long ago lost track of the final date for Class 37/4 locomotives
hauling the First North Western Trains along the North Wales
Coast but, to date the situation prevails and long may it be.
In May 2000, anticipating the demise of the 37's with the introduction
of the Summer timetable, First North Western and Railway Magazine
collaborated to run two rail specials to bid farewell to these
charismatic machines. The first would run Crewe-Holyhead-Manchester
Piccadilly-Crewe and would visit the Blaenau Ffestiniog and Llandudno
branches as well. As if this were not enough, the train would
be double headed throughout and topped and tailed by twin locomotives
for the Llandudno branch section of the journey. How could anyone
with the slightest interest in modern traction possibly miss
such an event?
second tour was similarly hauled but this time to Southport,
Blackpool and Barrow-in-Furness, visiting Manchester Piccadilly
and Manchester Victoria as well (twice!). The tours ran on successive
days which was quite a slog for us aging hippies and unfortunately
clashed with the Crewe Works Open days - no contest! Charlie
Hulme, who has long been a protagonist of the 37's and the North
Wales Coast, went to extraordinary lengths to promote the trains
via his North
Wales Coast Railway web site and I congratulate him for his efforts.
Charlie did publish photographs of both tours (maybe still available
on his site) but I was unable to submit any at the time so I
felt that I would include some of my shots on Rail37 - better
late than never. I have been on some rail tours but never anything
like these and the meanderings of the second one left me wondering
where I had been and where I was going next!
things considered it was a marvellous weekend and thanks go to
the organisers and their representatives on board the trains,
the First North Western drivers and staff and, especially, the
people with the food trolleys who kept us fed and watered throughout.
I am sure there were many others involved and I would say to
all concerned that your efforts were very much appreciated (and
can we have another one this December please?).