Class 33 (Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company 1,550hp Type 3 Diesel-Electric)

The Class 33 was built for British Rail's Southern Region to be the region's prime provider of diesel haulage. It was based on earlier Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon locomotives the Classes 26 and 27 though benefited from the lack of a need for gangway connections so had a much neater cab design [1]. It was also more powerful than the earlier locomotives being a true Type 3 (over 1, 500hp).

They were originally intended mostly for freight work but, with good foresight by Southern Region, were fitted with electric train heating - indeed the lack of a need to carry a boiler for steam heat allowed a more powerful diesel to be fitted in the same body shell as the earlier locomotives [2]. They were often to be found on passenger services on the Kent Coast and to Bournemouth and elsewhere.

Number built: 98
Built: 1960-62
Builder: Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company
Engine: Sulzer 8LDA28 diesel
Power: 1, 550 hp (1, 156 kW)
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo

Most Class 33s were in the standard 33/0 sub-class, however a number were also fitted for push-pull operations as 33/1 and operated with the 4-TC (Class 438) [3] though could also work with any SR Electro-Pneumatically controlled multiple units and locomotives. A batch of locomotives was also reduced in width by 178mm for operation on the Hastings Line with its restricted clearances as the 33/2. Sadly the expense and effort in modifying the design for what turned out to be a small batch of locomotives is said to have contributed to BRCW's bankruptcy in the mid-1960s.

Nowadays only a handful of the locomotives, known as Cromptons by enthusiasts after the Crompton Parkinson electrical equipment installed in them, remain in mainline use with the West Coast Railway Company however twenty-nine have been preserved covering all three sub-types.
33 035 at Ropley

Cab of 33 103

33 204 at Stewarts Lane in 1988, KD Collection

33 103 at Wirksworth

Class 33 undergoing maintenance at Stewarts Lane 1988, KD Collection

33 035 at Kidderminster

[1] Brian Haresnape, Production Diesel-Electrics Types 1-3 (Ian Allan, 1983) p. 58
[2] David Brown, Southern Electric Vol 2 (Capital Transport, 2010) p. 215
[3] John Vaughan, Diesels on the Southern (Ian Allan, 1980) p. 33