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Diesel Dilemmas

Scrapping of 'Baby Deltic' D5908

If one locomotive disposal typifies the problem of repeating what has been published before it is that of Class 23 ‘Baby Deltic’ D5908. Before explaining the saga in detail it should be said that it has now been established beyond doubt that D5908 was scrapped at J. Cashmore, Great Bridge in February 1970 and not a G. Cohen, Kettering.

Consultation of 1969/1970 RO’s gives several sightings of D5908 at Bescot in late 1969, the final one being on 23rd November 1969 (p.12 1/70 RO). Previously it had been located at Finsbury Park. A further sighting at Bescot on 14th December 1969 is later quoted by Ashley Butlin. Roger Harris quotes in Part Five of ‘The Allocation History of BR Diesels & Electrics – third edition’ (p.59) that it was towed away from Bescot on 4th January 1970. It is thus fair to say that it all references up until this date are correct.

The next published reference to D5908 is in the RO (p.156 5/70 RO) where it is quoted as being at G. Cohen, Kettering on 14th January 1970 along with D2176. Interestingly this report does not quote D5906 as present, which as far as can be ascertained arrived their in the autumn of 1969 and was not scrapped until July 1971. Quite obviously D5908 was a typo for D5906 as two references contradict D5908 being at Kettering. Firstly, the RO (p.193 6/70 RO) gives D5908 (from Finsbury Park) as noted as being cut up at J. Cashmore, Great Bridge in February. Secondly, when the subject was debated in ‘Rail’ magazine in 1984 a reader wrote in stating they had observed D5908 at. J. Cashmore, Great Bridge on 8th February 1970. Other than the 14th January 1970 reference to D5908 at Kettering no other observation has been traced of it en route from Bescot to Kettering or in the G. Cohen yard. Indeed, its presence at Kettering was queried in the RO (p.193 6/70 RO) but no resolution appears to ever have appeared in print.

What until now had not been published is information discovered by RCTS member Andy Wylie. Andy has viewed the DME KX records concerning D5908 and after condemnation on 9th March 1969 it was put up for sale, from Finsbury Park, on tender 17/230/521T/103. Unusually, it was a single item tender - most locos were sold in batches. BRB Supplies at Derby sent KX a copy on 18th August 1969 and the tender was due back on 8th September 1969. The official date of sale was 10th September 1969 and KX were advised on 12th September 1969 that the purchaser was "John Cashmore Ltd, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffordshire". Destination was Great Bridge and it was to be sent there a.s.a.p. The copy of the Advice of Dispatch note (BR 8658) says that it was dispatched from 34G on 3rd October 1969. A letter from the CM&EE York to KX on the 29th December 1969 states that "Messrs John Cashmore Ltd inform me that the above mentioned locomotive has not yet arrived at destination" and asks that KX trace forward. Andy says that what happened next is not on the disposals file (KM5/160/6) but he has spoken to former DME KX colleagues of his whom were there at the time, they traced D5908 forward to Bescot where the locomotive had been stopped "with brake problems". They said that it was consigned forward "within days of us finding it"! This obviously taking place on 4th January 1970. In addition to this, the 'HSBT Project', who are researching steam locomotive disposals, have discovered a reference in the J. Cashmore records showing the date taken in for D5908 as 5th January 1970. With this fresh evidence now available it does appear beyond doubt that D5908 remained at Bescot until 4th January 1970 when it was towed to J. Cashmore, Great Bridge where it remained for several weeks before being scrapped sometime that February.

'Pronounced Life Extinct’, ‘A Decade After’ and ‘Locomotive Directory’ all quote D5908 as scrapped at G. Cohen, Kettering, presumably the former basing this on the erroneous Kettering sighting and the later two reproducing that error. Later titles, particularly after the subject was aired in ‘Rail’, tend to correctly record the disposal at J. Cashmore, Great Bridge. A problem though is that despite what had been published in the ‘Railway Observer’ and ‘Rail’ several quote a cut date of December 1969 when February 1970 is clearly correct. Interestingly though, despite what has now been published, Roger Harris still favours the G. Cohen, Kettering scenario in Part Five and Part Six (A) of ‘The Allocation History of Diesels & Electrics – third edition’ (p.59 & p.112 respectively)!

Photographs and other information will be welcomed by Peter Hall

last updated: 05/10/10