The ‘John Howe’ Story

JOHN HOWE was ordered by Howe’s Plaster Works in 1908 to operate between their private sidings (HOWES SIDINGS BOX) on the Settle & Carlisle near CUMWHINTON in Cumberland as it was then and their works at Cocklakes. The private branch contained quite a severe gradient up to the works of which little trace is left today. Howe’s Plaster Works became the CARLISLE PLASTER CO, (remember Carlite Plaster and Carlite Bonding?) it later became a part of British Gypsum.
In 1969 Graham Ellis was involved with a job in Kendal and also a volunteer at Steamtown and Dr Peter Beet who was the boss of Steamtown was anxious to obtain some locos that were more economical to steam than mainline locos for footplate rides that were possible in those days. Graham had heard that there were locos for sale at Cocklakes. So with Peter’s blessing he went to investigate and found a Barclay towing another dead Barclay that had come from Long Meg, another British Gypsum site on the Settle & Carlisle for which they had running rights to go back and forth between Howe’s Sidings and Long Meg. After talking to the driver, John Long, it transpired that there were locos for sale but they were all sold to another railway which had failed to produce the cash. Graham then saw the Works Manager, Mr. Sanderson and several meetings later a deal was struck and a clutch of Barclays left Cocklakes for Steamtown. None had seen much use for years and were stored in a shed covered in deep white gypsum dust. None had boiler certificates either. Included in the deal was current shedmate, J N DERBYSHIRE. This loco had a sex change and became Jane of that ilk when “she” reached Steamtown.
Work was needed to the boiler to get JOHN HOWE going and while at Carnforth the loco was vacuum fitted and new tyres obtained from Barclays in Kilmarnock. All the locos that came from Cocklakes had homes to go to in the sense that there were folk at Carnforth ready to pay for them and Graham gave John Howe to his late wife Libi on the basis if you can’t fight them then join ’em. Libi coming from North’ British country near Fort William dictated the new livery – a la North British & also Campbeltown & Machrihanish in Argyll where the family was living, not to mention Edinburgh Corporation Steamrollers.
The lum (chimney to us in Preston) lost its bell mouth early on in order to be able to access the sheds at Cocklakes. The loco never had a nameplate and the lettering reflects that shown on the official Barclay photo. The current boiler was fitted in the 1950’s. All the time the loco was at Cocklakes it was driven by members of the Long family and as far as we know John Long was the last. He subsequently visited Steamtown to have a drive.
If you look at the buffer beam you will see that there are holes below the existing buffers. These were there to take a set of secondary buffers that would match up with the wooden wagons that were used at Cocklakes and are of a type similar to those used by Victorian railway contractors.
As the opportunity to run trains at Carnforth has now ceased, a transfer to Ribble Steam Railway was arranged.
It was transported by road courtesy of Alan Atkinson Trailers Ltd on the 12 April 2006; it languished in our shed for a month whilst Boiler Insurance was sorted out. She then had her first run on the Preston Dock metals exactly one month later on 12 May. The loco is quite low-slung, and needed to be run along the full length of the line to check clearances.
A second run was made with two coaches to check her capability and she was then rostered for her first turn the next day, Saturday 13th May 2006, and has completed many more outings since then. As not fitted for carriage steam heating, she was only to be used during the summer months!

The article originally featured in
Ribble Pilot 16 / Summer 2006.


In the Spotlight… Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST No 3931

Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST Works No 3931 built in 1938 was one of 14 Hawthorn Leslie Standard 16in Locos built for the steel works of Stewarts and Lloyds at Corby and numbered 21, the final two, numbers 22 & 23, were built by RSH after the loco companies merged. No. 21 is joined in Preservation by Nos (3827) 14 & (3837) 16.
About the Makers….
R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie and Company Ltd, usually referred to as Hawthorn Leslie, were a shipbuilding and locomotive manufacturer in Newcastle on Tyne. The Company was founded when R and W Hawthorn, and Andrew Leslie and Co Ltd of Hebburn, were incorporated as a limited company in 1886 to acquire the businesses of R & W Hawthorn of Newcastle and Andrew Leslie and Co.
In 1817 Robert Hawthorn at the age of 21 began business as a general engineer and repairer of colliery machinery. With the assistance of his brother William and four workmen, his enterprise prospered and in 1820 under the trading name of R and W Hawthorn their first marine engine was built.
In 1831 they produced their first steam locomotive for the Stockton and Darlington Railway and as the country’s railway system rapidly expanded their locomotive construction soon became second only to that of their near neighbour, Robert Stephenson. By 1870 over 1,000 locomotives had already been built.
Robert Hawthorn died in 1866 and in 1870 his brother William retired. The firm was then sold for £60,000 to a group of four men. These were Benjamin Chapman Browne, aged 31, Civil Engineer, Francis Carr Marshall, William Hawthorn Junior and Joseph Scott. As senior partner Benjamin Browne had wanted the business to manufacture only marine engines. However, orders were buoyant for locomotives and so in 1870, the shipyard of Messrs T and W Smith at St Peter’s was acquired for the marine site. All marine engineering was then moved from the original works at Forth Banks to the new St Peter’s site. The marine engine side of the business prospered under the direction of Francis Carr Marshall.
In 1884 it was decided to separate the business activities of the Forth Banks and St Peter’s sites and thereafter they were run virtually as two separate businesses. Things prospered for the next 50 years but during the mid-1930s, when locomotive work was falling off throughout the country, the railway side of the business was sold to Robert Stephenson & Co. Ltd of Darlington and in June 1937 Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn (RSH) was formed.
Both factories were retained, building locomotive designs from their former separate ownership until RSH designs were evolved. In 1943 RSH became a subsidiary of the Vulcan Foundry and Hawthorn’s 137-year connection with Forth Banks ended when Locomotive building at the Newcastle upon Tyne works ended in 1961 and RSH at Darlington in 1964. Vulcan works were themselves taken over by English Electric in 1955. Vulcan foundry works kept the association with railways by a succession of owners until at the end of 2002 the works finally closed.

Just for those interested, the ship building and marine engines business became part of Swan Hunter and Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd when it came into existence in 1968. Hawthorn Leslie (Engineers) Ltd became a member company of British Shipbuilders in 1977, later merging with George Clark and NEM to form Clark Hawthorn Ltd in 1979. In its time the yards built numerous Merchant ships & 65 RN ships the biggest of which was HMS Triumph (R16) (1944-1981) a Royal Navy Colossus-class light fleet aircraft carrier of 13,350 tons. They finally ceased building ships in 1982 as part of the Nationalised British Shipbuilders.

Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST 3931 in Service…..
Back to Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST 3931 was Sent new to Stewarts and Lloyds Steelworks at Corby in 1938 it was numbered 21 and worked the large steelworks complex along with the rest of the fleet of loco’s, including Hunslets, Barclays & Hudswell Clarkes for over 30 years until replacement by the ex-BR Paxman diesel-hydraulics which then provided the main source of motive power for the iron ore trains. In the autumn of 1970, 21 received an overhaul involving the fitting of a new boiler which had been standing spare for a number of years. The axleboxes were renewed, attention given to the motion, etc. and presumably she was the last loco to have such repairs and renewals. It is interesting to note that from the 1950’s all locos, steam and diesel, were painted buttercup yellow, with red wheels and coupling rods and black fittings, and, in the case of the steam locomotives, had the letters S&L stenciled in black on the saddle tank.
The 16in locos as a class seem to be known as the “the S&L’s” by the enginemen, other locos not generally having been so adorned. There are variations in the detail of the painting, mostly with regard to the extent, or existence, of black and yellow dazzle striping. This livery was adopted to make them more easily visible in the works, but owing to the dirty conditions which eroded the paint, the colour gradually deteriorated to a “steelworks black”.
During its 1970 overhaul, 21 was repainted and lettered BSC, probably the only steam locomotive in British Steel Corporation ownership to achieve this distinction.

About the Corby Steel Works of Stewart & Lloyds.
Stewarts and Lloyds built their steelworks at Corby in 1933 to tap the locally abundant, if somewhat low grade iron ore. The first steel being made in 1935 with the works specializing in steel tube manufacture. A network of lines radiated out several miles into the surrounding countryside, to bring the ore from the quarries to the works – and a substantial fleet of steam locomotives were utilised. In 1967 the British steel industry was nationalised and the Stewarts & Lloyds steel tube works at Corby became part of British Steel. In 1973 the government approved a strategy of consolidating steel making in five main areas – South Wales, Sheffield, Scunthorpe, Teesside and Scotland – most of which are coastal sites with access to economic supplies of iron rich imported ores. Thus in 1975 the government agreed a programme that would lead to the phasing-out of steel making in Corby In November 1979 the end of iron and steel making in Corby was formally announced. On the internal railway system steam lingered at the works itself into the 1970s until, in June 1973, it was finally dispensed with. The IRS organised a “Farewell to Steam” special, using the last active steelworks locomotive, to haul a trainload of enthusiasts out to the quarries at Wakerley and back again. No 21 built by Hawthorn Leslie in 1938, works number 3931, stood in steam near the ironstone lines depot where, it being a Saturday, most of the ironstone fleet were at rest. The “passenger train” was a rake of wooden-sided open trucks, with a few bales of straw to provide seating! Accompanying the train was one of the ex-BR Paxmans, no. 28 (formerly Class 14 No. D9547).
So into a new life in the preservation era.

After the IRS farewell to Steam tour at Corby, 3931 went to the Battlefield line at Shackerstone / Market Bosworth. It was here that during its stay new tanks were fitted, the front cab spectacle plates were altered from square to round (compare the two early preservation pictures above). The loco was fitted with Vacuum brakes & steam heating. The buttercup yellow livery was replaced with lined pale blue and the letters MBLR appeared on the Saddle Tanks (Market Bosworth Light Railway). I have not been able to find out if this was where it was named Linda, or in fact who Linda is?
HL3931’s next move was to the Swanage Railway in Dorset in 1984 where it was put back into working order and steamed until 1988 operating their passenger service to Corfe Castle. At Swanage the loco carried a Prussian blue livery, (see above picture) with no tank markings. After falling out of use at Swanage requiring retyring, attention to the boiler & axleboxes, 3931 was sold in 1991 to a Mr. Drinkwater. 1Drinkwater had contracted Gwili railway (Camarthen) to overhaul the loco, incidentally, the road move was sponsored by fosters lager, virgin airways and legal & general. Nothing came of the contract and with unpaid bills, eventually, 3931 was advertised for sale in the railway press by a firm of liquidators acting on behalf of Haulier, Andrew Goodman, who had claimed the loco against costs outstanding to him by the then owner.

Compiled by Steve Boreham.

The Mickey Mousses

Memories by the late Jim Markland

When H G Ivatt succeeded CE Fairburn as CME of the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 1945 the need for a modern lightweight freight loco had been established for some time, Ivatt let those around him know that the new engine would be a thoroughly modern affair and would be a 2-6-0. In addition to these 2-6-0s there would be a tank engine variety of 2-6-2 wheel arrangement. Imagine the difference to men in their 60s, men used to squeezing underneath the boilers of the 0-6-0 “A” classes built in L&Y days, in order to oil the valve gear at a time when the cleaning of engines and their motion work was virtually nil.
Knowing at first hand just what its like, as a cleaner to be employed scraping the muck of those connecting rods and their associated ironwork, it was no picnic for drivers coming to the end of their railway career, often men of somewhat large girth. What a breath of fresh air those 2-6-0s must have brought with them. The outside walschaerts valve gear coupled to five foot diameter driving wheels with all the oiling points readily accessible must have been a welcome sight.
A roomy cab provided with wooden tip up seats as good as any other LMS brand and as far as driving them goes a sector plate that you could actually read, unlike the Midland 4F 0-6-0s where they put the drivers seat on top of it. All controls placed nicely to hand.
For the fireman, these gutsy little locos were a dream, good visibility whilst running either forward or tender first, and a rocking grate making engine disposal duties less painful, self cleaning smoke box and best of all, monitor coned injectors which never knocked off. These were extremely tolerant little performers.
As a fireman, I noted that they could be fired so sparingly that the fire was bouncing on the grate, or if you were of that persuasion you could fire them with a much thicker one. Either way they would steam.
When I did my practical driving test on the railway in 1965 I was marked on the daily alteration list, ” J Markland see Inspector Dunne at Rochdale at 8.30am”.
We were to work the 8.40am train to Liverpool as far as Wigan. Imagine my delight when in the bay platform where our train awaited us was 46405 which had been a short while at Bolton having been at Bury shed before that. With inspector Dunne riding on the footplate and in charge of matters whilst I had my practical session, the driver took his seat in the train. With a light load of only three vehicles it was a play job even though at this time the 2-6-0 was not in the best of mechanical condition.
Driving her at fast speed was not required, but being a firm believer in expansive working where possible, 46405 was capable of answering the call.
By a strange twist of fate it was with an Ivatt, 46419 of Newton Heath depot (26A) that I operated a very light load from Horwich Loco works to Blackpool. The only vehicle on the “Mousses” tail was a directors saloon very much like the one to which 46441 is coupled at Ribble steam.
We were conveying some people from “higher authority” from Horwich to Blackpool Central where they were attending a conference the next day. That was the only time in my short railway career that I received a tip. If asked to, they could and did haul seven coaches up Westhoughton bank (1:97) and on favourable gradients, would happily keep up 65 – 70 miles an hour when asked to.
Three cheers for H.G. Ivatt and the Mickey Mousses!

Where It All Began – Steamport Southport

The small band of people who got together in 1971 to establish a transport museum in the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway locomotive shed at Derby Road, Southport must surely be looking back with some satisfaction at the fruits of their early labours. For just over 44 years have passed since that historic occasion when members of the Southport Locomotive and Transport Museum Society obtained permission to begin tidying the semi derelict site. This followed an appeal for support launched through the local press by the small group of local railway and bus enthusiasts and which led to the formation of the Society.
That site may have eventually closed but the collection and many of the members formed the backbone for what we have now at the Ribble Steam Railway in Preston. Without that initial band of members in the early pioneering days, chances are, we would not be where we are now.
The motive power depot had closed in 1966 and by 1971 the Derby Road site had become vandalised, having first been stripped by British Rail of all recoverable materials, with the result that the volunteers had to contemplate a building without doors, with no glass in the roof and without electricity, water or any other services. The shed yard was strewn with rubble, there was no track in position, neither was there rail connection with BR.
Negotiations proceeded with BR regarding a lease of the premises and work progressed with the building and the yard. By 1973, 80ft of track had been laid in the shed, and by August of that year the first locomotives were installed. These were Lucy, an 0-6-0ST built by Avonside Engine Co in 1909, and which worked at Widnes Docks until 1971, and Efficient, an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST built in 1918, and which also had operated in the Widnes area. Both locomotives were owned by the Liverpool Locomotive Preservation Group.
Elsewhere in the shed building a museum shop had been opened, and work had begun on placing exhibits in the entrance hall. The Society had reached an agreement with BR for a lease of the shed and yard, and to administer the business of the Museum and conduct formal business with BR, Steamport Southport Ltd (a Company limited by guarantee) was formed. By early 1974, agreement had been reached as regards a connection from BR to the yard. This was effected by slewing over some 60ft of track across to Steamport land from the adjacent Kensington Road goods depot (formerly Southport Central station, closed to regular passenger traffic in 1901). Track from the severed depot siding was purchased from BR and used to extend the line along the yard towards the shed. This then left a gap of about 600ft, which was completed with additional rail bought from United Glass, St Helens.
With the arrival, in March 1974, of a Smith-Rodley diesel crane progress accelerated somewhat, and in mid-May track had almost reached the 80ft length laid in earlier days from the shed.
Members worked every evening and weekend that spring to get the track ready for use at the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. That occasion marked the first run at Steamport of a steam locomotive, the Avonside 0-6-0ST Lucy. The newly laid track was kept under observation that weekend, for this was our members’ first experience of tracklaying, but all was well, and since then the Museum built up a team of competent tracklayers and signalling staff who extended and improved the layout and installations.
Elsewhere things were proceeding well, back in 1974. The Bus and Tram Group, who had taken over roads 5 and 6, by now filled in, was expanding its collection and new locomotive exhibits were arriving such as No 2153, a large Peckett 0-6-0ST. This arrived by rail, and initially resided at the adjacent Kensington Road goods depot until the Steamport line was established. By August 1974, the first main line steam locomotive had arrived, with the coming of LMS ‘3F’ 0-6-0T No 47298 ex-Barry, and LMS ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No 44806, which was transferred from the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. No 44806 was steamed on several occasions but in 1975 was found to require further work, and awaited major firebox repairs. In that year, a Peckett 0-4-0ST arrived at Steamport — No 1999, on loan from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. No 1999, a Southport locomotive, being built for use at Crowlands Gas Works, Southport in 1941, and working there until transfer to Darwen in the early 1960s.
By spring 1976, the Museum had reached agreement with the Railway Inspectorate as regards the formalities necessary to enable brake van rides to commence. A new line, road No 3, was put into use, with a suitable platform, after full approval from all the parties involved. By this time, the locomotive fleet had been further augmented with the arrival of Hudswell Clarke
0-4-0ST Waleswood, built in 1906 as Works No 750, and the oldest working locomotive at Steamport. After resting quietly as a garden exhibit and named Samantha, Waleswood was to find a new lease of life, and was successfully steamed in July 1975. After moving off very gingerly at first, the 0-4-0ST made a strong impression on the writer and others assembled, if only for the violent eruption of soot and other black material which
descended on the yard, after the locomotive slipped on a greasy rail. After that, Waleswood’s two owners then never looked back, for the grand old lady was simply getting into full fettle and became a regular performer on the brake van service every year.
Other long term preservation projects were getting under way, apart from the restoration of No 47298, with the arrival of BR Standard ‘4’
2-6-0 No 76079 in August 1974, and of Hunslet
0-6-0ST No 1954 Kinsley of 1939, in 1975. No 47298 was fully restored as LMS No 7298, taking part in ‘Rocket 150’ in May 1980, and making guest appearances at Liverpool Road, Manchester, and at Dinting Railway Centre.
Prior to ‘Rocket 150’, however, No 7298 made local history by being in steam at Southport station during the Steamport/British Rail Joint Exhibition in April 1980.
The Museum had not neglected other forms of motive power. Indeed, in 1972, Steamport’s first ever locomotive was the Fowler diesel mechanical 0-4-0, Persil (Works No 4160001), kindly donated by Messrs Joseph Crosfield and Sons Ltd, Warrington. Persil was hauled by rail to Southport, being stored initially on a disused headshunt near the Museum. Since then, Persil became the reserve diesel shunter, its duties being taken over from 1978 by Ruston 0-4-0 diesel electric Trevithick, acquired from ICI.
Development of the road transport section continued with vigour, and various buses of local interest arrived, including No106, a Southport Leyland Titan PD2/3 of 1950. This double deck vehicle was presented to Steamport by the outgoing Southport Corporation Transport Authority which was taken over by Merseyside Transport as from April 1974. An open top Leyland TD3, N043, one of the replacements for Southport’s last trams in 1934, was also preserved. Two tramcars were also at Steamport to add to the growing collection of road transport vehicles: Blackpool ‘Coronation’ No 323 of 1953 and Liverpool ‘Baby Grand’ No 245, one of a series of tramcars put into service between 1937 and 1942. No 245 was on loan from Merseyside County Museums. These were not the only tramcars, for in March 1972 Society members had located a Southport horsetram body (from car No 7) dating back to 1873. It still had 19th century advertisements in the saloon. Also in the Museum, was Stockport tramcar No 5, which arrived as part of a Territorial Army engineers’ training exercise in April 1974.
Steamport was also home to two steamrollers, and a rail mounted steam crane built in 1949 by Grafton and Sons, from Bold Colliery, St Helens. There were various items of rolling stock, including a passenger coach of LMS design built in 1951 at Wolverton and a vintage Midland Railway brake van built to Diagram D 390. Also added to the collection was a Green & Batley battery electric locomotive, No 2000, in full working order.
A feature of the Museum was the entrance hall, containing many exhibits including a Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway platform indicator which towered over the smaller items on display, historic photographs, signs and locomotive models.
The Museum running line was extended as, having outgrown the original installation, a new line was commissioned in 1980 running alongside the shed and from a new platform. Fully signalled, from the ex-Riverside signalbox loaned by Merseyside County Museums, this extension almost doubled the distance over which the locomotives were operated. This line was approved by Major Olver in 1980 and was put into use that Easter. Passengers embarked and alighted from the brake vans using a platform built to standard railway specifications. The line proved satisfactory in all respects, and passenger trains with steam and diesel haulage and usually using two ex-LMS ‘Queen Mary’ brake vans were operated every 15 minutes on summer Sundays and at Bank Holidays. The line had fully interlocked signalling, with facing pointlocks on the main running line, and was fenced off, but in full public view. To all intents and purposes, this was a completely self contained standard gauge railway, based on mainline practice, and, what is more, physically connected to the rest of the BR system.
Steamport was active in other pursuits, too. In 1978, a 60ft turntable was acquired from BR, York, and that August it came by rail to Steamport on a Borail wagon. Its installation was completed and the turntable used, having been placed in position in the former L & Y turntable pit from which about 400 tons of rubble had first to be removed. Some alterations to the boundary fence were necessary as part of the site lay in the adjacent coal yard, and these changes had first to be agreed with the owners. A rail connection was completed and, as an extension to the project, a Midland Railway parachute type water column, rescued from St Pancras, was also erected nearby. This column, like the turntable, had to be removed within deadlines laid down by BR, and the group who travelled down to St Pancras had between 04.00 and 16.00 on a miserably wet February Sunday during 1980 in which to lay down a temporary sleeper road, move a vehicle on to the site, free the column base, and prepare for the BR engineers who would be in charge of lifting the column. The job was satisfactorily completed, and the load arrived safe and sound at Steamport two days later. Reports suggest that BR’s own attempts to remove the column had failed, so it was fortuitous for Steamport’s officers who had been looking for a water column for some time.
More stock made its way to Steamport, and continued to arrive. GWR ‘S101’ 2-6-2T No 5193 came from Barry in 1979; a third Peckett, from Ironbridge in 1980; a BGZ parcels van; an Esso tank wagon; two ex—LMS electric multiple unit coaches, and so on. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway replica coaches visited Steamport, and the venerable Lion entered in steam on 24 March 1980, from Wigan, to be exhibited until 16 May when it then ran in steam to Bold Colliery in readiness for ‘Rocket 150’. Lion was steamed most Sundays when at Steamport and also ran trial trips to Burscough and back on 12 May. One of the Steamport officials travelled to Burscough in his official capacity by Lion and vintage coaches, and changed there to a following DMU service to travel to his office in Wigan! Lion paid another successful visit in mid-July for six weeks, and was to be popular as ever, both with visitors and the locomotive crews, proving to be trouble free.
Steamport staged its first joint exhibition with BR at Southport station in April 1980. Included were: Lion; No 44806; the L&M replica coaches and the Class 502 electric set. The last was formally handed over to the National Railway Museum, and then into Steamport’s care, at a ceremony on the second day of the exhibition. The star attraction was No 47298, in steam throughout the four day event, and enthusiasts were rewarded by seeing the 0-6-0T making several special movements, including hauling a Class 507 unit from Platform 3 to Platform 5, the EMU having arrived as part of the exhibition. The Cooperation of BR’s management enabled this special movement to be made with the provision of a purpose; made adaptor coupling, and it proved to be a complete success.

All these happenings helped to establish Steamport.
It is said that it takes ten years to become established. Though Steamport only opened to the public in 1974, the honour went back to those beginnings in 1971.
Compiled at the time by Mr John Eccles – Hon. Public Relations Officer, Steamport Southport Ltd.2

The Ribble Steam Railway’s Class 14 D9539

The Ribble Steam Railway’s Class 14 D9539 celebrated its 50th birthday in April 2015, Fred Kerr celebrates its life with a biography – including WHY D9539 had an important part to play in the life history of the class.

Date  :  26/07/14 Loco  :  D9539 [TnT D9537] Location  :  Townsend Fold [ELR] Working  :  15:40 Rawtenstall - Ramsbottom [Rear]

Date : 26/07/14
Loco : D9539 [TnT D9537]
Location : Townsend Fold [ELR]
Working : 15:40 Rawtenstall – Ramsbottom [Rear]

The origins of the Class 14 trip locomotive lie in a discontinued project from the early 1960s when the Eastern and Western Regions (ER / WR) of British Railways (BR) approached the British Transport Commission (BTC) to seek approval for a small fleet of locomotives to undertake empty stock and station pilot duties, particularly at the Regions’ London Terminals.
Whilst the BTC was considering the request, the ER reviewed its traction policy and opted to use its existing Class 30 (later Class 31) fleet to undertake the duties thus withdrew its request leaving only the WR request to consider.
With the withdrawal of the ER request, the WR decided to review its request and seek approval for a fleet of locomotives better specified to replace its fleet of varied 0-6-0 Pannier Tank locomotives. A specification for this was drafted requiring a small locomotive capable of main line speeds of upto 45 mph and powerful enough to handle freight, passenger and empty stock duties.
The Swindon Works of the WR designed a locomotive to meet both this specification and the latest BR standard of a centre cab for main line locomotive designs. The final design was based on a standard GWR 94xx 0-6-0 chassis and used a Paxman 6-cylinder 6YJXL “Ventura” engine rated at 650 hp at 1500 rpm coupled to a Voith / North British L217U hydraulic transmission and Hunslet “650” gearbox. In essence the locomotive was a pure WR bottom half allied to a modern BR top half.

The fleet of 56 locomotives was built to complete the Dieselisation Programme west of Severn Tunnel Junction but, even as locomotives were under construction, their intended workings were disappearing as fast as the new locomotives were appearing. By the time that the last locomotive was delivered in October 1965 there was very little work left to power.

Date  :  26/07/14 Loco  :  D9539 Location  :  Ramsbottom [ELR] Working  :  Sidings to station move

Date : 26/07/14
Loco : D9539
Location : Ramsbottom [ELR]
Working : Sidings to station move

D9539 was delivered from Swindon Works to Cardiff Canton in Period 4/1965 (a period then being one of 4 weeks) and worked on local trips until placed in store during Period 5/1967. In an attempt to find work for the class, 33 locomotives were transferred in 2 tranches to Hull Dairycoates depot as replacement for the WD Class 2-8-0s; the first batch of 24 moved in January 1967 followed by a further 9, including D9539, in May 1967.
The move to Hull proved useless as the locomotives lacked multiple operation equipment and revealed engine problems, albeit due to design faults, that caused the fleet to be withdrawn en masse on 1 April 1968. BR, however, realised that there was a demand for shunting locomotives from industry and arranged a demonstration on 8 October 1968 at the Harlaxton Quarry, south of Grantham, of the British Steel Corporation (BSC).
D9539 was demonstrated to a number of firms with the result that D9539 was immediately bought at a cost of £4000:00 for trials at the Corby site of the BSC Minerals Division; the company subsequently bought a total of 23 Class 14s to replace steam traction in its various quarries in both Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire. Of the other 10 Hull locomotives, 5 were bought by the National Coal Board (NCB), 2 were bought by Associated Portland Cement and 3 were scrapped.
Those locomotives that remained on the WR were also withdrawn in tranches between July 1968 and April 1969 although the final 10 were officially condemned on 3 May 1969, with many spending lengthy periods in store prior to official withdrawal. The successful sale of the Hull-based locomotives encouraged BR to repeat the exercise with the result that of the remaining 23 14 were bought by the NCB for its Northumberland collieries, 4 sold to industrial concerns and 5 were sold for scrap.

Thus the demonstration by D9539 had resulted in 48 locomotives out of 56 built being sold into private industry where their futures were secured.

Date  :  06/05/1979 Loco  :  D9539 = 8411/51 Location  :  Shotwick Quarry Working  :  Shotwick - Corby ironstone

Date : 06/05/1979
Loco : D9539 = 8411/51
Location : Shotwick Quarry
Working : Shotwick – Corby ironstone

At Corby the locomotives, including D9539 with its BSC number (8311) 30, settled down to a hard working life hauling ironstone from the quarries to the steelworks in 500-ton trainsets over unballasted tracks in the quarries. The engine problems that bedevilled BR were quickly resolved by the exchange of the installed alloy heads by cast iron ones whilst other problems were resolved by adopting modifications that BR would have implemented had the locos been retained in service.
By 1974 the Lincolnshire quarries were closed and the locomotives moved to Corby where they continued working the heavy ironstone trains; part of the move involved a fleet re-numbering in which D9539 now became (8411) 51. In 1979 plans were formulated to re-engine a number of locomotives with Rolls Royce engines and contracts were being negotiated when the decision was taken to cease iron ore mining and the Class 14 fleet became redundant.
The final trains ran on 4 January 1980 but D9539 was already in store awaiting its fate; it remained at Penn Green depot until moved to the Steelworks Disposal Site in December 1980.

The next stage in the life of D9539 occurred when members of the nascent Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) arrived at Corby to inspect D9537 with a view to purchasing it; they also bought D9539 and both locomotives were transferred to the GWR’s base at Toddington on 23 February 1983. The pair of locos initially provided motive power for the GWR’s trains but as the line grew and further locomotives arrived on site the Class 14s became surplus, leading to the sale of D9539 to Ribble Steam Railway chairman Dave Watkins in 2005. D9539 worked its GWR Farewell Train on 23 July 2005 and on 26 July – only 3 days later – it was off-loaded onto Ribble Rails at Riversway.

Date  :  05/04/14 Loco  :  D9539 Location  :  Riversway Siding [RSR] Working  :  Photo charter - station pose

Date : 05/04/14
Loco : D9539
Location : Riversway Siding [RSR]
Working : Photo charter – station pose

Since its arrival D9539 has not had a happy time. After working the “Santa Specials” during December 2005, it was withdrawn from service to seal the oil leaks that were discovered emanating from the cylinder heads. Whilst in the workshops awaiting parts further problems were found and it was decided to give the locomotive a major overhaul that took until July 2011 to complete. It appeared for the Diesel Gala held in August 2011, although there were minor faults still to be corrected, and worked the “Santa Specials” in December 2011 before failing with starter motor problems on the final day.
The return to service took a little longer to accomplish due to delays in obtaining parts and shortage of volunteers hence it was October 2013 before D9539 re-appeared in traffic – just in time to participate in the Diesel Gala – but continuing starter motor problems saw a rapid return to the workshops.
D9539 was fitted with a replacement starter motor that came from an HST Power Car and re-appeared in April 2014 when it was taken to the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) to participate in the ELR’s “Class 14 at 50” Gala held in July 2014; the early arrival allowed some “shakedown” running to be undertaken and minor repairs completed.

Date  :  26/07/14 Loco  :  D9531 Ernest + D9520 + D9513 + D9555 + D9521 + D9526 + D9539 + 14901 + D9537 Location  :  Burrs [ELR] Working  :  19:00 Bury - Rawtenstall Beerex

Date : 26/07/14
Loco : D9531 Ernest + D9520 + D9513 + D9555 + D9521 + D9526 + D9539 + 14901 + D9537
Location : Burrs [ELR]
Working : 19:00 Bury – Rawtenstall Beerex

The ELR Gala helped showcase the continuing success of the Class 14 fleet and their value to Heritage Lines, including Ribble Steam Railway. Having returned to Preston in August 2014 D9539 was readied to take up its position within the RSR’s operational fleet and receive the credit that it deserves for its contribution to the preservation of 19 Class 14 locomotives.
That contribution has seen 10 of the Hull-based locomotives enter preservation, 48 out of the 56 locomotives built be rescued for re-use in industry and – as of January 2015 – 19 class members now preserved.

Prototype Deltic


In October 1955 the Traction Division of English Electric unveiled the World’s most powerful diesel locomotive at its Preston works. It was remarkable for several reasons. At 3,300hp it had almost 50% more power than other designs being considered by the nascent BR Modernisation Programme. Not only was it more powerful, it was lighter too, tipping the scales at 106 tons compared with the 140 tons of less powerful rivals.
The phenomenal power to weight ratio of this prototype was derived from changing one element of orthodox diesel locomotive design. Instead of a four stroke diesel engine with cylinders arranged in vertical banks or V formation, a two stroke design with groups of six cylinders arranged in a layout with two opposing pistons per side took its place. The triangular shape formed was reminiscent of the Greek letter Delta and so the prototype was given the name “Deltic”.

The Engine
The “Deltic” did not just spring into life in 1955 as a flash of innovation. It was in fact the logical conclusion of diesel engine development that had started in Germany in the late 1920s at the Junkers aircraft company. The simplicity and low fuel consumption of diesel engines were attractive to anyone developing long range aircraft. The challenge was to produce a design that delivered a good power to weight ratio. By devising the deltic layout, Junkers produced an engine that weighed 2lb per horsepower.
In 1934 the British Napier aero engine company purchased the right to manufacture engines to this design and developed two versions but neither was put into production as Napier concentrated on building petrol engines. In 1942 Mr. George Nelson (later knighted and subsequently ennobled) was asked by the Government to reorganise the Napier works for mass production of their Sabre engine. Mr. Nelson had been Managing Director of the English Electric company since 1930.

During the 1930s, English Electric became established in the diesel electric locomotive business. Shortly after Mr. Nelson arrived at the Napier works, English Electric took over Napiers and Mr. Nelson became its Managing Director.
After the war, the Admiralty approached English Electric with a request for a high powered diesel engine to replace the petrol engines used in its fast patrol boats. English Electric passed the task of development to their subsidiary, Napiers. The result of this development was the Deltic engine, an 18 cylinder opposed piston, two stroke arranged in three banks of six cylinders with a common crankshaft at each corner of the triangle. Every effort was made to keep engine weight down through the use of light alloys. The cylinder arrangement made the unit both compact and very smooth running.
Although the Deltic engine was developed for marine use, the company looked for other ways to recoup the large investment they had made. One area which could benefit from a powerful, lightweight and compact unit was rail traction. George Nelson saw this possibility and signed off the £250,000 private venture that driven by his forceful character culminated in the unveiling of the prototype at Preston in 1955.

The Prototype
The prototype was powered by two Deltic engines which had been derated from 2,500hp to 1,650 hp so as to extend the engine life from 1000hrs to 6000hrs. This was still considerably less than the 10,000 hrs service interval of conventional four strokes. The main reason for this was the Deltics were run at a much higher speed of 1,500 rpm rather than the conventional 850 rpm. There were concerns that the higher idle speed of Deltics might prove too intrusive in enclosed stations.

Preliminary running trials began in November 1955 on the London Midland Region between Euston and Liverpool, mainly on fast freight trains. It was withdrawn from service in early 1956 for minor modifications before returning for a series of performance tests in August and September.
The tests took place between Carlisle and Skipton covering 5,000 miles which more than adequately demonstrated the power of this locomotive. One test involved a train of 20 coaches, grossing 642 tons, being driven at full power over the 15 miles from Ormside to Ais Gill which is mostly 1 in 100.
Following the tests, the Deltic worked passenger services between Euston and Liverpool on named expresses such as the “Merseyside Express” and the “Shamrock”. In January 1957 it worked the London – Carlisle route but by May it was back on Liverpool duties once more. In June the schedule was cranked up so that the locomotive was doing 700 miles a day, six days a week.

In 1961 when the first production units were nearing completion, the prototype Deltic was returned to English Electric’s Vulcan works with over 400,000 miles on the clock. On Sunday 28th April 1963 the prototype was delivered by road to the Science Museum in London. It was subsequently moved to the National Railway Museum in York. When it was introduced, the Deltic was the most powerful diesel locomotive in the world with a ground breaking power to weight ratio.

References: The Deltics. A Symposium. Second revised edition. Cecil J.Allen, G.F.Fiennes, Roger Ford, B.A.Haresnape, Brian Perren. Published by Ian Allan ISBN 0 7110 07993
British Rail Main Line Diesels Compiled S.W.Stevens-Stratten Published Ian Allen ISBN 0 7110 0617 2