Class 50s at fifty

Rail (UK) - - Contents - David Clough rail@bauer­me­ Con­tribut­ing Writer

Ten work­ing ‘50s’ are the star at­trac­tions as Sev­ern Val­ley Golden Ju­bilee gala cel­e­brates 50 years of the Type 4s.

A three-day gala on the Sev­ern Val­ley Railway (SVR) on Oc­to­ber 4-6 marked the cul­mi­na­tion of a year of events com­mem­o­rat­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of the de­liv­ery of Class 50s.

The Golden Ju­bilee’s pro­poser and key or­gan­iser, Craig Tay­lor of The Fifty Fund (the sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tion for Class 50 Al­liance Ltd), told RAIL: “With the 50th an­niver­sary of Class 50 two years away, I dis­cussed with Jonathan Dun­ster, the Al­liance’s chair­man and a direc­tor of Sev­ern Val­ley Hold­ings plc, how we should mark the oc­ca­sion. A re­turn to the main line after a gap of five years and a sin­gle-class diesel gala on the Sev­ern Val­ley Railway were pro­posed.”

Dun­ster added: “I was not alone in be­ing un­sure whether an event fea­tur­ing just one diesel class would be vi­able. The SVR would have al­ready held a diesel gala dur­ing 2018. But sin­gle-class diesel galas on other heritage lines, notably with Class 40s and ‘55s’ on the East Lan­cashire Railway, had es­tab­lished their com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity and this in­flu­enced the de­ci­sion to go-ahead.

“I had the am­bi­tion to get ten work­ing ‘50s’, and am de­lighted we have achieved this. In ad­di­tion to 50007/031/035/044/049, owned and op­er­ated by the Al­liance, Neil Bo­den pro­vided 50017 and 50050, while Garcia Han­son of­fered 50008 and agreed to col­lect 50015 from the East Lancs Railway.

“50033 is on a three-year loan from Ty­se­ley railway mu­seum to the Al­liance and, to­gether with 50044, the ques­tion was whether both could be made op­er­a­tional in time.”

There are 18 ‘50s’ in preser­va­tion. Apart from those brought to­gether for the gala, only 50042 Tri­umph is a run­ner at present, al­though it is not able to move on Net­work Rail met­als.

With the gala con­firmed, the ques­tion was whether 50033 and 50044 could be re­turned to traf­fic. The for­mer had not op­er­ated since 2004, while the lat­ter had suf­fered a se­ri­ous en­gine de­fect in 2012.

Tay­lor ex­plained: “It was put to Tony Mid­dle­ton, the Al­liance’s En­gi­neer­ing Co-or­di­na­tor, that it would be im­prac­ti­cal to get both ma­chines ready. But he and his team rose bril­liantly to the chal­lenge. Hav­ing the SVR’s modern, diesel main­te­nance fa­cil­ity at Kid­der­min­ster was a cru­cial fac­tor in pro­gress­ing this work.

“Re­paint­ing 50033 proved to be one hur­dle too many, and it has been turned out in green primer. Tony then hit on the money-rais­ing idea of charg­ing £5 to write graf­fiti on the body­side. This re­ally cap­tured ev­ery­one’s imag­i­na­tion and suc­cess­fully raised over £3,000 to­wards the cost of a re­paint.”

Paul Spracklen’s 50026 In­domitable has been at the SVR for some time and was ex­pected to run dur­ing the gala. Un­for­tu­nately, an en­gine de­fect only iden­ti­fied at a late stage pre­vented the lo­co­mo­tive’s par­tic­i­pa­tion.

40106 At­lantic Con­veyor, the standby lo­co­mo­tive for the event, was di­a­grammed in place of 50026 on Oc­to­ber 6 in con­se­quence, al­though 50026 re­mained on dis­play and proved pop­u­lar for cab vis­its.

Ad­vance ticket sales matched those for pre­vi­ous SVR diesel events, and the first train on the open­ing day of the gala - the 0830 from Kid­der­min­ster hauled by 50035 Ark Royal - was packed.

At a sim­i­larly well-at­tended so­cial event of nearly 100 on Oc­to­ber 4, gala vis­i­tors heard talks by Dun­ster, Ge­off Hud­son (Area Fleet Man­ager at Ply­mouth Laira in the last years of the ‘50s’), and for­mer Al­liance Chair­man David Clough, to­gether with a slide show by co-founder of The Fifty Fund, Dave Keogh.

An in­ten­sive timetable op­er­ated across the three days. 50008 Thun­derer no longer has a vac­uum train brake ca­pa­bil­ity, and so made reg­u­lar re­turn trips be­tween Kid­der­min­ster and High­ley on freight rolling stock.

When Laira staged line-ups of ‘50s’ for spe­cial events dur­ing

the 1990s, Mal­colm Wishart, the de­pot’s pro­duc­tion man­ager, used to or­ches­trate a co-or­di­nated start-up known af­fec­tion­ately as the ‘Laira Con­certo’. This was re-cre­ated in the plat­forms at Kid­der­min­ster at 0950 on Oc­to­ber 5, with Wishart con­duct­ing a si­mul­ta­ne­ous en­gine start of 50049 De­fi­ance and 50031 Hood.

And on Oc­to­ber 6 a reded­i­ca­tion of 50049 De­fi­ance took place. Dun­ster ex­plained: “I was ap­proached by a share­holder who is cur­rently an of­fi­cer at the Royal Naval base at Ply­mouth, with the sug­ges­tion of a reded­i­ca­tion of 50049. Com­modore Robert Bell­field, the Royal Navy Com­man­der at Devon­port Dock­yard, agreed to the pro­posal and per­formed the cer­e­mony.”

Own­ers of orig­i­nal Class 50 name­plates made their col­lec­tions avail­able for a dis­play at High­ley, to­gether with a dis­play of five-inch gauge ‘50s’. The Diesel De­pot at Kid­der­min­ster also housed a dis­play of ‘flame-cut’ num­ber pan­els from scrapped class mem­bers 50006, 50009, 50040 and 50046. Dun­ster de­clared: “It could be ar­gued there were 15 mem­bers of the class in at­ten­dance!”

Mem­bers of the pub­lic were also given guided tours of the de­pot.

On Oc­to­ber 3 (the night be­fore the gala started), a photo shoot was ar­ranged star­ring the lo­co­mo­tives that would be used dur­ing the event - plus 50026 In­domitable, which was re­moved from the gala days be­fore due to faults. From left to right are: 50049 De­fi­ance, 50015 Valiant, 50033 Glo­ri­ous, 50050 Fear­less, 50035 Ark Royal and 50031 Hood. JACK BOSKETT.


The Class 50 Golden Ju­bilee gala fea­tured the re­turn to ac­tion of 50033Glo­ri­ous fol­low­ing 14 years out of use. Car­ry­ing un­der­coat, which peo­ple could ‘tag’ for £5 to raise money, the ‘50’ de­parts Bewd­ley with the 1030 Bridg­northKid­der­min­ster on Oc­to­ber 5.

Valiant. DAR­REN FORD.

On Oc­to­ber 5, the sec­ond day of the Class 50 Golden Ju­bilee event, pas­sen­gers watch ac­tiv­ity at Kid­der­min­ster. From left to right are: 50049De­fi­ance, 50017 Royal Oak, and 50015


As well as pas­sen­ger trains, the Class 50 Golden Ju­bilee event cel­e­brated the use of the mixed-traf­fic Type 4s on freight work. Re-cre­at­ing its fi­nal Bri­tish Rail days, when it was used on bal­last trains in the South West, Han­son Rail 50008Thun­derer passes Sev­ern Lodge. As the ‘50’ is air-braked only, it was un­able to haul any pas­sen­ger trains.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.