Class 52 ‘Western’
Diesel Hydraulic 2760 BHP
Maximum Speed 90 MPH Weight 109 Tons
2 x Maybach MD 655 12 Cylinder Engine Capacity 65 Litres
74 Built By BR Workshops at Swindon and Crewe.
Built by Swindon Works (Lot 450)
Commissioned 24/10/62 @ Old Oak Common (81A) – Other depots were Laira (84A) and Landore (87E).
Livery - Maroon, small yellow warning panel
Dual Braked & AWS fitted, in 1969, and painted into Blue with Full Yellow ends. Repainted by Laira in 1975.
On 7/2/77 Worked the last Western hauled stone train from Merehead
Withdrawn 27/2/77 with 1,360,740 miles in BR Service (5th highest Western mileage)
On 2/3/77 Moved to Newton Abbot - Stored in the Old Diesel Depot
Between July 1977 and May 1986 it was stored at Merehead in the guise of D1035 Western Yeoman with a livery of Green with full Yellow ends.
The ‘Westerns’ came into being as a direct result of Krauss-Maffei’s experimental 3,000 bhp locomotive, ML3000 which had been examined in September 1957 by British Railway engineers. The ‘Westerns’ would employ two MD655 engines and Voith L360rV transmissions; this was a change, to spread the workload among the various suppliers, Mekydro transmissions having been ordered for the ‘Hymeks’.
The order for the ‘Westerns’ was placed in September 1959. The batch of 74 locomotives was to be split between Swindon and Crewe. The quoted price for the ‘Westerns’ was £115,500 each. The design panel consultants for the ‘Westerns’ was Professor Misha Black and J Beresford-Evans. Much design work had to be undertaken at Swindon to produce a stressed-skin design which would fit within the BR loading gauge. The first locomotive entered traffic in December 1961. The delay was due to the late supply of the transmissions from Germany. The last locomotive D1029, being introduced in July of 1964.
The Locomotives were originally intended to work the passenger services from Paddington to Wolverhampton and beyond. The new locomotives were seen as replacements for Castles and Kings. By 1962 they had made their first appearance in South Wales and as far north as Shrewsbury. In 1964 the decision was taken to concentrate the class on passenger services from Paddington to South Wales, Bristol and the West of England. From 1965 onwards, the ‘Westerns’ settled down after a few teething problems gave sterling service as the Western Region’s standard express locomotive. The Class also handled much of the Region’s freight traffic with some 25% of their mileage coming from such duties. The ‘Western’s’ were particularly suited to freight workings with their high tractive effort.
The locomotives were withdrawn from traffic in the early 1970’s. The last one, being withdrawn in February 1977. Seven have survived into preservation, D1010, D1013, D1015, D1023, D1041, D1048 and D1062.