There were 4 turns at Andover station when I was based there in 1990, an early, late and night shift and 'the Ludgershall turn'. The 'Luggy' as it was known booked on at 8 a.m and after the customary cup of tea, the local TOPS office at Eastleigh would fax throught the train consist list that listed the loco and wagon numbers, length and weight and any special instructions. A phonecall was then made to the Army yardmaster at Ludgershall to enquire to any outward traffic to bring back.
The train would come up from the Salisbury direction and was usually slotted in between two up passenger trains so some quick shunting had to be done to clear the mainline!
A ten lever groundframe was situated at the Salisbury end of the up platform, a brass anetts key required to unlock the points to gain access to the Luggy line. This was also the authority to work the single line.
The drivers were based at Eastleigh and ran driver only to Andover with a travelling shunter working with them to the Army yard. Engines were usually a class 47, later replaced by class 37's, however on one occasion I took a Network Southeast liveried class 50 and during one motive power shortage a pair of class 73's on diesel power!
The run was quite leisurely and the track a bit lively in some places and once the environs of Andover were left behind the countryside was quite scenic. After curving away from what was once Red Post Junction it was a very straight line crossing the A30 and proceeding through the remains of Weyhill station with its old corrugated goods shed. Just before the site of Ludgershall station a set of points created a loop through the cutback remains of the platforms. The left hand platform was where I would cut off the inbound wagons and apply the handbrakes, the engine then proceeding towards the yard and parking up close to the diminutive engine shed. The driver and I would hear the kettle boiling as we entered, the two 4 wheel Army shunters sat gleaming ready to do their work.
As the trainlist was checked over with the yardmaster and details of what traffic we would take back sorted, the Army traincrew were already clattering down the track to pick up their inward traffic - sometimes their engine filled with shopping they had purchaed from a local supermarket adjacent to the line!
Before we left for our return trip a carriage and wagon examiner would look over our load (the flat and well wagons had wooden chocks and chains to secure Army vehicles and we wouldn't want any of that coming loose). We always had to keep a sharp lookout for the points at the end of the loop in the platforms as it was right next to a footcrossing used by schoolchildren who weren't adverse to wedging ballast between the blades. I did hear of one engine dropping some wheels in the dirt because of this once.
I can remember two derailments on the Luggy turn, one a class 47 (47 145 MERRIDYN EMRYSS) and one a class 37 and do I remember that well! It happened in August 1992 in Andover yard, 37 235 being the poor loco that ran into the side of its own train, one wagon crushing the groundframe in the process. I'll always remember Basingstoke powerbox phoning and asking me to put the groundframe phone back on the hook as it was continually ringing to which I replied, I will have a job mate, its under some wagons!
Because of its rural location, the line was sometimes used to detonate out of date detonators (fog signals), which would result in a stream of loud bangs and a loco who's underframe and bogies would be bright white when we had finished.
I would often see Paul Strong on the platform at Andover, he would always ask about the Ludgershall turn and would often ask if he could take a ride with us. We did manage to get this sorted through the official channels and he was overwhelmed to ride the remains of the Midland and South Western, camera in hand.
The only other visitors we ever had was the odd inspector, a collie dog we once hit by Weyhill (suffering from just a broken leg we sat him in the secondmans seat and met the RSPCA at Andover), and a car door for a Cortina that a driver spotted in a scrapyard at Ludgershall - and that was a job getting that in the cab from track level!
In 1992 I was promoted to a guard which involved a transfer to Worcester and have since transferred to Par in Cornwall. However, whenever anyone asks what is the most enjoyable job on the railway I have ever done? I always smile and say - without a doubt- the Luggy turn.
Andover ground frame
John Carter, Andover Yard
Courtesy Paul Strong
Train of well wagons setting back into Andover Yard
Ludgershall train arriving at Andover from Eastleigh
Class 37 on army officers special at Ludgershall. This picture was for some top brass in the armys birthday. The tables were all laid out for lunch and the army shunter toured the base with the dignitaries in tow. They were the cleanest Mark 2 coaches I ever came across!
Back to the home page