This weekend, we celebrate 45 years since the close of the ‘diesel-hydraulic’ era on British Railways, because the very last diesel-hydraulic-hauled passenger service in BR ownership was the ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour that drew to a halt at Paddington at precisely 23.35 on Saturday 26th February 1977 after a marathon 628-mile round trip from Paddington to Swansea to Plymouth and back to Paddington. The special was hauled by D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ and D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ in tandem and was shadowed by D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ and D1048 ‘WESTERN LADY’ in case of trouble with the booked locomotives, but the backups were not called upon because everything went to plan.
D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ leads D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ as the pair perform a repositioning manoeuvre at Plymouth station to attach to the other end of their train for the return leg of the ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour. The overcrowded platform and ramp show the strength of support that caused every seat to be filled on the many railtours that were organised to mark the end of the diesel-hydraulic era. The final date for Class 52 operations was Saturday 26th February 1977, when only four locomotives remained in service. Photo by Barry Lewis via Wikimedia © CC BY-NC 3.0
In this poignant photograph, D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ leads D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ as the pair stand at Paddington station having brought the return leg of the ‘WESTERN TRIBUTE’ railtour back from Swansea via Plymouth. The 628-mile triangular trip went entirely to plan and signified the absolute end of the diesel-hydraulic era. The date was Saturday 26th February 1977. Photo by Barry Lewis via Wikimedia © CC BY-NC 3.0
The euphoria of the outbound legs of the journey cooled as the railtour made its way towards Plymouth where the train reversed for the final leg to Paddington. Long-term DEPG (initially D+EG) member Gary Lemon was on board the ‘TRIBUTE’ and he summed it all up as follows:
” I did do the ‘Tribute’ but there was an air of gloom on the return as it suddenly dawned on us that this was ‘it’. “
The railtour arrived at Paddington at 2335 and the empty coaching stock was removed shortly afterwards so that the two locos could leave Brunel’s terminus and return to Old Oak Common depot for the last time. These four remaining ‘WESTERNS’ were withdrawn from BR service on Sunday 28th February 1977, bringing to a close the era of mainline diesel-hydraulics that had started with North-British ‘Warship’ Class 41 D600 ‘ACTIVE’ on 24th January 1958, just 19 years earlier.
Luckily, we still have all four of the final survivors in preservation plus three more that had been withdrawn before the very end but had been reserved for preservation, including D1062 ‘WESTERN COURIER’, D1041 ‘WESTERN PRINCE’ and mainline registered D1015 ‘WESTERN CHAMPION’.
Last week, we covered the ‘WESTERN REQUIEM’ railtour and mistakenly reported that this had been the penultimate railtour when in fact it was the antepenultimate because the hastily-arranged ‘WESTERN LAMENT’ railtour ran on Thursday 24th February 1977 during which D1048 ‘WESTERN LADY’ hauled her train of ‘WESTERN’ fans from Paddington to Castle Cary via Newbury, where the train reversed and returned to Paddington via Frome, Westbury, Trowbridge and Swindon.
D1048 ‘WESTERN LADY’ worked the ‘WESTERN LAMENT’ railtour from Paddington to Castle Cary via Newbury, returning via Swindon. This was the penultimate passenger working for the Class. Pictured on Thursday 24th February 1977 at Frome station by Barry Lewis via Wikimedia © CC BY-NC 3.0
The story of D1010’s swansong performance on the ‘WESTERN REQUIEM RELIEF’ that ran on Sunday 13th February 1977 is told by Neale Long in our booklet ‘D1010 – FROM MEREHEAD to MINEHEAD’, available from our online store.
VERY IMPORTANT DATES FOR YOUR DIARY – the WSR’s 2022 DIESEL GALA will take place from Thursday 9th through Saturday 11th June 2022, so keep these dates free and make a plan to attend ! Click this link to the WSR website to view the dates for other WSR events that are planned for 2022.
Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ – this weekend, we had a team of six working on the loco bodywork to pick up the pace as we progress along the loco from ‘B’ end towards ‘A’ end (nearest the yard doors). The below view from the mezzanine floor shows the extent of the work that is taking place on both D1010 and D9518. It looks like Swindon Works has been reincarnated !
D1010 and D9518 undergoing overhauls side-by-side in the loco shed at Williton and together recreating a scene more reminiscent of Swindon Works in the heydays of the diesel-hydraulics. This picture was taken from the mezzanine floor at Williton on Saturday 26th February 2022 by Jon Tooke © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – Roy applies zinc phosphate primer to the prepared metal surface as the first of many steps that will be involved in the restoration of the loco’s original maroon livery. Pictured at Williton on 26th February 2022 by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
D1010 – the ‘B’ end of the loco shows the progress and gives a hint of what the bufferbeam of the restored loco is going to look like when her original livery is applied. Pictured at Williton on 27th February 2022 by Leroy Ford © CC BY-NC 3.0
Last week, we launched our CAMPAIGN for CAMPAIGNER by offering ‘SPONSOR A PATCH’ where you can donate in support of the bodywork repairs that are taking place on D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’ and HAVE YOUR NAME ENGRAVED ON THE SPONSORED PATCH or PART.
For the sum of £25, this scheme offers you a chance to sponsor the restoration of this much-loved locomotive, with your personal contribution being recorded and documented on a set of drawings that will be made available at our Williton depot on running days and open days. For those who prefer to remain anonymous, a unique reference number will be allocated and engraved instead.
See our CAMPAIGN for CAMPAIGNER web page for more details !
Sponsor a Patch on D1010£25.00
We have had a great start to this campaign, so please help us keep up the momentum to get this loco back into working order as quickly as possible.
NOTE: EVERYONE WHO HAS ALREADY DONATED £25 OR MORE SINCE JULY 2021 WILL BE RECOGNISED and will be allocated an appropriate area on one of the patches or parts that have already been applied to the loco. Donations of smaller sums that accumulate to £25 are also eligible. Use our CONTACT FORM if you want to register your previous donations to D1010 for this campaign.
Class 33 D6566 (33 048) – this loco is currently at Williton and received an underframe cleanup from Ian and Tom in preparation for taking up duties as a standby loco for the WSR.
Class 33 D6575 (33 057) – this loco is the WSR duty loco and is currently at Bishops Lydeard, and is ready for action.
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 – the batteries were charged and the pre-heater was run in preparation for an engine start, but the pre-heater did not run properly so the required water temperature was not achieved. The engine start was abandoned and has been postponed until the pre-heater has received some attention (probably next weekend).
Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 – the batteries were charged and the engine was pre-heated in preparation for an engine start so that the loco could exercise in the yard and perform a shunt to move the Brake Van to a different position. The engine started instantly and ran cleanly within seconds, showing the advantages of a pre-heated startup. The two short video clips below allow us to share the sights and sounds from that bright and sunny spring-like afternoon. Click on the images to start the video clips:
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9518 – the core members of the Class 14 restoration team were attending footplate crew training at Minehead this weekend so we don’t have the usual number of photographs, but progress on this restoration project has been spread out over multiple days, including some work that had been done off site.
D9518 – more parts have been reassembled onto the locomotive frames, including this substantial piece of steelwork that will support the cooler group. Pictured at Williton on 26th February 2022 by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
D9518 – these large diameter white pipes are part of the vacuum braking system. The finish on these pipes is up to the usual high standard ! Pictured at Williton on 26th February 2022 by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0
This loco is the subject of a fundraising appeal so please follow this link to find out more. We need your help ! In addition to funds, we also need plenty of HANDS. If you love the ‘Teddy Bears’ and you are not already a member of the DEPG, please join us so that you can become one of the team that is going to return D9518 to full operational condition as ‘NCB No. 7‘.
Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 – this loco is currently based at the Kent & East Sussex Railway and was in use for 32 hours during the last week, performing a variety of tasks. There is no doubt that the ‘Teddy Bear’ meets the needs of the K&ESR and sees regular use, all year round.
Andrew Barclay 0-4-0DH 578 – this loco is currently in the Swindon Shed at Williton receiving attention from the WSR Restorations team who are performing a partial repaint. The loco is currently wearing undercoat and will receive a coat of MOD deep bronze green gloss when weather conditions allow.
If you can help by donating your time, then please JOIN US and come along to the depot for an introduction to what we do and how we do it. We currently have people on site from Saturday through to Tuesday and we can open on other days if we can be sure of getting at least two volunteers on site at all times, so there is plenty of scope. We have tasks of all types to suit most capabilities, both skilled and unskilled.
Many thanks to all of our volunteers who give up so much of their time to work on the cleaning, painting, maintaining, restoring, managing and fund raising for our fleet of heritage locomotives !
BOOK REVIEW – not a book this week, but an online article on the HORNBY website that has been brought to our attention by DEPG and WSR volunteer Jon Tooke in which the background and history of the SENTINEL shunting locomotives are covered in some detail. One of our Class 14 team members, Colin Girle, owns a number of these locomotives and more details can be found on the East Somerset Railway website by clicking this link. Many thanks to Jon for bringing this article to our attention.
ON SHED – this week, we can connect the withdrawal of the remaining Class 52 ‘Westerns’ with Newton Abbot and some more of Barry Gay’s photos because four of the locos that survive today were sent to Newton Abbot for what is today termed ‘warm storage’ where they were kept in good condition for potential buyers. Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring several shots that were taken at Newton Abbot by Barry on 11th May 1977. This is how he describes what he saw that day:
” The photos were all taken on May 11, 1977 between 12.00 midday and 12.20. I had gone down to NA behind 46054 for something to do. It was dull after a period of rain. When I got off the train in Newton Abbot station, I heard something that I had not heard since Feb 26th!! It was D1013 with both engines running at the side of the works. I could not believe it! I rushed round to the works area and sure enough there was D1013 having apparently just been fuelled with 200 gallons. I then saw D1048 approaching me, not running, being propelled by an 08.
The works doors were up and inside I could see the outline of D1010 and D1041. D1013 then went into the works and waited for the 08 to put D1048 onto the traverser. Having done so D1013 came out and dragged D1048 in at about 12.20. The doors were shut. All was quiet. If I had arrived 30 minutes later I would not have known anything had happened. There were no other photographers present to witness all this, so these images are extremely rare! Hope they are of some use, quality is not great due to Agfa film and poor light. ”
Withdrawn and stored serviceable Class 52 ‘WESTERNS’, devoid of nameplates and numberplates but recognisable by their headcodes as D1013 ‘WESTERN RANGER’ (in the shed) and D1048 ‘WESTERN LADY’ were caught by chance while out and about within the confines of Newton Abbot works yard on 11th May 1977. Photo by Barry Gay © CC BY-NC 3.0
Many thanks to Barry for sharing his memories and more of his images from his vast collection !
DEPG NEWS – the February issue of the DEPG Newsletter has been printed and is now ready for mailing later this week. This publication contains information that is not shared via the roundup and is only available to DEPG members. So, if you like what we do, please JOIN US and help us do more of it, and get a copy of the quarterly Newsletter in the bargain !
The Board of the DEPG met at Williton and by Zoom on Saturday 26th February 2022 and a synopsis of the discussions will be produced ASAP and emailed to all DEPG members for whom we have email addresses. Paper copies of the synopses are included with the quarterly newsletters to ensure that all members are kept fully informed and up to date.
WSR NEWS: we are very pleased to hear that KERRY NOBLE has been formally appointed as the General Manager of the WSR after covering the role during a very challenging but highly successful period for the railway. We look forward to building on the close working relationship that exists between the WSR and the DEPG and we wish Kerry all the best for the future. Click here for more information via wsr.org.uk
Work continues on the relaying of the section of line between Dunster and Minehead, and last week there was a visit of an automated track leveling machine (also known as a ‘track tamper’) which uses sensors and hydraulically-operated ‘fingers’ to push the ballast under a group of sleepers to raise or lower the track to the required height in a process known as ‘tamping’. These complex and sophisticated machines operate all over the network and are owned by specialist track maintenance contractors.
Dunster station was host to a new-generation Plasser and Thurer 08-16 ZW Automated Track Maintenance Machine on Thursday 24th February 2022 in connection with track levelling work taking place between Dunster and Minehead. The machine was hired from Trackwork plc complete with its operating crew. Photo by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0
At Williton, a new arrival was the BR(W) ’94xx’ 0-6-0PT steam locomotive number 9466 which is owned by WSR Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt. This mainline-registered 1952-vintage power class 4 machine is going to be working on the WSR this season, bringing the welcome sight of a pannier tank engine on this former GWR branch line. Click here for more information via wsr.org.uk
Mainline-registered BR(W) Class ’94xx’ 0-6-0PT number 9466 arrived at Williton on 24th February 2022 and is destined to work on the WSR for the next two years. The loco was pictured on 26th February 2022 by Martin Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0