Prototype factfile: 31418
Built at the famous Brush Works in Loughborough, D5522 entered traffic in March 1959, at Stratford depot, along with the previous 22 Brush Type 2s. It was allocated the TOPS number of 31104 but this was never carried, as D5522 was selected for Electric Train Heating (ETH) conversion in 1973. Gaining the new identity of 31418, this was the first locomotive of the original headcode disc – or ‘skinhead’ – pattern to be converted. Eventually, 69 locomotives were converted to ‘31/4’ status by the late 1980s, with just three more ‘skinheads’ treated (31444/450/461). Initially, 31418 retained its steam generator after ETH conversion, along with the disc headcodes and original fittings, such as bufferbeam cowlings and a raised waist-level panel. Following a heavy general overhaul in the late 1980s, the boiler was removed and all associated body fitments plated over.
The elegant cowlings and waist strip were also cut away. High-intensity headlights were installed around the turn of the 1990s, along with rooftop aerial pods. By this time, 31418’s use on passenger stock was dwindling, with parcels, freight and civil engineers’ workings being more common. Becoming something of a celebrity in the North West and Midlands, the shabby blue locomotive received the unofficial name of ‘Boadicea’, applied in white italics on the bodysides, along with painted-on white disc headcodes at the No. 1 end. As British Rail fragmented, 31418 was briefly taken into Transrail’s traction fleet, before withdrawal in October 1995. Happily, preservation beckoned under the care of A1A Locomotives. Currently, ‘418’ is undergoing restoration at the Midland Railway Centre.
31418 leads classmate 31411 and Class 47 47978 at an unrecorded location in November 1993.