BOOK REVIEW – 23-Apr-23 – this week, we include a detailed report by long-term member and regular contributor Neale Long, who has purchased this newly-released book and reports as follows:
“For the seventh volume of this new series of booklets from Irwell Press and Morton Books, respected author John Jennison turns his attention to the then-unsung but now very popular Class 14 diesel-hydraulic locomotive, which have been largely ignored by the railway publishing sector for many years but are now receiving the attention that they deserve.
This very well-produced 86-page softback publication sets out the background of the Class, the technical details, operation on both the WR and ER, industrial use both in the UK and beyond, ending with individual locomotive histories.
Wisely, the author has sourced his information from contemporary railway magazines and from two highly regarded publications: “The Western’s Hydraulics” by J K Lewis and “BR Swindon Type 1 0-6-0 Diesel-Hydraulic Locomotives – Class 14 Volume 1 – Their Life on British Railways” and “Volume 2 – Their Life in Industry” by Tony Sayer. The result being a good general overview of the history of the Class. There are twelve main sections:
- Deja Vu (comparing the background of the Class to that of the WR Pannier Tank locomotives)
- Technically Speaking
- Livery and Styling
- On the Western Region
- If you go down to the woods today … (Forest of Dean workings)
- To the Land of Green Ginger … (Hull workings)
- Industrial Life
- After the afterlife (Preservation)
It is important at this point to remind readers of the D+EG/DEPG involvement with the Class which started in the mid-1970s following the successful purchase of ‘Hymeks’ D7017/18. The need for a locomotive that could be used without axle loading restrictions and gain a modest income was identified, and a Group member discovered D9526 virtually disused at Blue Circle Industries (APCM) at Westbury. A deal was done and the Group (then known as the D+EG) had preserved the first Class 14.
Following the rundown of the Class at British Steel Corby, the Group assisted with the restoration and operation of privately owned D9551 until it’s subsequent sale. More recently, an unrestored example of one of the locomotives made redundant in 1986 by the National Coal Board (British Coal), D9518 or ‘NCB Ashington No. 7, joined the DEPG fleet as a partner for D9526 and is now undergoing long-term restoration.
Pleasingly, both DEPG Class 14s feature in this publication with D9518 captured on film at Cardiff Canton Depot, three images of D9526 in service at Coleford (Gloucestershire) and two at APCM Westbury when in industrial service. There are also two profile images of D9526 on the West Somerset Railway.
Although mainly a photographic publication, each chapter does provide the reader with a sound but condensed history of the Class, both well written and accurate. Inevitably, this booklet does not cover the Class in the same depth as the Tony Sayer books, but for those seeking an overview of the history of the Class, this publication will be ideal.
Many of the images will be familiar to modern traction enthusiasts and followers, but this does not detract from the booklet due to their rarity. The section devoted to the Forest of Dean is perhaps the most interesting, with several fine views of the Class on the Gloucester-Cinderford/Coleford trip freight workings.
Several other images are worthy of note, namely D9515 & D9503 passing King George Dock in Hull, enroute to Saltend with an oil tank working, D9501 working in the ex-GWR docks at Llanthony, Gloucester and D9517 working the Sharpness-Gloucester trip freight at the much-lamented Gloucester Eastgate station.
A nice individual history of each locomotive in a tabulated form rounds off this potted illustrated account of the Class. The preservation of the Class is given very limited coverage, which is disappointing in view of the great efforts of so many who have strived to keep the Class alive, with only one example of the Class featured on a heritage railway, D9526 at Blue Anchor.
Summing up, retailing at £12.95 represents good value in view of the amount of information and the rarity of some of the illustrations, these outweighing the shortcomings stated above. This publication can therefore be recommended to those interested in vintage diesel traction.”
Many thanks to Neale for providing us with this detailed book review.