D9016 “Gordon Highlander”

55016

Photo courtesy of Fraser Colquhoun

The Class 55 Deltics were built between 1961 and 1962 by English Electric. They were designed for the high-speed express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line between London King's Cross and Edinburgh and introduced regular 100mph running over the route. Their name originates from the Napier Deltic power units an opposed-piston valveless, two-stroke diesel engine used in marine and locomotive applications, designed and produced by Napier & Son. The cylinders were divided in three blocks in a triangular arrangement, the blocks forming sides with crankshafts located in each apex of the triangle.

Twenty-two locomotives were built to replace 55 Pacific locomotives and they dominated express passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) particularly London – Leeds and London – Edinburgh services until 1978 when InterCity 125 High Speed Trains were introduced. 1978–81 saw them gradually relegated to semi-fast or newspaper–parcel–sleeper services along the ECML (destinations including Cambridge, Cleethorpes, Harrogate, Hull, Scarborough and Aberdeen) plus occasional forays offline on York - Liverpool Lime Street semi-fast and Edinburgh - Carlisle via Newcastle stoppers. Withdrawal came at the end of 1981. Six locomotives were preserved and are still running today.

D9016 (55 016) “Gordon Highlander” was purchased by the Deltic 9000 Fund, with the intention that it would be restored to running condition, whilst acting as a mobile source of spares. For a short period between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the locomotive went on hire to Porterbrook Leasing, who painted it into their corporate purple livery. It lasted in this  livery until 2002, when it was re-painted in its original two-tone green livery. Porterbrook found various uses for it on the mainline. As of November, 2007 the locomotive was based at the Peak Rail near Bakewell where it could sometimes be seen hauling trains. In July 2008, this locomotive was sold by a private individual to the Harry Needle Railroad Company for spot hire as a business venture. In spite of previous announcements to the contrary, HNRC put the D9016 up for sale at the end of September, 2008. Bids from the Gordon Highlander Preservation Group and Martin Walker (the owner of 55 022) were rejected by HNRC in favour of a higher offer from Direct Rail Services (DRS) Ltd. Direct Rail Services (DRS) Ltd kept D9016 (55 016) at Barrow Hill for a year with intention of a full overhaul but these plans never surfaced. The locomotive was sold one year later to Martin Walker and his team and is now based at East Lancashire Railway with 55022. His aim is to return D9016 to mainline condition once again. 55 016 donated one of its two engines to 55 022 in April, 2010 as one of 55 022's engines was not one of the original Napier-Deltic engines fitted in 1959.

The locomotive arrived on the GCR on 20th March, 2014.

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