Moving to Barrow Hill
Barrow Hill Gala
In early 1998, Barrow Hill Engine Shed Society's Committee approved the idea to take our four locos there, and we began to make plans for a move to Barrow Hill.
Much of the rest of 1998 was spent trying to arrange examinations, repairs, testing and certification of the locos, ahead of actually arranging a movement. Following an invitation to attend the EWS Toton Open Day in August with one or more of the locos, we were optimistic that a rail move from Crewe to Barrow Hill via the Toton event could be arranged. By that time, we were already discussing a rail movement of the locos with EWS, and ultrasonic axle tests were carried out. Changes to the planned line up by the event organisers meant that none of the locos attended, and we were left to make our presence felt with the cab from E3044, making its first public appearance.
In 1998 we tried to arrange some preliminary tests with a view to restoring 85101 to working order; thus it was agreed that the 85 would remain at Crewe once the other three locos had departed to allow for such work to go ahead. Unfortunately the work could not be carried out although a cab rebuild was contracted out for later in the year.
Outside the Group, moves were made to secure an example of a Class 304 EMU. The Class 304s were the suburban contemporaries of the Group's locomotives, and were unique amongst slam-door units of the era in having not been refurbished significantly during their careers, remaining in near-1960s condition internally. In March 1998, 304021 was purchased by a member of the Class 304 Group, and spares from the other three units were recovered in June with assistance from AC Loco Group members. Sadly the unit's intended home changed its mind leaving the unit homeless. After two years' effort to ensure its survival the unit was badly vandalised and eventually scrapped in November 2000.
Back to our own history, however, as the year dragged on, several frustrating delays to essential repairs meant we were on the verge of booking road movement when, Direct Rail Services offered a very competetive price to move three of the locos from Crewe to Barrow Hill. With repairs complete and the locos certified for a One Journey Only movement, at 11:50 on the 5th December 1998, together with three Riviera Trains coaches providing brake force, 81002, 82008 and 83012 were hauled away from Crewe by 20310 and 20311, arriving at Barrow Hill just before 15:00.
Restoration of the three locos began immediately and it was a case of being in at the deep end, as exactly one week after arrival Barrow Hill held its first modern traction Open Weekend!
Thanks to an all out effort by volunteers, 81002, which had faded dramatically to nearly white, was buffed up with gallons of T-Cut and elbow grease, restoring its electric blue paintwork to a much neater and darker state. The 'public' ends of 82008 and 83012 were given the same treatment and all three presented a tidy sight for the gala.
1998 ended on something of a high, as you might imagine.