The first BR crest was something of a misnomer, since it implies a heraldic device, and this it most certainly was not. It was a symbol devised by the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission for use on its locomotives, and was referred to as a “totem”, and as such British Railways was entitled to display it in whatever manner they chose, The ‘directive’ issued stated that it should face FORWARD on BOTH SIDES of locomotives. There was no question of the College of Heralds being involved, since it was not a heraldic device.
In this respect therefore, the contemporary literature is correct, particularly the reprint of the “Railway Pictorial and Locomotive Review” brochure from July 1949,which in reference to the general details and planned applications is correct. This is also borne out in photographs of the period. I have not yet come across any with the crest facing the rear of the locomotive on the right hand side.
1949 cabside number layout
1949 locomotive livery colours and lining
The first colours and lettering remained in place until the end of steam traction, with the exception of the blue livery for express passenger types. In the early 1960s, regional variations in colours occurred, but the only major change in totem, crest or logo took place in 1956, before the corporate style with the double arrow totem appeared everywhere until, and in some cases after privatization.
1956 – 1968
The second style of crest was a heraldic device, and registered as such with the College of Heralds. Or, more precisely, the College of Arms in England, and the Lyon court in Scotland. The badge comprised a demi-lion rampant (not a lion and mangle wheel, or even a ferret and dartboard!!) – the British Lion, holding between the paws a silver locomotive wheel.
The lion was issuant from an heraldic crown of gold on which were arranged the rose, (for England) the thistle (for Scotland) the leek (for Wales), completed by an oak leaf representing all Great Britain. The whole was enclosed in a gold circle and flanked by the words “British Railways” in serif gold lettering. The design was prepared in consultation with Dr. C.A.H.Franklyn. The first locomotive to display the new crest was BR Standard Class 7MT No. 70016 “Ariel” at Marylebone Station on 21st June 1956.
Stanier 4MT No. 42073 at Haverthwaite, sporting the final BR livery and crest for steam traction. (c) Rodger Bradley
Quite a number of’ locomotives were turned out in 1956/7 with the crest facing forward on both sides, which would suggest that an assumption was made on the part of the depot staff that its application on a locomotive was to be the same as the earlier 1949 “totem” – with the lion always facing forward. Not all depots would have made that assumption, obviously, hence there were only a small number of locomotives turned out with the crests facing forward on both sides. The College of Heralds/Arms were quick to point out that wherever any part of the achievement was used, the lion must be heraldically correct, consequently the lion was always supposed to face left. I was going to state ALWAYS. FACED LEFT, but this would not strictly be correct, since there are numerous photos illustrating crests facing forward on the right hand side, i.e; the lion would be right facing.
Classic BR in the late 1950s, early 1960s, as 46207 passes through Rugby with a down express. (c) RPB Collection
These notes relate to the circumstances of application of the crests and the change(s) insisted on by the heraldic authorities when crests were applied incorrectly for a short period. It is not possible to state, at-the time of writing, the precise dates when the “change” referred to in the 1956 crests was insisted upon by the authorities concerned.
The post 1956 crest is facing the right way in this shot of preserved ex-GWR Castle Class No. 7027 “Thornbury Castle” at Buckfastleigh in 1990. (c) Rodger Bradley
The obvious suggestion to be made is that since the application of new paint schemes, insignia, etc., was so much in the public eye, it would not be unreasonable to EXPECT a maximum time limit for “regular” mis-application of the new 1956 transfers to be in the vicinity of SIX MONTHS; from between June and December 1956. References to the new crest are contained in the “Railway Observer” for July 1956. It has not so far proved possible to locate any reference to the “changes”. No such difficulties apply to the earlier crest used between 1949 and 1956, and the principally correct reference source is the one mentioned.
Again, contemporary photographs of the later crest can be found in either private collections, or albums, or the principal magazines of the period, including a number of photographic books. In particular, the “Railway Magazine” and “Trains Illustrated” for 1956/7.
Preserved Jubilee passing Dalton-in-Furness with an eastbound special in 2018. The lined black looks good on this loco with the 1949 totem, but most of the class received the lined green livery. (c) Rodger Bradley
There has been much talk, and quite a few examples in recent years of what are described as “Bi-mode” trains – in the UK, these are the 800 Class multiple units on the GWR, together with the 10 DRS Class 88 locomotives. Across Europe these are becoming more common too, and Bombardier’s “Mitrac” is another recent hybrid offering, with power from overhead contact systems, and a diesel engine.
But, these are not a new idea, just the latest incarnation of an idea more than a century old, with the first claim being made in 1889. This was the “Patton Motor Car”, which was followed in what was known as a “gas-electric hybrid system” applied to a tramcar at Pullman, Illinois. Also quick on the take up was Belgium, where in the 1890s, a petrol-electric vehicle was taking to the rails, also fitted with a generator and traction motors. British Westinghouse built a similar example, with a 100hp diesel engine, for the Great Central Railways in the early years of the 20th century. After the First World War, the hybrid approach took a step further forward in Belgium, with batteries – a collection of accumulators – an equally important step in hybrid developments.
It was not until the 1950s that a class of main line locomotives able to operate on electrified and non-electrified lines. During the early British Railways era, there was no example of main line ‘hybrid’ or electro-diesel locomotive, although the former private companies had begun experiments in non-steam traction, but with little significant growth.
Many of British Railways’ electro-diesel locomotives for the Southern Region are, amazingly perhaps, are still in regular operation. It was a unique solution to implement in the early 1960s, to provide go anywhere motive power, for a wide range of mixed traffic and shunting duties. The BR Modernisation Programme was in full swing, and diesels were replacing steam, but future electrification was on the overhead system, and the Southern’s 3rd rail network had limited potential.
This is a brief look at what BR developed, and its operations over many years:
The firm of Davey Paxman, then Ruston Paxman, and in its final guise of GEC Diesels Ltd was established in 1865, in Colchester, Essex. Their original product line included agricultural machinery, steam boilers, portable steam engines, and stationary engines, with a wide range of applications in mind.
It was not until just before the First World War that they took an interest in the possibility of ‘oil engines’, with some of the early designs arranged horizontally, just like the company’s steam designs. From around 1925 they began designing and building engines in the more conventional, vertical layout.
What was to prove revolutionary in diesel traction’s use of quick-running engines, allied to innovative mechanical and ovcerall design. This view shows the very first diesel locomotive on British railways, built by the LMS, with its Paxman engine, on what was essentially a steam engine chassis. Photo; Lens of Sutton
Only 5 years later, in 1930, as the LMS railway began its experiments with diesel rail traction, and the first diesel engine was installed in LMS prototype shunter No. 1831. The engine was a 6-cylinder machine, developing 412hp at 750rpm, and designated type 6XVS. The railway company constructed the mechanical portion of the locomotive, based around the frames of a steam engine, and other details, whilst the Paxman engine was the first rail traction diesel engine, installed in the first diesel locomotive on the standard gauge, for a major British railway company.
However, Paxman’s global reputation was based around quick-running ‘vee’ form diesel engines, and it began to make inroads in this area from around 1932, and with that step they were wholly successful, be it marine, stationary or rail traction. Davey Paxman’s fortunes were assured.
The Second World War provided a pivotal platform for the technology, and the Paxman 12TP engine – originally designed for a special assignment – was used in the British Landing Craft, and of course played a key part in the D-Day landings. From that event 75 years ago, more than 4,000 Paxman 12TP engines were used in every assault operation carried out by Allied Forces in Europe. This same engine design was refined for wider commercial use in the 1950s, including rail traction, and re-designated type RPH.
The early 1950s saw the introduction of the YH range, direct fuel injection, and 4-valve cylinder heads. The refinements of these designs, with ease of maintenance, provided an ideal platform for railway locomotives, with many examples used in branch line, shuntin, and in later develoipments for main line operations. The quick-running 4-stroke diesel had certainly come of age. By the end of the decade, a further development of these engines appeared in the shape of the “Ventura” range.
The latest design was developed to meet the requirements set by British Railways, building on the design and construction of the RPL and YH engines, incorporating advanced engineering features, and competing with the best European builders were offering. In fact, these engines were built under licence by Breda for Italian State Railways’ Class 343 locomotives, whilst further east in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), “Ventura” engines were fitted to a fleet of diesel hydraulic locomotives for shunter/trip and main line duties.
On British Railways, the first of these new engines were fitted and trialled in one of the Western Region’s Swindon built “Warship” Class diesel-hydraulic locos – No. D830 ‘Majestic. The “Ventura” engines were also retro-fitted to 20 of the North British Bo-Bo diesel-electrics, developing 1,350-hp at 1,500 rev/min engines, following the disappointing service experience with the locomotives’ original power units.
One of the NBL built Type 2 engines after refitting with Paxman engines proved much more successful.
Another order from British Railways, was for power unist for the last diesel-hydraulic type used on the Western Region – the Class 14 0-6-0 – together with 6-cylinder versions for the Southern Region’s “Electro-Diesels”.
The experience with the “Ventura” design also provided background for the next step in the development of the Paxman range. Paxmans’ working with British Railways and the MOD (Royal Navy), a new range of high-speed diesels, in the shape of the “Valenta” series were created. These new engines were the same size and shape as the “Ventura”, but although of the same bore and stroke, gave 40% – 50% more horsepower.
The heart of high-speed, the Paxman Valenta engine. Powerful and efficient too – a good combination for rail traction use.
It was these engines that were fitted to the HST, IC125, high speed trains that provided the mainstay for British Rail’s express passenger services for more than 45 years. Some are of course still in service today.
On the Western Region, the HST sets – or IC125s were the mainstay of high-speed services. This is a typical view of 253003 running through Sonning Cutting between Reading and London Paddington. Photo; British Rail
The prototype HST was fitted with a 12 -cyl. Valenta 12 RP200L, charge-air cooled engine developing 2,250 bhp (UIC) at 1,500 rev/min. Announced in 1970, the production sets would consist of a pair of power cars equipped with these powerful diesels at eaither end of a 7-car formation of Mark III coaches, which included two catering vehicles. British Rail’s plan was to order 150 of these trains over a 5-year period, which it was suggested could be extended to 10 years up to 1985, starting in 1975. They were set to work on both the London to Cardiff and London to Newcastle routes.
This diagram shows the compact layout of the prototype HST power car. The buffers were of course not used on the production series.
In their HST guise, Paxman’s “Valenta” engines were definitely at the top of the tree. They achieved no less than three world speed records. The first was on 12th June 1973, when the prototype reached a speed of 143.2 mph between Northallerton and Thirsk on the East Coast main line. The second, 22 years later, when on 27th September 1985 the Tyne-Tees Pullman, with Paxman power ran from Newcastle to London King’s Cross (268 miles) in under 2 hours 20 minutes, achieving a start to stop average speed of 115.4 mph. Finally, just two years later in 1987, with power cars 43102 and 43104, the world speed record for diesel traction was broken again. Over a measured mile between York and Northallerton, a speed of 148 mph was recorded, with peaks at just under 150 mph.
Still on active service in the 1990s, 43113 is seen here running through the approaches to Edinburgh Waverley, but westbound through Prines Street Gardens. (c) RPBradley
The longevity of their success suggests that Paxman high-speed diesels were probably the finest diesel power plant designed and operated on rail.
The magic three figures of 100 mph have
held, and in some cases still do hold respect in so far as speed is concerned.
Around the turn of the century, perhaps this was nowhere more apparent than on
the railways. Competition for traffic between the railways had always been keen,
none more so perhaps than the intense rivalry initiated between the East. and
West Coast routes to Scotland. In this, the principal combatants, the London
& North Western and Great Northern Railways vied with each other to claim
the honours in the days of the railways’ “Race To The North” in the
l890’s. Yet despite some formidable feats of haulage and speed; none more so
than that of the diminutive Locomotive, “Hardwicke”, not once was the
three-figure barrier broken.
The LNWR had already had the
experience of its rivalry with the East Coast companies under its belt, when
later, a similar “event” took place in the South of England between
the London & South Western and Great Western railway companies. This time,
the competition was for the much-coveted carriage of the West of England
traffic, and the Transatlantic Mails.The Great Western was in this case the underdog, having much leeway
to make up on other railway companies following its enforced abandonment of the
broad gauge in 1892, it being a relative newcomer to the design and operation
of standard gauge locomotives and rolling stock at speed.
At the turn of the century, competition
between the LSWR and the GWR was rapidly growing in intensity and although the
GWR had the longer of the two routes between Paddington and Exeter (The LSWR route
between Waterloo and Exeter was some 23miles shorter), the LSWR competition was
hampered between that city and Plymouth, by having to use through running
powers over the GWR branch line to that place.
The competition for this traffic had its
effect on the locomotive department and brought about the development of new
designs for express passenger engines. On the LSWR, William Bridges Adams
passenger Loco, designs must rank amongst the most graceful of all typical
British 4-4-0 types. William Dean at Swindon would not see the GWRleft with second best
however, despite his advancing years and the doubts being cast on his abilities
and the rising stature of Churchward. Dean’s latest passenger designs were
excellent machines themselves, a very attractive 7ft Sins single driver
type. In the late 1890’s however,
Dugald Drummond as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LSWR, in succession to Adams,
introduced the T9 class 4-4-0, and by 1900 had assisted that company in gaining
the upper hand in the competition for the West of England traffic; the improved
timings of the LSWR services obviously increased their patronage. The GWR
however were not to be outdone, and the reduction in mileage of the Western’s
route to Exeter by construction of the cut-off lines, improved the balance in
that company’s favour. Following which, with the introduction of 4-4-0 designs
of the “Atbara” and ever famous ”City’ class, the seal was about to
be set on the GWR’s prestigious West of England services.
The greatest degree of competition occurred
on the working of the Ocean Liner Specials between Plymouth and London, and
despite its initial handicap of 23 extra miles on the Paddington route, the GWR
was not prepared to concede to the position of runner up. The competition
between the two companies actually arose from the extremely fast Atlantic
crossings made by the German owned Holland-Amerika line vessels. Crossing
between New York and Plymouth, the Holland-Amerika line ships took away the
Blue Riband from the British Cunard White Star line, whose crossings were made from
and to Liverpool, whence the Transatlantic traffic was traditionally carried
via the London & North Western Railway to London. Not unnaturally the
potential traffic of the Holland-Amerika Line was attractive to both the GWR
and LSWR, consequently both companies were anxious to improve their facilities
at the Plymouth terminus in order to obtain this highly prized Transatlantic traffic.
The GWR gave its Millbay Station a ‘facelift’, whilst the South Western built a
special station for the ocean traffic at Stonehouse Pool. That the competition
between the two companies was fierce, would possibly be something of an understatement,
and in 1900 began to reach its climax. In that year, two rival Holland-Amerika
ships raced each other across the Atlantic, the passengers and mails from the winner,
the SS “Deutschland”, were conveyed from Plymouth to Paddington, a distance of
246.7 miles, in 4hrs 40mins, with two intermediate stops. An average speed of
just over 52mph start to stop, may not seem particularly fast today, but over
that distance at that time the fastest journey time was booked as 5hrs 5mins,
an average speed of 48 mph, hence that particular run was a noteworthy achievement.
A dispute between the two companies over
this traffic resulted ultimately in an agreement that from each transatlantic crossing,
the LSWR would carry the passengers and the GWR the mails. In so far as the GWR
was concerned, it had little, if any, of non-stop running and on the Plymouth
route, rather surprisingly; its first attempt was made whilst conveying H.M.
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra! The ‘Atbara’ class engine used on the
train put up an average speed of over 55mph between Paddington and Exeter, and
without the usual requirement of a pilot engine running 15mins in advance of
the Royal Train! The GWR’s experiment with non-stop running at ‘high speed’
was consolidated in 1903, with a second and even more spectacular performance,
once again with the Royal Train!
Though not precisely the Royal Train, it
was the advance portion of the up “Cornishman”, carrying the Prince and
Princess of Wales (Later, H.M. King George V and Queen Mary). The engine was
one of the new taper boiler ”City’ class 4-4-0’s; No.3433, “City of Bath”. The train was booked non-stop from Paddington
to Plymouth and covered the distance of 246 miles in 3hrs 53 ½ mins, giving the
very high average start to stop speed of 63 ½ mph.
During the course of the journey, some
remarkably high intermediate average speeds were recorded, such as the 73.4mph
between Nailsea and Taunton on slightly unfavourable gradients. Actually, the
average speed from Paddington to passing Exeter was just under 70mph (67.3,to
be precise). The sustained high speed running to pass Exeter in 2hrs 52imins
necessary with a 4-4-0 type, was indeed remarkable, and indicated the potential
for free running and high speeds developed by the “City” class 4-4-0’s.
This level of high speed running by the
GWR evidenced by these two runs, obviously led to even more intense competition
with the South Western company. Some extremely fast runs were made with
increasing regularity on both routes, and culminated in the first authenticated
run made at 100mph. It should however be pointed out that despite the more or
less general acceptance of that achievement, doubts as to both the reliability
of the witnesses and feasibility of the locomotives of the day to achieve such
a maximum have continued to be expressed, almost since the details were first
published. Some of this doubt possibly resulted from the almost daily reports
of incredible speeds achieved in the USA with 4-4-0 types, many of which
claimed speeds of 120 and 130mph and more! Of course such speeds were
impossible with the machinery of that time, but the unreliability of such
reports probably influenced the partisan feelings of those who doubted the
achievement of the GWR on May 9th 1904.
The record run of this particular Ocean
Mails special from Plymouth to Paddington was carried out with two engines,
that section from Plymouth, Millbay Crossing to Pylle Hill Junction, Bristol by
the ”City” class 4-4-0 No. 3440,”City of Truro”, and from there
a “Dean”, 7ft 8ins ‘Single’, No.3065, “Duke of Connaught”, hauled the
train the remaining 118.7 miles to Paddington in 1hr 39 3/4 mins. Though it was
the performance of “City of Truro” over the adverse section to Bristol
which received the honours, the performance of the Dean ‘Single’ was
unquestionably spectacular. Perhaps even more so in view of Chunchward’s far sighted
locomotive design policy was bearing fruit in the shape of some extremely
powerful 4-cylinder 4-6-0 types, not to mention the solitary pacific, “The
Great Bear”. “City of Truro” took the
special from Millbay Crossing to Exeter, almost all of this route against the grade,
a distance of 52.9 miles in 58mins, a very creditable performance.
There then followed the most remarkable
section of the run, from Exeter to Pylle Hill Junction, where the 74.9 miles
were covered in a time of 64 ¼ mins. On this section of the run a claim was
made by a well-known train performance recorder of the day, C. J. Rous-Marten,
for a maximum speed of 102.3mph, reached on the descent of the Wellington Bank.
Rous-Marten, who took details of the run,
it has always been insisted, was required by the authoriti.es not to disclose
details for fear of alarming the public. His records were however subsequently
made public, but it appears that full details had already been disclosed of the
run, the day following, in the Western Daily Mercury, and replete with a
further claim for a speed of 100mph achieved between Whiteball Summit and
Whatever the reasons for publishing or
not publishing such details, it is now generally accepted that the three figure
barrier was broken with this train, on the run referred to. The mails special was also followed on that
occasion by a passenger special, in competition with a South Western special from
Plymouth, Stonehouse Pool to Waterloo. The
GWR train made the run from Plymouth to Paddington in 264 mins, just 32mins
slower than its record-breaking predecessor, and with a decidedly heavier
As a result of these spectacular high-speed runs, emanating from the competition for traffic with the LSWR, the Great Western instituted regular non- stop services between Paddington and Plymouth on July 1st 1904. This entirely new express service was booked to cover the distance, via the Bristol avoiding lines, in 4hrs 25mins; ultimately it became known as the “Cornish Riviera Express” – Which of course it has been known as ever since.
If there was ever a reason to refer to diesel and electric locos. as tin boxes on wheels, then surely this class was the ideal example. Mind you, the EM2s were only a development of’ their smaller, EM1 (Bo-Bo) brethren of 1950, which in turn were designed by the LNER even before nationalisation. This company had plans to electrify the former Great Central Railway route over the Pennines from Manchester to Sheffield, through the Woodhead Tunnel. But, delayed by WWII, amongst other things, the project was not completed untilthe1950s, under British Railways guidance.
The Bo-Bo predecessors of Pandora were based on a design from the LNER, before nationalisation. Here, 26054 “Pluto” is seen in BR days at Sheffield – complete with the early yellow warning panel. The original loco 26000, was built in 1941, and the remainder – 57 more – were intended for freight service over the electrified Wood Head route through the Pennines.Photo” RPBradley Collection
The EM2’s were all built at Gorton in 1954, and were then the most powerful locomotives in operation anywhere on B.R. – I am ignoring the two gas turbine prototypes of course, since these were only experimental. The Class’ predecessors, the EM1s were 1868hp, and intended for mixed traffic duties, and although the Co-Co development could be seen on such workings, these seven locos. were primarily passenger types. Their ‘substantial’ construction was undoubtedly responsible for the low power/weight ratio, and this general heaviness in appearance is noticeable in any photograph.
Construction of the mechanical parts was carried out at Gorton, with Metropolitan-Vickers supplying the electrical equipment. The first locomotive, No. 27000, entered service in February 1954, working instructional and test trips between Wath and Wombwell Exchange, and Trafford Park to Wath. The catenary was finally energized over the Woodhead route from Manchester to Sheffield, including the opening of the new Woodhead Tunnel, by mid 1954.
Construction, basically, with these early electric locos., involved a superstructure divided into three compartments, with driving cabs at either end, separated by a control compartment containing resistances and other H.T. equipment, such as motor generators, traction motor blowers etc. A pantograph was mounted in the roof well at each end of the locomotive. Since, of course, only steam heating was provided on the available rolling stock an oil-fired boiler was fitted. The corridor running along one side of the locomotive, not only gave access between the driving cabs but, also to the separate high tension, and resistance compartments, through an interlocking door. The body was not designed as a load bearing structure, and consequently, a hefty underframe was provided, built up with rolled steel sections, and extensively cross braced to support the body and equipment. Buffing and drawgear was mounted on the underframe – not following the trend set by the S.R. diesels, in having these items attached to the bogie.
BR Weight Diagram of Class EM2
The bogies themselves were also quite heavily built structures, fabricated from steel sections, with a double bolster carried on two cast steel cross stays. The weight of the body was carried through spherical bearers and leaf springs supported by swing links from the bogie cross stays. The equalising beams were fitted inside the bogie frames, on top of the axle boxes, and in addition, of course a 415hp traction motor was hung from each axle, driving the wheels through spur gearing.
Electro-pneumatic control equipment was fitted, and was more or less conventional for d.c. traction, and indeed, similar arrangements are still used on most modern locomotives, including the latest designs. On the EM2, and other d.c. rolling stock, the traction motors are first arranged in series for starting, an intermediate stage of two parallel groups of three motors in series, and finally, three parallel groups of three motors in series for normal running.
Under running conditions, the traction motors were designed to act as generators - regenerative braking – through the Westinghouse supplied straight air, and air controlled vacuum brake for engine and train. Compressed air for the brakes from the Westinghouse compressor also operated the electro-pneumatic controls, sanding gear, and the “Pneuphonic” horns.
In operation, the locomotives were housed in the newly constructed depot at Reddish, and in company with the smaller EM1 Bo-Bo must have presented a considerable contrast to steam traction in the early days of the MSW electrification. The problem of declining cross country traffic, 25kV a.c., Beeching, et al, to say nothing of B.R.’s National Traction Plan, led to the sale of this small class to the Netherlands Railways (NS), in 1969.
Here, they remained in everyday use on inter-city services, as NS class ‘1500’. However, only six remained in use in the early 1980s, since 27005 was scrapped in 1969/70 to be used for spares, and due to traffic increases on the Dutch railways, many of the older loco. types, including the EM2’s had their working life extended. Overhauls and repairs put back their planned withdrawal until 1985/6, instead of 1981/ 2.
In BR days they were initially treated to a modified mixed traffic livery, as applied to steam locomotives. The modification in fact being the addition of a thin red line marking out the bodyside panels and cab front, with the lion and wheel emblem in the centre bodysides, and running numbers under each cab side window. Bogies and underframe were, naturally black. Later, steam loco. express passenger green was used, and the panelling was lined out in orange and black, with the 1956 style of lion and wheel crest, and nameplates attached to the bodysides. They were finally, before their sale, classified as ’77’ by the TOPS classification scheme, though of course, they did not last long enough to carry the TOPS running numbers, which first began to appear in 1972/3.
1954 (as new):
27000 – 27006, 9C Reddish
27000 – 27006, 9C Reddish
Class EM2 Co-Co – Names & Current Status:
Their healthy service life in the Netherlands, which, in the 1970s included passenger trains between Den Haag and Venlo, and freight services from Rotterdam Kijfhoek yard to Roosendaal, the arrival of new ‘1600’ class locos in the early 1980s brought that to a close. The first two of the six in service – ‘Pandora’ and ‘Aurora’ were scrapped in February 1985, and ‘Juno’ in October the following year.
No fewer than three of the class have been preserved as representatives of the early BR plans to electrify main lines on the 1,500V dc system. One of the class – ‘Diana’ – is preserved in the Netherlands, where it is still possible to run rail tours, whilst the other two are essentially static displays at the Midland Railway Centre and Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry. That said, the EM2 Locomotive Society rescued ‘Electra’ and restored it to working order, and it had a number of successful tours in the Netherlands, before its return to the UK, to its present home in Butterley.
“Ariadne” seen in October 2018 at the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry, sporting her final colour scheme as used when in service with Netherlands Railways (Nederlandse Spoorwegen). Photo: Rodger Bradley
Back in the 1950s, when British Railways was beginning work on the “Modernisation & Re-Equipment Programme” – effectively the changeover from steam to diesel and electric traction – the focus in the diesel world was mainly between high and medium speed engines.
On top of which, there was a practical argument to support hydraulic versus electric transmission technology – for main line use, mechanical transmission was never a serious contender.
The first main line diesels had appeared in the very last days before nationalisation, and the choice of prime mover was shaped to a great extent by the experience of private industry, and English Electric in particular. The railway workshops had little or no experience in the field, and the better known steam locomotive builders had had some less than successful attempts to offer examples of the new diesel locomotives.
In Britain, the changeover from steam to electric traction became a very hit and miss affair during the 1950s and 1960s. Orders for the rail industry, and especially the locomotive industries, was subordinate to the railway workshops – which in the ‘experimental’ years received the lion’s share of the work. That said, the supply chain included companies like English Electric and Metropolitan Vickers, who had had considerable experience in non-steam traction, especially in export orders.
Examples operated in British Railways experimental period between 1948 and 1956 was powered by ‘heavy oil engines’ – the use of the word ‘diesel’ seemed to be frowned on by the professional press in some quarters. The few main line types that had been built were based around medium speed, 4-stroke power units, with complex valve gear, and perhaps over-engineered mechanical components. Power to weight ratios were poor.
In the USA in particular, where fuel oil and lubricating oil costs were much less of a challenge for the railroads, 2-stroke diesel engines were common, with much higher power to weight ratios, but equally higher fuel costs. Indeed, the Fairbaks-Morse company had designed and built opposed piston engines, long before English Electric’s ‘Deltic’ prototype appeared.
A fascinating glimpse into the workings of the 2-stroke ‘Deltic’ engines. In this animation, the source of the power unit’s name as an inverted Greek letter ‘Delta’ is perhaps more obvious.
Eventually, BR produced its modernisation plan, and included numerous diesel types, for operation and haulage of the very different services in all regions of the UK – they were dominated by medium speed 4-strokes, and only two examples of the 2-stroke design. The two examples were at opposite ends of the league – both in terms of operational success – and perhaps in the application of the 2-stroke to rail traction.
They remained the only two examples in main line use until the 1980s/1990s, when as a result of privatisation of rail services, many more 2-stroke powered examples were ordered and delivered from the major manufacturers in the USA. It may be though, that this technology will see only a brief life, as further electrification, and other technology changes take place.
This is just a brief overview of some aspects; please click on the image below for a few more thoughts:
Three years after nationalisation in 1951, the first of a new range of standard steam locomotives took to the rails, only 6 years after the end of the Second World War, and in the same year as the ‘Festival of Britain’. The post-war years were marked by shortages – not just of food and everyday items – but also by shortages of labour and the raw materials for industry.
Britain was still operating a rail system dependent on steam and coal, but was also casting an eye to the adoption of oil, and new power systems to rebuild its railway network, and its locomotive stock. Many of the steam types still in use were well past pension age, and had been designed for specific routes and operating requirements of their previous owners.
Standardisation of components, and other aspects of design and construction had been pursued most strongly by he GWR and LMS, whilst others such as the LNER and Southern Railway had pursued a more varied path. The Southern in particular was probably the most radical and innovative of the ‘Big Four’ in the years leading up to nationalisation.
E.S. Cox, was Executive Officer (Design), Railway Executive and in a paper he presented to the Institution of Locomotive Engineers made this comment about standardisation:
“Partial standardisation was effected during World War II with the L.M.S. Stanier 2-8-0’s which were built and run by the four main line The Austerity 2-8-0’s of Mr. Riddles’ design are also an example of the overall standardisation.”
The design process from 1948 onwards included – of course – the Interchange Trials’– which helped develop both the overall design principles, and detailed assessment of the performance of key components and sub-assemblies. Then, in 1951, 12 steam types were announced that would provide almost universal route availability across British Railways, but where an existing design met those requirements, it would be adapted into what became the BR ‘Standard’ designs. The Class 4MT 2-6-0 tender design came in at design No. 7 in the original plans:
The list above shows that the subject of this little overview was not even provided with a number range, or quantity at this stage. It was to be introduced in 1952, with Doncaster as the parent office for its design, and building of the eventual 115 locomotives would take place there, and at Horwich Works. There were 11 batches – constructed between December 1952 and October 1957 – but although Doncaster was awarded orders E395 (76020-4) in 1952, E396 (76025-34), part of this last order (76030-34) was built at Derby. In 1954, Doncaster was given order E397 (76035-44), but these too were transferred to Derby.
Horwich had the honour of building the first of the class – 76000 in December 1952, and the last to be built, 76099, was also outshopped in November 1957, despite Doncaster turning out the last numbered member (76114) the previous month.
However, it still begs the question why the class were ever needed, given that its design was very much based on Ivatt’s last 2-6-0 design for the LMS, since no fewer than 82 of that design were built by Doncaster and Darlington between 1948 and 1952. At least it made sense to give Doncaster the prestige of being the parent office for the design of this BR version.
All four of the class rescued for preservation were built at Horwich Works, and those that are operational carry the standard BR lined black livery:
Click on the image below to follow the story in a little more depth.