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Here today, Gronk tomorrow – 70 years of English Electric


To celebrate 70 years of the British Railways’ English Electric diesel electric shunters (later designated Class 08) we present a selection of images of these heroic machines.

HARD to believe, but it has taken 70 years for the UK to consider introducing a new type of small scale shunting locomotive. Over seven decades the ubiquitous 0-6-0 design, now known to us as Class 08, has held sway across the UK wherever dedicated shunting movements were required.

Just under 1000 machines were built in British Railway facilities at Crewe, Darlington, Derby, Doncaster and Horwich, with construction lasting for a decade, making the class the largest-ever in the UK. As built, the 350hp locos used English Electric EE506 traction motors and a EE6KT prime mover. While many of these hardy workhorses remain on the main UK rail network, in private sidings or as hugely useful motive power on preserved railways, they are beginning to show their age and component replacement is becoming more challenging. It wouldn’t surprise us, though, if these compact wonders are around for some time yet

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A shunter driver appears in a classic ‘08’ driver pose as No. 08525 (originally D3687) pauses near Holgate Bridge at York on March 11, 1981. Since 1994 the shunter has been based at Neville Hill depot, outside Leeds, where it resides to this day. Mortons Archive
No. 08479 (in BR blue) and D3232 (in green) stand outside the Buckley Wells workshops on the East Lancashire Railway on March 27, 1999. The former (originally No. D3594) was preserved in 1993 and is still based at the ELR, while the latter (renumbered as No. 08164 in its BR days) was sold into preservation in 1998 and is also housed at the ELR, albeit now in BR blue. Mortons Archive
A real Rail Express reader challenge: at an unknown location on an unknown date (believed to be in the 1970s), an unidentified Class 08 is sandwiched between a BR standard brake van and bogie well wagon that contains a module branded in Derby RTC colours that appears to contain recording equipment. A member of staff is apparently taking measurements. Any details about the purpose and identities of these vehicles will be most welcome! Mortons Archive
No. 13336 (later Nos. D3336 and then 08266) was preserved at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in 1985, where it is seen, having had its original number reapplied, on April 5, 1999. Mortons Archive
Two trusty ‘08s’ are on hand to shunt Pendolinos at Alstom’s Widnes facility, where the Class 390s are currently undergoing a major refurbishment. Nearest the camera on April 28 is No. 08454 (the erstwhile D3569), while waiting to take No. 390155 out of the test siding is No. 08721 (formerly D3889). BC Collection

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