From the old MRLC archive comes this friendly face from the past. No 41229 pulled (and pushed) the 'Dodger' between Crewe and Northwich, via Middlewich, for almost ten years until the service was withdrawn on the last day of 1959. She was the most usual motive power for this service, although several of her sisters occasionally stood in for her.
The service, of course, was of much longer standing, dating back to the days of the London & North-Western Railway and the 'Dodger' had been pushed and pulled for many years by older types of engine. But 41229 and her sisters are the engines we all remember.
The train is pictured, in this famous Brian Morrison photo, at Crewe Station in 1955. The loco is standing under the celebrated 'Spotters' Bridge' and said spotters are out in full force. 1955 is a little too early, even for me, as I would only have been three years old at the time.
So I know I'm not among those present.
Those spotters would have thought 'The Dodger' very small beer in those days, being far more interested in the big main line express engines in other parts of the railway Mecca of Crewe. What would they give to see her now?
The strange apparatus you can see on either side of the engine's boiler is part of the push-pull mechanism which allowed the train to operate in either direction: No 41229 pulled the train to Northwich, then pushed it back to Crewe, with the driver in a special compartment at the front of the leading coach. This can be seen in this equally famous photo, taken at Middlewich Station.
Certain trains would reverse at Northwich and travel, via a link onto the West Coast Main Line at Hartford, up to Acton Bridge Station.
In 1959 you could get from Northwich to Middlewich (and return) for 1s 2d (around 6p)
Update (August 2017)
When a link to this diary entry was posted on the Cheshire's Railways Facebook group, John Tackley wrote:
'I was an engineering apprentice at Crewe works from 1948 to 1952 when these locomotives were built, and some were supplied with special brake actuating valves to allow 'auto train' operation as on the 'Dodger'.
My training included time at Crewe North shed, which provided footplate staff for the 'Dodger'.
It was operated by footplate staff on 'light duties', usually recovering from health problems, as most Crewe North work was for heavy express working which required tremendous stamina.
'He's on the Dodger' automatically meant the driver and fireman were having an easy time - perhaps that's where the expression originated?'
Many thanks to John for this fascinating, authentic and 'from the horse's mouth' account of how the 'Dodger' was operated all those years ago.
|Photo: Railway Modeller Magazine|
First published 8th May 2017
Updated and re-published 6th August 2017