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This is a film which shows the last journey by passenger train along the now closed route from Sheffield Victoria Station to Manchester.

The film begins showing the overhead electric cables and then a train quickly passing over the camera, followed by the title: ‘My Farewell To The Sheffield Manchester Electrics’.  The film then shows some buildings and a sign for Sheffield Victoria Railway Station, followed by the inside of the Station (though it is very dark).  Propped up on the outside of a moving passenger train, the camera shows the train departing. The train is then shown from the side of the track passing by.  It is being pulled by a diesel engine even though electric cable runs overhead. The route shows the Wicker arches, Neepsend, and Five Arches viaduct.  Two tall chimneys are in the background, and from a moving train it passes cooling towers and sidings with coal wagons.  Then, from high above on the hillside at Owlerton, a train is shown passing. 

The film shows inside the signal box at Wadsley Bridge with the track diagram, and a diesel pulled passenger train passing the box, followed by a class 76 electric.  From the camera on the moving train the film shows the train passing Penistone Station, on to Dunford Bridge Station, into Woodhead Tunnel and leaving the Tunnel at Woodhead Station.  Having left the tunnel the train passes reservoirs and the surrounding wintry countryside.  It also passes over a viaduct, Crowden Signalbox, the sidings at Dinting, Mottram and Broadbottom Stations, and through Godley Junction, before the film comes to an end.

Further reading... click on 'context' tab on linked webpage


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Curiously enough my husband was watching this yesterday, on my recommendation. Partly because Sheffield is my home town, partly because he used to know the Manchester end of the line quite well, but mainly because he loves railways.

I must have another look at it as I haven't watched it for some time.

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Peter Hall

I suspect that although mostly filmed in the days/weeks leading up to 4th January 1970 a couple of the line side shots were filmed later.  These are the ones showing a van train.  This I believe must be 5M54 13:20 Sheffield Nunnery Carriage Sidings - Manchester Ardwick Carriage Sidings empty newspaper vans,  This train commencing after the passenger service had been withdrawn as previously the vans were attached to various passenger trains during the day.  

Of particular interest, to myself at least, is that at about 6:25 their is a clip of a Class 40 hauled passenger train passing through, I think, Deepcar. The formation suggests it is in one of the regular Sheffield - Manchester trains rather than a footex or other special working rather than the Class 37 hauled Harwich Boat Train, a couple of clips of which are included. I have been scratching my head about this one as I suspect it was something Arnold Congreaves was expecting rather than just fell upon whilst out filming.

The subject of Newspaper trains via Woodhead at this time has been debated extensively on the 'wnxx forum' http://www.wnxx.com/ in viewtopic.php?f=20&t=10430 and viewtopic.php?f=22&t=11587 . The train under the spotlight their being the 01:17 Manchester Piccadilly - Grimsby Town/Cleethorpes Passenger/Newspapers. Monday to Saturday this was routed via Barnsley and Doncaster after leaving Penistone whilst on Sundays it was routed via Sheffield Victoria and Retford after leaving Penistone where a Grimsby Town / Cleethorpes portion via Barnsley had been detached..

Because of the layout of platforms at Manchester Piccadilly this train departed from those with ac electrification rather than dc electrification as only the ac platforms faced the carriage road from which newspapers were transhipped from road vehicles. Thus, the train left Manchester behind a diesel.

Monday to Saturday this was replaced at Guide Bridge by an electric, this being confirmed by enthusiasts who had travelled on the train and by a 1967 LMR WTT I have. At Penistone the electric was replaced by a diesel that had come light from Wath-upon-Dearne depot.

What happened on Sundays is less clear though as no eye witness reports have come to light. However the 1967 LMR WTT does not show it as being a locomotive change at Guide Bridge but the ER WTT shows a locomotive change at Sheffield Victoria. The forwarding locomotive having come light from Immingham. The locomotive for the portion detached at Penistone having come light from Wath-upon-Dearne.

Perhaps on Sundays the train was actually booked to be worked through to Sheffield Victoria by a diesel, this would explain no locomotive change being shown at Guide Bridge. That being the case could it have been the diesel locomotive returned on the first Sunday train from Sheffield at 09:30? If the 09:30 was regularly diesel hauled I suspect few would be aware of the fact but perhaps Arnold Congreves was and had deliberately gone out to get this particular sequence.

As Arnold has two different Harwich Boat Train sequences and also the two sequences of a van train (see above). My hunch is that he had a good knowledge of workings on the route and knew which train was hauled by what. 

Anyone able to shed more light on the Class 40 working?

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Ah the excursions I was taken on as a child from Wadsley Bridge Station to visit Belle View Zoo on this line.

A little historical note. The electrification of this route was proposed prior to WW2 and the first electric loco was built under Sir Nigel Gresley in 1939 and was stored at Doncaster until after D Day. After the invasion this loco was used to aid the war effort by running on continental DC electrified lines of the low countries (France had gone for AC electrification pre war) . On its return to the UK it was named Tommy in recognition of its war record. The DC system allowed the locos to act as generators on the down hill sections of the line putting energy back into the system to help power trains on the uphill sections of the line helping the heavy coal trains that ran from Wath upon Dearne. DC also was more controllable than AC in the age before the invention of solid state devices i.e transistors. After the closure of the line I understand many of the locos were sold to the Dutch Railways where they ran for many years  

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There were two types of electric locos used, the EM1's later class 76 that ended up running in pairs, and the EM2's that would have been designated class 77. The 76's ran until closure of the line on the coal traffic. The class 77's were designed as express passenger locos, but deemed surplus to requirements by 1968. There were only 7 locos in the class and were all sold to the Dutch railways. Two of them have returned to Britain, one at the Midland Railway centre at Butterly and one at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

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History dude

There's also a class 31 Diesel working 40ton mineral wagons shown in the film. It carries the headcode of 9T03. The nine meaning that the wagons have no brakes. The "T" being it's destination. Which in the context of Sheffield and the direction it was moving would stand for Tinsley Yard. The final numbers are just the route. 

Later on these headcodes ceased to be used, partially because the drivers didn't update them, but more likely due to one of the code letters or numbers not working. The trains still however were assigned the codes, even after all the locos had the headcode replaced with a panel and two lights.

The first number was always the class of train.

1 Express Passenger Train or breakdown train or snowplough going to clear the line.  2 Standard Passenger Train or snowplough not going to clear the line. 3 Parcel train capable of 90mph or over. 4 Freightliner train or parcel train or Freight train faster than 75 mph. 5 Empty coaching stock. 6 Freight train fully fitted with brakes. 7 Partially fitted Freight train. 8 Partially Fitted Freight train. 9 Unfitted Freight train.

Numbers 7 and 8 differ in the brake force of the train. 7 having a higher brake force than the other.

The letter codes sometimes indicate the place the train is going. As in T for Tinsley. Though a train going from one region to another will carry the code of the region it is going to. E - for Eastern. M - for Midland. V for Western. S for Scottish. I don't know if the S also applied to Southern Region. 

Other codes of note include Z for depot. For example an engine going to the depot would carry the code 0Z00.  

If anyone knows any other letter code meanings, I would be interested in seeing them.  

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The inter regional code for the Southern region was the letter 'O'. There was also a class 0 (numeric) which was a light engine movement. The letter 'Z' applied to special workings not normally in the timetables, eg. 1Z45 could be an interregional excursion. During the '70's the Merrymakers excursions carried the 'Z' designation.

In 4 digit codes the last two numbers were reporting numbers and didn't refer to any specific routes, but in the two digit codes used on most DMU's it did, must have been very confusing.

I think the use of the blinds stopped when TOPS codes started to be used and passed on to signallers automatically.

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