Class 33 D6535

D6535 is a part of the National Collection and represents one of the many medium sized locomotives built by British Railways as part of the 1955 Modernisation Plan.

This type of locomotive was ordered by the Southern Region, who after viewing some of the pilot scheme locomotives approached the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company to produce a modified version of locomotives ordered by the Eastern Region. It featured a more powerful engine, electric heating and both air and vacuum train brakes.

They were ordered in two variations, and were to become the standard diesel locomotive of the Southern Region. 98 were built in total, the two initial versions were identical other than that twelve of them were built to the Hastings gauge, i.e. some 8½” narrower.

Later, nineteen locomotives were modified to operate with the EMU vehicles that had been ordered for the 1967 Bournemouth electrification. These locomotives would take over at Bournemouth and take the front portion of a service that had come from Waterloo and take it forward to Weymouth. On the return it would push the same set back to Bournemouth, but being driven from the cab on that unit. This situation remained in place until electrification on the route to Weymouth. The versatility of this system also allowed workings to Salisbury and the Clapham Junction. - Kensington service. It also allowed the Southern to use them on a few special workings of the Southern Region. This meant that in theory these modified locomotives could work in multiple with any of the Southern Region EMUs.

D6535 was built in 1960 by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company and entered traffic in December of that year. It was initially allocated to Hither Green (1960 – 1964) and then to Eastleaigh (1964 – 1987), Stewarts Lane (1987), Eastleigh (1987 – 1994), Stewarts Lane (1994), Eastleigh (? – 1998). It was named “Hertfordshire Railtours” at Weymouth Quay on 11th December, 1993 and was withdrawn from Eastleigh in August 1998 before going to Old Oak Common (1998 – 2005). With privatisation of the railways D6535 passed to the English Welsh and Scottish Railway Company who used it for parcels and freight work. It was withdrawn by them after a shunting mishap. It was around this time it was designated by the Heritage Committee as worthy of adding to the National Collection.

The locomotive languished at Old Oak Common depot in London, where the weather took its toll before it moved to the Great Central Railway in 2005, under the custodianship of the 5305 Locomotive Association.

A considerable amount of work has already been undertaken, including a partial rewire, engine repairs and some body work repairs.

It has become evident that much of the bodywork is now in need of some more serious work rather than the patching of small areas. Much of the lower cab sides and front are rotten due to the period in London, and the large amounts of filler that was found which trapped water behind it. The body sides are also suffering from rot due to the internal guttering having rotted whilst in store (these have all been replaced).

This locomotive is an important part of the National Collection as it represents not only the Southern Region’s successful attempt at a diesel locomotive but the only example of a small Sulzer engine out of 682 built for BR, most of which were built by Vickers at Barrow in Furness.

Although the locomotive has run on the GCR it is now the subject of major restoration.

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