Class 56

56001 Shrivenham (Ashbury Crossing) 28 September 1985

56001 emerges from the fog at Shrivenham on 28 September 1985 with a train of MGR empties returning to South Wales from Didcot Power Station. Generally by this date most coal for Didcot came from the Midlands, but there was still the odd working from Wales. Just a few years earlier most of the power station's coal came via this route. I have used a shorter lens here than I would normally use at this location, to lessen the impact of the fog. It was just starting to clear and the sun was almost coming out.

56001 Langley 6 November 1986

56001 passes Langley on 6 November 1986 with the 6V17 10:00 Allington to Stoke Gifford ARC stone empties. Unusually and unfortunately with regard to the encroaching shadows it is running on the down fast line. The first Romanian built 56 had not yet received its Whatley name at this time, but had already lost its original round buffers.

56001 Baulking 10 December 1986

With a cloudy sky to the west, 56001 heads out into the sunshine at Baulking on 10 December 1986 with the 6M24 08:05 Stoke Gifford to Wolverton ARC stone train. On this occasion the train only contains two of the usual ARC PGA hoppers, the rest of the train being made up of Redland, Tilbury Roadstone and Tarmac wagons. A bit of a difficult decision here, as it was either a case of including lots of out of focus grass or acres of sky. The latter seemed the better option, hence the unusual composition.

56001 Cholsey 4 September 1987

56001 passes through the deep chalk cutting just to the east of Cholsey station on 4 September 1987. It is working the 6A18 05:00 Robeston to Theale Murco oil tanks. An excellent picture, but it would have been even better if it had been running along the relief line, as booked!

56001 Shrivenham (Ashbury Crossing) 14 July 1989

56001 Whatley passes the site of Ashbury Crossing, Shrivenham on 14 July 1989 with the 6V84 14:00 Allington to Stoke Gifford ARC stone empties. This location has become a well known photographic vantage point in recent years, although less often used for an evening picture from the north side of the line, as here. However, in the 1980s I hardly ever met another photographer!

56001 Milton 8 December 1992

56001 Whatley passes Milton on 8 December 1992 with the 6C13 11:22 Calvert to Bath Avon Binliner, after having dumped another train load of Bristol and Bath's rubbish in a hole in the ground in the Buckinghamshire countryside. Milton Park trading estate is on the left, while on the right the Milton Heights to Didcot road can be seen running parallel with the railway.

56002 West Drayton 6 November 1986

56002 passes West Drayton on 6 November 1986 with the 6M53 10:11 Thorney Mill to Bardon Hill stone empties. This train, with its green liveried Bardon bogie hoppers, was easily distinguished from the other stone trains in the West London area at the time, which were operated by Foster Yeoman or ARC. These were often still composed of four wheel PGA hoppers. 56002 is only a mile into its journey, the Thorney Mill terminal being situated on the nearby former Staines West branch. This is at 90 degrees to the main line, and the train has had to negotiate a sharp curve into West Drayton station, after first passing underneath the Great Western Mainline, just past where the 08 shunter can be seen in the background.

56003 Stenson Junction 16 October 1986

56003 passes Stenson Junction on 16 October 1986 with the 7V46 10:12 Toton Old Bank to Didcot Power Station MGR, running over an hour early. Three decades later the loco is still going strong (as 56312), but coal traffic has decreased dramatically, and what is left is no longer transported in four wheel wagons.

56003 Levington 25 July 1996

With a wave from the driver, 56003 rounds the curve at Levington with the 4M87 16:04 Felixstowe North to Trafford Park freightliner on 25 July 1996. At this time Freightliner had a pool of four hired in Class 56s from Loadhaul to work the freightliner trains on the Felixstowe branch, handing over to electric traction at Ipswich. The single track branch could be a little restrictive at times and there was constant talk of doubling the line. 56003 has since been preserved, and retains its Loadhaul livery.

56003 & 73129 Hailes 24 September 2005

What a combination! Loadhaul liveried 56003 and Network SouthEast liveried 73129 head the 10:20 Toddington to Winchcombe service past Hailes, during the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway's Diesel Gala on 24 September 2005. With 3,300hp available, 56003 could handle a train of twice this length and still have power to spare, but as it is air brake only and the stock is vacuum braked, the Class 73 is acting purely as a brake translator.

56003 & 37324 Hailes 24 September 2005

Newly persevered, and still wearing untouched shabby Loadhaul livery, 56003 (now back on the national network as 56312) & 37324 Clydebridge pass Hailes on 24 September 2005 with the 13:50 Toddington to Cheltenham Racecourse service, during the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway's Diesel Gala.

56003 & 37324 Didbrook 24 September 2005

56003 & 37324 Clydebridge catch a little weak sunlight as they pass Didbrook with the 14:40 Cheltenham Racecourse to Toddington service, during the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway's Diesel Gala on 24 September 2005. By the late afternoon clouds had started to roll in from the south signaling an end to the day's photography, after a gloriously sunny day. Salter's Hill can be seen dominating the background.

56006 Spondon 18 August 1992

56006 passes Spondon on 18 August 1992 with the 7T64 09:43 Denby Colliery to Toton MGR. Even without knowing where this train had come from, the inclusion of the brake van in the consist was immediate proof of the train's origin. Denby Colliery closed in 1999 and the track on the short branch from Little Eaton Junction has now been lifted.

56006 Melton Ross 18 July 1996

During the summer of 1996, a short term contract saw trains of large diameter steel pipes conveyed from the North East to Immingham, for a new gas pipeline. 56006 Ferrybridge C Power Station passes Melton Ross on 18 July 1996 with the 6G40 10:00 Hartlepool to Immingham.

56006 Levington 20 September 1997

56006 Ferrybridge C Power Station passes Levington on 20 September 1997 with the Pathfinder Tours 1Z65 06:25 Crewe to Felixstowe 'Marching Cat' railtour. 56006 only worked the relatively short section between Ipswich and Felixstowe. Other locos involved during the day were: 86608, 58018, 56062, 47212, 60085 & 37678.

56006 Burrs 12 September 1999

After a generally dull day, the sun finally came out at Burrs on 12 September 1999, just in time for the late running 16:20 Bury to Rawtenstall service, during the East Lancashire Railway's now legendary 'EWS Classic Traction' event. This was very fortunate, as the train was worked by immaculate Romanian Grid 56006.

56006 & 37906 Kidderminster 30 September 2000

56006 & 37906 leave Kidderminster station on 30 September 2000 with the 09:00 departure for Bewdley, during the Severn Valley Railway's Diesel Gala. At Bewdley the 56 would be removed, leaving 37906 to work the train forward as the 09:17 Bewdley to Bridgnorth. 56006 had been repainted into its original livery of BR blue the previous year.

56006 & D1013 Bewdley 30 September 2000

The unlikely combination of 56006 & D1013 Western Ranger make a very smoky departure from Bewdley on 30 September 2000 with the 10:41 Bewdley to Kidderminster service, during the Severn Valley Railway's Diesel Gala. 56006 had been added at Bewdley, after Western Ranger arrived with the 09:35 departure from Bridgnorth.

56007 Wolvercote Junction 20 June 1991

Class 56s were certainly less common on coal trains in the Oxford area after the 1984 miner's strike, with the majority of MGR workings to Didcot Power Station then being in the hands of the newer Class 58s. However, they did still appear, as on 20 June 1991, when 56007 worked the 6E81 18:55 Didcot Power Station to Worksop, seen here passing underneath the Oxford by-pass, on the approach to Wolvercote Junction.

56007 Oxcroft Junction 1 September 1991

56007 has just passed Oxcroft Junction on 1 September 1991, as it runs along the freight only line from Staveley with the 2G91 10:20 Worksop to Elmton & Creswell Worksop Depot Open Day Special. 58040 Cottam Power Station is on the rear of the train. Oxcroft Junction can be seen in the background, with the steeply graded line to Oxcroft Coal Disposal Point peeling away to the left. This passes underneath the M1 motorway a short distance further on. I passed over the line many hundreds of times whilst driving up and down the M1, and saw numerous trains in the former colliery site, but unfortunately never ventured off the motorway to get a picture. Too late now, as the line closed in 2007.

56007 Chester 17 August 1996

56007 passes through Chester on 17 August 1996 with the early running 6F45 17:28 Dee Marsh to Warrington Arpley Enterprise service, comprised entirely of empty OTA timber wagons from Shotton Paper Mill. Whenever I saw this train, or its loaded outward run, it was well off from its booked time. In this case over two hours early, and a couple of months previously, four hours late!

56007 Cargo Fleet 22 September 1997

Romanian built 56007 passes Cargo Fleet with a train of imported coal from Redcar on 22 September 1997. Note the replacement rectangular buffers.  This loco was subsequently exported to France to work on the construction of the LGV Est européenne high speed line. There are a surprising number of good photographic locations along the Middlesbrough to Redcar line, all with heavy industrial buildings in view, as here.

56008 South Moreton (Didcot East) 29 January 1992

56008 passes South Moreton (near Didcot) with the diverted 6M28 10:15 Westbury Cement Works to Toton coal empties on 29 January 1992. This seems to be the only picture I have got of this particular Romanian built 'Grid', it being withdrawn a few months after this picture was taken to provide spares for its classmates, thus becoming one of the earliest Class 56s to be withdrawn. The large area of bramble bushes behind the loco marks the site of Moreton Sidings, one of a number of marshalling yards constructed in the area during the Second World War.

56009 & 56028 Rhyl 11 August 1991

56009 & 56028 West Burton Power Station pull away from Rhyl station on 11 August 1991 with the 1T56 10:35 Crewe to Llandudno special, one of series of trains hauled by freight traction during the Trainload Coal Motive Power Day. Rhyl No.2 signal box had closed the previous year, but survives to this day thanks to its status as a listed building.

56010 Wendlebury 27 November 1993

With a haze of blue smoke from the exhaust, and worryingly from the rear bogie, 56010 passes Wendlebury on the Bicester to Oxford line with the 6M43 14:08 Bicester Army Depot to Lawley Street coal empties on 27 November 1993. This was a regular Saturday diagram during the winter months bringing a variety of traction to the line. Unfortunately the timing of the train meant that the loaded train was severely backlit when going up to Bicester and then usually when I was around either the sun disappeared (as here) or else the loco came back light engine!

56010 Burton Salmon 18 October 1997

56010 rounds the curve at Burton Salmon on 18 October 1997 with a Millerhill to Drax Power Station MGR coal train. Both the loco and wagons are no more, but I expect the location is still popular with photographers who like Class 66s!

56011 Milford Junction 25 October 1995

56011 passes Milford Junction on 25 October 1995 with yet another load of coal from Gascoigne Wood, destined for one of the Aire valley power stations. At the time this was considered a very boring photographic location, with no variety in the constant procession of MGRs. However, I'm glad I visited it a few times, as the whole scene is now totally historic.

56011 Healey Mills 25 September 2000

56011 arrives at Healey Mills on a very gloomy 25 September 2000 with the 6G97 09:20 Rylstone to Dewsbury stone train. An easy train to recognise, by virtue of its distinctive MBA box wagons. 56011 only had a few more months left in traffic when this picture was taken. Like a large number of its classmates, it was cut up at C.F. Booth's yard at Rotherham.

56012 Foxhall Junction 31 July 1986

56012 leaves Didcot Power Station and prepares to join the mainline at Foxhall Junction on 31 July 1986, as it works the 6E41 15:45 Didcot Power Station to Barrow Hill MGR empties. Like a number of the Romanian built 56s, this loco did little work during its first year with BR, as various mechanical faults due to poor workmanship were sorted out.

56012, 312789 & 312790 Milton (Cambridgeshire) 14 September 1991

56012 Maltby Colliery passes Milton (Near Cambridge) on 14 September 1991 with the 2G30 09:30 Kings Lynn to Cambridge special, one of a number special trains worked by freight motive power during the Network South East Network Gala Day. Just as interesting as the Class 56 haulage is the use of EMUs 312789 & 312790 as coaching stock!

56014 Froxfield 20 June 1984

Reflected Grid! 56014 runs alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal at Froxfield on 20 June 1984 with the 6B29 08:10 Theale to Merehead Foster Yeoman stone empties. The canal was still not open to through navigation at this time. 56014 was seven years old when this photo was taken, but had spent nearly two years out of traffic following a collision at Worksop in September 1980.

56014 Oxford North Junction 2 May 1990

56014 waits at the signal at the southern end of the up relief line at Oxford North Junction on 2 May 1990, whilst it was working the 7V85 14:40 Toton to Didcot Power Station MGR. This was obviously running early, as it was booked to pass through Oxford non stop. This location was only available for a short while, after a massive amount of vegetation clearance opened up views between the mainline and the course of the former down relief line (on the left).

56018 Wolvercote Junction 29 August 1991

56018 approaches Wolvercote Junction on 29 August 1991 with the 6M58 17:25 Didcot Power Station to Toton MGR empties. A nice clean Railfreight Coal liveried Romanian 56 on HAAs may have been commonplace in 1991, but it certainly looks impressive now. Its a pity I only have a 35mm slide version of this. Presumably my Pentax 6x7 was loaded with Fujichrome 100, which was a bit limiting for telephoto shots in evening light.

56018 Burton Salmon 15 August 1998

The EWS livery of 56018 almost matches the crimson and cream of the Mk1 coaching stock, making a fine uniform appearance, as the Pathfinder Tours 1Z27 16:30 Newcastle to Cardiff Central 'North East Excursioner' railtour passes Burton Salmon on the evening of 15 August 1998.

56018 & 170501 Whitacre Junction 23 September 2000

Having just run round its Daw Mill to Toton MGR coal train at Whitacre Junction on 23 September 2000, 56018 waits for the road as 170501 speeds past with the 07:30 Liverpool Lime Street to Stansted Airport Central Trains service.

56018 Up Hatherley 21 May 2001

56018 passes Up Hatherley on a very dull 21 May 2001 with the 6V14 07:30 Hull Saltend to Baglan Bay acetic acid tanks, just a few weeks before the service was discontinued. I remember being disappointed at the time that it wasn't 37 hauled. However, towards the end the well known 'vinegar tanks' did occasionally have other motive power, and this is definitely better than a 'Shed'!

56018 Loughborough 21 September 2002

56018 passes Loughborough on 21 September 2002 with the 6E97 15:50 Corby to Aldwarke scrap. Interesting enough, but something much more noteworthy was following just ten minutes behind, 50049 Defiance & 50031 Hood with the 5Z55 13:33 Old Oak Common to York ECS.

56018 & 56032 Ardley 18 May 2003

56018 & 56032 pass Ardley on 18 May 2003 with the late running Pathfinder Tours 1Z71 08:45 Crewe to Clacton 'Clacton Avoider' railtour. I don't really think the EWS livery suited the Class 56, and they certainly don't look at their best in this gloomy light, and when they are in such a filthy condition.

56019 Wolvercote 8 September 1982

Plenty has changed since this view was taken at Wolvercote in 1982. Rail blue Class 56s on HAA wagons are a thing of the past and until recently this panoramic view of Port Meadow was blocked out by lineside vegetation. Happily, although the view is now nearly back to normal, the era of 56s on coal trains is long gone! 56019 heads north on 8 September 1982 with an empty MGR train returning to the Midlands from Didcot Power Station. Oddly, it was following five minutes behind a similar train hauled by classmate 56017.

56019 Water Orton 17 March 1989

56019 passes through Water Orton station on 17 March 1989 with a westbound MGR. Although the impressive station building survives, the lengthy canopy has now been swept away, leaving passengers to shelter from the elements in a crude 'bus' type shelter.

56019 Culham 20 June 1998

1998 witnessed many unusual locos working Virgin Cross Country services at the time when the company was desperately short of motive power. One of the most outrageous occurred on 20 June when 56019 worked down to Bournemouth in lieu of the normal Class 47. The sole surviving red-stripe Railfreight liveried Class 56 catches the very last rays of the setting sun as it approaches Culham returning north with the 1M81 18:14 Bournemouth to Manchester Piccadilly, which it worked as far as Birmingham New Street. 

56021 Wolvercote 4 May 1989

56021 passes Wolvercote on 4 May 1989 with the 6E05 17:39 Didcot Power Station to Barrow Hill MGR empties. Long before the advent of palisade fencing and the growth of lineside vegetation, a convenient footpath crossing on the edge of Port Meadow made an excellent (if somewhat anonymous) location for photographing northbound trains in the evening. However, nowadays the loco has gone, the traffic has gone and the location has gone!

56021 Cropredy 10 May 1989

56021 passes Cropredy on 10 May 1989 with the early running 6M55 16:55 Didcot Power Station to Three Spires Junction MGR empties, passing this location at approximately the time it should have been leaving Didcot!

56021 Didcot North Junction 20 May 1992

56021 passes a very rural looking Didcot North Junction on 20 May 1992 with the early running 6E81 18:55 Didcot Power Station to Worksop MGR empties. The field behind the train is now covered by a housing estate.

56021 Burton Salmon 12 March 1997

A ridiculously easy load for a Class 56! 56021 ambles past Burton Salmon on 12 March 1997 with the 6M13 08:37 Tees Yard to Etruria steel empties. Most people agree that the Loadhaul livery was the most inspired choice amongst the privatised freight companies, and looked good on every class of loco that it was applied to. 56021 was withdrawn whilst still wearing this colour scheme.

56022 & 56025 Water Eaton (Bambury Road) 18 August 1991

56022 & 56025 pass the ARC stone terminal at Oxford (Banbury Road) as they run parallel with the traffic on the A34 at Water Eaton on 18 August 1991 with the Pathfinder Tours 1Z36 06:28 Manchester Piccadilly to Paddington 'Strider' railtour. This tour was a means of getting people from the north of England to the Old Oak Common Open Day. Obviously it would not be possible to use a pair of Romanian built Grids on the mainline today, and neither would it be possible to repeat the route of this tour, which is here traversing the former LMS line from Bletchley to Oxford. Although the section as far as Calvert Junction remains open, further east the line has been closed for a number of years and in places is in a very overgrown state.

56022 & 56025 Blackbird Leys 18 August 1991

56022 & 56025 pass Blackbird Leys, en-route to Morris Cowley with the Pathfinder Tours 1Z36 06:28 Manchester Piccadilly to Paddington 'Strider' railtour on 18 August 1991. A very backlit picture, but included because of the highly unusual location for a passenger train. There was a much better picture to be had on the return from Morris Cowley.

56022 & 56025 Didcot Power Station 18 August 1991

56022 & 56025 traverse the flyash loop at Didcot Power Station on 18 August 1991 with the Pathfinder Tours 1Z36 06:28 Manchester Piccadilly to Paddington 'Strider' railtour. This tour was a means of getting people from the north of England to the Old Oak Common Open Day. This viewpoint was later completely obliterated by a row of trees.

56022 & 56025 South Moreton (Didcot East) 18 August 1991

56022 & 56025 head towards the capital after visiting Didcot Power Station on 18 August 1991 with the Pathfinder Tours 1Z36 06:28 Manchester Piccadilly to Paddington 'Strider' railtour. The Romanian built pair are pictured passing South Moreton (Didcot East). The stock would later pass this way again, hauled by 56034.

56024 Welbeck Colliery Junction 27 June 1992

56024 passes Welbeck Colliery Junction on 27 June 1992 with the Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z28 07:40 St Pancras to High Marnham 'Dukeries Collier' railtour. Unfortunately these semaphore signals have since been removed, and the line to Welbeck Colliery, which can be seen diverging to the right, closed when the colliery ceased production after nearly a century, in 2010.

56025 & 56022 Blackbird Leys 18 August 1991

Part of the attraction of the Pathfinder Tours 1Z36 06:28 Manchester Piccadilly to Paddington 'Strider' railtour on 18 August 1991 was the traversal of the Morris Cowley branch, near Oxford. 56025 & 56022 are pictured passing Blackbird Leys in a lucky patch of sun returning from Morris Cowley. The Rover car plant, the source of traffic on the branch, can be seen in the background.

56025 Oxford 2 October 1991

56025 passes through Oxford station on 2 October 1991 with the 7V49 04:08 Barrow Hill to Didcot Power Station MGR. All of this has now gone. The loco has been cut up, the HAA wagons are now history, as is this viewpoint from the Osney Lane footbridge. A large car park now occupies the foreground, severely restricting photography from the modern replacement footbridge.

56025 Rossett 15 June 1996

Running four hours late, 56025 passes Rossett on 15 June 1996 with the 6F41 13:24 Warrington Arpley to Dee Marsh Enterprise. As can be seen by the wide area of ballast, there was formerly more than a single line here. The route was double track until the late 1980s, with loops in the foreground of this picture, making the transformation from four lines to just one quite spectacular.

56025 Hawarden 15 June 1996

56025 passes Hawarden on 15 June 1996 with the 6F41 13:24 Warrington Arpley to Dee Marsh Enterprise, running a staggering four hours late! The train is entirely comprised of timber from Scotland. 56025 was withdrawn in April 2002 and was cut up at Booths, Rotherham in March 2009.

56025 North Queensferry 4 April 1998

56025 emerges from North Queensferry Tunnel and passes through the adjacent station on a very wet 4 April 1998 with the 6R33 11:41 Longannet Power Station to Falkland Yard MGR empties. Within a few yards the train would be travelling onto the Forth Bridge.

56027 Lower Birchwood 9 April 1992

56027 passes Lower Birchwood on 9 April 1992 with a loaded MGR, presumably destined for Ratcliffe Power Station. In those days a even a short visit to the lines around Alfreton was guaranteed to produce a procession of coal trains. This location has long since disappeared in a sea of vegetation, and it looks like power station coal traffic is also soon going to be a thing of the past!

56027 Stockton 22 April 2000

56027 brings up the rear of the Pathfinder Tours 1Z39 15:30 Seal Sands to Swindon 'Cleveland Crusader' railtour at Stockton on 22 April 2000. The lead locomotives are 37029 & 37038. Prominent in the foreground is T.J. Thompson's scrapyard. In addition to the inevitable cars, there are no less than 18 locomotives (mostly Class 31s) awaiting their fate.

56028 Barrow upon Trent 26 June 1991

A brief patch of welcome sunshine at Barrow upon Tent on 26 June 1991, as 56028 West Burton Power Station heads eastwards with a rake of MGR coal empties, heading for Toton. Only a handful of the Romanian built 56s received names during their career with BR, in this case at the eponymous power station on 10 September 1988.