Summer Saturdays in the West 1995

Haulage Highlights – top page

Whilst the pattern of five return trains from Penzance and Paignton was almost unchanged from 1994, just the destination of the final train switching to Manchester from Liverpool, two extra outward trains were introduced. These being the 06:04 Derby – Paignton and 10:17 Manchester Piccadilly – Penzance.

The table of 1995 trains can be found here

Additional information about the trains covered and Birmingham New Street Fire (see below) is welcomed, particularly correcting, adding to, or filling gaps in our records. Please contact Peter Hall with any additional information.

Birmingham New Street Fire

Saturday 8th July was of course the day of the Birmingham New Street fire. What started as a seemingly insignificant rubbish fire at around 13:30 burnt through important electricity and signalling cables. Thus, the final outward train and all but the first return train were diverted via the Camp Hill line between King’s Norton and Landor Street Junction and did not call at Birmingham New Street. Thence via Sutton Park and Walsall to reach Wolverhampton. The afternoon 16:19 Paignton – Manchester Piccadilly is though understood not to have run beyond Bristol Temple Meads.

We have received this eye witness report from John Baker who at the time was an Inter-City Cross Country driver and working the 1S76 09:20 Brighton – Glasgow Central headed by 47814.

“I was sat on the locomotive at ‘B’ End of the station (the north end) waiting departure time when I noticed a plume of smoke starting to rise from the road bridge over the station, Navigation Street. Approximately over platforms 4 and 5. This got thicker as the fire developed and was black grey in colour. I assumed it was a car on fire. It was later discovered that it was a seperate footbridge type of structure that carried electrical cables and a gas main across the station closely behind Navigation St. Bridge. It was covered in a curved plastic corrugated roof which had fallen into disrepair and rubbish thrown over had accumulated around the cables and gas main. A discarded cigarette from the bus stop at the same spot on Navigation Street was believed to be the cause of ignition. The fire brigade attended quickly but as they sprayed water onto the fire there was a big flash followed by all signals at New Street going blank !

At this point I got out of the seat and crossed the cab to look back down the platform expecting someone to be coming to tell me what was happening next, but there was no one there, the station was deserted,  everyone had been evacuated but no one had come to my cab to tell me!

I tried to ring the signaller and Cross Country Control but got no answer. I could see under the bridge in number 3 siding was a Class 86 loco ( 86206 ) with its pantograph up. I new this should be dropped because of the fire risk (the cable bridge directly crossed this siding) and also as power off the batteries would drain flat. Having shut down my locomotive I walked up to the 86, as I climbed up to it I was shouted at by a group of signalmen in New Street Box directly above me, to leave the area as there was a fire. I shouted back “I know and if you answered the F*****g phone instead of watching the fire you would know what I am doing”, as you will gather I was a tad annoyed with them !

Anyway, after this I walked back to the station and up to the concourse noting on my way that all the passengers possessions where still on the now abandoned train.

As I came out into the main ticket hall I was met by a startled station manager who wanted to know where I came from as I was the only person in there beside him. He was speechless when I told him no one came to evacuate me.

He instructed me to make my way to Saltley where all Cross Country Traincrew were assembling.

Once there I was asked to work 1S39, an HST, northwards via Sutton Park, and Wolverhampton, this train had been diverted from St Andrews Junction towards Saltley. Unfortunately I didn’t sign that route so couldn’t do it.

After an hour I was taxied to Coventry to work 1M25 Bournemouth-Manchester (an HST) via Nuneaton to Manchester.
I was relieved at Stafford by a Manchester Driver and went home to Preston on 1N16 booking off 14hrs 25 mins on duty.”

The compiler of this page was also at Birmingham New Street at the time, evacuating through the Navigation Street entrance. After about an hour those congregated outside that entrance were advised to make their way around to the main entrance area. Here increasing numbers of passengers had gathered. This included the passengers off 1S76 still without their possessions as well as unhappy cricket fans. The Egbaston test match had come to a premature end after the West Indies bowlers had hastily dispatched England’s batsmen. It was well into the afternoon before alternative transport started to arrive.

The locomotive hauled Inter-City Cross Country trains routed via the Cherwell Valley were much more significantly affected than those routed via Lickey. What is known about these is detailed below:-

HeadcodeTrainLocomotiveDetails
1V9609:10 Edinburgh – Reading?Terminated short of Birmingham, possibly at Wolverhampton
1O1311:43 York – Poole47839Diverted between Landor Street Junction and Leamington Spa via Bordesley Junction and Solihull
1O9010:40 Glasgow Central – Brighton47829Diverted, routing not known.
1V9715:10 Liverpool Lime Street – Poole47822Diverted between Stafford and Coventry via Nuneaton
1O1612:30 Glasgow Central – Poole47843Diverted between Stafford and Coventry via Nuneaton
1V9817:10 Manchester Piccadilly -Paddington——Cancelled
1S7609:20 Brighton – Glasgow Central47814Terminated at Birmingham New Street
1M1309:20 Weymouth – Liverpool Lime Street47825Terminated at Adderley Park
1S8714:13 Paddington – Preston47806Diverted, routing not known
1M5013:55 Eastbourne – Manchester Piccadilly47826Diverted, routing not known