Idyllic charm of station out in the sticks used by the royal family and screen and sport stars
ALTHOUGH not widely known, all manner of royalty often visited Trent, albeit in the form of the royal train that stabled overnight between Trent Station North Junction and Sawley Junction – the north curve.
On one such occasion, I was on a night turn as a telegraph clerk in May 1964. That night's platform activity saw a portion detached off the rear of the 11.50pm London (St Pancras) to Leeds (city) train, which was hauled by a brace of splendidly turned out BR Sulzer type two diesels, numbers D7588 and D7589.
Black Five 44918 then hauled the detachment on to the north curve for stabling, while another Black Five, 45464, was attached to the rear.
Special instructions were issued on "a need to know basis" in connection with the working of royal trains and these were given code words.
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"Grove" was used when the reigning monarch was aboard and "Deepdene" for other members of the royal family.
Other well-known celebrities would also change trains at Trent.
Among those mentioned by signalman George Bailey, whose "box-lad" I was in 1957, was Ella Fitzgerald, and, on one occasion, I saw Primo Carnera, the Italian boxer.
Quite often, a somewhat liberal view was taken of the low 15mph permanent speed restriction through the platform by some trains, on the "Down" road in particular, and none more so than the Luton to Bathgate motor car train and British Railways' fastest freight train at the time, the "Condor", with its 27 roller-bearing fitted, vacuum-braked Platefit wagons loaded with containers, these making staccato overtures on the jointed track.
Another train that often showed scant regard for the mandatory speed restriction was the "Down" Thames-Clyde Express, until a station stop was introduced in late 1962.
During the summer months, a relief train ran from Glasgow St Enoch to London St Pancras on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, starting some 30 minutes ahead of the Thames-Clyde Express.
In the reverse direction, a relief train ran as far as Sheffield on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, and this was extended to Glasgow on peak summer Saturdays.
Another long-distance express was the 7am Cleethorpes to Birmingham New Street service, hauled by an Eastern Region B1 class 4-6-0 that returned with the afternoon working. In the late 1950s, the train was extended to Bournemouth on summer Saturdays.
An overnight Leeds to Bedford parcels train detached its rearmost van in the Up platform just after 3.30am, to be picked up within the hour by the 3.57am Derby to Nottingham parcels duty.
During the time that the van occupied the platform line, other trains were routed through the third "Up" passenger line. Motive power was ever-changing. Late 1959 saw a further batch of 7P 4-6-0s obtained from the Western Lines by the Midland, with rebuilt Patriots and Royal Scots allocated to Kentish Town, Millhouses and Nottingham.
The latter two sheds received their first 7Ps and these included 46100 Royal Scot and the appropriately named 46112 Sherwood Forester, exchanged with Holbeck for Kentish Town's 46130, no doubt with a view to it working the Robin Hood – the 8.15am "Up" service from Nottingham and the corresponding 4.45pm return duty from St Pancras.
Towards the end of 1960, Trafford Park relinquished its Britannias back to the Western Lines as these engines had not taken kindly to regular service over the curves on the Midland, in particular the Derby to Manchester route.
Mainline diesels were also appearing in ever-increasing numbers and not only from BR workshops.
The Metropolitan-Vickers Type 2 Co-Bo 1,200 hp units, with a top speed of 75mph, had a short spell operating in pairs on the St Pancras to Manchester Central expresses.
Also coming on stream around this time were BR/Sulzer Type 4 and it wouldn't be long before they would monopolise the working of the expresses on the Midland main line, something they would continue to do until the introduction of HSTs in 1982.
In December 1960, after some wet weather, the swollen River Erewash washed away a culvert at Attenborough Junction on the Derby to Nottingham line, which remained closed for the next five days.
Throughout this period, the Derby to Nottingham diesel multiple unit service was diverted to Leicester using the north curve at Trent, with a bus service affording connections between Sawley Junction and Attenborough.
In addition, a bus service operated between Derby's Midland Station and Derby Friar Gate to connect into the ex-Great Northern route trains to Nottingham Victoria. Other trains were diverted from Nottingham to run via Radford and Trowell, where a diesel multiple unit ran shuttle services to and from Long Eaton.
Seven years after its opening, Trent Station was the scene of one of the worst railway disasters in the history of the Midland Railway.
An excursion train returning from Nottingham Goose Fair had been stopped outside the station when it was struck from the rear by the Night Mail express. Nine passengers were killed.
Trent Station ultimately died quietly on New Year's Eve 1967. There had never been ranks of taxi cabs outside, buses passing the entrance, or Tannoys to disturb the tranquil surroundings.
It was situated in a truly idyllic rural location without civilisation on the doorstep and many, no doubt, enjoyed this charm.
For me, it would always be particularly special as it was the location where my 39-year career with British Railways began on January 14, 1957.
I spent six years there as a telegraph clerk – perhaps too long – but, nonetheless, an enjoyable experience.
Roderick's book Last Days of Steam on the LMS & BR is available from Jas Heaps, 81 Main Street, Long Eaton, priced £19.99. Copies can be ordered at W H Smith and Waterstones.