Where exactly were Class 03s D2185 & D2186 located in the 1970s and where were they actually scrapped?

When this dilemma was first aired its aim was to clarify at which of the Birds Group scrap yards Class 03 D2185 was actually scrapped. Most disposal books record D2185 as being scrapped at Birds Group Long Marston yard in 1978. This could be correct but did anyone ever see or photograph this locomotive at Long Marston in 1978? So far nothing to confirm that it was there then has been found. The alternative possibility was that D2185 was actually scrapped at Birds Group, Cardiff yard where it had been located since at least 1972 and possibly earlier. However, as a consequence an enormous can of worms has been opened which suggests that what has previously appeared in print about this and other Ex BR shunting locomotives that have passed through, or are recorded as having past through, Birds Group yards is either partially, or totally incorrect. In addition it also appears that hire company A. R. Adams probably acquired Class 03s D2178 and D2186 earlier than has previously been recorded.

1966 - 1972 BR Diesel Shunting Locomotive Cull

Bird Group appear to have been concentrating on carriage and wagon disposals at this time. It would appear that the fifteen locomotives acquired from this cull were intended for use in their yards or as a source of spares to support those used. Scrapping taking place once they had no further use for the locomotives.

Bird Group, Cardiff Yards

It has now been established Birds Group have actually had two different yards in Cardiff since the mid 1960s. The first, which was were the Ex BR locomotives were used, was to the east of the main Cardiff Docks complex, between Splott and what was Pengam Farm. This closed in the Autumn of 1977 and was most commonly referred to as 40 Acre site.

The following notes might help with regard to the location and surrounding area. On the North East of the Pengam Farm site was built the Tremorfa Works. Here the coast is on a North East-South West alignment. To the South West of the Pengam Farm site was the Dowlais steel works which had many buildings and tracks along with other firms. The road running parallel with the coast and to the North of the works sites and into the docks is Rover Way. To the West of the steelworks were the railway tracks and siding in a North-South alignment, the junction being near Roath. Roath Dock was to the west of these railway lines with the lines splitting to both sides of the dock and Queen Alexander dock slightly further South and West. Bute Dock was to the North West of Roath Dock on an almost North-South alignment.

The replacement Bird Group yard which opened in the Autumn of 1977 was to the North of Tremorfa Works, next to Rover Way, This is now Sims Metals, Birds Having sold this part of the scrap metal work to Sims.

The yards though appear to have been described in numerous different ways in enthusiast publications over the years which has created much confusion. Examples of how they have been referred being Roath Dock, Tremorfa Works, 40 Acre Site and Rover Way. Ideally we would like to include a map of the area here with the location of the yards clearly marked. If anyone could provide such a map could they please make contact. Alternatively, can anyone give an accurate OS grid reference for the two yards.

   D2185 in Bird's Cardiff Yard on 4th July 1976   railonline.zenfolio.com
The first Ex BR locomotives reported to have arrived were D2736 & D2757 in February 1968. These are reported to have been scrapped in July 1969 and October 1970 respectively. However, with regard to D2757 it would appear that this survived for at least a further year (see below). The next reported arrival was D2125 in May 1969, this has been recorded as scrapped in June 1976. In April 1970 D2123 reportedly arrived from Long Marston but departed to Derby Power Station that November. It being stated that this had been converted to a mobile generator and was presumably not self propelled. It would then appear that the next arrival was D2185 from Long Marston. The presumption now is that this was a replacement for D2125 and took place in 1972. Although not conclusive it is probable that who ever took the pictures in the David J. Smith collection (see below) photographed all the Ex BRs then present. The Class 03 does not match later pictures of D2185 so is presumably D2125. This would support the theory that D2185 arrived in 1972.


   D2185 in Birds' Cardiff yard on 3rd January 1977   Brian Rolley
D2185 was withdrawn from Worcester in December 1968. It remained there until May 1969 when it moved to Birds Group, Long Marston, Worcestershire. Several reports of it were published in the RO at Long Marston, the final one on 7th March 1970 (p.156 5/70 RO), so its history until then appears quite clear. Subsequently it was observed to still be present by Gordon Edgar and Mike Kennard on 30th March 1970. The next traced observation of it is at Birds, Cardiff on 13th May 1973 (p.226 7/73 RO). However, Mike Kennard visited Birds, Cardiff on 20th August 1970 and D2185 was not present. So where was D2185 from 30th March 1970 until 13th May 1973. Presumably it was initially at Long Marston before moving to Cardiff or was it actually somewhere else in between? Actual sightings of it during that period would thus be very much welcomed.

Interestingly, the first edition of the IRS publication 'Former British Rail Diesel Locomotives in Industrial Service' published in May 1972 does not include D2185. Amendment List no.1 published in June 1973 does though, giving it as an addition and moving from Long Marston to B.steel Corp, Abercarn 3/1970 but no mention of it moving to Birds, Cardiff. Notably this same document shows D2186, listed as an A. R. Adams hire locomotive in the book, as 'Believed sold to Birds (Swansea)Ltd, 40 Acre site, Cardiff early 1972'. Although this information is included in the second edition of the book published July 1981, the third edition, published 1987, records D2185 as moving from Long Marston to Cardiff in 1972 with no mention of it ever having been at Abercarn. This is the case in the 4th edition published 1991 and 5th edition published 2000. This suggests that an error had been made and D2185 and D2186 had originally been recorded the wrong way around regarding the movement to Birds, Cardiff. The 6th edition, published 2007, of the IRS book though adds back in the Abercarn reference for D2185 implying it did go there after leaving Long Marston and before arriving at Cardiff. With regard to D2186, from the 3rd to 6th editions no reference to this moving to Birds, Cardiff is made and its movements in 1970 appear accounted for. However, in the 7th edition, published 2011, D2186 is shown as moving to Birds, Cardiff in 1972 and scrapped in 1981. This would mean that three Class 03's should have been present at Birds, Cardiff yard on 13/05/73 and 20/10/1975 when visits were made. However, the visit reports only quote D2125 and D2185 being present, no mention of D2186! The 3rd, 4th and 5th editions do appear to be the most likely to be correct.

It should be noted that the RO published a list in 1972 (p.275 8/72 RO) of Ex BRs in industrial service which listed D2185 as being at Abercarn but made no mention of D2186. Subsequently it is stated that ?2185 was sold to Birds, Long Marston during May 1969 and was in their yard on 7th March 1970. It had disappeared by the end of the month and appears to have been sold to Abercarn Tinplate Works, Monmouth at that time? (p.351 10/72 RO). It should be noted that the word 'appears' is used!

   This picture, taken c1977, in the Long Marston, Worcestershire yard of the Bird Group, shows (from left to right) D2187, D2194 & D2146. D2188 was also present when this picture was taken.   Rail- Online collection
Although D2185 is widely recorded as having moved from Cardiff to Long Marston in January 1978 where it was reputedly scrapped six months later no observations have been found to substantiate that it was ever at Long Marston. At the time various other Class 03s were being scrapped at Long Marston including D2146, D2187, D2188 and D2194 which had been present for many years. Is it possible that one of these was wrongly reported as D2185? It is worth noting that both D2185 and D2187 were by then in a yellow livery without numbers whilst D2146, D2188 and D2194 retained BR green livery with numbers. If so then it is probable that D2187 was taken to be D2185 and whilst D2187 was certainly scrapped at Long Marston it is probable that D2185 was scrapped at Cardiff rather than Long Marston.

With regard to D2185 & D2186 it is interesting to see how the various disposals books have treated them. 'Pronouced Life Extinct' (published 1976) has D2185 in use with Birds, Cardiff and D2186 in use with Adams, Newport. 'A Decade After' (published 1978) has D2185 in use with Adams, Newport and D2186 in use with Birds, Cardiff but in the Amendments 'Appendix 1' shows D2186 as scrapped at Birds, Long Marston 6/78. 'Diesel & Electric Loco Register'. 'Locomotive Lexicon' & 'The Allocation History of BR Diesels & Electrics' has D2185 scrapped at Birds, Long Marston 6/78 and D2186 scrapped at Adams, Newport 1/81.

David Stricklands 'Locomotive Directory' published 1982, has D2185 going to Birds Group, Long Marston and D2186 to Adams, Newport. Clearly though David had concerns about what had been published previously about the two locomotives and it worth repeating in full what he says. "D2114/23/5/46/85/7/8/94 Birds Ltd; all to Long Marston exc D2125 to Cardiff. Of the 7 to LM, D2123 to Cardiff site mid/70 for use as generator, next seen at Derby off wheels 11/70 (Birds, Stratford quoted) & no ID, to Birds Bristol site -/71 (Yellow), used as generator from c7/72, cut 11/78; D2185 hired 3/70 R.T.& B. Abercarn Tinplate Wks., Monmouth (parts from D2183), later ret. Birds c.early/72, then to Cardiff site by 5/73 (ID lost by now), LM c1/78 cut 6/78; The other 5 locos D2114/46/87/8/94 all either used at LM or languished OOU until cut as follows: 1/75(D2114), 2/78(D2188), 6/78(D2187), 7/78(D2146/94). This means that the last 4 survived 9-10 years at Birds. D2125 cut at Cardiff 6/76 but other sources state cut at LM 6/78 which is taken as misinterpretation of D2185 (ID of both remd), as one loco definetly transferred Cardiff to LM c1/78 but at the time taken to be D2186, D2185 having been sold to A. R. Adam. However, the loco at Adam's was found to be D2186(coupling-rods, etc.) which meant that D2185 was the loco sent to LM c1/78. This was then confused with D2125 until D2125 later confirmed to have been cut 6/76 as shown. See also below re.D2186. D2139/78/81/82/6/93 A.R.Adam as hire locos. D2186/93 never resold as others & both cut 1/81 (D2186 dsm -/80), latterly in Green, ID = 2(D2193), none(D2186). D2186 has been stated in error as D2185, also that D2186 sold by Adam to Birds, there being no hirings of D2186 after 9/72 (see above). As there are no hirings known for D2185, this concurs with the above notes for D2185: i.e. D2186 is Adam's loco & D2185 never went to Adam, although lack of hirings for D2186 as yet unexplained."

   Pictured and seeing use in what is believed to be Birds Group Cardiff yard is an Ex BR Class 03. This is thought to be D2125 but that is not certain. The photograph appears to have been taken in late summer or autumn 1971. Any help in confirming the location or identity of the locomotive would be welcomed. David J. Smith collection   David J Smith collection
   Pictured in what is believed to be Birds Group Cardiff yard is an Ex BR North British design 0-4-0. The identity of the locomotive is not known but D2757 would appear most likely even though that is recorded as having being scrapped prior the photograph having been taken, this being late summer or autumn 1971. Any help in confirming the location or identity of the locomotive would be welcomed.   David J. Smith

Having made little progress for some time with this dilemma, Society member John Hall, who is doing extensive research into BR diesel locomotive disposals, came across the picture above of a Class 03. This picture appears elsewhere on the internet but David. J. Smith, in whose collection it is now held, has given permission for its use here.

Even though the Class 03 was photographed from the opposite side to the other photographs of D2185, detailed examination reveals significant detail differences. Thus, it is concluded the locomotive is not D2185. As to the date of the photograph, this is not known but is believed to be late summer or early Autumn 1971. David says "The shot of the 03 is on a strip of 6 35mm negatives, the previous shot being of "Warship" 856 at Swindon Works during a visit on the 14th August 1971". It is hoped that the background to the picture will allow confirmation of the location. David also says "The next shot on the strip (after the D27xx one - only that one and the 03 are from the scrapyard) is at Cardiff Canton depot, so that confirms a South Wales location".

The second picture above now throws more 'oil on troubled waters'! This shows what is believed to be one of the later built former BR North British 0-4-0 at the same location. D2757 was recorded as going to Birds Cardiff yard but as having been scrapped in October 1970. If it is indeed that locomotive then scrapping must have taken place much later or if it is not that one which one is it?

If you can confirm the location of these photographs or can add anything else that might help solve this dilemma please make contact.


With regard to D2186 it has to concluded that this was never a Birds Group locomotive and was sold to Adams, Newport in the Spring of 1970 or possibly earlier (see below). It was this that was hired Abercarn Tinplate Works in April 1970, subsequently seeing use at NCB Tower Colliery from about March 1971 until September 1972. It then was stored at Adams premises in Newport until being scrapped in 1981.

A closer look at the history of D2186 supports further that this was a hire locomotive and had no connection with Birds Group. Roger Harris records it as being "....to store about 3/69, reinstated 5/69 on hire to private firm for track lifting and noted on this duty 6/7/69. Withdrawn 13/9/69. The track lifting being referred to was that between Thame and Morris Cowley. Further detail of this has been supplied by Peter Alexander who says "D2186 was used in connection with track lifting between Thame and Morris Cowley during the summer of 1969. Also, D2178 was also in use and they were exchanged at Morris Cowley every few weeks. D2186 was the last ever "train" from the west when it arrived on 19 August 1969 and D2178 formed the last departure eastbound on the same day. Track lifting, already completed east of Wheatley then started at the Morris Cowley end. On 12 September basically all track was lifted and D2178 was taken away by road from Wheatley to Oxford Rewley Road (former LMS) station for re-railing. As I recall, the locos were on hire to the Cohen 600 Group, the company which did the demolition." Could it be that D2178 and D2186 were by the summer of 1969 already owned by A. R. Adams and this was an example of a much earlier hire.

Thus, in order to clarify the late 1960's and early 1970's histories of D2185 and D2186 sightings and any other information about these after they left BR service is sought. Below are contributors sightings so far received. Further sightings would though be very much appreciated. Please submit sightings in the boxes provided. Be careful to select the correct locomotive 'drop down' in the 'Loco' box. All dates should be submitted in the form dd/mm/yyyy.

Sightings for D2185

LocoLocationDateSeen by
D2185Birds, Long Marston31/05/1969p.265 8/69 RO
D2185Birds, Long Marston28/06/1969p.334 10/69 RO
D2185Birds, Long Marston14/07/1969p.407 12/69 RO
D2185Birds, Long Marston26/07/1969p.367 11/69 RO
D2186Wheatley, Oxfordshire19/08/1969Peter Alexander
D2185Birds, Long Marston07/03/1970p.156 5/70 RO
D2185Birds, Long Marston30/03/1970Gordon Edgar
D2186NCB Tower Colliery20/06/1971Philip Cartwright
D2185Birds, Tremorfa (+D2125)13/05/1973p.226 7/73 RO
D2185Birds, Tremorfa (+D2125)20/10/1975Mike Martin
D2185Birds, 40 Acre Site, Rover Way, Cardiff (+D2125) 25/03/1976IRS Records
D2185Birds, Cardiff (+D2125)11/04/1976Stewart Hookins
D2185Birds, Rover Way, Cardiff04/07/1976Rail-Online archive
D2185Birds, 40 Acre Site, Cardiff03/01/1977Brian Rolley
D2186A. R. Adams, Newport compound (+D2193, D2244)07/10/1978Brian Cuttell
D2186A. R. Adams, Newport compound (+D2193, D2244)14/10/1979Brian Cuttell
D2186A. R. Adams, Newport compound (+D2193, D2244)01/06/1980Brian Cuttell

Last updated: 20th January 2019