D123 – Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry

Class 45 Peak D123 "Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry"
With the introduction of its Modernisation Plan in 1955, British Railways heralded the demise of the steam locomotive. The Plan envisaged electrification of principal routes, large scale introduction of diesel and electric traction and re-signalling and track renewal. With increasing competition from road transport and the railway’s obligation to carry all the freight offered to it, railway finances got worse and the plan was speeded up in 1959. This led to mass orders for new diesel types which were then under development. The first of the diesel classes were introduced in 1960 and ‘61 and ran alongside steam locomotives which were to be finally withdrawn in 1968. Hence, the present day GCR runs 1960s Galas at which steam and diesel traction is used.

The Class 45s, as they were to become known, were built between 1960 and 1962 at the British Railways works at Crewe and Derby and totalled 126 engines. They were externally similar to the earlier ten Class 44s but with a Sulzer 12 cylinder 12LDA28B engine uprated to 2500 hp. They were intended for express passenger work. The Class 44s were named after English and Welsh peaks and they, and the Class 45s, became known as “Peaks”. In fact a small number of Class 45s were named after British Army Regiments using names formally carried by the LMS Royal Scot steam locomotives.

As with all but the diesels built for the Western Region of British Railways the diesel engine in the locomotive drives an electric generator the power from which is fed to the electric, or traction, motors on the driven axles. They are thus diesel electric locomotives.

The carriages that were to be used with the early diesel engines had been designed for use with steam locomotives and were heated by steam from the engine. In order to do this diesel engines had to have a steam heating boiler. It was not until the 1970s that electrically heated carriages were introduced and this led to the removal of steam boilers and the installation of Electric Train Heating (ETH).

D123 was built at Crewe works in 1961 and released to traffic at Derby on 28th October of that year. It worked express trains to London on the Midland main line and also worked on cross country routes. With the introduction of High Speed Trains it spent the last six months of its BR life working the trans-Pennine services from Newcastle/Scarborough to Liverpool/North Wales. As well as being allocated to Derby it was also allocated to the Nottingham division at Toton and remained there until November, 1986. It finally moved to Sheffield Tinsley from where it was withdrawn on 7th May, 1987 having been declared beyond economic limits to repair.

When built D123 had a Stones steam heating boiler capable of supplying 2750 lbs of steam per hour. In 1971 ETH equipment was fitted to fifty of the class including D123. With the removal of steam heating equipment the underslung water tank was ballasted and the two boiler room tanks replaced by ballast blocks in order to maintain the correct weight and balance of the locomotive.

The locomotive was numbered 45125 in April, 1974 becoming part of the 45/1 sub class with ETH.

After withdrawal it was stored at March, its move there taking place on 20th May, 1987. Whilst there the Railway Technical Centre at Derby identified it as suitable for use as a dead load vehicle for testing the new Class 60 locomotives on the Mickleover test track. It arrived at the test track on 12th February, 1989 and was used until finally dumped at Eggington Junction in June, 1990.

It was purchased for preservation in 1991 by the Humberside Locomotive Preservation Group (now the 5305 Locomotive Association based on the GCR) and moved to their base at Hull Dairycoates on 23rd March, 1992. There considerable restoration work was undertaken which included re-wiring, renovation of the engine and its cooling systems and major work on the electrical generator and braking system. In early 1994 D123 was moved to Hull Botanic Gardens depot and then in 1998 it was moved to the GCR arriving at Quorn & Woodhouse on 2nd April, 1998. New batteries were fitted and bodywork repairs continued. It was painted in BR Green livery.

On 22nd June, 2000 at Loughborough Central it was named “Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry” (a name originally carried by Class 46 D163/46026) by Lt Colonel Ridley Thomson. Since the naming it has given many hours of trouble free running mainly on the passenger services of the GCR.

Routine maintenance and repair remains an ongoing requirement. In 2001 all 12 cylinder heads were removed for attention to the valve guides, transition water seals, repairs to the fuel and water header tanks and injectors and exhaust pipework. A new lubricating oil heat exchanger was fitted in 2003 and a combined pump set fitted in the same year. In 2004 half a set of batteries were replaced.

D123 represents an example of the first generation of diesel locomotives on British Railways. It provides an interesting contrast to the steam locomotives on the line and is an historic locomotive in its own right.

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