Over the past three years of visiting the Wherry Lines to photograph its loco-hauled services and its semaphore signalling, one consistent feature has been the sight of Class 153 one-coach units, usually operating singly, but occasionally in pairs.
As the quintet of “Scuds” has now departed East Anglia to join some of their classmates in South Wales, this seems like the right moment to share a short selection of my favourite images of Class 153 action on the Wherry Lines.
The Class 153 fleet, known as super sprinters was created in 1992 after 35 two-coach Class 155 units, which had been built for British Rail in 1987/8 by Leyland Bus, were converted into 70 single coach units at the Hunslet-Barclay works in Kilmarnock.
A total of seven units were originally allocated to East Anglia, of which two later left the area, and besides the Wherry and East Suffolk Lines their operations also included routes from Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe, the Bittern Line from Norwich to Sheringham and Marks Tey-Sudbury.
They may never have attracted the following of the Class 121/2 Bubble Cars, and are certainly a good deal less comfortable to ride in than the new Class 755 Basils, but there was still a novelty in riding the single coach units, even when totally unsuited to heavy seasonal traffic on the Great Yarmouth route.
So beginning and ending my tribute to the Class 153s at the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth, here are a selection of photos taken during numerous visits since September 2016 that are a reminder of the most recent change to have taken place on the Wherry Lines.
Top photo shows a crowd of holidaymakers waiting to board 153322 at Great Yarmouth on 3 September 2016 forming the 15.12 to Norwich via Reedham
153322 passes Brundall Junction on 3 September 2016, before the track re-modelling, with the 12.58 Norwich-Lowestoft
153309/335 pass Cantley’s famous co-acting signal C21 on 8 October 2016 with the 12.05 Norwich-Lowestoft
153306 approaches Reedham Junction Signal Box on 17 March 2017 with the 11.36 Norwich-Great Yarmouth (via Berney Arms)
153306 at Lowestoft after arrival with the 18.13 service from Ipswich as 37409 Lord Hinton and 37419 Carl Haviland depart with the 19.55 to Norwich
153335 approaches Brundall on 26 April 2019 with the 14.05 Norwich-Lowestoft
153309 nears Oulton Broad North on 20 June 2019 with the 14.55 Norwich-Lowestoft
153335 departs Oulton Broad North on 20 June 2019 with the 15.48 Lowestoft-Norwich
153306 departs Lowestoft on 20 June 2019 with the 17.48 to Norwich
153309 arrives at Acle on 26 July 2019 with the 12.17 Great Yarmouth-Norwich
153309 departs Acle on 26 July 2019 with the 12.17 Great Yarmouth-Norwich
153306 passes Chapel Road level crossing’s down distant CR1 on 27 September 2019 with the 11.36 Norwich-Great Yarmouth
153309 approaches Brundall Junction’s up distant signal BL32 on 27 September 2019 with the 11.48 Lowestoft-Norwich
Back to Great Yarmouth for my last Wherry Lines Scuds, which shows 153309/306 departing on 5 November 2019 with the 14.17 to Norwich (bottom photo)
My new book “Britain’s last mechanical signalling” is out now, and is available from publishers Pen & Sword, from good bookshops and from many online retailers