This month marks the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the General Motors Class 071s in the Republic of Ireland. The ‘Big’ GMs (as they became known) went on to transform the nation’s loco-hauled services. Four decades later, they remain wholly intact as an operating class, as Gary Boyd-Hope explains.
THE date is Thursday, September 2, 1976 and the Lykes Line container ship MV Tillie Lykes is anchored off Dublin Bay; its massive 39,000-ton displacement prevents it from entering the Port of Dublin.
Tensions are high. The ship arrived at midday and to get its precious barge-mounted cargo to port it is having to be off-loaded in the bay, each barge being lowered gently into the water and towed by tug to North Wall for final unloading.
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Unfortunately, bad weather is causing problems and delaying the operation, and it doesn’t look as though the first barge will reach North Wall until breakfast time the following day.
If this isn’t enough to bring a nervous sweat on, the activity has seemingly attracted the attention of a Soviet ‘spy trawler’ (this is the height of the Cold War), which has appeared to keep an eye on the proceedings, possibly to check that the cargo is not some form of American heavy weaponry.
Read more in September’s issue of The RM