The 'sweep up' early 70s

This forum is for the discussion of all railway subjects that do not include the LNER, and its constituent companies.

Moderators: 52D, Tom F, Rlangham, Atlantic 3279, Blink Bonny, Saint Johnstoun, richard

Post Reply
Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
Posts: 996
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

The 'sweep up' early 70s

Post by Mickey »

Here is a long forgotten passenger service out of Kings Cross that operated back in the diesel era of the late 1960s and early 1970s the 23:50hrs Kings Cross to Hitchin service which was usually in the hands of a x3 or x4 car Rolls Royce DMU set and was a Hitchin driver and guard diagram. This train was the 'last Down passenger train of the day' (a semi-fast train or more commonly known on the GN as a 'Parly') and was commonly known by the signalmen at Welwyn Garden City box at least and maybe by other signalmen(?) as 'the sweep up' for obvious reasons in that it picked up the last of the late night stragglers heading out of the capital who were heading back out to the home county towns along the route. From memory after departing Kings Cross at 23:50hrs usually from platform no.11 and renumbered platform no.9 on the west side suburban station in May 1972 it then had a 'main line run' possibly all the way to Hitchin South box or at least as far as Woolmer Green before being 'turned in' off the Down main line and onto the Down slow line with the usual fast to slow to fast line stop at WGC anyway I believe this train stopped at the following stations Finsbury Park, Potters Bar, Hatfield, WGC arriving around 00:20hrs(?) Welwyn North, Knebworth, Stevenage and finally arriving at Hitchin sometime around 00:45-00:50hrs. I believe this service ran Tuesday to Saturday mornings.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Hatfield Shed
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1440
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: The 'sweep up' early 70s

Post by Hatfield Shed »

Not forgotten by me! Last chance to ride home KX- WGC definitely on a seat.

This of course back in the day when it was still a railway service. If you had missed that train your ticket would still get you home on one of the 'newspaper' trains that was going to stop at your destination. Arriving at WGC this then usually meant across the down lines West of the down platform on the barrow walk and exit via the goods yard gate, as the barrier on the footbridge within the station building would be locked (except sometimes it wasn't for some reason, and the footbridge could be used).
Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
Posts: 996
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: The 'sweep up' early 70s

Post by Mickey »

Hatfield Shed wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 9:42 am Not forgotten by me! Last chance to ride home KX- WGC definitely on a seat.

This of course back in the day when it was still a railway service. If you had missed that train your ticket would still get you home on one of the 'newspaper' trains that was going to stop at your destination. Arriving at WGC this then usually meant across the down lines West of the down platform on the barrow walk and exit via the goods yard gate, as the barrier on the footbridge within the station building would be locked (except sometimes it wasn't for some reason, and the footbridge could be used).
Hatfield Shed you may have been aware of the following 'early hours' staff trains between Kings Cross and WGC and vice versa during the early 1970s?

These 'staff trains' were usually run for the benefit of railway staff usually drivers, secondmen and guards but the occasional 'ordinary punter' would ride on them although I don't think they were advertised in the public timetable by British Rail

The years 1970-1975-

On the Down road out of Kings Cross there was the 2:00 am and 4:00 am 'staff trains' from Kings Cross to WGC that were always formed by a x2 car Cravens unit and stopped at Finsbury Park, Harringay, Hornsey, Wood Green, New Southgate, Oakleigh Park, New Barnet, Potters Bar, Brookmans Park, Hatfield and WGC along the 20 miles route between Kings Cross and Welwyn Garden City and in the Up direction from WGC to Kings Cross there was the 2:10 am & 4:10 am 'staff trains' as well and again formed by x2 Cravens units. On the Down road between the 2:00 am and 4:00 am staff trains there was the 3:10 am 'newspaper train' which was always formed by a Brush 2 (class 31) with about four or five B.R. BGs behind the loco and always departed from platform no.9 (formerly no.11 platform) on the west side suburban station and was a Hitchin driver, secondman and guard diagram stopping at Finsbury Park, Hatfield, WGC and I assume Stevenage and Hitchin. This particular train was a favourite of several secondmen at Kings Cross me included for obtaining a 'back cab' ride on the class 31 back to WGC where I was living for the whole of the 1970s due to either missing the 2:00 am staff train back to WGC or just finishing around 3:00 am and not wanting to hang around until 4:00 am for the staff train back to WGC although I don't know when this 3:10 am newspapers train ceased to run but I travelled on it quite a few times during 1974-75 when I was a secondman at Kings Cross loco along with two or three other secondmen who also lived at WGC at that time.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Hatfield Shed
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1440
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: The 'sweep up' early 70s

Post by Hatfield Shed »

Mickey wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 10:40 am Hatfield Shed you may have been aware of the following 'early hours' staff trains between Kings Cross and WGC and vice versa during the early 1970s?

These 'staff trains' were usually run for the benefit of railway staff usually drivers, secondmen and guards but the occasional 'ordinary punter' would ride on them although I don't think they were advertised in the public timetable by British Rail
This sounds right. Bear in mind I would usually be heading home fairly well lubricated after a night on the town (young and foolish :roll: ) and in no condition to appreciate the detail of the operation. Just turned up, and some friendly railway staff directed me, and made sure I and others got off at our destinations and safely off the premises. That was good service...
Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
Posts: 996
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: The 'sweep up' early 70s

Post by Mickey »

Hatfield Shed wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 11:23 am
Mickey wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 10:40 am Hatfield Shed you may have been aware of the following 'early hours' staff trains between Kings Cross and WGC and vice versa during the early 1970s?

These 'staff trains' were usually run for the benefit of railway staff usually drivers, secondmen and guards but the occasional 'ordinary punter' would ride on them although I don't think they were advertised in the public timetable by British Rail
This sounds right. Bear in mind I would usually be heading home fairly well lubricated after a night on the town
Another 'old favourite' train that I rode on during the 1974-75 period was the 23:10 Kings Cross to Cambridge and in fact it was the 'last Down Cambridge of the day' and usually hauled by a blue livered class 31 hauling a rake of 8 or 9 blue/grey B.R. Mk1s and was worked by a Hitchin train crew (driver, secondman & guard) and always departed from platform no.9 (formerly no.11 on the west side suburban platform). After a 'last pint' in the nearby Kings Cross BRSA club (British Rail Staff Association club) it was a saunter across to platform no.9 and get on board (sometimes a 'back cab ride) and it was then 'right away' Welwyn Garden City with the first stop being Finsbury Park followed by Hatfield and WGC where I would get off. I assume the next stop was Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth, Royston and finally arriving at Cambridge around 00:40hrs.

I did fall asleep one night when riding the 23:10hrs (possibly the fault of one or two to many pints?) and never got off at WGC and woke up by chance when the train was standing in Letchworth station which from memory was sometime around midnight but that is a whole different story which entailed a 10 mile 'moonlight' walk back to WGC which took me 6 hours and I have previously thought about recounting it on several occasions on here (the forum) but I am weary of incriminating myself ha ha ha... Put it this way if you had a choice of walking through both the Welwyn north and Welwyn south tunnel at 4:00 am on a dark morning or 'going over the top' of the two tunnels what would you choose? In the pitch dark at 4:00 am it was like a 'jungle' above the Welwyn tunnels!!

I never fell asleep again :wink:
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Post Reply