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Double Headers

Questions about double-headers on the Southern and its constituents come to the fore on a seemingly routine basis and generate much the same responses every time. The answer is probably that no-one has the complete answer!

Such is the passage of time, more than 35 years since steam ended on the Southern's metals, that few people actually remember much more than just the last few years of active steam and so the best-remembered double-headers are those wonderful railtours which brightened enthusiasts' lives in the last ten years.

 
73029 and 34023

One sparkling example of double-heading near the end of Southern steam brought together Standard class 5 73029 and original 'West Country' 34023 Blackmore Vale, sadly shorn of nameplates, at the head of an RCTS railtour from Waterloo to many points south.
The special was captured on film at Wimbledon on 18 June 1967; only 3 weeks away from the end of steam in the south.

photograph by Mike Morant

 
There is, of course, much more to write about where Southern double-headed steam is concerned and it is probable that this page will be the subject of much revision as more material is submitted for discussion.

The first point to be sorted out is where did double-heading occur on a frequent /regular basis? The obvious candidates are:

Kent Coast expresses
Folkestone Harbour branch
Isle of Wight
Lyme Regis branch
West of Exeter
Weymouth to Dorchester (and beyond)
 
T9 and Mogul A commendably clean Drummond T9 pilots a Maunsell mogul - so begrimed that it is unidentifiable - past the erstwhile halt at Upwey Wishing Well in the mid-'50s.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

 
The boat trains from the Harbour station to the Junction at Folkestone were faced with a sharp incline of 1 in 30 once the harbour bridge had been cleared and that was also from a standing start. The feat required to lift the heavy boat trains was compounded by the fact that only locos with a light axle load could be utilised for this awesome task. The locomotive type charged with this responsibility was, for many years, the SER R1 0-6-0T working in multiple formations of from one to three at the front and usually one or two at the rear.

The accompanying picture, sadly not sharp enough to read the leading engine's number, depicts a typical example of a heavy train climbing to the Junction station with three R1s leading and at least one banker's exhaust visible in the distance.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Three R1's
 
1060 and 1183 Two Wainwright F1 Class locos double-heading in 1936. The stock is out of the photograph!

photograph: Mike Morant collection

 
Heavy trains over Morthoe Bank on the Ilfracombe line would require assistance, either from a bank engine or by being double headed. Here 34061 73 Squadron is the train engine of this double-header, with unidentified N Class as pilot engine, photographed leaving Braunton in 1960.

photograph by John Bradbeer

34061
 
34102-34106 Two spamcans - 34002 Salisbury (pilot engine) and 34106 Lydford (train engine) pulling away from Braunton in the summer of 1960.

photograph by John Bradbeer

 
Two Ivatt tanks heading the the early morning train from Barnstaple Junction to Torrington call at Bideford station during May 1963. On arrival at Torrington the pilot engine, Nº41216, will work the first train of the day from Torrington to Halwill.

photograph by John Bradbeer

Hellingly
 
Adams Radials The above pair of Ivatts now seen at Torrington. Once the pilot engine was detached and moved, the train engine ran round and worked the more or less immediate return working from Torrington to Barnstaple.

photograph by John Bradbeer

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This page was updated 8 August 2010

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