Group History
The Group was formed in 1972 to promote interest in the modern railway scene.
Back then it was known as the Diesel and Electric Group and did various things
including producing books and a magazine called ‘Inter-City Express’. The
magazine was one of the first to cater for diesel enthusiasts.

The start of the Diesel and Electric Group's move to loco preservation happened
aboard the railtour held to commemorate the end of the Hymek locos. The Hymek
Swansong’ was booked to run on Saturday 22nd September 1973. The route was
London Paddington to Hereford returning via Didcot. This allowed time to visit the
steam centres at Hereford and Didcot for any steam enthusiasts in case there werenâ
€™t enough Diesel enthusiasts to fill the tour. In any case the tour sold out.

Utilising D7001 and D7028 the day went well. On the train a group of travellers
including D +E.G members had the vision to decide that they should save a Hymek.
The idea materialised, details and monies being quickly collected. In July 1975
D7017 was purchased and towed to Taunton before being transferred to Minehead
on the West Somserset Railway on 25th March 1976. The first train she hauled on
the railway was the Quantock Flyer on the 19th March 1977.

In 1979 the Group left Minehead for Williton and the former goods shed was taken
over.  Work was done to extend the shed to accommodate D7017 and other work
was carried out to improve the building.

In 1977 D7018 was offered to the Group. By May the transfer of ownership had
taken place and the loco was duly moved to Didcot- the other base of the D + E.G.
There was much work to do to D7018 including the engine being removed and
repaired. The loco ran for the first time in preservation in August 1985. This meant
the Group had locos based in two places- Williton and Didcot.

Class 14-D9526 was the next loco to be acquired by the Group in 1980 from a
cement company in Westbury. Much work was done over a four year restoration
and the loco entered service on the 14th July 1984. This loco went to Williton.

In 1982 the Group bought the Park Royal Class 103 DMU from the West Somerset
Railway the idea being to overhaul it to support the railway. The Group overhauled
it and returned it to the company for use on the railway for two years until she was
made surplus to requirements.

In 1985 the Didcot team approached Foster Yeoman with a view to returning
Western D1010 (the loco was disguised as D1035 Western Yeoman) stored at
Merehead on static display, to working condition. Foster Yeoman agreed to a three
year management deal which would see the loco returned to working order within
this time. Following work to enable the loco to be moved on the mainline she was
towed to Didcot where restoration work began. In May 1987 she moved for the first
time in preservation under her own power on one engine. The custody agreement
was extended and in 1993 the loco was purchased by the Group.

1986 saw the group become formally responsible for Williton Goods shed with
security of tenure which allowed the group to invest and develop the site. This made
the site ready to receive D7018 and D1010 from Didcot which happened in 1991
following the decision to focus all the resources on the Williton site.

In 1987 the Group changed its name to the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group
and in 1988 following changes made to it's constitution it became a registered
charity.

In Christmas 1990 D1010 left Didcot for Williton via Cardiff Canton and Merehead.
D7018 was soon to follow in June ‘91 arriving at Williton on 18th September
ending our residence with the Great Western Society Railway Centre at Didcot.
D7018 entered service on the WSR during the spring diesel gala of March ’92.

In August 1995 D7018 suffered a major engine failure in traffic. The loco is presently
receiving  a major overhaul.

In the mid nineties Group resources were used to construct a purpose built
maintenance shed on site which was completed in November 1997. In 1997 a second
application was made to the Heritage Lottery Commission to construct an
educational visitor centre and help equip the new depot. This bid was successful and
following four years of hard work the Heritage Diesel Visitor Centre was completed
in 2002.

In 1997 we were donated two Brush Bagnall 0-4-0 Diesel Electric master and slave
locos by British Steel,  Port Talbot . Cosmetically restored master loco no. 501 is
currently on display in the Heritage Diesel Visitor Centre whilst slave no. 512 is
stored .

As well as our own locomotives, the Group currently cares for five locomotives that
are privately owned. Three of the five are owned by Dr. John Kennedy, a leading
railway preservationist, his locomotives being Class 03 DM D2119, Class 08 DE
D3462 and Class 25 D7523. The locomotives arrived at Williton in non-operational
condition in 1996 and over the last eight years each has been restored to operational
condition. All three have seen active service with the West Somerset Railway,
currently D3462 serves as the Bishops Lydeard Station pilot and the class 25
provides support to the steam engine fleet and undertakes winter infrastructure
duties.

The forth privately owned loco is 33048/D6566 purchased by one of our founder
members, Clive Burrows in 1997. The loco is used by the railway being employed on
many out of course workings and more recently a lot of the excellent ‘Fish and
Chip Specials’. The loco has proved a real winner and is very popular with the
operating department.

Finally the most recent loco arrival was DH16- a chain driven sentinel shunter
purchased by volunteer/member Colin Girlie. The loco has been restored to an
excellent standard from a wreck condition and is now usefully employed as one of
the Williton pilots.
In addition the Group also owns a few freight vehicles for use on the railway with a
former BR 20 ton brakevan currently under restoration at the depot.

We had many events occur during 2003 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Group,
April saw the return to service of D9526 following an eight year restoration project
in which the loco was totally stripped down and then in September on Sunday the
21st we celebrated in style with a special train hauled by D7017. The day before the
Western was out hauling an extra long service train. Here’s to the next 30 years!


DEPG Archive News Snippets:

This piece provides some brief snippets of early diesel news from 1978-1986. The
second part of this brief history from 1986 onwards will be added soon.

A detailed group history is provided in the ‘history’ section however lets just
recap the Groups early events on the West Somerset Railway. In July 1975 D7017
was purchased and towed to Taunton before being transferred to Minehead on 25th
March 1976. The first train she hauled on the railway was the Quantock Flyer on the
19th March 1977.  The other half of the DEPG was based at Didcot, this article
covers the Williton division.

1978

On the 7th May a ‘Gala Day’ was held. The group provided D7017 to work
one round trip from Minehead-Williton with six coaches. In addition the Railway
ran a diesel railcar on the Williton-Stogumber section of the line, the first time a
passenger train had traversed this section since BR closed the line. At this time loco
hauled operations were limited to the Minehead-Williton section due to lack of run
round facilities at Stogumber and the rest of the line from Stogumber-Norton
Fitzwarren receiving work to make it ready for passenger operation.

1979

Around June the line from Stogumber-Norton Fitzwarren was passed for passenger
operation. D7017 first traversed this section on a passenger train on the 9th June
standing in for ‘Vulcan’ on the 1035 from Minehead during a ‘Gala
Weekend’. The following day saw D7017 work the 09:40 Bishops Lydeard-
Minehead as part of it’s diagram. The Group left Minehead for a new base of
Williton this year.

1980

Saw the Group acquire Class 14 D9526.
1980 also saw the arrival of a Class 07 D2994. This locomotive was used regularly on
the railway for a range of mixed traffic duties. This unusual locomotive had a 275
bhp Paxman 6RPH V6 engine in it.

1981

Work was carried out on D7017’s engine to improve performance over the
Winter whilst work continued on stripping down D9526 during overhaul. Early June
saw ‘Railway Power Services’ purchase Class 14 D9551 From BSC Corby for
immediate use on the railway. It’s first solo return trip from Minehead-Bishops
Lydeard was on the 7th June with three coaches in tow. The loco was owned by a
consortium of DEPG and WSR members who formed RPS. The loco was put on
standby duties for Steam and DMU trains on the railway. The ‘Quantock
Pullman’ first class dining train (forerunner to todays Quantock Belle service)
was often Class 14 hauled on a Saturday during the Winter of 81/82.
October the 10th saw a diesel day with Hymek and Class 14 hauled trains. In
addition the Class 07 was used for shunting demonstrations.

1982

January saw the Group celebrate its 10th birthday.
The Group launched a preservation fund to save a Park Royal DMU for use by the
railway following restoration work.
February 20th saw one of the heaviest service trains to date run. The train was nine
coaches in length and was Hymek hauled.
May saw privately owned Class 04 diesel shunter D2271 move onto the railway from
Butterley.
In July D7017 underwent general repairs following the discovery of a fractured
transmission heat exchanger. Frost was to blame. Work was also undertaken on
D9551 to carry out minor repairs to a defective exhauster and repaint the loco in
green.

1983

Class 14 D9551 re-entered service on the 26th March and worked the railways â
€˜shareholders special’ for the benefit of those attending the annual general
meeting. In addition the locomotive took part in the ‘Easter Fair and Transport
Rally’ held on the railway, the first special event for three years. The Class 07
was also in use.
The Park Royal DMU was repainted restoring its worn green livery this year. Much
work including engine replacement would be required to get the unit running again.
Work continued on D9526 and repairs to D7017.
Class 04 D2271 carried out a trial run in October from Williton-Stogumber. The
locomotive received much work by the owner at Williton to make it ready for traffic.
October work week saw repairs to D7017’s control circuits.

1984

During the previous season Class 14 D9551 clocked up 1816 miles partly through
working twelve ‘Qauntock Belle’ dining trains. The locomotive continued to
see regular use for the railway throughout the season working permanent way or
engineering trains.
During spring work week in Spring 1984 D9526 was given test runs in preperation
for re-launch during a Diesel Weekend held on the 14th/15th July that year. D7017
was also in action over this weekend carrying out three round trips.  The Sunday of
the Diesel Weekend saw Class 14 D9551 pair up with sister loco D9526 for a double
headed working on the 18:10 Minehead-Bishops Lydeard. Class 04 D2271 and Class
07 D2994 were paired up also over this weekend to work Minehead-Dunster shuttle
trips using the Park Royal DMU as the stock for this train. October the 7th  saw
D9526 and D9551 work a special train that traversed the Bishops Lydeard-Norton
Fitzwarren section of the line. This was the first loco hauled working over this
section since a Hymek hauled a Butlins charter train in 1970.

1985

By Spring the Park Royal DMUs engines were nearly ready for installation back into
the unit. The Class 07 D2994 was given a repaint and overhaul this year following
five years continuous use. On Sunday 28th July the Park Royal DMU moved for the
first time under its own power for four and half years. The unit carried out a â
€˜faultless’ test run from Williton-Bishops Lydeard.
Over in Didcot on the 24th August Hymek D7018 was started up for the first time
following a major engine overhaul. Summer ‘85’s Journal reports Hymek
D7018 as having had a full re-paint prior to an appearance at the Great Western
Railways 150th Anniversary celebrations in Swindon. D9526 also attended the event.
In October of this year a Sentinel Diesel Hydraulic Shunter was purchased by a band
of Williton volunteers from Stanton Iron Works in the Midlands. The locomotive
was based at Williton and following restoration was used on works trains and as a
yard pilot.
During December Class 14 D9551 failed while working a Santa Special train.

1986

During early January an old aircraft hanger was offered to the group at Doniford
Holiday Camp. The condition of having the hanger was that the Group had to
dismantle the building and move it to Williton. This was done over many weeks but
the components stored back on site at Williton.
This page is here to outline some of the key events in the groups
history.
ARCHIVE FILES COURTESY OF PAUL TUCKER RECENTLY ADDED- DEC 2012