30 December 1963 - 16 April 1965
It seemed strange to have moved from Manchester, where steam was commonplace, to the South-West where it was a rarity. 22nd November 1962 was the date of my move to Paignton. Steam was on it's last legs and the NBL D63xx class 22 diesels and Warship diesels worked most hauled services. I regularly had day trips to Plymouth, walking or bussing to Laira depot, but I remember vividly one occasion passing Laira on the way to Plymouth and in the distance caught sight of a wonderfully handsome cream liveried diesel locomotive. Snow was thick on the ground so buses were out of the question. I arrived at Laira about 45 minutes later to behold the magnificence of D1000 Western Enterprise in desert sand livery - what an absolutely awesome design!
I'm guessing the date of this was December 1962 because of the thick lying snow, but record taking was only in rough notebooks at this point. Laira steam shed was still open (just) but the sight of D1000 had gone a long way to maiking up for the decimation of steam on the Western Region.
Information technology for a 12 year old in 1962 was not what it is now and spotting was very hit and miss. In truth this made it more exciting. Local spotters at Newton Abbot told stories of having seen not only D1000, but even mention of a green Western being seen, though but I could determine no pattern that would help me get another glimpse of these machines. And so it was, a few weeks later one Sunday afternoon on Newton Abbot platform watching Warships, D6300s and the occasional Hymek perform, when in rolled an up Paddington train into the (then) Platform 7/8 with D1007 Western Talisman in charge - and this was in gleaming maroon livery. What a sight! Even better was to follow in a few weeks when returning from my regular trips to Laira. My train back to Newton Abbot from Plymouth stood in North Road station with no locomotive attached - that is until D1048 Western Lady backed onto the stock. I leaned out of the front window all the way to Newton Abbot. Some time later I remember my first sighting on the branch with D1043 Western Duke crossing Paignton Sands Road crossing light engine. Soon Newton Abbot would have it's own allocation of one - D1057 Western Chieftain.
Other highlights in this period:
* 30-Dec-63 Visit to Crewe, including a guided trip around the Works. NB Class 47s & 52 under construction.
* 31-Mar-64 The Paignton to Manchester journey with D827 to Bristol, D824 to Crewe, then E3100 to Piccadilly.
* 8-Apr-64 My only rip to Birmingham Snow Hill in steam days.
* 11-Apr-64 The return trip home on the Manchester-Plymouth train has Patriot 45534 E Tootal Broadhurst piloted by E3052 to Crewe, unknown power to Bristol & D824 Highflyer to Newton Abbot.
* 20 to 24-Aug-64 Bought a great value North-West Rover giving unlimited travel Manchester-Carlisle-Newcastle-York-Manchester. At age 14 this seemed like a taste of freedom at last! Newcastle & York were brilliant with A1s, A3s, Claytons, Deltics etc but I must have picked a particularly quiet time at Carlisle and chickened out of the long walk to Kingmoor shed. That was probably a bad decision, but after an hour of sitting on a postal barrow, D21 rolled in heading for Leeds via the S&C it and was too tempting to let it go.
* 25-Aug-64 Travelled from Manchester to Criccieth with 42282 out & back from Bangor to Afon Wen, with 3208 and 82034 covering the Criccieth legs out and back.
* 13-Mar-65 School trip on the 1X05 01:35 Paignton-Gatwick Airport has D822 Hercules throughout. I seem to have omitted the return journey but my memory tells me it was the same Warship back 2 weeks later (coincidence or bad memory?)
Exeter soon overtook Plymouth as the the destination of choice for spotting trips. Plymouth had Laira and North Road station which produced loco changes for Cornish trains (often a D600 Warship or 2 x D6300s taking over from a D800 Warship). Also there was Southern steam. mostly Bulleid Pacifics. But I had soon seen all the D600s and the same Southern Pacifics could be seen at Exeter. I remember one day visiting both destinations diesel-hauled Paignton to Plymouth and Exeter to Paignton, but for a change I travelled direct from Plymouth to Exeter and when 34110 66 Squadron rolled in on Southern stock on a Waterloo train I decided to hop on. This turned out to be my only trip over the now closed route via Tavistock and Okehampton.
Days at Exeter were not generally spent on St Davids station. It was more fun to travel up to Exeter Central on a Waterloo train - sometimes with two banking engines on the back - and then take a local Exmouth service to Polsloe Bridge Halt with an Ivatt 2-6-2 or an 80000 Standard tank, from where I would wander across to 72A Exmouth Jn depot. I regularly used to sit on the workmens bench near the coaling point and just watch the loco movements for hours on end. Not once was I asked to leave!