Class 33 – ‘ Crompton ‘ – The Southern Diesel

As far as freight operations go in the South of England, there was only really one workhorse during the 1960’s 70’s and 80’s – the Class 33 “Crompton”.  The nickname came from the electrical equipment manufacturer used in the loco – “Crompton Parkinson”.  Very similar in looks to the class 26, the only difference being the inclusion of a 2 digit headcode indicator between the cab windows.

Originally for sole use in the South East of the region, Kent and Sussex, they rapidly became used throughout the southern region.  They were even used as passenger locos, most memorably on the Weymouth Harbour line.

These passenger services to Weymouth would be in a “push pull” configuration, starting at Bournemouth going down to Weymouth through the streets to the harbour, an example of this is seen below:

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(c) Max Batten – Click Here for more.

The Class 33 has a top speed of 85 Mph, and frequently would work in pairs as “Double Headers” to facilitate longer freight trains.  In Kent, its speciality was primarily hauling freight, although it occasionally rescued failed passenger units.  Because of this, a few were stationed at some locations in the region.  Indeed, when the siding was still at Rainham (Kent), a ’33 could be seen stabled there during the 1970’s.  The loco’s would also provide freight runs further afield, notably cement trains from Cliffe in North Kent, up to Lanarkshire.

In this photo, taken by RMWeb member “eastwestdivide”, two 33’s are seen approaching Strood from the south with a Rake of empty stone carriers from ARC at Allington :

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 (c) eastwestdivide – link Here

These locomotives, along with the British Rail 411 Unit (4 Cep) and variants “Slam Door” were the first trains I saw as a youngster, and the sight of a Class 33 would be extra special.  The noise and smell of these locomotives would fuel my passion for the railway, and as such I have a great fondness for them. They were superseded by the Class 66 in the late 1990’s.

Currently a few remain at Heritage centres around England, and three are owned by the West Coast Railway Company , who provide railtours in the UK.


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That’s all for now, thanks for reading and I’ll blog again soon.

British Rail 411 Unit (4 Cep) and variants “Slam Door”

I make no apologies for this blog.  These are the trains from my area of the country (North Kent) when I was growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The familiar sound of these “Slam Door” trains were the soundtrack to the rush hour, with the sound of said doors ringing through the major London Termini of Charing Cross and Victoria.  So here is a short history of these workhorses of the North Kent and Chatham Main Line.

The 411 unit, also known as the 4Cep, were built for British Rail between 1956 and 1963, mainly ran on the Chatham/North Kent lines.  A total of 133 units were made, mainly just passenger based, although around 22 had buffet cars installed, these were re-categorised as 4 Bep units.  The 4 referred to the 4 car formation, two driving cars which also had standard seating, the middle two cars having a mix of 1st class corridor and standard class corridor coaches.  They had a maximum speed of 90 Mph.

Each area of seating contained a door, which was inherently dangerous as it could be opened at any time.  This lead to many doors being opened way before the stopping, and people would literally jump from a moving train onto the platform.  You really had to stand away from the platform edge when a slam door was coming in, otherwise you may had had a door in the head!

If you had ever ridden in one, or heard one you would not forget it.  They were dangerous, accidents such as the Clapham Rail Crash of 1988 with Vep and Rep variants would prove to be catastrophic.  Replacements such as the Networker and Electrostar would follow, with their automatic doors and safer designs.  But they never quite recaptured the feel and seating comfort of these trains.

A sample of these trains are below, with credit to the photograph takers.  I will look at other rolling stock and locomotives of the Kent region in further blogs.

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In Network Southeast livery (By Image by Phil Scott (Our Phellap) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=441072)

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In Connex livery (https://kids.kiddle.co/British_Rail_Class_411)

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As a 4 Rep, in British Rail Blue (https://www.flickr.com/photos/frinton/39402257412)


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That’s all for now, thanks for reading and I’ll blog again soon.

WW2 – Upchurch railway disaster

A short re-telling of a local story.

On August 16th 1944, a V-1 ‘doodlebug’ rocket was chased by a Spitfire pilot from Dover.  After many unsuccessful attempts to shoot it down, he eventually managed to tip it with his wing, but unfortunately instead of landing in an empty field, the missile landed under the bridge of the railway line at Oak Lane, Upchurch.

It was found that a railway worker sheltering under the bridge was killed instantly.  The bridge was totally demolished in the explosion, and unfortunately the 1535 Victoria to Ramsgate was speeding towards it, having just left Rainham.  Despite the best efforts of the driver, the train encountered the now demolished bridge.  Amazingly the main cab jumped the gap but the tender fell into it and the first few carriages were heavily damaged.  In fact the 4th coach ended up straddling the gap completely.

In total 7 passengers lost their lives, they came mainly from the from the front two carriages.  Many were severely injured, and were taken to several nearby hospitals.  Miraculously the driver and fireman survived.

Being as this was the mainline through to the coast and up to London, after the investigations and clear up were completed,  a new bridge was constructed in November 1944 at a cost of £3,800.

Four pictures follow, the first from the Daily Mirror (Dated September 14th 1944) the second which has come from Rainham History website . The third and fourth are (c) Bob Ogley, and show the locomotive being transferred back to the tracks, and the bridge as it is today (picture c.1990)

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Please also visit My YouTube channel for railway related videos, including Mistydale Model Railway .

Many thanks – I’ll blog again soon.

Medway Stations 1 – Rainham

A small potted history of the Railway stations in my home area, Medway, Kent.  I will start with my “Home” Station, Rainham.

The station was opened on 25th January 1858, as “Rainham & Newington”.  It formed part of the London to Dover route of the “East Kent Railway”.  The Station comprised of two platforms and two sidings adjacent to the “up” line platform (for those new to railway terminology, the “up” line is towards London, and the “down” away from London).  The station was re-named “Rainham” in1862 when Newington station was built to the east.  A further 400 yard siding was introduced beside the “down” platform in 1897, and a signal box was also added at this time, enabling the removal of the manual point system.

Ownership by the Southern Railway commenced in 1923.  This was to bring a few cosmetic changes to the station furniture, as well as a footbridge next to the level crossing to the east.

The next major change would not come about until 1957. The “Kent Electrification Scheme” was initiated in the area throughout what was now known as the “Chatham Main Line”. This comprised on a 750V third rail system, with line speeds up to 75mph initially, although this was raised to 90mph around 1962.rainham%20Station%201958.jpgThe advent of British Rail meant changes for Rainham, many not very good.  The major change was the demolition of the original station building, which was replaced by a one story prefab :

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New automated level crossing gates were  installed in December 1972.  At sometime in the early 1980’s the remaining siding was removed from behind the “down” platform.

When “Network South East” took over in 1986, the station was revamped in the familiar red and white chevrons, and in 1990 a new station building was opened.  This one was a modern brick structure with a glazed arched roof, and was a vast improvement on the 1970’s prefab :

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As part of the 2014-2017 “East Kent Re-Signalling Project”, it was decided that Rainham would have a bay platform added adjacent to platform one on the “up” side.  This involved lengthening platform one considerably to accommodate 12 car trains in this new bay, which was given a designation of “Platform 0”.  New pointwork to the west of the station was installed to service the platform, and new SPAD (Signal Passed At Danger) signal was placed at the eastern end of platform 1.  The new platform arrangements are seen below, facing to the west with the new platform 0 to the left of the picture :

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The future of Rainham Station is bright.  Since 2009, “Javelin” 395 units have stopped here, giving access to high speed services to St Pancras International.  In 2018/19, a Thameslink service is scheduled to start from the bay platform to Luton via Abbey Wood and St Pancras.  This will enable passengers to access the new Crossrail “Elizabeth Line” via Abbey Wood.

Pictures used in this piece are not my own, but can be found (as well as many others of the Station) in the following locations :

Rainham History – Rainham Station through the years

Rainham History – Rainham Station

A video I have taken of  37 800 travelling through Rainham Station can be found on my YouTube channel, just click the link below :

37 800 passes through Rainham Station

Thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.