Depot News – week ending 18-Apr-21

Depot News – week ending 18-Apr-21

The BIG NEWS this week is that our new booklet, “D1010 WESTERN CAMPAIGNER – FROM MEREHEAD TO MINEHEAD” has been published and we have started shipping out against the advance orders that have been building up since we first put the booklet on our website.


This new A4 glossy booklet comprising 72 printed pages and 72 photographs (64 in colour, 8 monochrome) has been produced by Mark Townsend using content from Bob Tiller and Paul Tucker, with features provided by Roger Geach, Neale Long and Gordon Crook. There are many previously unpublished photos that have been provided by the authors and also by Bernard Mills, Steve Marshall, Kelvin Lumb, Don Bishop, Barry Gay, Jon Tooke, John Kite and Chris Shields.

We would like to thank each and every contributor for the time and effort that they have put into helping us produce this booklet. Thank you all !

The cost of producing the booklet has been covered by the revenue from the advance orders, so from now onwards, ALL OF THE PURCHASE PRICE goes directly to the fund for the restoration of D1010 so PLEASE BUY A COPY AND SUPPORT D1010 !

Special thanks go out to Mark Townsend for his tireless effort in promoting all aspects of sales and marketing for the DEPG and for his huge contribution to the production of this booklet.



Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 is going to be in action next week, although a light engine move from Williton (WN) to Bishops Lydeard (BL) that was scheduled for Saturday 18th was disrupted by an issue elsewhere on the line, so the movement took place on Sunday 19th instead. The loco is rostered to operate on engineering trains that will travel from BL to WN then on to Minehead and back during Tuesday, Wednesday and also on Thursday 20-22 April, gathering permanent way materials and delivering them to other places along the line. This has been briefed via our DIESELGEN email bulletin service (the Thursday running is new information).

Class 47 number 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ – Further progress has been made on the list of tasks that need to be completed on this loco before she will be able to have a test run. Last weekend, Ian and Tom made a start on the inspection and maintenance of the auxilliary electrical machines, a list that includes the compressors, exhausters and traction motor blowers. These plus some other smaller machines all need to be cleaned, inspected and adjusted as necessary to ensure that they are ready for service.

Meanwhile, Leroy, Gordon and Roy were working on the external aspects, giving attention to re-fitting some bodyside parts that had been removed for the body repair and re-painting. The nameplates were also trial-fitted on one side, finding the bolt holes being a trial in itself. Luckily, Gordon is an expert, having changed the nameplates on D1010 many times!.

DEPG volunteer Gordon diverted from his usual work on D1010 to perform a trial fitment of the nameplate for 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’, now adorned with a red background, as was the case when the loco wore the BR blue livery in the 1970s. Photo taken at Williton on 10th April 2021 by Ian Robins © CC BY-NC 3.0


Our ‘celebrity’ Class 47 is famous for a number of reasons – first, she was one of a small number of ‘standard Type 4’ locomotives that were adorned with names by the Western Region of BR in March 1965. Later, when repainted in BR corporate blue livery, she continued drawing attention to herself by carrying a non-standard version of that livery throughout a period when anything ‘non-standard’ was being eliminated.

The loco started life in two-tone green with small yellow warning panels, as was her livery in recent times when working on the WSR as D1661. In 1973, when she was repainted from green to blue by the staff at Old Oak Common, the BR ‘double arrow’ logo was not applied. This strange omission carried on for several years of running and was still not corrected at a subsequent repaint. However, the following year (1976) saw her brought back into line with the standard livery applied. If you have photos from this period, please reply to this email or contact us because we are trying to build a gallery of photos for this loco and would welcome your help.

Class 47 number 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ in blue livery without the BR logo is seen powering through Reading towards Paddington on 1st September 1975. Photo by Martin Addison © CC BY-NC 3.0


There are several photos on the Class47 website, but not enough to be able to determine the exact dates of the livery changes. Here’s a link to the gallery on the Class47 website:

Another reason that our loco is famous is because she was chosen to haul the very last scheduled loco-hauled cross-country service on 19th August 2002, the 1M56 08:46 from Penzance to Manchester, paired with 47 847. The event was filmed by Locomaster Profiles and is available on DVD via this link:

Class 47 D1661/47077/47613/47840 ‘NORTH STAR’ leading 47847 on the very last scheduled loco-hauled cross-country service, the 1M56 from Penzance, seen pausing at Stafford en route Manchester on 19th August 2002. Photo by Julien Weston © CC BY-NC 3.0


Our loco has carried four running numbers during her time in mainline service. Introduced as D1661 in February 1965, she was named ‘NORTH STAR’ on the 20th March 1965 at a ceremony at Paddington by the then Minister of Labour, Ray Gunter. The loco then departed for Bristol where sister loco D1662 (who would work the train back to Paddington) was named ‘ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL’, surely the outright winner of the “longest ever nameplates award”, were there to be such a thing ? No, believe it or not, that title went to one of her sister locos! (more on this next week).

An extract from ‘Modern Railways’ magazine dated May 1965 shows two locomotives that received their names on 20th March 1965. This was in the tradition of the Great Western Railway but a somewhat defiant gesture that was in opposition to the developing corporate image of the new ‘British Rail’. Photos by BR and B Stephenson, courtesy of Ian Allan Publishing.


After naming, the new ‘NORTH STAR’ worked to Bristol along the very line that had been conceived and built by IKB and worked by the original ‘NORTH STAR’, the first steam loco to operate on the Great Western Railway. This famous loco had been built by Robert Stephenson & Co. in 1837 and modified for the broad gauge under the direction of Daniel Gooch (later Sir Daniel Gooch), the 20-year old ‘Superintendent of Locomotive Engines’ that had been recruited by Brunel from Stephenson’s own firm !

A replica of 2-2-2 ‘NORTH STAR’ of 1837, built in 1923 from some parts from the original locomotive and now on display at the STEAM museum in Swindon. The original loco nameplate and worksplate is also depicted. Photos by Geof Sheppard © CC BY-NC 3.0


Then, after the end of steam on BR in August 1968, the ‘D’ prefix became redundant and locos across the country starting having their ‘D’ prefixes peeled off or painted out. Our loco became ‘1661’ while still green and continued to carry that number when first repainted into BR blue. Then, in February 1974, our loco became 47077 under the new TOTAL OPERATIONS PROCESSING SYSTEM (TOPS) that was being introduced to bring BR into the computer age.

This changed to 47613 in 1984 when our loco was fitted with Electric Train Heating (ETH, ETS) to be able to power the air-conditioned coaches of the day. The final change was to 47840 in November 1989, after being fitted with long range fuel tanks to facilitate cross-country working on the full length of the northeast-southwest route. Here’s a link to a photo that was taken immediately after conversion from steam-heat to electric-heat capability:

After completing 43 years of mainline service, ‘NORTH STAR’ was acquired by the DEPG and was refurbished by Brush in Loughborough before working a mainline charter from Derby to Minehead on the 28th May 2007, culminating in a handover ceremony that took place on the platform at Minehead station. After eleven years of work on the WSR, the loco was suffering from severe corrosion in several areas of her roof, resulting in water leaks that caused damage to her bodywork, so she was ‘stopped’ in 2018 and has been undergoing restoration since that time. She is due to emerge in her new identity as 47077 at the end of this month.

The DEPG’s celebrity Class 47 D1661 ‘NORTH STAR’ on WSR metals at Longlands Bridge for the first time on 28th May 2007 as she heads towards Minehead and preservation! Pictured with 47828 and 45112, the motive power that will return the charter to Derby later in the day. Photo by Steve Edge © CC BY-NC 3.0


Other than reported above, the status of our locos remains unchanged due to the restrictions that were in place throughout last weekend. Many thanks to all of our volunteers for their continuing dedication to keeping our locomotives in the best condition possible.


ON SHED: Last week, we shared an atmospheric shot of D1010 at the fuelling point at Bristol Bath Road depot, with just over one year to go before the end of the Class on BR. Here’s another view from that same day, showing the numberplate that had lost two of the cast aluminium numerals  – the missing two being painted on. The original ‘D’ prefix had long since been removed, leaving the plate somewhat out of balance.

D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ with only the last two cast aluminium digits remaining attached on her numberplate (the first two being painted on) stands at the fuelling point at Bristol Bath Road depot on a dismal day in January 1976. Photo by Bob Tiller © CC BY-NC 3.0


DEPG NEWS: In the true spirit of heritage diesel group co-operation, the DEPG is donating a spare heat exchanger to the Diesel Traction Group (DTG) for installation on D1015 ‘WESTERN CHAMPION’. The heat exchanger is actually from a Class 56 but shares the same core with the Class 52 ‘Western’. This will allow the DTG to get D1015 up and running much more quickly and will allow them to have their defective unit refurbished as a non-urgent (and therefore less expensive) task and held as a spare for the future.

A heat exchanger from a Class 56 sits in front of ‘Hymek’ D7018 at Williton Diesel Depot on 15th April 2021, awaiting transportation to the DTG at Kidderminster for use in D1015 ‘WESTERN CHAMPION’. Photo by Natalie Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0


WSR NEWS: The WSR have started their traincrew training activities with steam haulage being the priority to ensure that everything is ready for the return of public services on Saturday 22nd May 2021. These services will run between Bishops Lydeard and Williton and must be pre-booked via the WSR website. Please try to support the WSR to ensure that these services are a commercial success.

A recent announcement from the WSR is the appointment of Bob Meanley as Director (Mechanical Engineering) and John Gibbins as Civil Engineering Adviser. It is great to hear that Bob will be returning to the WSR and we look forward to welcoming John in his new role as well. The announcement from the WSR gives more details. Click this link to view the announcement: WSR Board Appointments 16APR21


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