At the beginning of 2004 there were only 29 of the original 135 Class 56s in service. The fleet size continued to reduce with an expected final withdrawal date of 1 April.  Pathfinder Tours hastily arranged a farewell railtour on 31 March with EWS confirming that they would retain 2 locomotives for the tour.  Although "The Twilight Grids" railtour started from Bristol it included a mini-tour from York over the Pennines and back and I travelled from Edinburgh for the trip, and some photos are below.  The week before I had a chance to stop off at Doncaster for a few hours and luckily (given that there were only 10 locomotives in service at the time) I managed to photograph a couple of workings. The Class 56 Group has secured 56040 for future generations to experience Grid thrash!  And of course, like most things associated with railways recently the Grid Twilight tour wasn't the end, with EWS sending some locomotives abroad and then Fastline Freight took on 3 Class 56s - I've put my recent photos at the top of the page.
56303 (the former 56125) approaches Clay Cross South Junction on 3 July 2006 with 4O90 from Doncaster to Thamesport.
56301 (the former 56045) is seen near Mexborough on 5 July 2006 with 4O90 from Doncaster to Thamesport.
Although not a very good photo, I've included it here as I believe this is the last Class 56 to visit Scotland. 56018 is stabled at Motherwell on 15 February 2004. A number of Grids were recorded north of the border early in 2004 and I saw 56069 in charge of 6E89 Mossend - Immingham, unfortunately this runs when it was dark so no chance of a photo!
56091 passes Doncaster station with 6J48 1016 Scunthorpe to Aldwarke loaded steel train on 25 March 2004.
Passing the former Doncaster works ('The Plant') where some of the Class 56 locomotives were built, 56091 heads the 6J48 1016 Scunthorpe to Aldwarke loaded steel train on 25 March 2004.
Heading for a run round at Belmont Yard, 56091 with the 6J48 1016 Scunthorpe to Aldwarke loaded steel train on 25 March 2004.
Doncaster has for many years been a centre of Class 56 activity. Less than an hour after the passing of the previous train 56081 heads the 6D95 1144 Belmont Yard to Goole loaded steel train (25 March 2004).
56081 passes Doncaster station with the 6D95 1144 Belmont Yard to Goole loaded steel train on 25 March 2004.
The last day! 56115 passes under Holgate Road at York with Pathfinders' 1Z56 charter from Bristol on 31 March 2004.
Pathfinders' 1Z56 charter from Bristol approaches York station with 56115 in charge on 31 March 2004.
56115 at York after arrival with Pathfinders' 1Z56 charter from Bristol on 31 March 2004. The plate under the nameplate reads "EWS COAL TRAIN CONTROLLER TRAGICALLY KILLED AT GREAT HECK 20 FEBRUARY 2001. A TRUE RAILWAYMAN ADMIRED FOR HIS HIGH REGARD FOR SAFETY, HIS INTEGRITY AND HIS GOOD HUMOUR."
56078 awaits departure from York with Pathfinders' 1Z57 charter to York via Leeds, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield and Wakefield on 31 March 2004. EWS repainted this locomotive into the popular 'BR large logo' livery during 2003 and although this engine wasn't originally painted in this livery it provided a fitting tribute to the last months of the class. At the Doncaster Works open day when the new livery was unveiled the locomotive was named 'Doncaster Enterprise' (a name formerly carried by 47522) to mark the town's long association with the class.
After a spin round the Pennines 56115 is coupled up at York ready for 56078 running round the stock prior to the departure of Pathfinders' return 1Z58 charter to Bristol.
The last two Grids remaining in service, 56078+56115, await departure from York with Pathfinders' return 1Z58 charter to Bristol on 31 March 2004.
56078+56115 await departure from York with Pathfinders' return 1Z58 charter to Bristol on 31 March 2004. At this point there was a bit of a scrum as everyone jostled for position for their photographers - there were some impatient shouts when people were taking more than a couple of minutes to get their shot!
Front ends of 56078+56115 awaiting departure from York with Pathfinders' return 1Z58 charter to Bristol on 31 March 2004.
The passengers are on board Pathfinders' 1Z58 charter from York to Bristol on 31 March 2004 and I am ready to photograph the departure.
However there is a problem and I have time to take some more photographs of the front of the train.
It turned out that the multiple working equipment was not working properly so they uncoupled the locomotives and ran them to Holgate Sidings to run back into the station with 56115 on the front.
This time they get away and 56115+56078 clag into history with Pathfinders' 1Z58 charter from York to Bristol on 31 March 2004, which many thought would be the last Class 56 worked train with the two remaining locomotives scheduled for storage on 1 April 2004. However, there was a surprise in the early morning of 1 April when the locomotives were running light engine from Bristol to Knottingley for defuelling prior to storage when 56078 was commandeered at Saltley to work the 4G05 06:08 Hams Hall to Daventry freight.