20th December 2000

 Over the past two years I have travelled the Crewe-Holyhead route several times, been on the Irish Mancunian in both direction, been on both Farewell Specials but I have never travelled to Birmingham behind one of the 37/4 locomotives. The Grand Tour (Crewe-Holyhead-Manchester-Llandudno-Crewe) is not possible any more and with only 10 days to go it was time to rectify matters. So, on Wednesday 20th December 2000, I joined 1G96, the 8.47 from Holyhead, and set forth into the West Midlands, an intriguing journey in that the train enters Birmingham New Street from one end to travel out the other - no running round to do. This of course is why, as Charlie Hulme explained to me, that 37425 used to appear with "Concrete Bob" and "Sir Robert McAlpine" facing alternate ways in rapid sequence. Similarly now with 37429 and its part red nameplate and blue nameplate. Apart from the incident at Crewe involving windscreen wipers the journey was uneventful but interesting with lots of growls en route.

The stock comprised 5331, 35513, 4876 and 5278, the latter having an annoying wheel flat. Because my mind works that way I calculated that each time a coach with a wheel flat went from Crewe to Holyhead and back it would hammer the rail over 500,000 times and wondered what that would do to the vehicle. Similarly I noticed that passing class 175's appeared to be a maroon/plum colour instead of the predominantly blue one sees at the platform edge. Consultation with the internet revealed that this is probably due to the speed at which these superwonderful machines travel and their subsequent closing speed with the 37 - it is a phenomenon known as the red shift - something that Patrick Moore has explained several times on his programme the Sky at Night. It results from different colours of light travelling at different speeds. Consequently, if two superwonderful class 175's pass each other, such is their resultant closing speed that each will appear white when viewed from the other. Finally, should two superwonderful 175's pass in a tunnel, where air pressures are rapidly increased and decreased, they will prevent light from emerging and therefore will not be seen at all. This confirms the widely held belief that railway tunnels generally appear as black holes. QED

 Arrival at Crewe saw 87023 "Polmadie" playing around with two Virgin coaches. The coaches are being "chocked" before the locomotive left and ran round to reattach at the rear and leave. Very mysterious. 20/12/2000

1G96, the 8.47 Holyhead to Birmingham arrived on time behind 34729 "Eisteddfod Genedlaethol" on a cold, dark, wet day. We photographed and boarded for the off....but it was not to be. 20/12/2000

The windscreen wipers would not work and fitters were up on the bonnet trying to fix them. One man departed to the depot, presumably for parts, and returned where more work was undertaken. Eventually a ladder was produced and a "Do Not Move" sign was attached to the loco. Serious stuff this. 20/12/2000

Brilliantly sorted by the Crewe lads and a double yellow! Off we went at a pace, 20 minutes down and Birmingham bound past the signal from where I have so often photographed the 37's. 20/12/2000

A chance to take one last decent shot of 37407 "Blackpool Tower" now minus nameplates and looking ever more rough as the weather takes its toll. 20/12/2000.

Through Wolverhampton et al and finally to Birmingham New Street the same 20 minutes down. Here the train becomes 1D71 the 12.07 for Holyhead. 20/12/2000

 The road ahead looking over 37429's shoulder. 20/12/2000

Into one enormous tunnel the name of which I know not. The loco ran quietly for a while before being opened up - the accoustics were flesh tingling! 20/12/2000

 Stafford ahead and, despite many yellows, we were still only 20 minutes down. 20/12/2000

All quiet at Crewe and along the coast, a beautiful, well behaved, cross-bred collie for company and here we are entering Holyhead with one of the few greens of the day - still only 20 minutes down, well done driver(s). 20/12/2000

 The run round - yes I know it has all been done death before but in 10 days time it will be history and no more - think about it! 20/12/2000

 Ready to leave. 20/12/2000

 "OFF" and away we go. 20/12/2000

 Journey's end and on time - not long to go. 20/12/2000