Bedford - Bletchley memories 1979-1989- thanks to Jason Hall

 

Table 64 loco hauled Part 1: 1970s to 1989

 

The Bedford to Bletchley branch has featured in many trips over the last 35 years, most for pleasure, those of recent times not so. The line brings memories of my earliest spotting trips in the late 70s and early 80s, through teenage bashing years and into the former years of my working career. Even now the branch is used occasionally to get to meetings in exotic locations such as Rugby and Birmingham. I recently watched an episode of ĎSome Mothers Do Ave Emí, and prior to Frank getting himself into the usual trouble, as he stood at the bus stop I noticed right behind him was St.Johns railway station. As a United Counties Bristol Lodekka came under the bridge from the depot, a 105 unit arrived behind him. Without a doubt the best part of the episode! This is a brief look at my local Table 64 from the late 70s, through to the end of the 80s.

 

My first ride over the branch came in 1979, and other than some Ts (travelled on) next to some Bletchley allocated 105s there are few details of this and the few subsequent trips. Cycling to St.Johns and putting my bike in the guards van, then scurrying for a front view seat behind the driver. A kindly driver would fix the blinds up for you. On one occasion I recall seeing 31101 arrive from Bedford Midland, 31s being very rare at that time. Later scrutinising Stewartby for any signs of brick train 25s, as is the excitement of leaving Fenny Stratford and preparing to get the numbers of the many units gathered on Bletchley depot, and the locos lined up in the station. There was even occasion that the guard let me give the buzzer to the driver to start the train. Truly happier less complicated times. From May 1984, the original Bedford St.Johns was closed and Table 64 now ran into Bedford Midland, via a new bus stop style St.Johns station.

 

Of course the staple passenger traction over the years was DMUs, from 105s to 128s, I think the branch has seen them all. I have records of riding on 101, 104, 105, 108, 115, 116, 117, 120, 121 and 122. I remember seeing a rake of 107s from at a guess Wolverton, being run round by a 25 at Bletchley and heading over the branch towards Bedford. Latterly parcel converted 114s, 127s and 128s would make appearances. As Bletchley maintained ME allocated 115s in the 80s, it was quite often that a four car 115 could be up and down Table 64, leaving two cars hanging over the end of most station platforms on the route. In fact BY often relied on other depots to supplement their ailing 104s and latter 108s and 117s. I recall a 120 set on loan from DY, a 3 x 101 being allocated for some time, and comings and goings of various bubble cars. Of course now 150s and 153s ply their all too predictable trade on the route, and are of little interest to me.

 

However, despite the comings and goings of various types of DMUs, the branch saw its share of loco haulage, usually rescuing and hauling failed units, and as the years went on, even hauling stock. Whilst some were discovered by accident, and some were word of mouth from station staff, there was latterly some brief phone calls to BY TCS to check. There were tails of 47060 pushing a unit and, even 20227. 25s and latterly of course 31s dominated these scenarios. With BY usually featuring a line-up of Type 2 power, and Bedford similarly hosting at least a couple, you were usually in!

 

15068553439n53425r.jpg53439 and 53425 at Bedford Midland with a local working on 150685

My first hauled run came on a very chilly 05/01/85 when I arrived at Midland station to find 25195 coupling up to the 12.05 Bletchley, formed of a very silent and very cold 104 unit. With little cash I thought St.Johns would be my lot, but luckily I had sufficient funds to go a little further, and bailed at Kempston Hardwick. Watching it leave was not an easy thing to do but once it had vanished towards Stewartby, I got on my bike and cycled back into town.† The next was the Bedford to Bletchley rail usersí groups special to Eastbourne on 27/04 of the same year, a jaunt with a twist. A string of MK1s headed by 47597 was the days fare, and for not a lot of pounds it seemed like a reasonable day out. On the return though it became more interesting as with the 47 apparently low on fuel or defective, and a replacement was lined up at Mitre Bridge. This turned out actually to be two replacements. At Mitre Bridge 25198+31217 were on hand to return the train to Bedford. The racket on departure from the Table 64 shacks is still recalled. A rateable combo!

 

27048525198n31217r.jpgYr web editor and "Mr Ratty" did the return tour as detailed by Jason just from Leighton to Bletchley, heres our phot the "rateable combo" leaving Bletchley. How i wished we had stayed on to Bedford!†

 

 

A year later and I was working for BR based initially at St.Pancras. On another freezing day, 13/02/86, I arrived back at Bedford on my way home to find 25035 attached to the 16.19 Bletchley unit. Now a fully armed priv kid I would not be getting off short and it was done to Bletchley for a unit back again. With the 25s now on their last legs, it was a surprise to find 25095 was out on 17/04/86. In fact it was to be out for most of the day but with the gen early enough I was able to do a couple of return trips before heading for work.† This turned out to be my last rat over the route.

 

Of course 31s were the more regular Type 2 traction from the mid 80s for branch rescues and haulage. Although there seemed to be no regular diagram you could expect to produce, a hot summerís day would usually do the trick and in 1986 there were at least a few of those. I would often, if no gen was to be had, risk a jaunt along the branch to see what was out. It often paid off such as on 26/08/86, when 31261 was found at Millbrook with the 18.27 from Bletchley. At Bedford it ran round, and was done back to Bletchley as the 19.55. The return to Bedford was a 104 unit. The following day the same move turned out DMUs on both turns.

 

04/07/87 brought the rare visit of a couple of 37s to the branch, all be it on a railtour. ĎThe Independentí called at Bedford prior crossing the branch for the West Coast, and conveniently stopping at Bletchley. A dud 37044 and required 37091 had charge of the train and I duly boarded at Bedford for a brief dose of Table 64 tractor mileage.

 

Not all of Table 64s trains ran between Bletchley and Bedford. A small few ran through to Kettering over Table 53. There were occasion these would produce as well, and some real biggies at that!03/08/87 I set off for work earlier than usual as 31275 was coming from Bletchley with 07.49 Kettering. Sure enough in rolled a demic DMU and a large TI allocated 31275. Kettering and back was the best I could have before bailing at Bedford for a unit to work. On 08/07/88 when returning from work, a Thornaby allocated 31264 was found heading the 17.26 Bedford-Kettering, and 18.00 return. Working on Summer Saturdays was always frustrating, but this made up for it! My favourite though was finding a very tatty blue and un-refurbished 31106 complete with discs at the head of a single demic bubble car forming the 06.00 Bletchley-Kettering. Rateable stuff! Sadly that morning I had to leave the 31 at Wellingborough to get to work, with conveyance from Wellingborough to London being a far less inspiring 47556.

 

It wasnít just DMUs that were being hauled around either. For a period a couple of MK1 coaches would see use. Usually a couple of half brakes would turn up instead of a DMU with some notable machines producing on them too. On 26/04/88 the 07.23 Bletchley-Kettering and 09.23 return produced MK1s and 31296. The next day the same turned up with 31293. In both cases the 31s were done Bedford-Kettering-Bletchley, for EMUs south and into work.

 

The Network Day of 24/10/87 brought a 47 to the route, all be it on an additional service starting from Kettering and heading for Oxford. Having spent the larger part of the day doing 50s, I headed via a 317 from St.Pancras to Bedford to pick up 1Z18, 17.00 from Kettering. Expecting a 58, my reward was 47626, which from a leading MK1 compo was thoroughly enjoyed anyhow.

 

By December 1988 the situation showed no sign of improvement, so much so that if ETH 31s were on hand, they were put to use on the stock instead of NBs. My first ETH 31 was on 02/12/88, with 31463 hauling he branch for most of the day. I managed St.Johns-Bedford-Bletchley before heading off for work again. On 10/12 463 was out again, and again part of my journey to work.

 

It didnít take long for NBs to make appearances again and on 13/12, the branch chucked out 31292 on the MK1s. Having just arrived from work I was less than impressed to see 31292 arrive and run round to return ECS, as the DMU that had failed earlier in the day had been repaired. As fortune would have it some normal arrived just as the DMU departed. I suggested that rather than return ECS, the 31 and stock return as an additional, after all they had to run round in the station anyway to get onto the depot. The crew and control agreed and off we set as a 19.50 control relief to Bletchley, running non-stop with 31292 doing the honours. Canít have been many reliefs or express trains over the branch since!

 

On 17/12 my luck didnít hold. I was early shift and found out that 31107 was up and down the branch. I managed to get to Bletchley for what should have been the 14.45. Sure enough 31107 arrived on the 13.37 from Bedford complete with MK1s. Shortly after its arrival a 108 ambled into the station, running in from the depot. With a fresh unit on hand, 31107 ran round and took its coaches to the depot, leaving me with a DMU ride home. Bowled! To this day I require 31107 and since it recently obtaining level crossing film star status, I never will.

 

20/12 turned out 31301 which I boarded at St.Johns for an entire 0.75 miles but Iím glad I did, as at Bedford it was swapped for 31230 for the return. At Bletchley, this was swapped for 31421, which then stayed out for the rest of the day. Beats me why they bothered though as the stock was a demic 108 unit and ETH fitted loco or not, the unit stayed freezing.

 

By January 1989, the situation was much the same, but I was not about to complain about it. Up until now though loco failures had been few and far between and on 12/01 of that year I was there for my first. The day started well with 31237 had Bedford-Bletchley on the 08.37 with the MK1s. At Bletchley 31435 was on hand to take over, which soon warmed the stock nicely. This didnít last long though as 435 promptly overloaded and failed at Woburn Sands. 31317 was sent from Bletchley and pushed us as far as Ridgmont where the train was cancelled. The return 10.37 from Bedford started here with 31317 now on the correct end of the train. At Bletchley 31237 was on hand again to return to Bedford, but sadly I had to head for work.† On my return to Bedford 31457 was found to be out and heading its last run of the day, the 20.52 to Bletchley. It had taken over from 31237 to work the 13.45 Bletchley-Bedford and stayed out for the rest of the day. This was done to Ridgmont for a veryswift ale, and the last unit back to Bedford. I understand that that pub in Ridgmont is now long gone.

 

The end was nigh though and my final branch haulage came three months later, on 19/04/89. My final haulage over the branch of the 80s though was memorable as the stock on this occasion was a 310 unit!A tarted up 31430 was had to Bletchley on the 08.37, with its highly unusual stock. It must have come out of service here as I returned to Bedford on a DMU.For now it seemed to be all over, but round two was to come!

 

19048931430r.jpgA unique working and photo! 31430 dragging 310075 on the 0837 Bedford - Bletchley deputising for an unavailable DMU.

 

Some of the known loco hauled service train workings (Those in bold I was on)

 

Sat 05/01/85

25195

12.05

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Thu 13/02/86

25035

16.19

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling 104 DMU

Thu 17/04/86

25095

10.01

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling 104 DMU

Thu 17/04/86

25095

10.50

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling 104 DMU

Thu 17/04/86

25095

12.10

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling 104 DMU

Thu 17/04/86

25095

14.15

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling 104 DMU

Tue 26/08/86

31261

18.27

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling 104 DMU

Tue 26/08/86

31261

19.55

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling 104 DMU

Thu 30/07/87

31135

21.10

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Mon 03/08/87

31275

06.49

Bletchley

Kettering

Hauling DMU

Mon 03/08/87

31275

09.23

Kettering

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Tue 15/09/87

31106

06.00

Bletchley

Kettering

Hauling DMU

Sat 13/02/88

31187

07.49

Bletchley

Kettering

Hauling DMU

Thu 10/03/88

31240

19.20

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Thu 10/03/88

31240

20.10

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Tue 26/04/88

31296

07.23

Bletchley

Kettering

Vice DMU

Tue 26/04/88

31296

09.23

Kettering

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Wed 27/04/88

31293

07.23

Bletchley

Kettering

Vice DMU

Wed 27/04/88

31293

09.23

Kettering

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Fri 24/06/88

31202

06.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Fri 24/06/88

31202

07.50

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Fri 24/06/88

31202

08.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Fri 24/06/88

31202

09.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Fri 24/06/88

31202

10.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Fri 24/06/88

31202

11.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

10.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

11.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

12.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

13.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

14.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

15.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

16.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

17.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

18.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

19.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

20.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Sat 02/07/88

31146

22.07

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Sat 09/07/88

31264

17.26

Bedford

Kettering

Hauling DMU

Sat 09/07/88

31264

18.00

Kettering

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Fri 02/12/88

31463

11.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Fri 02/12/88

31463

12.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Fri 09/12/88

31463

????

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Fri 09/12/88

31463

????

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Sat 10/12/88

31463

10.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Sat 10/12/88

31463

11.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Sat 10/12/88

31463

12.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Sat 10/12/88

31463

13.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Sat 10/12/88

31463

14.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Sat 10/12/88

31463

15.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Tue 13/12/88

31292

18.37

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Tue 13/12/88

31292

19.50

Bedford

Bletchley

Relief

Sat 17/12/88

31107

08.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Sat 17/12/88

31107

09.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Sat 17/12/88

31107

10.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Sat 17/12/88

31107

11.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Sat 17/12/88

31107

12.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Sat 17/12/88

31107

13.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Tue 20/12/88

31301

11.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Tue 20/12/88

31230

12.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling DMU

Tue 20/12/88

31421

13.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling DMU

Thu 22/12/88

31421

09.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Thu 22/12/88

31421

10.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 22/12/88

31421

11.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Wed 28/12/88

31457

09.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Wed 28/12/88

31457

10.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Wed 28/12/88

31457

11.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Sat 31/12/88

31457

07.50

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Wed 04/01/89

31292

11.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31237

08.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31435

09.45

Bletchley

Bedford

FAILED

Thu 12/01/89

31317

09.45

Bletchley

Bedford

31317 push - 31435 DOF

Thu 12/01/89

31317

10.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31237

11.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31237

12.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

13.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

14.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

15.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

16.30

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

17.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

18.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

19.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Thu 12/01/89

31457

20.52

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Fri 13/01/89

31457

13.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Fri 13/01/89

31457

14.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Fri 13/01/89

31448

15.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Fri 13/01/89

31448

16.30

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Mon 06/02/89

31419

06.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Mon 06/02/89

31419

07.50

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Fri 17/02/89

31462

????

Bletchley

Bedford

Vice DMU

Fri 17/02/89

31462

????

Bedford

Bletchley

Vice DMU

Wed 19/04/89

31430

07.45

Bletchley

Bedford

Hauling 310

Wed 19/04/89

31430

08.37

Bedford

Bletchley

Hauling 310

 

A few Table 64 DMU memories from the period

Date

Class

Vehicle 1

Vehicle 2

Vehicle 3

09/04/1985

116

51136

59106

51149

10/04/1985

104

53425

53439

 

11/04/1985

104

53540

54182

 

12/04/1985

101

53311

59117

53322

17/05/1985

104

53444

59206

53500

18/05/1985

120

53677

59285

53720

18/05/1985

115

53827

59533

53880

19/05/1985

104

54183

53541

 

30/05/1985

104

53444

53500

 

30/05/1985

101

53311

59117

53322

31/05/1985

104

53444

53500

 

01/06/1985

101

53322

59117

53311

15/06/1985

104

53439

53425

 

15/06/1985

104

53444

59206

53500

13/08/1985

104

53444

59206

53500

13/08/1985

104

53425

59163

53439

14/08/1985

104

54181

53539

 

17/08/1985

104

53444

59206

53500

21/10/1988

121

55011

 

 

24/11/1989

108

54271

51909

 

 

Thanks again to Jason for the Branch memories ..

 

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