The recent photos in The RM of No. 10000 working the ‘Royal Wessex’ (and the Up express at Bournemouth Central) reminded me of the problems associated with the running of this train when it was introduced in 1951.
The Up and Down ‘Wessex’ was covered by two separate Bournemouth diagrams; originally light Pacifics were rostered.
No. 10000 was used to take a Bournemouth to Waterloo semi-fast, leaving the West at 11.05, arriving Waterloo 2.20pm.
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Then after calling at Nine Elms depot, it worked the Down ‘Royal Wessex’, leaving at 4.35pm, arriving Weymouth 7.55pm; after visiting Weymouth shed it finally worked the 9.55pm back to Bournemouth.
The Down Wessex was part of a much more interesting diagram, which involved Bournemouth shed turning out a light Pacific at around 4am to work light engine to Wimborne to take the 3.52am off Salisbury onwards at 4.58am, arriving at Weymouth at 6.09.
It then worked the Up ‘Wessex ‘through to Waterloo, arriving 10.50am and, after refreshing at Nine Elms, worked the 1.30pm semi fast through to Weymouth, and finally the 7.48pm from there back as far as Bournemouth.
At 352 miles on trains as opposed to light engine movements, this diagram was one of the highest daily mileages on the South West Division, (beating even a return Waterloo to Exeter Central diagram), if not the whole of the Southern.
It was also a much harder turn, as the Up ‘Wessex’ was a notoriously tough job, especially the non-stop run from Winchester (leave 9.37) through to Waterloo (due 10.50), with its initial
20 miles against the grade up to Roundwood and a 13-coach load of Mk1s.
I understand Bulleid diesels (Nos. 10201/2) also worked this diagram in the same era, and I wonder if there is any scope for Messrs Heaton and Farr to produce one of their admirable individual articles, featuring a comparison between light Pacifics and the two diesel types on the Down ‘Wessex’.
Incidentally, the time keeping of the Up Wessex was so bad ‘Merchant Navies’ had to be drafted in to cover the diagram from around 1955.
Mr Heaton and Mr Farr will be asked about such a comparison for a future
Practice & Performance feature – Ed.
Read more Letters, Reviews, Opinion, News and Views in the March 2019 issue of The RM –on sale no