In July 2018, it will be 60 years since what have been described as the ‘ugly ducklings’ of BR’s ‘Pilot Scheme’ diesels first appeared. They were the only type built on a 2-axle and 3-axle bogie layout, and the first to appear without the almost mandatory nose, or bonnet, following the ex-LMS examples of 10,000 and 10,001.
Yes, I know there was a flat nosed ex-Southern Railway design too.
However, the Metro-Vick Co-Bo Type 2 was intended to be a major option included in the British Railways’ 174 pilot scheme types, for testing and approval before placing further orders to replace steam traction.
The asymmetrical wheelbase of the Metro-Vick design was not its downfall. This proved to be the 2-stroke 1,200hp diesel engine produced by Crossley, and only a couple of years after their introduction a plan was hatched to provide them with English Electric power.
These locomotives were fitted with an electro-pneumatic control system, and designed to be operated in multiple with other Pilot Scheme designs, including:-
- North British Loco. Co. type 1, nos. D8400-9
- North British Loco. Co. type 2, nos. D6100-37
- Brush/Sulzer type 2, nos. D5500-19
Aside from the collapse of the North British Loco Co in 1962 – which perhaps influenced the decision to abandon the design – BR itself was battling a range of problems in the 1960s. The changing economic climate and competition from road transport growth, and BR’s mounting operational losses were amongst the reasons for their withdrawal. That coupled with increasing unreliability, and ‘unconventional’ technology, sealed their fate.
In the Beginning
Spanning little more than a decade of working life, these locomotives were amongst the 174 locomotives of the ‘Pilot Scheme’ diesel types in British Railways’ Modernisation and Re-equipment Programme of 1956.
Metropolitan-Vickers were responsible for the overall design of these locomotives, which were built at the Trafford Park works in Manchester, with mechanical parts supplied by Beyer-Peacock. Although subsequently known as type 2 locomotives, the original power classification was letter code B covering locomotives with engines rated at between 1000-1500 h.p.
Building & Withdrawal
These locomotives were ordered in November 1955 and two and a half years elapsed before the first was handed over to BR in July 1958. This delay between order and delivery occurred to most other types ordered at the same time. Operational Ups & Downs
It was originally proposed that they should be classed as mixed traffic locomotives for use on the Midland division lines of the London Midland Region (LMR). Following delivery they were allocated to Derby, from where it was intended that they would work passenger and freight services between St. Pancras, Manchester and Carlisle.
During proving trials before delivery, these locomotives were required to start from rest a 420 ton train and accelerate to 10 m.p.h. on a I in 42 gradient. This haulage capacity was tested, not perhaps to the full, when two of these locomotives were frequently used on the all-fitted Condor freight service between Hendon and Gushetfaulds, Glasgow.
Due to their indifferent performance, on 28 January 1962 the entire class was transferred to Barrow depot on the Western Division, where they were worked a variety of duties, but their performance still gave rise to problems. During their early years, and perhaps because of the engine faults and failures, the whole class was considered a candidate for being fitted with new engines.
All were withdrawn from operational service by the Autumn of 1968, although the single example that survived became the subject of a rescue and restoration exercise, currently in progress at Bury on the East Lancashire Railway. For a complex locomotive the restoration work is equally complex.
Clicking on the image below will take you to a more detailed review of the class.
More Useful Links