‘Goyles’ on film

WHEN I think about Class 31s, one of the strongest memories for me is of the second batch of ETH conversions in the early 1980s. These allowed a mini-renaissance in loco-hauled workings around where I lived at the time in West Yorkshire, filling a gap between the withdrawal of first generation DMUs and the start of the ‘Sprinter’ revolution. As such they were rostered on services from Leeds to Lancaster, Carlisle, Scarborough, Holyhead and others. More importantly for me, one of the first turns for the new conversions after they left Doncaster Works was a morning Hull to Bradford service, which just happened to be my train to work. This meant every week or so I could pick off a new one at the head of the train, which was usually formed of a rake of Mk.1s including some corridor stock – what a great way to start the day that was.
Fast forward more than 30 years and it is amazing to see the class (just about) still there on the main line. Even better, there are over 20 examples safely in preservation, most of which are operational, meaning you can have a run behind one of these fine locos on heritage lines from the Spa Valley to Strathspey, North Norfolk to Dean Forest.
The first of the class No. D5500, which entered traffic at the end of 1957, is part of the National Collection and on show
at the NRM in York. Sadly, it is now a
non-runner, but to mark the 60th anniversary the Nene Valley Railway organised a Class 31 gala that gathered together no less than eight examples for a three-day event (see our photo report on pages 16/17). It is a long time since I have seen so many ‘Goyles’ in one place at the same time, and even longer since it was possible to bash so many in one day. Well done to all involved at the NVR event. It was a fitting tribute to an enduring underdog loco.

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