Class 20 (English Electric 1,000hp Type 1 Diesel-Electric)

The Class 20 is the most successful Type 1 diesel bought by BR (by some margin) and indeed the only one still in service - sixty years after it was first introduced! After early trials with prototype diesels BR ordered a number of "pilot scheme" diesels in the mid-1950s as part of its Modernisation Plan to eliminate steam. Twenty of these diesels were from what would become the Class 20 and in fact the first one built (D8000) was the very first diesel delivered to BR under this pilot scheme [1].

The Class 20 has a cab only at one end, though typically it works in pairs with the cabs outer most to make one "virtual" 2, 000hp locomotive. When it is operated bonnet first drivers have had problems with seeing the line ahead (as they did with large steam locomotives). Because of this BR decided to standardise on the Class 17, which had a central cab and much better visibility, instead for its Type 1 however various problems with the Class 17 forced BR to do an about face in the late 1960s and restart Class 20 production. [2]

Number built: 228
Built: 1957-68
Builder: English Electric
Engine: English Electric 8SVT Mk2 diesel
Power: 1, 000 hp (746 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

The Class 20 became one of BR's most reliable locomotives popular with BR and enthusiasts who have given them the name "Choppers". They were usually found on freights with the occasional passenger service in the Summer (they have no train heating provision) [3]. There have been a number of sub-classes, most Class 20s have remained as standard (20/0) but a small number were modified as 20/3 for aggregate workings in the 1980s. 20/3 was later re-used for locomotives modernised and refurbished post-privatisation. A few locos have also been modified for remote control trials as 20/9.

The fleet was run down in the 1980s with most withdrawn by the time of privatisation but since then the Class 20 has seen a bit of a renaissance and has found a niche on spot hire trains and a number remain in service to this day [4]. A large number has also been preserved including the very first one, and pilot scheme loco, built which is with the NRM.
20 189 at Kidderminster SVR

20 132 in original Railfreight livery at Derby

First of the Class 20s D8000 at the NRM York

GB Railfreight 20 905 at Derby

Cab of D8059

20 189 at Kidderminster SVR
[1] Brian Haresnape, Early Prototype & Pilot-Scheme Diesel-Electrics (Ian Allan, 1981) p. 35
[2] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 1-3 (Ian Allan, 1983) p. 26
[3] J.A.M. Vaughan, Profile of the Class 20s (OPC, 1984) p. 3
[4] Colin J Marsden, Traction Recognition (2nd Edition) (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 14

Leeds City Tramways Radial Class

Leeds City Tramways Radial Class was a large class of street trams built in three batches between 1925 and 1931 by Brush Traction, English Electric and by the tramway company itself at it's Kirkstall Road works.

Number built: 200
Built: 1925-31
Builder: Brush Traction, English Electric, Leeds City Tramways
Engine: 2 Dick Kerr 30B1 traction motors (550v DC OHLE)
Power: 100 hp (75 kW)

The trams were the first completely enclosed trams in the Leeds fleet and also had a four wheel radial E.M.B. trucks with a centre pivot between each pair of wheels [1], the Leeds examples being the only authority to use such a truck. Two trams (one of which was 399 pictured below) were fitted with Peckham P22 trucks for comparison purposes. The pivot trucks were not deemed a success (there were problems with brakes due to the geometry of the radial motion) and most trams were retrofitted with Peckham P35s after the Second World War, those not modified had the centre pivot locked.

The trams were withdrawn in the first half of the 1950s. Number 399 was withdrawn in 1951 but was used for some time afterwards as a depot shunter. It was preserved in 1959 and is now at Crich Tramway Museum.
Leeds 399 in the depot shed at Crich

Front of 399

[1] R.W. Rush, British Electric Tramcar Design 1885-1950 (Oxford Publishing, 1976) p. 105

Class 56 (BR/Brush 3,250hp Type 5 Diesel-Electric)

In the wake of the oil crisis in the early 1970s British Rail saw the need for a new generation of Type 5 diesel locomotives (rated for over 3, 000 hp) for what was expected to be a much greater demand for heavy coal haulage. The Class 56 was the first of these new locomotives and the new class of diesel locomotive for nearly a decade [1]. It was based on the successful Class 47 platform but with a more powerful engine (a development of the successful English Electric CSVT engines used in many classes of diesel like the Class 50) and slow speed control for Merry-Go-Round coal trains when they were loaded and unloaded [2].

Number built: 135
Built: 1976-84
Builder: Brush Traction/Electroputere (first 30)
Brush Traction/BREL Doncaster and Crewe (rest)
Engine: Ruston Paxman 16RK3CT diesel
Power: 3, 250 hp (2, 424 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Co-Co

Because of a lack of manufacturing capacity at the time at Brush Traction, who designed the Class 56, the first thirty were built by Electroputere in Romania with the rest being built at BR Doncaster and Crewe. The Romanian examples unfortunately suffered from a number of problems said to be due to poor workmanship which delayed their entry into service for over a year [3]. The decision to build the first batch in Romania and the urgency with which the locomotives were needed saw the locomotive have bogies of a Swiss design as these were widely used in Romania at the time and were easily available.

The Class 56 worked on heavy freights throughout the 1980s and into the privatisation era but most were withdrawn in the early 2000s. Some were later reinstated into traffic and undertook heavy refurbishment as the Class 56/3 [4].

Many have been scrapped, some sold for use on the continent and three have been preserved. Today around thirty remain in service usually used for spot hire. It is possible some Class 56s could be re-engined and rebuilt for extended service into the service though as yet no work has been undertaken.
Colas 50 078 at Kidderminster SVR

Front view of 56 303 at Derby

Colas 56 302 at York

Cab side view of 56 303

DCR 56 303 at Derby

Another view of 56 302 at York
[1] Chris Heaps, BR Diary 1968-1977 (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 104
[2] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 4 and 5 (2nd Edition) (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 75
[3] Ibid p. 75
[4] Colin J Marsden, Traction Recognition (2nd Edition) (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 51

Class 442 5-WES Wessex Electrics

The Class 442 was built for Network South East services out of London Waterloo to Weymouth to replace Class 432 and some Class 33 + 4-TC services [1] (electrification of the route being extended from Bournemouth to Weymouth in the mid-1980s [2]). The Class 442, which became known as the Wessex Electrics [3], was designed around the Mark 3b coach with a single power vehicle in a five car set. In keeping with Southern Region tradition the Class 442 included equipment recycled from the Class 432 units they were replacing. Equipment re-used included the traction system.

Number built: 120 (24 5-car sets)
Built: 1988-89
Builder: BR Derby
Engine: 4 EE546 traction motors (750c DC third rail)
Power: 1, 600 hp (1, 200 kW)
Formation: Driving Trailer Standard (DTS)+Trailer Standard Open (TSO)+
Motor Luggage Composite (MLC)+Trailer Standard Wheelchair (TSW)+DTS

The Class 442s had some initial problems especially with hot axle boxes but became popular with passengers. The Class 442 was transferred to South West Trains following privatisation but were replaced by Desiro stock in 2007. They were rebuilt and modified at Wolverton and used on the Gatwick Express services out of London Victoria and some Southern services. They were replaced by Class 387s in 2017 however this was not to be the end of the Class 442 story.

There were various schemes and suggestions to use the 442s, including even a proposal to use them as hauled stock on trans Pennine routes! Finally it was announced that the new South Western Railway franchise (which replaced South West Trains in 2017) are to use refurbished sets on London Waterloo to Portsmouth services.
442 423 at London Victoria
Gatwick Express 442 clears Clapham Junction

Another Gatwick Express 442 at Clapham Junction

London Victoria bound

[1] Brian Haresnape & Alec Swain, Third Rail DC Electric Multiple Units (Ian Allan, 1989) p. 80
[2] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 342
[3] John Balmforth, South West Trains (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 60

Class 04 (Drewry Car 204hp Diesel-Mechanical)

The Class 04 was a development of the 0-4-0 shunter the Drewry Car Company built for the LMS before the war (see LMS 7050), the first example being a demonstrator built for the LNER just before nationalisation in 1947 [1]. Series production began in BR days a few years later, being the first attempt to build a standard small shunter [2]. The Class 04 performed a role similar to the Class 03 (which is almost exactly the same mechanically and similar looking) working in small yards and where a lighter locomotive was required. Drewry was more a design and sales company rather than an actual manufacturer (for most of the company's life) and so sub-contracted out the building of the locomotives to the Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns [3].

Number built: 142
Built: 1948, 1952-62
Builder: Drewry Car Company
Engine: Gardner 8L3 diesel
Power: 204 hp (152 kW)
Wheel arrangement: 0-6-0

As the amount of shunting needed fell in the 1960s BR decided to standardise on the Class 03 for the small shunter role and the Class 04s began to be withdrawn from the late 1960s onwards along with dozens of other small shunter types. All were gone by 1972 though a number were sold for re-use by industrial railways both at home and abroad. Eighteen have been preserved.
D2284 cab end

D2337 at Rowsley South

D2284 at Rowsley South

D2229 at Rowsley South (as are the two other shunters below)

D2337, also preserved at the Heritage Shunters Trust


[1] Brian Haresnape, Diesel Shunters (Ian Allan, 1984) p. 38
[2] Colin J.Marsden, Diesel & Electric Locomotive Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 78
[3] Ray King, British Industrial Diesel Locomotives (Traction & Rolling Stock Advertiser, 2006) p. 17

Blackpool Corporation Electric Locomotive 717

Street tram networks operated ancillary or department vehicles to help with the maintenance of their networks, often these were modified former passenger carrying trams. However on some tram networks such as in Birmingham and Manchester there was a substantial business in freight sometimes employing  purpose built vehicles. Parcels was the most typical load [1] though sometimes other goods too. No. 717, built for the Blackpool Corporation, was used for hauling coal.

Number built: 1
Built: 1927
Builder: English Electric
Engine: 2 Dick Kerr DK30 traction motors (550v DC OHLE)
Power: 100 hp (75 kW)
Wheel arrangement: 4w

717 was a small steeple cab electric locomotive similar to hundreds built by English Electric for industrial users like the Type 3B. It was built to haul coal wagons from an LMS siding at Fleetwood next to a tram depot at Copse Road and taken to sidings at Thornton Gate four kilometres for distribution to coal merchants.

717 was fitted with a tram style trolley pole. Originally it had heavy rail style buffers but in 1949 it was reassigned to become a works shunter and departmental vehicle and had a tram coupler fitted. It remained in service until 1963 and has been in preservation since 1966. It is used by Crich Tramway Museum as a shunter and on departmental duties.
717 in the tram shed at Crich

Another view of 717
[1] R.W. Rush, British Electric Tramcar Design (Oxford Publishing, 1976) p. 121

Class 444 Desiro

The Class 444 (along with the very similar Class 450) was ordered for South West Trains to replace slam door stock on long-distance services running on the former Southern Region Western Section [1]. They mostly can be found on Waterloo to Weymouth and Portsmouth services.

Number built: 225 cars (45 5-car sets)
Built: 2003-04
Builder: Siemens Transportation
Engine: 1TB2016-0GB02 traction motors (750v DC third rail)
Power: 2, 682 hp (2, 000 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+Trailer Standard
Open (TSO)+TSO+Trailer Standard Buffet (TSRMB)+
Driving Motor Composite Open (DMCO)

The Class 444 differs from the 450 in being a 5-car set and with a low-density seating arrangement [2] to better suit longer journeys. Like the 450 the 444s are equipped with a pantograph well and could be converted in future to 25kV AC overhead line electric collection though there are no plans for any such conversion.

Like most new types the 444s had a few teething problems when entering service but quickly became very reliable units and indeed received the Golden Spanner award for being Britain's most reliable trains in 2010 [3]. They are now operated by SWT's successor South Western Railway.
SWT 444 003 at Clapham Junction

SWT 444 013 at Guildford

SWR 444 003 at Godalming

SWT 444 044 at Portsmouth Harbour

SWT 444 022 at Woking

SWR 444 005 at Milford
[1] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 344
[2] John Balmforth, South West Trains (Ian Allan, 2011) p. 66
[3] Siemens Desiro Class 444 wins award as most reliable train <>