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Memories of 'spotting' the elusive last locomotive.

   The ultimate goal of any locomotive spotter was 'Clearing BR', usually taken as referring to the seeing of every British Rail main line locomotive then in service.  Those who achieved this have that last number and memories of seeing it etched into their minds.  On this page former members who achieved the goal share the golden number and their memories of the occasion.

John Wade


   This is me on 15th April 1974 with PWM650 in Swindon Cocklebury yard.  I was actually on a Grand Easter trip with the Northern Counties, by motor coach, to the South East, or that's what the trip was called. I needed to get a selfie with PWM650 and ventured into the yard to get it.  I was very lucky as this trip also then gave me PWM654 at Worcester depot, my last shunter on BR for all of the shunters still then in existence, (I didn't realise this fact and I have owned it for over ten years!!).  Also a few hours before I had seen 33113, my last mainline locomotive for England.  This left me wanting to see (cop), 26035 and 26041, just two locos to completely see all on BR left at the time.

JW +26035.webp
JW +PWM650.webp

   Here I am again, this time at Inverness Depot (IS) on 25th May 1974, around  a month from getting down to my last two (as above).  I didn't hang around!!   I had booked a week All line Rail Rover and had departed from Sheffield Midland that morning behind D114 to Glasgow.

  After getting my shot here of 26035, my penultimate locomotive, I went back to see the shed foreman re the whereabouts of 26041?, "St Rollox Works", was the reply, so I hot footed it around to the station to get a train back to Glasgow pulled  by 26012 and D5337.

  I had arrived at St Rollox Works, Glasgow on 25th May 1974 at around 20.00 hrs.  I didn't know what kind of reception I would get, but with only needing to see D5341 or 26041 after it was shopped, to complete the first set, and explaining my dilemma to the night watchman, he readily agreed to take me into the works to see it.

   Not only that, but he waited quite patiently till I had set up the camera on the tripod to get a rather nice shot of it before it got renumbered.  You can see him on the far left of the photo, probably hoping he wasn't going to be included!

Although as its 46 years now since the photo has been seen, its unlikely to matter.  I will always be grateful to this chap, who took the time and trouble to do me this favour.  Thanks!  Of course this was short lived and something of an anti climax because as I still had six days of the rover to use, it gave me the perfect opportunity to get a good start on my second set!!  Why?  I really can't tell you now, but the buzz from spotting will stay with me forever.  Good harmless fun, that literally took me all over the Country on a very regular basis.

JW +5341.webp

Graham Barlow


My last locomotive was D5188 (TO).  I copped it on Bescot, the very last shed we visited on a car tour of the East & West  Midlands with 'Counties' member friends.

John Frisby


I copped my last three on a wonderful two day car bash to Scotland.  3934 on Aberdeen Ferryhill & 5368 on Fort William, both these on 24th October 1970 & finally on 25the October 1970, 6129 on Eastfield.

Graham Howarth


My last locomotive for 1st time was actually on a South Yorkshire Railway Society (SYRS) trip - I was being a traitor for a weekend.  It was 08663 which I saw on Swansea East Dock on July 25th 1976 on their South Wales Trip.  I carried on with the 'Counties' because I wanted a second set and also a photo of every locomotive (ended up being 240 short).

Nick "gravel gob, Cagney" Clarke.

My last locomotive was 09026.  I'd set off on an All Line Rover with"Gaz" Mousdel, another member and best mate for life, in August 78 needing 10 and had a week to do it.  We went our separate ways on a few occasions to see various locomotives.  I said good bye to "Gaz" on the Monday afternoon as I needed to see 73136 in Eastleigh Works.  There were tours on most Tuesday afternoons. I blagged my way on to the tour for a pound and copped it in the errrecting shop.


A chat earlier with a TOPS clerk at Eastleigh locomotive depot told me that the last locomotive I needed was on Hamworthy Docks and would be coming back to Bournemouth Depot about 18.30.  So after finishing the works tour, I popped down to Poole station and after a short time pacing up and down the platform I saw the little bugger coming around the bay.  When I confirmed it was 09026 I let out a roar usually reserved for a rare goal being scored by my beloved Doncaster Rovers.  I recieved a few strange glances but couldn't care less.  Then it was straight on to a London bound train for a Euston to Inverness sleeper

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