MEMORIES - CHOPPERS AT TAUNTON


Class 20's were always rare locomotives at Taunton. It's often been said in conversation that the locomotives never worked to Taunton unless it they were on a railtour. Here is the evidence which proves the myth wrong. 20210+20003 are seen exiting Taunton East Yard with a mixed goods train. This photo was taken by Steve Awford on the 12th August 1977, with 46022 also sighted in the background. Taunton Trains would be interested in hearing from other readers if they can recall any such appearances of the Type 2 Class at Taunton and/or any information as to the working this pair above appeared on. (Photos: Steve Awford)

I well remember the somewhat unusual site of the two 20's appearing under the Bristol Road over bridge at Highbridge on their way south Light engines. The first time any of the class had been seen here. The locos entered Highbridge loop to allow an express (1V94 Leeds - Plymouth I think!) pass and then continued on their way south. A couple of hours later they returned north heading a special train which I recall was from Taunton concrete works. They went down in "railway folklore" for their rarity on that day. You may also be interested to know that around that time class 40's also appeared on odd occasions - I remember the first one well having seen it from a distance heading south and later enquiries leading to its identity - which escapes me just now! I think it was also heading a special goods working to Taunton. On odd occasions after that (still quite rare though!) 40's appeared on trains to Bridgwater Cellophane works among others and I remember one heading North through Highbridge on 16 ton coal hoppers which had apparently come from Exeter Riverside one lunchtime. Further details escape me - anyone out there know anymore details or got pictures? (Information: Don Bishop)

You may be interested to know that I recall seeing a pair of 20s in East Yard whilst passing the station on my way to work. On hearing the familiar whistling noise, I diverted onto the platforms an discovered 20 101 & 20 177 (I think) shunting their train of coal hoppers into the sidings. They left immediately for Bristol light engines. Unfortunately, I did not record the date, except that it must have been between 1983 and 1986 while I was living at Bindon Road. (Information: Alan Randle)


A set of 6 Class 20's where operated by Hunslett Barkley (Kilmanock) during the BR years for use on the National Network Weedkilling Train. Often it was down to word of mouth that the train would be operating in the area. In September 1996 20901 leads 20904 in 'top and tail' formation on the relief line at Taunton. The Class 20's would always operate in this formation to give better cab visibility. (Photo: Dave Jones)

On the 7th May 1989 20901 is pictured on the rear of a Weedkilling Set heading North passing Taunton Cider at Norton Fitzwarren. (Photo: Paul Clarke)


On the 6th April 1994, 20904 leads 20901 South through Norton Fitzwarren with the 06:45 Old Oak Common - Exeter 'Weedkiller'. Still carrying it's BR White Disks, the Weedkiller Class 20's were kept in good working order when with Hunslett Berkley. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

This going away shot shows how the Class 20 flat end cabs were ideal for top and tail working with trains such as this. They were often worked in pairs because of this unique design. However from time to time they have operated with the nose leading on the mainline. (Photo: Jeff Treece)


Class 20's visited the West Somerset Railway on the 6th May 2000. The DRS Pair (20308 and 20311) operated John Fishwick and Sons charter 'The Somerset Fusilier' from Blackpool to Bishops Lydeard. From Bishops Lydeard D1023 'Western Fusilier' took over for the run through the Somerset Countryside to Minehead and back. The return trip also saw Hymek D7017 added to the train.

The train operated as the 1Z70 Blackpool North - Minehead & 1Z27 Minehead - Blackpool, further details can be found on Six Bells Junction.

20311 and 20308 are seen stabled at Bishops Lydeard having been removed from their leg of the charter to Minehead. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

D1023 'Western Fusilier' is seen hauling 'The Somerset Fusilier' into Bishops Lydeard having taken over from the two DRS Class 20's on their leg of the charter. (Photo: Jeff Treece)


Direct Rail services injected some much needed life back into their Class 20 fleet, and found them exceptionally capable locomotives for their Nuclear Traffic. Although the Class 20 has never been common at Taunton, there have been one or two occasions where pairs have turned up. The 25th March 2003 was one such occasion when 20312 and 20313 made an unscheduled visit. The pair had been working the 6V52 Crewe - Bridgwater nuclear flask empties, but owning to a points failure at Taunton the pair were forced to work forward to Taunton in order to run round and gain access to the correct 'up' line. The pair are seen at Taunton Station having run around their train, they were held here until permission was given to return to Bridgwater. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

On the 5th July 2005, Direct Rail Services gave the chance to view two Class 20's working into deepest Devon. This time 20315 and 20311 were used to work the 0Z20 from Crewe to Plymouth. They were used to provide driver route knowledge to Plymouth for forthcoming nuclear traffic from Devonport Dockyard, in connection with the refurbishment of Royal Navy Trident Submarines. The pair are seen passing Creech St Michael on route South . (Photo: Brian Garrett)

On the 10th August 2005, DRS provided an addition weedkilling train for Network Rail which took the rather odd route from Rugby to Taunton. 20313 and 20312 worked in top and rail formation as the 6Z06 overnight from Rugby to Taunton, arriving at 07:15 in the morning. They were booked to stable in Fairwater Yard for the day before returning to Rubgy the next night, however the took the surprise move into Taunton's Platform 1, where they stabled for the day. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

On the same day 20313 is seen in Platform 1 at Taunton ready to form the evening 6Z06 back to Rugby. The Class 20 pictured would draw the train out to 40 Steps before being driven from 20312 as the weedkiller headed back North. (Photo: Brian Garrett)

The 10th June 2008 saw another visit of the rare Class 20. 20313 and 20310 were supplied by DRS to haul three locomotives from the South Devon Railway (D6712, 20110 and D6737) between the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway to the West Somerset Railway at Bishops Lydeard. Although the South Devon Locos were nearly home they had been booked to work at the West Somerset Railway Diesel Gala Weekend. Two DRS Class 20's and one from the South Devon Railway are captured in this convoy at 40 Steps. (Photo: Rob Sherwood)

Have deposited their locomotives on the West Somerset Railway, 20313 and 20310 are seen returning North through Taunton returning light engine to Bridgwater where they stabled, from here they worked back to Crewe the next day. (Photo: Sclub)


Saturday 25th June provided three early morning tours passing through Taunton heading for Cornwall's 'Mazey Day' celebrations in Penzance. Spitfire Railtours took the bolt step of operating two charters, one of which stopped to pick up passengers from Taunton. Spitfire chose two Class 20's from Direct Rail Services and two 37's from Direct Rail Services. Pathfinder Tours used a pair of veteran Class 31's for their outing to the South West. This rare event saw all three charters pass through Taunton at around thirty minute intervals of one another from around 07:45 onwards.

20308 and 20309 were the first pair of locos to pass through Taunton, hauling 'The Kernow Voyager' from Gloucester to Penzance. Their set also had West Coast Class 57 No.57601 attached to the rear of the train and was formed as follows: 20308+20309: 99680 99328 4905 5032 6528 3359 3360 99678 3150 3148 + 57601. The rare Class 20 outing is seen passing Creech St Michael running as the 1Z37 06:07 Gloucester- Penzance (Photo: Brian Garrett)

The later arrival of the following two tours from Penzance meant the sun had set before they passed through the area. Silver Buffered 20309 leads 20308 into Taunton after a good run up from Penzance. The tour arrived early into Taunton and was later held at Obridge until it's booked departure time. (Photo: Brian Garrett)

Do you have any photos of Class 20's operating in the Taunton Area? If so then why not send them to Taunton Trains for inclusion on this page! (Email: Taunton Trains)

More Class 20 action can be found on our Interesting Railtours Memories Page