AV135: Western Region Class 101-121 DMU
Paddington to Reading; Reading to Oxford; Marylebone to Birmingham; Exeter and beyond; Bristol and Cardiff valleys; Southern Region.
Section 1: Paddington to Reading
Firstly we see arrivals at Paddington before departing. Our first stop is at Westbourne Park, which closed not long after the film was shot. Stops are made at most stations on the journey to Reading. Before arrival a number of morning peak services are witnessed passing Sonning cutting.
Section 2: Reading to Oxford
A number of down departures are seen before we continue on our journey. We stop at each station, except Didcot, en route to Oxford.
Section 3: Marylebone to Birmingham
After departure from Marylebone we race a tube towards our next stop at Harrow-on-the-Hill. A jump is made to Bicester North for the onward journey. After Banbury we continue through former Great Western stations of Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon and Tyseley for the run into Birmingham Moor Street bay platforms. Additional visits are made to Birmingham Snow Hill and Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town.
Section 4: Exeter and Beyond
From Cowley Bridge Junction we run to Exeter St Davids, Exeter Central and Exmouth. We then pick up a service from Dawlish Warren to Dawlish. Further units are then viewed at Truro, Falmouth Docks & St Ives before a set departs from St Erth, to complete this section.
Section 5: Bristol and Cardiff Valleys
On a rainy day we see a set depart Bristol Temple Meads for Severn Beach. After watching movements at Cardiff Central we join a service to Pontypridd and finish this film high in the valley at Treherbert.
Additional Section: Southern Region
Returning to Reading we take a DMU calling at Reading West and Mortimer before finally arriving at Basingstoke. After spotting an ECS at Woking we return again to Reading, this time to depart for Reigate and then a number of stations to Tonbridge and Gatwick Airport.
Traction magazine review October 2007 by Jason Hall:
“This recent Anbrico release focuses on the huge variety of mechanical DMUs operating over the Western Region between 1986 and 1993. As you’d expect with such a large subject, the variety in locations, liveries and formations is astonishing making for a true reminder of an often overlooked aspect of the period’s railway scene. As with previous releases, an easy-to-use menu allows the option to easily digest its six chapters. Routes covered include Paddington to Reading and Oxford, Marylebone to the West Midlands, Exeter to the Cornish branches, Bristol and Cardiff valleys. A bonus chapter takes a brief look at the Southern Region. Many shots are accompanied with a caption, which will include location and possibly a date and some of the train details.
The most intensive of the chapters is the first. All stations on the route to Reading are covered, plus some views of sets passing through Sonning Cutting. Even the now-closed Westbourne Park features. As you’d expect, NSE livery dominates, as does the Class 117 but, despite this, Classes 101, 104, 108, 119 and 121 make appearances. A truly bizarre 104+101+117 formation is seen at West Drayton. A 117+104 combination is seen working the branch line to Windsor. The sound on its departure from Slough is a firm favourite. Another rarity is a 3 x 121 ‘bubble car’ formation, seen arriving at Maidenhead. Such odd formations became more common in the later years of real DMU working over the route as redundant vehicles from depots such as Bletchley and Cambridge were transferred in to allow the more tired 117s and 119s to be withdrawn.
Section two is similar as Reading to Oxford is viewed. Class 101s and 117s dominate but there is a nice view of a blue and grey liveried 3 x 119 set at Reading. Also seen in this livery is 55028, seen passing through Reading on what appears to be an ECS working. This ‘bubble car’ still lives on with SWT. The route from Marylebone to the West Midlands is next up. An all-too-brief view of a 115 set under the roof at Marylebone, with 47 596 as a back drop, and we are on our way past the long forgotten home of the ‘Albion’ sets, ME depot. The route is sadly rushed, with few shots and little detail, until we reach Leamington Spa.
With Tyseley depot’s allocation now providing the content there is another boost in variety. Blue and grey livery dominates as does the local Class 116s. This said, a 2 x 114 set is seen shunting at Leamington to form a service to Stratford. One of the area’s small 115 allocation, 51897, is seen departing Tyseley for the city. A passing shot of TS depot reveals the Midline-liveried ‘bubble car’ amongst withdrawn and stabled 116 and 118 vehicles. I suspect that some of the trailer cars seen lined up outside the depot are Class 127 vehicles. A shot through the leading cab window as a unit slows for Small Heath allows a brief opportunity to hear the unique sound of the vacuum brake being applied, a sound that you’ll hear only at preservation sites now. 55034 is seen working the Stourbridge Town branch. Star shot of this section, and probably the entire programme, is an all blue 3 x 116 formation arriving at Snow Hill. This must have been the last in service still wearing the early BR blue livery.
The next section takes a brief look at the Devon and Cornish branch lines. Class 101 dominates with a 101+108+101 formation breaking the monopoly at Exmouth. The view of Bristol and South Wales takes in more Class 116s, this time adorned with a red dragon and ‘Tren Y Cwm’ logo. Some of Bristol’s 108 allocation also make an appearance and a 118 set is seen as Pontypridd. The changing times are glimpsed as a ‘Sprinter’ is seen in the distance at Cardiff. A nine-minute bonus chapter cover the routes from Reading to Basingstoke and beyond. Naturally 117s dominate but the 119s are also out in force. Woking, Redhill and Mortimer are just a small sample of the locations covered in a chapter that also brings glimpses of a DEMU at Reigate, an ‘ED’ at Gatwick and CEP units at Tonbridge.
If there has ever been a reminder of the overlooked variety that passed by my ‘compo’ window unobserved then this is it. A great programme for real DMU fans, modellers and nostalgia seekers alike. Anbrico once again hits the spot!”
Running time of this region-free DVD-R is 61 + 9 (Southern) minutes.
Filmed on location on the Western Region from 1986 to 1993.
© Anbrico Felixjaz Railway and Transport Films, DVDs and Photography.