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Redbridge Wharf Traffic in the 60's

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A summary of rail traffic through Redbridge in the mid 1960’s (1965-1967)

The period up to the last day of steam on the Southern (9th July 1967), saw a great many changes in the traffic flows as well as traction in the Southampton west area.  In the down (west) direction, all traffic leaving Southampton would pass through Redbridge junction as well as traffic in and out of the western docks complex. The area witnessed an incredible variety of  steam and diesel locomotives, with few classes being unknown.

Whilst the Bullied Pacific’s still reigned on the Bournemouth expresses, many of the old Southern classes had already been withdrawn, Lord Nelsons, King Arthurs, T9’s, M7’s and the like. These had been replaced with the standard classes and a variety of diesels. M7’s gave way to DMU Hampshire Units or “Thumpers” in 1963 on local services, owning  the Salisbury - Southampton stopping service. A few N & U class moguls, and the Q1’s were still at work until 1966. Standard 4 tanks and  standard 4 and 5MT’s filled many of gaps left by the demise of Southern steam classes. At one time, Eastleigh even had an allocation of 9f's.

The “Sprat and Winkle” line north of Romsey, and the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton had both closed, which reduced the previously regular visits of former GWR locos.

During this period the S&D closed, with Bournemouth to the north expresses, including the Pines Express, rerouted via Southampton. North/ South inter-regional expresses were often hauled by Stanier black 5’s before diesel traction took over. No one class dominated. Cromptons and Hymeks often hauled the midland and north west trains via Oxford, whilst Peaks were common performers on destinations to Yorkshire and the North East, using Feltham and Acton lines to avoid London.

The East/West inter-regional expresses from Bristol, South Wales, Exeter and Plymouth to Portsmouth and Brighton were increasingly rerouted from the Romsey, Eastleigh and Fareham direct line to call at Southampton, and thus needed to use Redbridge junction. Common traction on these routes were Cromptons and Hymeks as well as Swindon DMU’s.

Southampton western docks generated a variety of freight traffic. Much went out via Romsey to avoid the difficulties of gauge and traffic management the busy and narrow Southampton tunnel caused. It was not uncommon to see Warship or Western diesels on the front of these if they were heading toward Bristol. Docks at Poole and Weymouth added additional variety to the traffic passing Redbridge.

Marchwood military port, accessed from the Fawley branch, was ( and still is) rail served with military formations often using the sidings at Redbridge to reverse, thus avoiding Southampton. Military trains also ran to Wool (Dorset) via Redbridge for Bovington camp and ranges.

Fawley refinery unsurprisingly was a major contributor to the variety of traffic. Oil trains ran full to a variety of locations notably  Bromford Bridge (Birmingham) and Wolverhampton behind 9F’s, and later Crompton Diesels.  The flows changed constantly through the 60's and 70's  until pipelines as pipelines to major destinations were laid. 

The works itself generated high volumes of traffic. By the mid 60’s timber still arrived mainly, but not exclusively, by ship. Rails, Creosote, Coke and other necessities arrived, often tripped from Eastleigh, and sleepers, and rail panels left. In this post Beeching era, frequent demolition trains arrived with loads of rails, chairs and sleepers for the reclamation yard.

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