The 'Western' Diesel Hydraulics

Brief History     The Atmospheric Railway     The Broad Gauge

Steam Locomotives    
Limited Edition Railway Prints of Dawlish

D1013 Western Ranger passes along the Sea Wall near Dawlish in the 1970’s

From 1962 the British Railways (Western Region) had introduced a new class of powerful diesel hydraulic locomotive, known by drivers as “thousands” (each locomotive was numbered from D1000 to D1073); by BR (W) as “Class 52’s” (the locomotives’ official Class number) and by enthusiasts as “Westerns” as each locomotive was given a name beginning with the word “Western”.  With the building of 74 locomotives between
Swindon Works and Crewe Works, these locomotives enabled steam locomotives, particularly the “Kings” to be finally phased out.

The Westerns operated from London (Paddington) to all parts of the British Railways (Western Region) and were a familiar, if not daily sight and sound along the sea wall at Dawlish to thousands of visitors.  The locomotives hauled many passenger trains for holiday makers and could also be seen on heavy freight trains, such was the locomotive’s versatility.   The Westerns were gradually being phased out in the mid 1970’s, in favour of High Speed Trains (HST’s) but generated a quite a following amongst railway enthusiasts, who appreciated the design, sight and incredible sound of two 65 litre, high revving Maybach V12 engines. 

End of the Westerns
The last official Western working in BR days was on 26 February 1977 when two Westerns hauled a farewell rail tour in both directions through Dawlish.  The locomotives were
D1013 Western Ranger and D1023 Western Fusilier which double-headed the rail tour from Paddington to Swansea to Plymouth and then all the way back to Paddington!

Since 1977 a total of 7 Westerns were preserved and D1015 Western Champion can still occasionally be seen passing through Dawlish on special charter trips.  D1015 is the only  main-line certified locomotive, following 25 years of restoration work by the Diesel Traction Group.  At least one of two Westerns (
D1013 Western Ranger and D1062 Western Courier) owned by the Western Locomotive Association can be seen operating each year from around May to October on the Severn Valley Railway.

Useful links.....
King Class locomotives
Severn Valley Railway
Swindon Works
Western Locomotive Association