared to steam days. Photo Robin Stanton

Local stalwart 4141 steams past Hatherley box with a local service in early 1963. Plenty of snow around to cause operating difficulties. Normally St James to Gloucester Central local services would traverse the nearest line, the down relief, rather than the down main as in this picture.Maybe the harsh winter finished off 4141, it was withdrawn in March 1963+, having been a local engine since new in 1946. Photo Robin Stanton

Thursday 3 JANUARY

This day saw some very late services, including, on the down side:

1V38 10.28am Sheffield – Bristol with D33, an hour late;

1V45 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol 1 hour 26 minutes down with D160;

1V43 11.53am York – Bristol an hour late with rare 'Jubilee' 45567 'South Australia', on loan to 6C Birkenhead from 5B Crewe South – the loan probably did not envisage the loco working between Birmingham and Bristol.

Things were no better with up trains:

1N37 9.25am Paignton – Bradford, the up 'Devonian', one hour 46 minutes behind time with D151;

1E24 10.30am Penzance – Sheffield, the up 'Cornishman', 2 hours and 5 minutes in arrear with D120;

1M22 2.40pm Bristol – Nottingham 67 minutes behind schedule with 44819.

Stopping services were also affected, due to awaiting connections, though not running as late as the expresses mentioned.

Friday 4 JANUARY 

Diesel availability was low - only five of eighteen cross-country expresses reported this day were diesel worked - including one that failed at Cheltenham - , one was diesel and steam, whilst the other twelve were steam hauled. 

Lateness was not quite as bad as the previous day, but there were still significant delays:

1V31 7.35am Nottingham – Bristol with 44981 was delayed by 71 minutes.

The following down 'Cornishman' with 'Jubilee' 45649 'Hawkins' was 65 late.

1V38 10.28am Sheffield – Bristol, ten coaches hauled by D39, had a fraught journey before failing completely at Cheltenham, eventually leaving nearly two and a half hours late being towed towards Gloucester by local 0-6-0PT 9471 summoned from Malvern Road shed. The service was routed from Birmingham via Worcester, and although it should have arrived first, did not delay the down 'Devonian'.

The 'Devonian' traversed the 'old road' via Spetchley and coasted through Cheltenham station just five minutes behind time with 'Jubilee' 45597 'Barbados', on a schedule of one hour 52 minutes for the 89 mile non-stop run from Birmingham to Bristol - still basically steam age timings. 

1H55 9.5am Paddington – Cheltenham was 47 minutes late, no doubt delayed en route, with one of the usual 2-6-2T 5184 in charge.

Another working, 2H31, 1.20pm Swindon – Cheltenham, which conveyed through carriages from Paddington,  was 38 minutes behind time, with 0-6-0PT 8491. 

Two trains were 'Royal Scots':

46149 'The Middlesex Regiment' of 9A Longsight on 1N32 7.35am Bristol – Bradford and

46140 'The King's Royal Rifle Corps' on 1V70 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea, 39 minutes late. 

45567 returned north doubleheaded with 'Black Five' 44962 on 1N84, 1.40pm Bristol – York, being 25 minutes behind time.

1N87 5.35pm Bristol – York had 'Jubilee' 45568 'Western Australia' as far as Gloucester where it failed short of steam, having arrived 19 minutes late. Station pilot BR Standard 73019 took over causing further delay with arrival at Cheltenham being 68 minutes late. 

2M73, 7.4pm Gloucester – Birmingham was down by 32 minutes because of the late running 1N87 and was doubleheaded by Standard 75025 of 85A Worcester and 'Black Five' 45372 of 8F Springs Branch, Wigan. 

The 7.25pm Bristol - Newcastle mail had the diesel plus steam combination, not seen by me.

In addition to the trains already mentioned, other class 1 services known to have been steam worked were:

1E10 6.46am Gloucester - Sheffield with B1 4-6-0 61315.

1V28 3.0am Leeds - Bristol with 45639 'Raleigh'.

1E64 8.40am Bristol - Sheffield hauled by 45690 'Leander'.

1M22 2.40pm Bristol - Nottingham with 45610 'Ghana'.

1V46 4.55pm Sheffield - Bristol headed by 44660.

'Peaks' seen working, all around half an hour late, were:

D160 on 1N70 10.40am Bristol - Newcastle.

D20 with 1V36 7.8am Bradford - Bristol.

D36 on 1V43 11.53am York - Bristol.

D22 heading 1V45 12.20pm Newcastle - Bristol.

At least four freights diagrammed for diesel locos had steam substitutions. 

Saturday 5 JANUARY

1V31 7.35am Nottingham – Bristol with 45579 'Punjab'  was 42 minutes late, an improvement on the previous day.

The following down 'Cornishman' was 24 late with D54, probably partly held up by 1V31.

Going north, 1N28, 7.55am Swansea - Newcastle  with D40 was 41 minutes adrift of right time; D40 had only worked the service from Gloucester.

1H55 9.5am Paddington – Cheltenham was 34 minutes late, again with 5184 in charge. Of course this too only came on at Gloucester.

2H31, 1.20pm Swindon – Cheltenham, was 45 minutes in arrears, with 2-6-2T 6137 - seems as if there were still problems between London, Swindon and Gloucester.

Very late, 114 minutes, was 1V43 11.53am York – Bristol with 'Black Five' 45006, a Saltley engine, possibly it replaced another loco further north.

Parcels 3V20 with Ivatt class 4 43019 of 15A Wellingborough was 135 minutes behind schedule, probably shunted aside en route to make way for late running passenger services.

Sunday 6 – Saturday 12 JANUARY

Lateness of trains seen this week was relatively modest, just five to twenty minutes down for most services, though there were exceptions. BR seemed to have got to grips with the cold weather.

Snowplough fitted locos were around - WD 2-8-0 90420, up light engine on 8 January, and 'Black Five' 44674 on 9 January on an up local. 90420 was well away from home, being allocated to 24B Rose Grove, Lancashire and 44674 was also a 'foreigner', from Carlisle Kingmoor. It would be interesting to know if they were in the area specifically because they were snowplough fitted.

Other locos from distant sheds found their way onto the line as normal working diagrams were disrupted by the prevailing conditions.

Amongst these on 7 January were:

'Royal Scot' 46149 'The Middlesex Regiment' from 9A Manchester Longsight with 1E64 8.40am Bristol – Sheffield;

'Black Five' 45203 of 26A Newton Heath on 1V67, 1.8pm Leeds – Cardiff, this was 35 minutes late;

45700 'Amethyst' also of Newton Heath on 4N29 fast freight;

'Black Five' 45106 of 12B Carlisle Upperby on 2M74 6.30pm Bristol – Birmingham.

Parcels 3V20 had D42 on 8 January, one of the Bristol allocated 'Peaks' working home.

On 9 January Stanier 8F 48084 of 55B Stourton had 5M22 freight.

1N61, 3.15pm Cardiff – Leeds was headed by 'Black Five' 44989 of 27C Southport.

It was closely followed by 2M73, 4.43pm Gloucester - Birmingham, with another 'Black Five' from a rare shed, 45416 of 14E Bedford.

Bristol's D40 went home on a fitted freight, 4V56 6.30pm Washwood Heath - Westerleigh, most likely because its train heating boiler was out of action.

'Royal Scot' 46133 'The Green Howards' from 26A Newton Heath was spotted heading north light engine.

3V20 had diesel haulage again on 10 January, D66, 84 minutes behind schedule.

Conversely that evening, up mail 1N59 had steam haulage with Holbeck 'Jubilee' 45573 'Newfoundland', 16 minutes down.

Friday 11 January did not start well for the recently mentioned 45416, which was still around, this time with the important 8.25pm Templecombe -Derby class 'C' perishables train. The loco failed at Cheltenham at 2.15am with a heavily clinkered fire, and retired to Barnwood for attention, after which it was entrusted with 1N61, 3.15pm Cardiff - Leeds express.  

45649 'Hawkins' brought 1N84, 1.40pm Bristol - York, into Gloucester but had a problem with a broken blower pipe and the express steamed north with doubleheaded 'Black Fives' 44965 and 44777.

The 7.4pm Gloucester – Birmingham stopper 2M73 had D58, 20 minutes late, probably rostered on this to get it back up north.

One of the down evening stoppers was 30 minutes behind time with 'Black Five' 45132 of 5A Crewe North.

On Saturday 12 January, unusually both morning trains bound for Newcastle were steam:

45626 'Seychelles' had 1N28, non-stop through Lansdown, 7.55am ex Swansea, 46 late;

44962 was 20 minutes late on 1N70, 10.40am from Bristol.

Things were awry for 1V67 1.8pm Leeds – Cardiff, 95 minutes late with Saltley 'Black Five' 45260.

This delayed the following 1V45 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol with D145 being 76 minutes in arrears.

Sunday 13  - Saturday 19 JANUARY

Services were generally coping well, but with some individual trains rather late.

13 January saw 1H58 1.20pm ex Paddington to St James and 1A35 return at 6.35pm headed by Horton Road's 5944 'Ickenham Hall' instead of a D70XX 'Hymek' diesel hydraulic.

1N58 7.15pm Bristol - Catterick Camp was 39 minutes in arrears with D151, followed by up mail 1N59 7.25pm Bristol – Newcastle 46 minutes late behind 'Jubilee' 45598 'Basutoland'.

1V72, 4.3pm Sheffield - Swansea, diagrammed for a DMU and due in Lansdown at 7.25pm, did not turn up; it was replaced by 1X67, a special with 'Black Five' 44965 of Saltley, well behind schedule, arriving around 9.30pm.

On 14 January, 46126 'Royal Army Service Corps' from 16D Annesley worked 1V28 3am Leeds – Bristol, but only as far as Gloucester, due to a defective injector. It received attention at Barnwood shed. Meantime the train went off to Bristol with D62. 

1V43 11.53am York – Bristol was an hour down with D151, while 45598 was also back with 1V45 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol, 51 minutes late.

Other services seen were running just a few minutes adrift.

15 January witnessed the failure of D25 on the down 'Devonian' - it was assisted through Cheltenham by 0-6-0PT 4697 of 82C Swindon, which was at Malvern Road shed the previous weekend.

1M22 2.40pm Bristol – Nottingham was graced by 'Royal Scot' 46128 'The Lovat Scouts' of 8F Springs Branch Wigan.

3V20 parcels had rare 'Jubilee' 45553 'Canada' of 5A Crewe North.

On 16 January 1V45 hauled by 'Black Five' 44818 was 65 minutes late.

Up local passenger, 6.30pm ex Bristol, had a 'Royal Scot' from 6J Holyhead, 46156 'The South Wales Borderer'. 'Royal Scots' had been quite common in 1961/62, but became relatively scarce after this brief flurry of the class in January 1963 .

Eastern Region based 9F 92144 of 40B Immingham was spotted on a fitted freight in the afternoon.

A contemporary report for 17 January states that 'Locomotives in the Western Region began to freeze up while they were running.'

On 17 January, B1 61327 of 41D Canklow headed 1V31, 7.35am Nottingham – Bristol.

The prize for late running went to 1V36, 7.8am Bradford – Bristol, which arrived in Lansdown station at 2.11pm, 2 hours 27 minutes late. Motive power was provided by 'Black Five' 44810.

Following it at 2.35pm only 50 minutes down was 1V38 10.28am Sheffield – Bristol with 'Jubilee' 45659 'Drake'.

Up 'Cornishman' 1E24 had former Barrow Road 'Jubilee' 45572 'Eire' - now an 89A Shrewsbury engine - going north 20 minutes off schedule.

A couple of evening stopping trains had ex-GW locos rather than the more usual ex-LMS or BR Standard types. One was hauled by Horton Road's 6948 'Holbrooke Hall' and the other had 6868 'Penrhos Grange' of 81E Didcot.

Another up local used 'Black Five' 44673 of 12A Carlisle Kingmoor, whilst BR Standard 75062 of 17A Derby was on a down local.

'Britannia' 70029 'Shooting Star' of 21D Aston was observed on regular freight 5M19.

Afternoon and evening trains going north on 18 January were all well behind time.

IM22 2.40pm Bristol - Nottingham with 45658 'Keyes' was 36 minutes down.

The up 'Cornishman' due through at 5.30pm was 45 late with D25.

1N87, 5.37pm Bristol - York with 'Black Five' 44775 was 40 minutes behind schedule.

2M74 6.30pm Bristol - Birmingham stopper with D16 turned up 40 late.

Up mail, 1N59 7.25pm Bristol – Newcastle was 53 minutes late with D42, and the Fridays only 1E71 7.45pm Bristol – Sheffield was 63 minutes down with 'Jubilee' 45572 'Eire'.

On Saturday 19 January IN59 was very late again, 85 minutes, with 'Black Five' 44775. 

It was preceded by the 6.30pm Bristol - Birmingham stopper with Standard 73019 running an hour late. Quite possibly some of the lateness was due to awaiting connections from the West Country at Bristol.

Earlier, the down 'Cornishman' 1V33 8.10am Sheffield – Penzance was 70 minutes behind schedule with 'Black Five' 44663.

45632 'Tonga' was a rare 'Jub' hailing from 9B Stockport with a morning express. It was in the area for a few days.

Another rare loco from the north-west was 9F 92047 of 6F Bidston on a down freight.

Two of the daily fitted freights were diesel, perhaps again indicating lack of a working steam heating boiler – D55 was on 5M19 and D54 had 5M25.

Otherwise things weren't too bad – parcels 3V20 even managed to arrive 15 minutes early with 45690 'Leander'. 

Sunday 20  - Saturday 26 JANUARY

It was so cold there were ice floes in the Bristol Channel.

Sunday 20 January I was not around much - too cold -  though I did observe down stopper 2V74 5.53pm Birmingham - Bristol with D155 running 57 minutes late.

Reports from others indicated steam substitution on several trains: 7.32am Derby - Bristol stopper; 1V30 8.40am Sheffield - Bristol had B1 4-6-0 61033; Prairie tank 4109 had a couple of Cheltenham - Gloucester trains in place of a diesel loco; 1N78 1.20pm Bristol - York was steam; The following up express 1N84 2.15pm Bristol - Bradford was also steam; 1N68 4.45pm Bristol - Bradford was yet another having steam in place of diesel; 5.55pm Gloucester - Birmingham stopper had 45589 'Gwalior'.

'Britannia' 70049 'Solway Firth' of 16D Annesley was noted on a down freight.

One imagines fitters at diesel depots getting in some useful overtime this Sunday!

Malvern Road shed was becoming a repository for stored locos. Two more, 0-6-0PT 7430 and 7441, had arrived during the week from 84F Stourbridge. Don't know whether they travelled in steam or were towed. Possibly one was working and towing the other.

A number of services were cancelled on at least one occasion during this week, which was unusual in BR days. These included 1E10, 6.46am Gloucester - Sheffield; 1N32 7.45am Bristol - Bradford; 1E64 8.40am Bristol - Sheffield; 1V31 7.35am Nottingham - Bristol; 1V38 10.28am Sheffield - Bristol; 1N84 1.40pm Bristol - York; 1M22 2.40pm Bristol - Nottingham; 1V43 11.53am York - Bristol; 1V46 4.55pm Sheffield - Bristol.

Monday 21 January saw both up and down 'Devonian' with steam haulage, 45569 'Tasmania' being on the latter.

45632 'Tonga' was still around, on 1V36 7.8am Bradford – Bristol, returning on 2M74 6.30pm Bristol – Birmingham.

0n Tuesday 22 January, the 7.35am Bristol – Bradford 1N32 was hauled by 'Britannia' 70029 'Shooting Star' of 21D Aston as far as Gloucester where the driver failed it; the train went north behind Barnwood's Class 5MT 4-6-0 73094 after a 15 minute delay.

1V70, 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea, which did not stop at Cheltenham, passed through 2 hours 41 minutes late with 'Jubilee' 45614 'Leeward Islands'.

70029 went home on the 4.43pm Gloucester – Birmingham stopper.

45573 'Newfoundland' was on the down 'Devonian' due in Bristol at 3.57pm, though likely to have been running late. So it was a surprise to see the loco return on the 5.37pm Bristol – York, a very quick turnaround for those days, albeit 50 minutes late. Either Barrow Road had a severe shortage of suitable express locos or – maybe – 45573 only worked down as far as Gloucester. We may never know. Being a Leeds Holbeck loco, it was probably in pretty good order, so could have done the business to and from Bristol that day.

Motive power on two stopping trains this evening was provided by 4F 0-6-0s, with 44516 on a down working passing classmate 44226 heading north.

1V45 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol arrived at 7.46pm with 'Black Five' 45186, delayed by 1 hour 52 minutes and 1V46 4.55pm Sheffield – Bristol due at 7.45pm came in with D153 at 10.3pm.

45632 'Tonga' reappeared on 1N59, the up mails to Newcastle.

A WD 2-8-0 from 26A Newton Heath, 90291, was in charge of an up freight, and Stanier 2-8-0 48175 of 6B Mold Junction had a down fitted freight.

On Wednesday 23 January, 1V70 was 95 minutes down with 'Black Five' 44985.

This day witnessed the extremely late running 3V14 2am Derby – Bristol parcels - due in Lansdown at 6.15am, eventually arriving with D134 at 2.42pm, 8 hours 27 minutes behind schedule. It would be interesting to see the guard's journal for the train.

It was followed by 90331 of 26F Patricroft on a down freight.

2H31 1.20pm Swindon – Cheltenham St James, conveying through coaches from Paddington arrived 50 minutes late with 0-6-0PT 8743.

Horton Road's small pannier tanks were no strangers to passenger workings between Gloucester and Cheltenham. Correctly displaying a class 'A' headcode, 8743 steams through the frozen landscape on the 1.20pm from Swindon, consisting of six or so through carriages from Paddington.These tanks also often had the heavier 10 or 11 coach trains between the two places. Not a lot of cab comfort for the crew in the prevailing conditions. The loco had to work hard to provide steam heating as well as haul the train.Photo Robin Stanton

In the evening the up mail 1N59 was a mere 38 minutes late with rare 'Black Five 45378 of 26C Bolton.

Thursday 24 January saw BR Standard class 2 78009 on 2H73 7.50am Worcester – Gloucester local. The loco did a quick turnaround because it returned north on 1N28 7.55am Swansea – Newcastle coupled inside D155, no doubt to provide steam heating.

1V70 with 'Black Five' 45280 went through Lansdown station 2 hours 23 minutes late. 'Modern Railways' magazine reported the train was brought into Birmingham New Street from Derby by no less than ex-LNER 'A3' Pacific, 60039 'Sandwich' of 34A London King's Cross shed. That would have made an interesting sight at Cheltenham!

A very late up train was 1N84 1.40pm Bristol – York with D31, 110 minutes behind right time.

B1 4-6-0 61388 of 40E Colwick hauled a freight down the Honeybourne line, which rarely saw this ex-LNER class.

45601 'British Guiana', another 26A loco, was spotted on an up local passenger on 25 January.

1V45, 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol, due Lansdown at 5.54pm, was 92 minutes down with 45562 'Alberta'.

70025 'Western Star' of 21D Aston hauled 1V47 4.5pm Newcastle – Bristol.

Saturday 26 January saw 70025 return north on empty coaching stock in the prevailing snowy conditions.  

'Britannis' Pacifics were more active than usual at Cheltenham in early 1963. Here is 70025 'Western Star' with a balancing working of empty stock at Hatherley on a very wintry 25 January 1963. With quite a number of trains cancelled in the preceding days, carriage stock often needed to be shifted around to regain the diagrammed workings. Photo Robin Stanton

Eastgate station pilot 73094 was in demand again - it was coupled behind D35 on the up 'Devonian' to provide steam heating.

1V70 was 1 hour 41 minutes behind schedule with D164. Once more 60039 was at the head of the train to New Street.

7802 'Bradley Manor' shedded at 84E Tyseley after recently moving from 89C Machynlleth was reported on a down freight.

Another down freight had Stanier 2-8-0 8F 48161 of 9F Heaton Mersey, again from a rare shed for this area.

Sunday 27 JANUARY – Saturday 2 FEBRUARY

A foreign loco which got called up for local Gloucester – Cheltenham workings for a few days was 0-6-2T 6673 of 88J Aberdare, seen on 27 January on Cheltenham Malvern Road shed.

Other locos on similar duties on 30 January were 2-6-2Ts 4103 of 82B Bristol St Philips Marsh depot and 5101 from 84D Leamington Spa. Neither of these sheds would normally be involved in Cheltenham to Gloucester workings.

30 January also saw visitors from further afield: WD 2-8-0s 90224 from 41F Mexborough, 90449 from 41J Langwith Junction and 90617 of 55E Normanton, the latter taking a freight up the Honeybourne line. I have no note of what type of freights they worked, but coal trains for power stations are quite likely. It had been difficult for the National Coal Board to shift coal frozen on the ground at collieries.

Coming down the Honeybourne route on, I believe, 4V78 Crewe – Bristol West Depot was 'Jubilee' 45586 'Mysore' from 5B Crewe South.

More rare visitors on 30 January were 4F 0-6-0 44467 of 55B Stourton with an up freight and BR Standard 4 4-6-0 75035* of 6K Rhyl on a down freight.  

Add in at least eight cross country expresses being steam worked and you never knew what would turn up next. 

7809 'Childrey Manor', just transferred from Oswestry to 89A Shrewsbury, had a down freight on 31 January.

On Friday 1 February ex-works  'Britannia' 70018 'Flying Dutchman'  of 5A Crewe North turned up on a down local passenger.

Another local, 2B32, 5.45pm Cheltenham St James – Swindon had another rare 'Manor'  - ex-works 7801 'Anthony Manor' again of 89A Shrewsbury. 

Again, there was a lot of steam on diesel turns, at least nine expresses being steam throughout the day.

Sunday 3 – Saturday 9 FEBRUARY

Sunday 3 February saw thirteen light engines heading north after working extra down trains, probably of coal; two doubleheaders, one movement with four locos coupled together and one of five locos. Apart from BR Standard 4 75003, they were 4Fs, 8Fs and a WD 2-8-0.

That same day 1N68, 4.45pm Bristol –Bradford was hauled by 'Jubilee' 45585 'Hydrabad' which failed at Cheltenham High Street, north of Lansdown station. The following stopping passenger 2M73 5.55pm Gloucester – Birmingham had another 'Jubilee' 45597 'Barbados' which was dispatched to the rescue.

This left 2M73 without power and eventually 'Britannia' 70018 'Flying Dutchman' arrived from Gloucester and took the train forward 62 minutes late.

Another 'Britannia' 70018 'Flying Dutchman' of 5A Crewe North is seen on Barnwood shed at the start of February 1963, with snow still in evidence. I have a note the loco is ex-works - maybe, maybe not. Having been a Western Region loco from new in 1951 to 1961, it may well have graced Gloucester during those years. Photo Roger Smith

Barrow Road's 45682 'Trafalgar' had the up evening mail on Monday.

Tuesday 5 February saw at least 15 diesel diagrammed trains with a steam substitute.

45605 'Cyprus' had the down 'Devonian' but lost 25 minutes in running between Birmingham and Gloucester sue to a dirty fire, so it came off at Gloucester and was replaced by 'Black Five' 44852.

An unusual combination on 6 February with 1N28 7.55am Swansea - Newcastle was that of a 'Peak' diesel and 'Crab' 2-6-0 42873 of 9G Gorton.

En route this would have passed the down 'Cornishman' which had Stanier 4-6-0 45393 of 1E Bletchley, running 36 minutes late.

Rare WD 2-8-0s were about, with 90730 of 36C Frodingham on 6 February and 90367 of 24F Fleetwood next day on a down freight.

The snowplough was seen on 7 February, with Collett 0-6-0 2253 and WD 2-8-0 90218.

On this date Saltley 'Black Five' 44945 had the down 'Cornishman  running 59 minutes late.

A notable engine on 8 February was class O4/8 2-8-0 63705 of 41H Staveley Great Central shed which worked into South Wales on a special York – Taffs Well train conveying a load of coke.

The down 'Cornishman' was not having a good week. On 9 February, it was again 59 minutes late, headed by 'Jubilee' 45577 'Bengal', former Bristol Barrow Road engine now based at 89A Shrewsbury.

Sunday 10 – Saturday 16 FEBRUARY

Collett 4-6-0 4991 'Cobham Hall' of 82B St Philips Marsh was a visitor to Malvern Road shed on Sunday.

That day, the 2.15pm Bristol - Bradford express 1N78 had Barrow Road's 45682 'Trafalgar' but it expired at Gloucester with a dirty fire, full ashpan and smokebox full of char - all showing a lack of servicing, perhaps due to spending more hours than usual working trains.

The following day, another visitor to Malvern Road was 0-6-0PT 9681 from 88L Cardiff East Dock shed.

As an illustration of how many trains were steam instead of diesel, here are the substitutions I know about for Tuesday 12 February, together with the loco where known:

3V14 2am Derby – Bristol parcels due 6.15am 'Jubilee' 45605 'Cyprus'

1E10 6.46am Gloucester – Sheffield due 7.1am BR Standard class 5 73096

1V28 3am Leeds – Bristol due 9am

1E64 8.40am Bristol – Sheffield due 9.38am

1V31 7.35am Nottingham – Bristol due 10.29am

1V33 8.10am Sheffield – Penzance 'Cornishman' pass 10.54am 

1N70 10.40am Bristol – Newcastle due 11.42am 'Jubilee' 45557 'New Brunswick'

1V38 10.28am Sheffield – Bristol due 1.45pm 'Black Five' 45341 of 26A Newton Heath.

1V70 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea pass 1.59pm 'Jubilee' 45573 'Newfoundland'. A3 Pacific 60084 'Trigo' of 55H Leeds Neville Hill brought the train into Birmingham New Street.

1V39 10.38am Bradford – Paignton 'Devonian' pass 3.1pm 'Jubilee' 45675 'Hardy'

4N18 2.55pm Bristol – York class C freight pass 4.15pm

1N61 3.15pm Cardiff – Leeds pass 4.49pm 'Black Five' 45231 of 21D Aston

4N29 4.48pm Bristol – Leeds class C freight pass 6.30pm

1N87 5.35pm Bristol – York due 6.35pm, 21 minutes late with 'Jubilee' 45605 'Cyprus'

5M25 5.25pm Bristol – Water Orton class D freight pass 7.30pm BR Standard class 5 73003

On 13 February ex-works 0-6-2T 6602 of 87D Swansea East Dock shed was an unusual visitor on a Gloucester – Cheltenham local train.

O4/8 63705 mentioned earlier was seen on 85C Gloucester Barnwood depot today. 

Diesel hydraulics seen at Gloucester included D1011, D1044 and D7007.

1N87 5.35pm Bristol – York was 57 minutes late behind D31, otherwise trains noted were running well. 

15 February saw a visitor from a very unexpected depot, 70A Nine Elms, in the shape of BR Standard class 5 73074 heading 5M25 5.25pm Bristol – Water Orton class D freight. The loco was not a stranger to the Birmingham – Bristol line as it had been allocated to Sheffield area sheds until December 1962. Perhaps it was back on loan. 

16 February observations showed a relatively normal day, with diesel haulage in evidence on these trains:

1N28 7.55am Swansea – Newcastle with D33, 14 minutes late

1V33 8.10am Sheffield – Penzance 'Cornishman' with D31, 22 minutes late

1N70 10.40am Bristol – Newcastle with D91, 6 minutes late

1V36 7.8am Bradford – Bristol with D23, 11 minutes behind time

1N84 1.40pm Bristol – York with D122, 10 minutes down

1V39 10.38am Bradford – Paignton 'Devonian' headed by D86, just 2 minutes late

1M22 2.40pm Bristol – Nottingham with D153, 3 minutes late

1V67 1.8pm Leeds – Cardiff behind D22, 1 minute late

1V46 4.55pm Sheffield – Bristol with D32 on time

1N59 7.25pm Bristol – Newcastle mails with D35, just 2 minutes late

One express which had steam was 1V45, 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol, behind rare 'Jubilee' 45604 'Ceylon' of 24L Carnforth. But it appears to have come off at Gloucester and gone to Barnwood shed in need of a new brick arch.

Crewe South shed, 5B, was well represented today with 45000 on a down freight and 45004 on an up local - both locos were in the first batch of Stanier 'Black Fives' to be constructed at Crewe in the 1930s.

8F 48535 on a down fitted was based at 8C Speke Junction, another loco in the area from north-west sheds. 

Sunday 17 – Saturday 23 FEBRUARY

Sunday 17 February saw much extra freight activity on what was normally a quiet day, probably mostly shifting coal. Freight engines noted:

90530 of 26A Newton Heath;90563;92136;92221;43979;48763;43949;48604;92137;42810 of 6C Birkenhead;43963;90189 of 36C Frodingham;48056;48377;43951;48350;48000.

Five engines coupled together returned north, no doubt some were off down freights: 42790; 48361; 48167; 73139 plus the aforementioned 45604 'Ceylon'.

1M25 6.50pm Bristol – Leicester arrived 23 minutes late with the combination of BR 9F 92126 and 'Jubilee' 45611 'Hong Kong'.

A notable visitor on 18 February was BR 'Britannia' 70050 'Firth of Clyde' of 5A Crewe North on an up fitted freight of flat wagons.

2H73 7.50am Worcester – Gloucester local pulled by D144 must have had problems as it came into Cheltenham assisted by 0-6-0PT 9681.

D144 recovered and worked an up evening stopping passenger to Birmingham.

The up 'Devonian' had Barrow Road 'Jubilee' 45690 'Leander', just like days gone by.

The same service was not so fortunate on 20 February when it had the diagrammed diesel haulage, with D44, which expired at Cheltenham High Street.

Perhaps fortunately Saltley 9F 92136^ was standing on a freight in the adjacent up loop and was commandeered to assist, leaving in a great cloud of leaking steam, which did not look too auspicious for the journey northwards. Signalman Robin Stanton was in High Street box and got some pictures of this occurrence.

92136 survived the experience as it was back that evening with a down freight.

While all this was going on, rare 'Jubilee' 45625 'Sarawak' of 24L Carnforth appeared on 1V38, 10.28am Sheffield - Bristol. ( see picture in 'Jubilee Jaunts' section)

Class 'D' freight 5M22, 2.32pm Gloucester Barnwood - Birmingham Lawley Street, known by railwaymen as 'The Snob' was worked by ex GWR 4-6-0 6800 'Arlington Grange' - not unusual now as this working was diagrammed for a Western engine.

The same day, brand new D1500, the first of what became the successful and long-lived  Brush Type 4 diesel electrics, was undergoing trials on the Lickey Incline with a 19-coach train. The type became standard power on the Birmingham – Bristol route.

22 February saw two Bristol based 'Peak' diesels D35 and D39 returning home light engines, surprising they did not work trains, unless they required fitters' attention. 

Also this day a local passenger had 2-6-2T 4173 of 84G Kidderminster.

1N59 7.25pm Bristol – Newcastle mails had D115 doing well, arriving three minutes early. It must have worked back again, as next day it was on Barnwood shed waiting repairs to its heating boiler.

Diesel haulage of parcels 3V20 1.32pm Derby – Bristol, due in Lansdown at 6.41pm and staying for 18 minutes, was more nominal than real at the best of times and could pretty much be relied upon to provide a steam working.

But its running was somewhat erratic.

On 19 February it was 87 minutes late with 'Jubilee' 45610 'Ghana'.

20 February haulage was by 'Crab' 42774 of 55F Bradford Manningham arriving nine minutes early.

21 February and it reverted to being 95 minutes late with 26A Newton Heath's 'Black Five' 44697, fitted with self-weighing tender.

The following day it was ten minutes early with 'Jubilee' 45611 'Hong Kong'.

To round off the wayward timekeeping Saturday 23 February saw it pull into Lansdown station no less than two hours 32 minutes behind schedule hauled by 'Black Five' 44856.

Collett 2-8-0 3805 steams north past High Street box on a chilly 20 February 1963. GWR locos worked to and from High Street goods yard in the 1930s and possibly since the GWR took over the MSWJR at the Grouping in 1923. I don't know when GWR locos started working between Cheltenham and Worcester, but it was reasonably common in early BR days , while in the 1960s, GW locos worked through to Birmingham New Street on local passenger duties as well as on freights to Washwood Heath and elsewhere.

The siding behind the loco with a mineral wagon in view was put in upon the arrival of the MSWJR in 1891 and gave access to the 'Cheltenham Corporation Electric Light Station, Destructor and Slab Factory'  according to the 1938 'Official Handbook of Railway Stations'.

High Street box closed in November 1968. Photo Robin Stanton

More traditional motive power is seen at High Street, as 4F 0-6-0 43940 heads a down mineral working in February 1963. The site of the old High Street Halt which closed in 1910 is to the right of the train. The connection on the right leads into High Street Goods Yard. Photo Robin Stanton

Sunday 24 FEBRUARY – Saturday 2 MARCH

Much of England remained covered in snow every day from Boxing Day until early March 1963.

Ivatt class 2 2-6-0 46517 of 84F Stourbridge was in the area on the 25th, doubleheading with 9F 92070 on a freight, going north light engine next day.

BR Standard class 2 2-6-0 78009 of 85A Worcester worked the 4.30pm Ashchurch - Evesham passenger and 6.57pm return on 26 February in place of the usual 0-6-0PT - it was on Malvern Road shed that evening as diagrammed.

A couple of classes not normally seen at Cheltenham passed through light engine on 26 February - BR Standard class 3 2-6-2T 82044 from 83B Taunton on the up and Ivatt class 2 2-6-2T 41208 on the down, the latter being from 82B Bristol St Philips Marsh shed.

GW engine workings were not without interest on 26 February, with Hawksworth 4-6-0 1021 'County of Montgomery' of 82B and 7008 'Swansea Castle' of 81F Oxford on up freights.( 1020 'County of Monmouth', also from 82B, had appeared a week earlier on a freight working.)

1021 worked back down on the 27th, when an up Western side freight unusually had 'Jubilee' 45610 'Ghana' as motive power.

Most days this week still had quite a heavy substitution of steam for diesel on various workings showing motive power problems were not over for BR.

On the 26th, 1V36 7.8am Bradford - Bristol was having a bad day, due in Cheltenham at 11.44am, it arrived two hours 24 minutes late with 'Black Five' 44774 of 14E Bedford.

1V70 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea was steam on at least three days; 26 February with 'Jubilee' 45667 'Jellicoe' ; 27 February with 'Jubilee' 45561 'Saskatchewan'; 28 February with 'Black Five' 44841.

The down 'Devonian' had 'Jubilee' 45564 'New South Wales' on 26 February, with 45598 'Basutoland' the following day.

Four of the 'Jubilees' listed had been allocated to 17B Burton –on-Trent mainly for freight work back in 1961, but proved invaluable on passenger turns during this period and some were shifted to 17A Derby in January 1963 including 45667 and 45561.

In early March another tranche of 'Jubilees'  moved to 21A Saltley on loan from Crewe North and Blackpool to cover for diesel shortages and began to appear at Cheltenham.

On 2 March, the 7.10pm Birmingham – Gloucester stopping passenger had 'Jubilee' 45653 'Barham' newly allocated to Saltley from Blackpool, where it had been shedded since 1943, so no doubt rare in Cheltenham until now.

Sunday 3 – Saturday 9 MARCH

Winter didn't fully relax its grip until 4 March, when a mild south-westerly flow of air reached the British Isles and, by 6 March, there was no frost anywhere.

Sunday 3 March was not a good day for 'Hymek' D7006 which failed at Badgeworth, between Gloucester and Cheltenham, while hauling 2H81, 11.55am Swindon – Cheltenham St James. Loco and train were hauled into Cheltenham by tender-first 4914 'Cranmore Hall'.

As often happened on a Sunday evening, a short – two or three coach – relief train, 1X40, was operated between Birmingham and Bristol to cover for late running long distance services, delayed either by weather or engineering works. 1X40 was headed by 21A Saltley 'Black Five' 44963.

A few individual services during the week were quite late, but most were running to time.

The down 'Devonian' was 105 minutes late on 4 March with D43.

The Honeybourne line saw ex-LMS power from rare sheds this week. An iron ore train on 4 March had 'Black Five' 44827 of 8C Speke Junction, Liverpool.

The following day , 8F 48278 of 9D Buxton was observed on a freight.

6 March saw 'Jubilee' 45554 'Ontario' of 5A Crewe North on another Western freight.

'Jubilee' 45569 'Tasmania' was 44 minutes late with the down 'Devonian' on 6 March.

A newcomer to the area on 6 March was another 'Jubilee' 45617 Mauritius tranferred to 21A Saltley in this week, having been a north-west based loco in earlier years. It worked 'The Snob' 5M22.

Another incomer on loan to 21A was 45584 'North West Frontier' previously of Blackpool shed, seen on an up local on 8 March.

The same day saw 45666 'Cornwallis' of 5A Crewe North put in a rare appearance on a down working.

Equally rare that day was 9F 92144 from 34E Peterborough, not a shed which usually provided locos for an up 'Esso' tanks train.

A loco depot whose power was noted on the line from time to time during this period was 21D Aston. Though a Birmingham shed, the allocation was normally used on north-west rather than Midland  lines. 'Britannia' 70025 'Western Star' was seen during the week as was Stanier 2-6-0 42957 which headed 5M27 7pm Bristol – Derby on 9 March.

Of further note on 9 March was the arrival of 0-4-0T 'Cadbury Bournville No. 1' in the Dowty sidings at Ashchurch. It was towed dead from Bournville by a '4F' - sadly a little too speedily for its lubrication system more geared to yard shunting, as it suffered a hot box.

So though the weather was improving there was still plenty of interest on the motive power scene, particularly with formerly rare 'Jubilees' being loaned to Saltley and Derby from north-west depots.

Rare 9F 92144 from East Coast main line shed 34A Peterborough has somehow found its way onto an 'Esso' tanks train bound for Bromford Bridge, Birmingham, from Avonmouth on 6 March 1963. The photo at Hatherley shows that the wintry scenes earlier in the year have faded away.But the motive power situation is still somewhat unpredictable with locos from far away sheds turning up on regular services. Photo Stephen Mourton

Sunday 10 – Saturday 16 MARCH

Sunday's 1N78,1.20pm Bristol - York, was 36 minutes down with two 'Black Fives' 44941 and 44963. 1N58, 7.15pm Bristol - Catterick Camp, was 30 late with Saltley's 44818, while 1N59, the up mail had D50, 20 minutes behind schedule.

On 11 March D25 worked 1V67 1.8pm Leeds – Cardiff to Gloucester, just nine minutes late at Cheltenham. It needed attention at Barnwood shed though as the heating boiler was only getting 30lbs of steam pressure.

The same day 1V43 11.53am York - Bristol with 45639 'Raleigh' and 1V45 12.20pm Newcastle - Bristol with D50 were both 47 minutes late arriving in Lansdown.

44941, mentioned on 10 March, had the task on 12 March of bringing crocked 'Castle' 5049 'Earl of Plymouth' over from Barnwood for storage in Malvern Road shed. There will be more about 5049 in due course in the article dealing with the last years of Malvern Road shed. 

12,13 and 14 March witnessed specials through to Cheltenham Racecourse for the Gold Cup Festival. Unlike today when racegoers have to travel by bus from Lansdown station, as the rail connection at the Cheltenham end is no more//.

The first day, 12 March, had four specials hauled by 1014 'County of Glamorgan; 7008 'Swansea Castle'; 7024 'Powis Castle' and 7029 'Clun Castle'.

The next day 1014 was replaced by 5029 'Nunney Castle', while on its return trip 7008 was piloted by 6989 'Wightwick Hall'.

Probably no racegoers on IN84 1.40pm Bristol - York due in Lansdown at 2.35pm, but running 67 minutes late with Barnwood's Standard class 5 73031.

Also on 13 March, 1V45 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol with 45597 'Barbados' rolled in 55 minutes after its scheduled arrival time of 5.54pm - that probably did have a crowd of racegoers waiting to catch it.

14 March, Gold Cup day, had five specials hauled by 5029,7008,7029,7908 'Heveningham Hall' and diesel hydraulic D1036 'Western Emperor' then less than a year old. On the return specials, 7029 was piloted by 6989.

Maybe it was race traffic which held up the 4.25pm St James - Gloucester local with Prairie tank 4142, 73 minutes late - usually this was a DMU.

The Gold Cup was won by the famous 'Mill House'.

1V45 12.20pm Newcastle – Bristol was late again with D85 102 minutes adrift on 14 March - the lateness must have been well to the north as a relief ran with 'Black Five' 44963 doing the honours, only four minutes adrift of the booked arrival time for 1V45.

Although the weather had now vastly improved, there was still a shortage of diesel power, presumably undergoing repairs.

1N28, the heavy 7.55am Swansea – Newcastle, was 'Jubilee' worked from Gloucester on at least three days during this week; on 11 March, the loco was 45667 'Jellicoe'; 13 March power was provided by 45557 'New Brunswick'; while on 16 March it had 45685 'Barfleur'.

Parcels 3V20 had another interesting week. On 12 March, it came in four minutes early with rare 'Jubilee' 45633 'Aden' newly on loan to 17A Derby from 24L Carnforth.

The following evening, another rare 'Jub' turned up on it, 35 minutes late - this was 45676 'Codrington' newly loaned to Saltley from 5A Crewe North.

On 14 March it was nearly two hours late with Caprotti Standard class 5 73143 of 17C Rowsley - though to be fair, there appeared to be an operating problem further north that day.

15 March, everything went to plan, it turned up ten minutes early with a diesel - D89!

However on Saturday 16 March, it was back to its bad old ways, being two hours forty minutes down with another Caprotti,  'Black Five' 44753 from 55A Leeds Holbeck.

Sunday 17 – Saturday 23 MARCH

Things were slowly getting back to normal, though notable workings still occurred.

Rebuilt 'Patriot' 45529 'Stephenson' of 1A Willesden was on a down fitted freight on 19 March and was noted again on 22 March heading 1M22 2.40pm Bristol – Nottingham.

DMU substitution on 21 March saw Prairie tank 4175 of 85D Kidderminster on 2H73 9.20am Worcester – Gloucester  and 2M73 11.40am Gloucester – Birmingham New Street.

On 21 March 'B1' 61153 of 41A Sheffield Darnall had 1V70 8.20am Newcastle – Swansea and was at Barnwood depot that evening.

The previous day 1V70 had been 80 minutes late with 'Jubilee' 45557 'New Brunswick'.

Showing that steam could keep to diesel schedules, 1V67 1.8pm Leeds – Cardiff coasted through Lansdown station right on time at 5.29pm on 22 March behind one of Holbeck's finest, 'Jubilee' 45739 'Ulster'. This service stopped at Ashchurch but not Cheltenham.

Parcels 3V20 continued to create its own timetable: 95 minutes late on 19 March with BR Standard 75043 of 17A Derby ; only 35 late on 20 March with 45279 of 15C Leicester;  45 minutes early on 22 March with 'Jubilee' 45659 'Drake' and 90 minutes down on 23 March with 'Jubilee' 45667 'Jellicoe'.

Sunday 24 – Saturday 30 MARCH 1963

Most trains were running pretty well, with much less steam substitution than hitherto.

Even parcels train 3V20 managed to adhere more or less to the booked times the whole week. 

This week's highlight was 'Jubilee' 45623 'Palestine' of 26A Newton Heath shed with 1V67 1.8pm Leeds – Cardiff on 25 March.

Another formerly rare 'Jubilee' 45622 'Nyasaland' was around on 27 March, just reallocated from 14B Kentish Town to 17B Burton, so may have been on 4V54, the Burton – Bristol beer train.

On 28 March Bristol based D37, a victim of 'The Big Freeze', headed north for works attention, towed dead in 5M25 5.25pm Bristol – Water Orton by D165.

'The Big Freeze' was over, though not the inquest into how BR coped with it".

At the end of March spring was in the air - but BR was about to be engulfed by the 'Wind of Change'.

Published on 27 March 1963 'The Reshaping of British Railways' report compiled by Dr Richard Beeching  had  a far greater impact on the British railway system than 'The Big Freeze'.

Not sure if this was winter 1962/63 or the following one - probably the latter.Fresh snow on the tracks as a Hymek diesel hydraulic traverses the down relief at Reddings tin bridge with 4V58 Saturdays only 7.43am Rowley Regis - Llandarcy oil tank train. The loco would normally be working passenger services, but 'Hymeks' had a rough time with failures in Winter 1963/64, particularly on Worcester - Paddington expresses,so this may be one from Worcester. Photo Stephen Mourton


This film on YouTube gives an idea of conditions on the railways in early 1963

" The National Archives, Kew, London, have a file of records created by the British Transport Commission, the BR Board and related bodies -

Reference AN 183/130 'Lessons of winter 1963-1964.' giving details of the severe winter's effect  on railway operations.

+ 4141 was sold to Woodham's scrapyard, Barry, being later rescued and restored to working order.

* 75035's first appearance in Cheltenham occurred in August 1953 when brand-new from Swindon Works. It worked a local passenger train from Gloucester Central to Cheltenham St James and was photographed on Malvern Road shed.

^ 92136 was a Saltley engine for the whole of its short life - July 1957 to October 1966.

// The GWSR run race specials for the Gold Cup Festival from Toddington to Cheltenham Racecourse station.