PETER GRAY: Bank holiday gave glimpse of next 20 years
AFTER the threadbare passenger services of the wartime railway, with its long overcrowded and often late running trains, the bank holiday Saturday of August 4, 1945, gave us a glimpse of what the future summer Saturday services would be like for almost the next 20 years.
The service provided that Saturday appears to have been built around the wartime service, with the long gaps between passenger trains, originally intended to be filled with goods trains, now occupied by holiday extras.
So, while the last train described last week was probably still at the platform, 4-6-0 No 6025 King Henry III drew to a halt on the down through line, and waited for 4-6-0 No 4988 Bulwell Hall to back down from the road bridge and provide assistance for the King's 12-coach load to Plymouth.
During the pause before the arrival of the next west-bound train, 0-6-0T No 2785 came in from the Totnes direction, with the Ashburton goods, this engine's regular working at that time.
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At 2.36pm, another king came to a halt on the down through llines, this time it was No 6014 King Henry VII requesting assistance 'over the banks' to Plymouth with its 15-coach load, probably bound for Cornwall.
These two King-hauled trains were probably the wartime substitute for the 'Cornish Riviera Limited' and its relief, soon to be followed by the down equivalent to the 'Torbay Express' which during the latter part of the war left Paddington at 10.40am, ten minutes behind the 'Limited'.
At Newton Abbot that day another train had got between them, 4-6-0 No 4096 Highclere Castle on train No 411, going to Paignton.
The 10.40am from Paddington was hauled by 4-6-0 No 6022 King Edward II, bearing the strange train No 960, possibly from a previous working, and running only five minutes late.
Possibly an 11am departure from Paddington was hauled by 4-6-0 No 4095 Harlech Castle (train No 145), taking 4-4-0 No 3401 Vancouver as pilot to Plymouth.
From 3.25pm onwards there was a succession of trains with Bristol Division Train Numbers, though probably originating from various Midlands towns and cities.
At 3.25pm 4-6-0 No 6834 Dummer Grange (train No 422) arrived on 14 coaches, and took 4-6-0 No 7806 Cockington Manor (then a Banbury engine) as pilot to Plymouth.
This was closely followed by 4-6-0 No 6906 Chicheley Hall on train No 423, 14 coaches to Paignton.
Train No 421, 10 coaches to Paignton, hauled by 4-6-0 No 6968 (then unnamed) followed at 3.45pm.
Star class 4-6-0 No 4030 (previously Swedish Monarch) arrived on seven coaches to Paignton (train No 424) at 3.48pm, a comparatively light load.
Just a foretaste of what was to come in the 1950s, but first there would be the little matter of conscription to be dealt with.