You all remember 1B29, don’t you?
Well, if you don’t, it was the last portion of the day to run from Carstairs into Waverley, and was detached off 1S87, the 1318 Brighton to Glasgow/Edinburgh “Sussex Scot” service.
Of course, the reason so many 26 bashers got to know the service so well was that during the 88-89 timetable, it was the only train that really saw any semi-regular Class 26 haulage.
Like all the other trains on the Carstairs to Edinburgh stretch, it was booked for a 47/4, but the diagram was a simple out and back turn: out to Carstairs on 1C85 Edinburgh to Carstairs vans and then back into Waverley on 1B29. It was this diagram that meant that 1C85 was often NB, usually a 26 or a 37/0, depending on what Millerhill had at the time!
Many 26s saw action on the train (elsewhere on this site you’ll soon be able to find exact details of every working), and the allocation of 1C85 was watched with eagle eyes. As I then lived in the Midlands, 1C85 wouldn’t usually be allocated until after 1S87 had left Birmingham, which made the move pretty much impossible unless you were already bashing in Scotland.
During the summer of 1988, I had sampled ex-Inverness boilered 26041 and ex-Haymarket veteran 26003 on the train on two consecutive nights, so, when December came with three days’ holiday to use up from work, I decided to travel to Scotland to have a few days sampling both 1B29 and the last few weeks of West Highland loco haulage.
On the night of Tuesday 6th December 1988, I travelled north on 1S87, with a then new 90015 up front. I had no gen on what 1B29 was, so, as we pulled into Carstairs, my eyes were naturally glued to the curve to see what delights or disappointments awaited. In the bitterly cold night air, I could see in the distance the two marker lights of a splitbox 37, and so I knew it was a NB T that was to take me to Waverley. Not a Type Two, but still better than a 47!
It was Inverness Speedlink-allocated 37070 that backed on: not only a dud one, but even dud for the year in Scotland! However, I wasn’t going to complain: at least it had dropped NB, and was perhaps a sign that Scotland wasn’t littered with spare ETH power…The next day, Wednesday, after a trip to Wick I covered 1B29 from Haymarket, only to have that old DCHA rogue 47604, so no joy there! After the overnight and a trip to Mallaig, on the Thursday night I was again back at Haymarket (the full move to Carstairs was incredibly awkward, and could only be made from Glasgow by taking a unit to Lanark, and a bus to Carstairs, which I couldn’t really make from the far reaches of the West Highland!) On this Thursday, there was no one around at all, so I had no gen. Was this a good sign, or had those in the know known it was a 47 and stayed in the pub?
Then, in the distance, the two small lights of a 26 could be seen as the train swept around the curve. The station was filled with the spluttering, chuntering noise of a 6LDA engine as 26037 came to a halt in front of me. A little annoyed at the mediocre mileage, I was at least happy that it was a 26! The main bonus was that it gave me a chance to phot a Class 26 at night at Waverley. Incidentally, the previous trip I had had with 26037 was back in April 1985 when I had it in a pair with 26040 on the 1130 from Inverness to Wick: steaming, blue and rusty.The following day, I decided to spend a day in the Lowlands, and when 37040 from the FMGM pool arrived with the empties for the 1C62 0744 Penzance portion, I knew things were a little desperate! After all, Metals sector Motherwell 37s weren’t all that common on Class One trains… I had a blast off the Siphon and then pottered around for the say covering various loco-hauled diagrams in the hope that something may appear.
When the afternoon arrived, I decided to do 1M42 to Carstairs to view the power there. 37040 was there waiting for its diagram back into Waverley. I had thought that Motherwell would have grabbed it back, but next to it was blue 26011…
This got me thinking, so I decided that the best move was to take 1M42 down to Carlisle for 1S80 back in the hope of getting some gen from anyone travelling for 37040. Sure enough, at Carlisle, having boarded 1S80, I met some friends and discovered that 26011 was allocated to 1B21, the portion off 1S76, the 1545 Manchester to Glasgow/Edinburgh.
We all did 1S80, with 87005, to Carstairs, where I got off for 1S76. This arrived in time, and the 26/0 backed on. Having done the brake test, and received the road, the guard blew for the RA and we were off.
Maybe you can almost feel the atmosphere: a very cold night in the desolate Lowlands with a blue 26 thrashing to some fine order with load five; sparks flying out of the exhaust ports and those two small, weak lamps picking out the shiny rails ahead. This is the stuff memories are made of!
26011 seemed very loud, which added to the enjoyment. At last, I was able to enjoy the full 27.75 miles of total thrash! I think I was the only crank, as most had opted for the 37, although one or two were at Haymarket for the ride in: at least this time it wasn’t me standing there!
That night, 1B29 was allocated a 47, so after a beer or two, I wandered back to Waverley for the overnight… only to run into a mate who said that 1B29 had been changed and was now allocated 26028.
Well, I was quite chuffed, as 26028 was a new 26, even if it was a horrendous Haymarket move. But since I had already had one 26 in from Carstairs that evening, it wasn’t the end of the world!
I stood in the vestibule for the short midnight thrash through Princes Street Gardens with this very battered DCHA machine…
I then overnighted to Inverness and made my way back south via Aberdeen with 47550 on 1M42. As there was no one about at Edinburgh, I carried on to Carstairs to view the power stabled there… to my delight, 26003 and 37244 stood on the yard… so it was apparent there were still not enough 47s to go round!
I went to Carlisle on 1M42 with 87035 and returned with 86236 in 1S39, with some gen. The train I wanted was 1B23, the portion off the 1300 ex Euston, so I got off at Carstairs for the fester.
Eventually the train arrived and 26003, then in old railfreight livery, backed on for the trip to Waverley before my return south…
In the New Year,my new holiday entitlement meant I could grab a few more days north of the border. Having journeyed to Scotland via 20117 and 20065 on the Lostocks on Sunday 15th January, 37373 on a failure and 37097 and 47218 on portions, things were looking good! On the 17th, I was at Haymarket for the “salt and sauce” chips and a train back into Waverley, when 26028 rolled in on 1B21. Where it had come from I don’t know, as ScotRail was meant to have loads of 47s… I can only assume a Spoon had collapsed and 028 deputised. There was certainly no one on it! I was able to grab my best ever 26 night shot of the beaten-up old stalwart at Waverley.
I pottered about the next day on the West Highland, and then, blind, made the move to Carlisle for 1S87. Maybe I had had a premonition, because as we came into Carstairsm here was a blue snowplough-fitted 26/1 waiting… 26021! This was a result, as it was required! Not a great blind move, but a winner as well!
That was my first and last trip with 26021, and my last 26 on 1B29 (or any other service train from Carstairs). PDList of 1B29 Class 26 workings by J B
28/04/89 26021 on 1740 BNS to Waverley relief to 1B29, Carstairs to Waverley