During the transition from steam, the spotting fraternity was made up of countless thousands of youngsters, who, by virtue of their youth, had no way of knowing what had gone before, therefore the end of steam mattered little to them. Train spotters on the Western Region were luckier than most, however, because no matter what one's opinions we then had towards the soulless appearance of the new diesels, the WR's Type 4 'Warships' and 'Westerns' must rank as being one of the most handsome designs to appear on BR. Their impressive bodyline gave them an altogether aristocratic look surpassed only by that of the stylish GWR 'Kings' and 'Castle' classes they replaced.
When the BTC abandoned the pilot scheme plan in 1959, the changeover from steam to diesels escalated and several orders were placed with manufacturers for diesel-hydraulic traction before the new designs had been fully evaluated in service conditions.
As a consequence, forty five 'Hymek' B-B Type 3 diesel-hydraulics were ordered from the Beyer Peacock Works at Gorton without a single prototype ever being constructed. The same happened with the 'Western' class C-C when the BTC ordered no fewer than 74 in October 1959, whereas the first three members of the 'Warship' class, albeit a belated addition to the pilot scheme orders, was introduced to traffic in 1958, the first - No D800 Sir Brian Robertson being delivered to the WR in July.
(Above-Inset Right) Crewe-built 'Western' D1052 Western Viceroy at Paddington in 1965. (Below) Mention is made on this site about the superb artwork created by the Arthur Nigel Wolstenholme, a freelance technical and commercial artist, who initialled his drawings tantalisingly ANW. Mister Wolstenhome is perhaps most famous for producing crisp, high quality illustrations of steam and diesel locomotives for the covers of Ian Allan's famous abc Locospotter Books. This original pen and ink drawing of Warship Class diesel hydraulic D801 Vanguard was produced for the BR(W) publicity department. The image measures 8" x 5½" and went under the hammer at a recent Great Central Railwayana Auction.
(Below) Swindon-built D810 Cockade was photographed at Plymouth and shows the clumsy arrangement of the original headcode discs (a legacy of steam days) which didn't sit at all well on the bulbous nose of the D800 class. A new four digit route indicator panel replaced the original discs and number board frames form D813 onwards and these were retro-fitted to D800-D812 at a later date. Although Nos D803-D812 could only work in multiple unit with each other, Nos D803-D870 were eventually fitted with the 'White Diamond' multiple unit coding which enabled them to work in common with the North British D6306-D6357 series B-B Type 2s. The initial specification of Spanner train heating boilers was also changed to Stone-Vapor.
As the saying goes, you're never too old to learn, and my knowledge of WR diesel-hydrauilics is somewhat limited. I was recently contacted by John Gilbert, who writes - 'Reading the info about the WR diesel-hydraulics on the 'Diesels BR Western Region' page I've noticed a technical error. The class 42/43 and 52 wheel arrangement should be classified as 'B-B' and 'C-C' respectively. 'Bo-Bo' and 'Co-Co' is used for four or six axle bogies on diesel-electrics, where each axle has its own independent motor (which is what the 'o' designates). However, because the axles on the hydraulics were all coupled together, each axle did not have its own independent drive, hence classes 22, 35, 42 & 43 were 'B-B', and class 52 was 'C-C'. You can see this designation used on the Western Locomotive Association website...click here for link. I hope you don't think I'm nit-picking! It's a great website, and I thought you might appreciate the extra info. The mistake is quite common these days when most diesels have electric transmission and are therefore Bo-Bo and Co-Co...' On the contrary, John...I am happy to rectify the mistake. This is especially important since many visitors use the Internet as a valuable source of reference therefore it is essential to get the facts right. Any corrections suggested by visitors are encouraged.
(Above-Below) The five 2,000hp A1A-A1A diesel-hydraulic locomotives Nos D600-D604 destined for the Western Region, were constructed by the North British Locomotive (NBL) works at Glasgow. The locomotives were given names of famous warships in alphabetical order: Active, Ark Royal, Bulldog, Conquest and Cossack. No D600 Active commenced revenue-earning service on 21st April 1958 working two return trips daily between Plymouth and Penzance. By 1961, the new D800-series 'Warship' class became available to the operating department, and the D600s were displaced from principal duties on the West of England main line and assigned to less demanding duties working Cornish china clay traffic. By 1966 poor availability and high running costs prevented further use of this non-standard class and Nos D600-1 were sold to Dai Woodhams of Barry whilst D602, D603-4 met their fate at Cashmore's of Newport. Sporting the standard BR green livery with a blue/grey stripe running the length of the body between the cabs, No D604 Cossak looks in fine fettle at Plymouth Laira depot. (Below) D800 Sir Brian Robertson at Newton Abbot.
(Above-Below) The new 'Warship' class was an innovative design inspired by the Deutsche Bundesbahn V200 series incorporating the use of a stressed skin construction which enabled a high power/weight ratio to be achieved. The first 33 locomotives (and final five) were built at Swindon, whereas Nos D833-D865 were constructed by the North British Locomotive Company, Glasgow. Here Swindon-built D817 Foxhunter awaits departure from Plymouth with the 'Cornish Riviera Express'. In 1961, British Railways abandoned the aged 'disc' display system (a legacy of steam days) in favour of a new four-character letter and numeral headcode display. The train classification, destination and identification system was introduced to assist signalmen in identifying trains. The headcodes consisted of a four-character display; the first numeral identifying the class of train, followed by a letter indicating the destination, whilst the next two digits represented the train reporting number. For example, a headcode display starting with a '1' denoted an express passenger train and, until the system came fully into operation, locomotives were often seen with the first numeral showing only, or in this case the letter 'A' is displayed. (Below) The newly-built NBL Company's Type 4 diesel-hydraulic 'Warships' destined for the Western Region ran via the WCML from the company's Glasgow works. Here, diesel-hydraulic B-B Warship No D855 Triumph heads through Wigan with NBL diesel-hydraulic No D6324 in tow...incidentally this photo has been greatly reduced in size. Photo © JR Carter
(Above-Below) D817 Foxhunter again, this time on quite different duties at Exeter in 1960; it sums up the mixed traffic capabilities of the new diesel fleet. The NBL batch of Class 43 'Warships' differed from their Swindon-built Maybach-powered Class 42 cousins in having the NBL/MAN engine and Voith transmission as used in the earlier D600 series. The entire 'Warship' class was named after Royal Navy ships in strict alphabetical order, the NBL batch carrying names beginning with the letters 'P' to 'Z' - D833 Panther to D865 Zenith, while the last in the fleet, No D870, a Swindon-built machine, was named Zulu. (Below) Here No D841 Roebuck stands in the yard at Swindon following a general overhaul in May 1965.
(Above-Below) Outside Crewe Works paintshop 'Western' class No D1072 Western Glory is positively gleaming in its smart maroon livery. (Below) In 1959, BR abandoned the pilot scheme orders, therefore the 'Western' class was introduced without the benefit of full prototype trials, yet no fewer than 74 locomotives were ordered - 35 to be built at Swindon and 39 at Crewe, but as it turned out, Crewe also constructed the last five of Swindon's allocation. Still in workshop primer, 'Westerns' Nos D1055 Western Advocate and D1056 Western Sultan are shunted into the paintshop yard at Crewe by Class 3F No 47597.
(Above-Below) 'Hymek' B-B D7085 and NB B-B Type 2 D6351 side by side at Paddington in 1965. (Below) The BR Brunswick green livery and bodyside stripe show up well in this shot of 'Warship' class No D851 Temeraire heading a WR train out of Crewe in July 1962.
(Above) Before the British Rail Board imposed its dull overall blue livery on locomotives, the stylish Westerns appeared in shades of green, chromatic blue, golden ochre and maroon. The class was designed by Swindon to fulfil the WR operating department's need for a more powerful Type 4 than the lightweight 2,200hp B-B D800 'Warships' which struggled with the heavier WR trains and required assistance over the south Devon banks of Dainton, Hemmerdon and Rattery between Newton Abbott and Plymouth. At 2,700hp, the C-C Westerns were powerful enough to handle the heaviest trains single-handed throughout. Here, No D1005 Western Venturer is seen at Shrewsbury in July 1962. The locomotive was allocated to Laira depot (83D) on June 18th that same year, and survived in traffic until November 16th 1976.
(Above) The second BR emblem (1956-1967) had the British lion rising from a crown holding a driving wheel in its front paws, and was used on steam locomotive tender sides and the new diesel locomotive fleet. A variation of the British Lion and crown totem was cast in polished aluminum for the WR's prototype 'Western' class No D1000 Western Enterprise, which is seen here in the company of diesel-hydraulic 'Warship' class D807 Caradoc at Plymouth Laira. We are now in the post-1961 BR period, after the British Rail Board (BRB) was formed, and the diesel fleet has acquired the obligatory yellow warning panel on the nose end (as stipulated by the BRB's Accident Prevention Service) though the effectiveness of the panels are somewhat marred by the centre position of the four-character headcode panels on the nose end which restricted their size.
(Below) Following the hasty abandonment of the pilot scheme, in which large orders had been placed for predominantly Type 2 diesel locomotives of between 1,000 and 1,365 engine horsepower, BR recognised the need for a more powerful Type 3 of around 1,750hp, which saw the beginning of the diesel-hydraulic 'Hymek' era on the Western Region and the introduction of the EE Co machines (later TOPS Class 35 and 37 respectively). The first of the Beyer-Peacock 1,700hp Type 3s was handed over to the Western Region at a ceremony held at Paddington on May 16th 1961. Here, the two-tone green livery, white cab window surround and raised metal cabside number, show up well on the doyen of the class, No D7000, whereas the sister member behind it looks in a less than clean condition at Weymouth depot.
(Above) A line up of Hymeks await their next turn of duty at Swindon shed in June 1964
THE RAIL BLUE ERA
(Below) Fast-forward to BR's new Corporate Identity Scheme and D7000 has lost its pleasing two-tone livery, white window surrounds and the 'D' prefix has been painted out, yet the stylish design continues to show up well with the full yellow ends carried around the cabs at window level.
(Above) Can you help? A regular contributor to this site is John Crompton, who has sent me this photo taken sometime in the 1980s. The Class 47 is carrying a headboard 'Centenary Express' and is heading an interesting collection of historic Royal Train carriages, possibly for exhibition somewhere. It is seen here ascending Hatton Bank, North of Warwick on the former GW Main Line. If anyone knows the identity of the train and its destination it will be greatly appreciated...
...Mystery solved! Tony Willmore from the Rhos Helvg Locomotive Works at Criccieth in North Wales - click here - has written in to say that they are not Royal Train vehicles. The Class 47 47056 is heading the Travellers Fare 'Centenary Express' made up of various vintage restaurant cars from the NRM to mark the 100th anniversary of on-train catering. The special train ran from various locations (on various dates) during 1979 to celebrate 100 years of on-train catering in Britain. Some timings and route details can be found on Six Bells Junction website...Thanks Tony.
Some of the original photos featured on this page were provided by 'www.throughtheireyes2.co.uk' and are available on a several different DVDs which I have purchased from the proprietor, Jim Payne, over the years. The high resolution scans are produced from original negatives, slides and photos. Click here for link to this interesting site. I am not affiliated in any way with the sale of DVD's.
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