The 1960s was a decade of great
change on Britain's railways. The well-documented death of steam in
August 1968 was made possible by two things; the closure of large
numbers of lines and stations, and the introduction of diesel
traction. BR's Modernisation Plan is often mentioned in the
same breath as the Beeching Cuts, but the former was really
the pre-cursor to the infamous doctor's report on the railways. The Modernisation
Plan was intended to restore the network to profitability after
many years of decline which were amplified by the Second World War.
The report called for several measures including the closure of a
small number of lines, but more importantly called for the
replacement of steam traction by diesel and electric locomotives. A
huge range of locomotives were ordered from numerous builders in
differing designs, many of which were hastily thrown together by
companies with little or no experience in the field. The result was
a very mixed bag of types, some of which proved very successful,
while some were not. There were therefore some types of locomotive
which only saw short careers on the main line, before being
consigned to the scrap heap or perhaps finding further use in
private ownership. It is ironic and perhaps indicative of the
misguided nature of the Modernisation Plan that some of these
locomotives failed to out-last the steam locos they were intended to
In addition to the
short-lived production types, there were also a small number of
prototype locos which were intended to prove new designs before
starting full production. This page is a home for photographs of
these diesel oddities which at some point visited Preston. All were
taken by Tony Gillett, a railwayman who carried his camera with him
and captured these rare shots.
Most famous of the prototype diesels was DELTIC or DP1 which was
built by English Electric at their Dick Kerr works in Preston. That
loco, which is now part of the National Collection (currently at the
NRM's Shildon outpost), was successful enough to lead to the
manufacture of 22 production locomotives, which took over from the
Gresley A4s on the East Coast Main Line. Sadly, I don't have a photo
of DELTIC at Preston, although there are some published photos which
I can't reproduce for copyright reasons.
Can you help?
Resembling a steam tender engine, this was perhaps the oddest of the
diesel prototypes, but arguably the best-looking! The locomotive was
built at the Vulcan Foundry, based on the chassis of a Black 5 steam
loco, with a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement and a 2,700 HP gas turbine
engine. The "tender" was the diesel fuel tank and
completed the steam-engine look to the machine, which was finished
in a striking red-oxide livery.
These photos show GT3 at Preston on 20th October
1961, probably during tests which were carried out over Shap.
Ultimately, BR decided not to pursue gas-turbine technology and GT3
was returned to English Electric in 1962 just a year after it was
built. It was finally scrapped 4 years later.
Photos : Tony Gillett 20/10/1961
"Diesel Prototype 2" was the prototype
for what became the Class 50s. The different body-side grilles are
the giveaway that this isn't a production Deltic, but it is said
that the body for DP2 was "stolen" straight off the Deltic
Photos : Tony Gillett 15/12/1962
Probably the oddest of all the pilot scheme diesels, the class 28s
never had a good reputation for reliability. Neither were they the
best-looking of locos, with their slab-fronted "face" and
odd bogies - one 4-wheel and one 6-wheel (Bo-Co). For a short while
these machines were quite common at Preston and to the north, but they
were an early casualty and by 1969 all had been withdrawn after just
10 years of service. Miraculously, one of the class survived in
departmental use long enough to be preserved, and is now undergoing
restoration at the East Lancs Railway.
Photo : Tony Gillett 24/08/1962
OK, this probably doesn't belong on this page, but by any measure, a
"Warship" is a rare visitor to Preston no matter what year
it is. This example, D845 Spritely looks to be in ex-works
condition. The photo dates from March 1961, so it is probably on its
way from the North British Locomotive Co. to its new home at Swindon.
Photo : Tony Gillett 2/3/1961