The GWR HST finale

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The main part of the HST finale on 18th May took place in the late pm and early evening. My other post here, deals briefly with events earlier in the day. As I expected there was a huge turnout, I don’t really go in for these sort of events, but this being the HSTs and Paddington is a railway station I have known nearly all my life, with memories of the Warships and Westerns. Sadly the first time I used the station the Western Region had just got rid of steam, so its always been an all diesel (and now to be almost an all electric) railway station for me.

There’s well over thirty photographs here, thus its a very long post. I wanted to capture the essence of the events as they occurred, so this post is about people as well as trains. The HST’s themselves are covered in considerable depth don’t worry!

I’m keeping the text to a minimum otherwise there’s a lot of work in writing for me, it takes hours to write stuff. Its taken me hours to sort and process the photographs and that’s plenty of hard work for me for one weekend! Enjoy the photographs and please remember – I tried my best to collate a good cross-section of the events as they happened!

My plans were to arrive at the station slightly early and capture the first of the HST arrivals from Bishops bridge sited above the station. Unfortunately it started raining and I prevaricated whether to take a waterproof coat or not. In the event I decided not to and instead of getting the bus and then walk, took the long detour involving both bus and tube (which meant I would be dry at all times anyway) thus I missed the first HST arrival by three minutes.

The first set (43188 & 43093) arrived on Platform one and the country end of the platform was packed with people waiting for the next three HSTs to arrive, all within a few minutes of each other. In the meantime I set about doing my own thing thus we start from here!

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Gotta get every detail of this thing! Guy photographs the cab of 43093.

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‘All the Train Numbers’ obviously! Woman takes pic of the HST locomotive number for prosperity.

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43172 comes in! 17.26 approximately.

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Believe it or not, this is Mark Zuckerberg in his secret life as a British Rail enthusiast!

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Darn! They brought the bloody signal box from Exeter along for the ride!

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A little later we had three HST’s.

I did get photographs of 43001 and 43198 arriving but they were not good – too many people about….

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See what I mean? Much jostling and pushing as 43001 arrived and too many people on the other platform!

I moved right down to the far end of platform one where at least I could get a better view of the next arrival.

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43185 arriving approx 17.34 pm.

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43009 in tow – same train, same time.

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Railway enthusiasts on the other platform doing what they happen to be best at!

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All four HSTs at Paddington.

I took a peep inside the HST on platform one – years since I set foot inside one!

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The interior of what would be the final HST working to Plymouth at 18.03.

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Labels in the windows! They were giving these out to souvenir hunters on the platforms.

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Oo-er there’s me, unkempt scruffy bastard, having a gander in first class! Is the manager of the first class about to tell me off?

Far from it the manager was very nice and understanding (becos I have disabilities) and in fact he agreed to pose for my camera!

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Dan, the train’s first class and restaurant manager on his last HST duty.

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In the meantime the rear train cabs had been opened to people wanting to have a look. Long queues soon formed. Here’s a young boy with his dad being shown the HST driver’s console in 43093.

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Mad crowds jockeying for a view of the four HST’s at Paddington!

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People starting to board the next HST – the 18.15 to Cheltenham Spa. The notice for the 18.30 was telling people to go to a different part of the station.

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Station staff giving out surplus ‘Last HST’ window labels!

By now it was just on 18.00. Time to see the first HST off so I went back to platform one…

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Yikes its just after 18.00hrs and people are still viewing the rear drivers cab! The train’s guard is a little annoyed and reminds the station staff (customer services wearing pink hi-vis jackets) the train’s departure is imminent.

Looking through my photographs it was the Black guy (one of the GWR train dispatchers) trying to request the public tours onto the trains’ cab be stopped immediately, and he was having no effect with his requests. The train guard sussed there was problems and came along to intervene, pointed to his watch and said ‘enough guys, we’ve got to move off’ or something to that effect.

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Our guard goes back to his position and after the usual procedures, re-checking, making sure no late runners trying to catch the train, he presses the button to lock the train doors.

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And we’re off! The 18.03 (as HST) about to depart from Paddington for the last time.

I took a quick video of the departure. Although it was the first of the four departures this one was really significant. Not only was it the first of the tranche of departures, it too was the FINAL HST departure from Platform One!

The 18.03 departing from Paddington 18th May 2019.

The crowds were really stressing me out and by this time I had pretty much enough, so decided to go over to Bishops Bridge for a bit… before going on to Royal Oak tube station for the final HST departure.

En route I spotted the queues for the Taunton train..

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The Taunton train entry point. A bit convoluted but made necessary because of the huge crowds and the fact it was booked tickets only – and passengers had to go the long way round via the station footbridge to gain access to their train.

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Once the Plymouth train had left, there were just three left….

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View from Bishops Bridge of the next two HSTs to depart. 18.15 (Cheltenham) at right and 18.22 (Hereford) at left.

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Almost on cue the 18.15 begins its departure.

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Crowds on the platform recording the final Cheltenham HST train!

A quick dash over the road to the other side of the bridge for some different shots…

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The rear of the 18.15 to Cheltenham with 43172. Look at the crowds!

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And then there were two… those for Hereford and Taunton.

I didn’t see the third departure. Took a short break. The last one was the more important for me. And for this I went on the tube to the next stop – at Royal Oak.

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At 18.30pm the final train departs for Taunton. Shot taken from Royal Oak tube station almost half a kilometre away!

As the train progressed everyone saw there was an Azuma coming into Paddington and it was obvious it would block the final HST departure. It actually wasn’t that bad – I guessed the Azuma would move away sufficiently for us to see the full HST accelerating away from Paddington.

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The final HST – with the Azuma incoming and about to block our view of things!

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Enthusiasts looking a bit peeved the final HST is being blocked from view…

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As soon as the Azuma had passed 43198 could be seen well before it reached Lord Hills bridge (or rather Royal Oak bridge as its known to many.)

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And coming up on the rear was 43 001 – Sir Kenneth Grange! The final HST train and appropriately with the first ever HST livery too! He was the designer of the HSTs, and the man himself too was at Paddington on this day to see his fantastic workhorses bow out from service on main GWR services after 43 years.

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