Diesel Dilemmas

Ex BR Diesel Shunting Locomotives Exported to Italy

   When this dilemma was started in 2009 the only Ex BR Diesel Shunting Locomotive believed to be still extant in Italy was Class 04 D2289. It is pictured, freshly re-painted, at Lonato Steel works, Lonato, Brescia, Italy on 14th April 2005.   Stefano Paolini


The subject of BR design shunting locomotives exported to Italy is a classic example of authors repeating what has been published before despite it clearly containing anomalies. Many hours have been spent by many people trying to unravel this dilemma and as a result a completely different picture is emerging to that previously published.

It is now apparent that although the Queenborough, Isle of Sheppey company Shipbreaking (Queenborough) was involved with the exports from 1972 onwards they were not involved with those that took place earlier. It is now believed that at least three locomotives were exported prior to 1972. Details regarding these can be found here

Precisely how many locomotives were exported from 1972 onwards is far from clear. It is though believed that at least fifteen BR Class 03, Class 04, Class 06 and Class 07 locomotives were involved. Although some information is known about the locomotives Italian histories, in many cases the information is rather sketchy. In an attempt to build up a better picture of the Italian history of these locomotives you are invited to submit any observations or photographs of them you may have made whilst visiting Italy. In addition any sightings in Great Britain after condemnation would also be welcomed.

   This former BR Class 03, exact identity unknown, is pictured sometime between 2008 and 2013 at the entrance to Ferramento Pugliesse, Terlizzi, Bari, Italy   Peter Hall collection
It was thought that in recent years only one Ex BR survived in Italy, this being D2289 at Lonato. However in October 2014 Wim Roost from the Netherlands notified us of the accompanying photograph. It is believed it could have been taken as recently as 2013 and it is now known that the locomotive was still present in September 2015. Delving into Google earth images has revealed that this locomotive was present in 2006 and possibly before. It was initially suggested that this could be D2033 that was known still to survive as recently as 2004 at Montirone but no subsequent reports of what became of it have been received. However, very careful examination of a set of pictures of the locomotive taken in 2015 have ruled this out. It is thus a locomotive thought to have been disposed of even earlier. Comparison of the 2015 pictures with all those so far traced of Class 03's believed exported to Italy have concluded the most probable candidate to be D2156-03156. This though was believed scraped c1984 so if does prove to be that where has it been since?

Any further information, photographs or observations regarding this plinthed Class 03 would be most welcomed.

Shipbreaking (Queenborough) and its involvement

It is important to understand the involvement Shipbreaking (Queenborough) had with ex BR diesel locomotives. Also the history of rail and scrap activity in Rushenden and Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey.

It is known that in the 1950s the industrial railway in Rushenden was operated by Settle Speakman and Company and served a number of other company premises and wharves. During the early 1960s coal traffic dwindled and the Washer Wharf and associated sidings were used by Lacmots of Sheerness for ship breaking and later the breaking of steam locomotives and other railway rolling stock. It would appear that the rail operations were taken over by Shipbreaking (Queenborough) in the mid 1960s. The company also taking over from Lacmots as the company breaking up ships and railway rolling stock. Settle Speakman & Company and Lacmots used F. C. Hibberd built diesel locomotives and these appear to have been acquired by Shipbreaking (Queenborough) when they took over operations. These being progressively replaced over the following years. In September 1967 R. E. Trem & Company acquired D2726 from BR at Wolverton Works and requested it be delivered to Shipbreaking (Queenborough). This locomotive was presumably then used for shunting railway rolling stock that arrived for scrapping as well as other duties. It was followed by D2432 in May 1969, also acquired via R. E. Trem, for presumably the same purpose.

No further ex BR locomotives are recorded as arriving until September 1971. Then, D2249 & D2282 are recorded as arriving from Colchester and D2726 is recorded as being scrapped. At about this time Shipbreaking (Queenborough) appears to have developed connections with the Italian steel industry. As a result a steel rolling mill was constructed on the site in addition to continuing with the other activities. This Italian connection is probably very significant in explaining why the majority of locomotives passing to Queenborough subsequently were exported to Italy and then saw use in the Italian steel industry.

It is very important to understand which locomotives went to Queenborough from August 1971 onwards and what exactly happened to them. Clearly what has been published is only part of the story so observations, notes and photographs from that period could prove of great importance. Very few reports have so far been traced. The most widely used being from the RO (p.437 12/72) which quotes information provided by Shipbreaking (Queenborough) on a visit made on 22nd October 1972. That said "Twenty-five locomotives had been, or were being, purchased from B.R. for export to Italy. Thirteen had already gone by that date (in batches of five, five and three), being shipped from Sheerness Docks after preparation at Queenborough depot". This does though not tie in with regard to what is known as only a possible eight locomotives could have been despatched by that date, these being D2019, D2032, D2033, D2036, D2216, D2242, D2289 and D2295. That is unless other locomotives actually went to Queenborough that have wrongly been recorded as scraped elsewhere. However, if batches of three and five had been exported by that date then the three would be D2289, D2242 and D2295, none of which had been viewed after the Spring and the five would be D2019, D2032, D2033, D2036 and D2216 all of which were reported at or near Queenborough at the end of July. The five other locomotives that passed through Queenborough would have had to have been wrongly recorded as disposed of elsewhere in the various disposal listings. Another possibility is that some of the locomotives exported were not of BR origins. At least one of the locomotives used by Settle, Speakman & Company, FH 3944/1960, is know to have gone to Italy at about this time.

D2242 is particularly intriguing as no observation of it at Queenborough has been traced. On page 200 of the June 1974 RO it states 'A visitor to Queenborough on 22nd October 1972 was shown a worksplate (Drewry 2572) and was informed that it was off one of the locomotives which had gone to Italy. On checking it was found that the plate was from D2242 which was sold to C. F. Booth, Rotherham in 1970'. It is now known that the majority, if not all, locomotives passing to C. F. Booth at the time had actually been purchased by R. E, Trem & Company who then requested that they be consigned to C. F. Booth. Although the majority were then scrapped by C. F. Booth it appears this was not always the case with some being kept at the yard prior to movement and further use elsewhere. Adrian Booth was a regular visitor to C. F. Booth's at the time, his earliest observation of D2242 was on 13th June 1970. Adrian last observed D2242 on 21st August 1971. Was D2242 also sold on and not scrapped as recorded in the various disposal books and it actually moved to Queenborough and was subsequently exported to Italy in 1972. Clearly then, any actual sightings of D2242 after 21st August 1971 could prove to be extremely important. Was it scrapped at C. F. Booth, Rotherham or did it move to Queenborough or perhaps elsewhere and was then exported? Curiously the late Alan Sugden quotes the disposal of D2242 in the first two editions of his book 'Diesel & Electric Loco Register' to be P. Wood, Queenborough! What was the reason for Alan not recording D2242 as being scrapped at C. F. Booth, Rotherham as was the case with all other disposal books, the RO reference or some other information? With regard to D2242, it could of course have been that although the plate seen at Queenborough was quoted as DC 2572 it could have been that a typo crept into this reference and it belonged to another locomotive. Alternatively the plate could have come from a locomotive broken up rather than exported. If the plate was actually DC 2673 then it would have belonged to D2293 reported in the RO (p.47 2/73) as finally scrapped on 31st July 1972.

Brief details of what is known about the post BR history of the locomotives exported to Italy along with any sightings submitted can be found by clicking on the individual locomotive number. Your observations should be submitted using the boxes on the right. When entering the date please use dd/mm/yyyy. Your observations will then appear in the listing over the following few days.

D2010 - 03010***





D2098 - 03098***

D2153 - 03153***

D2156 - 03156***

D2157 - 03157***

D2164 - 03164***






D2993 - 07009***

13xxx - D3xxx**

Note * - See also Ex BR Class 03s & Class 04s exported in 1972 to Brescia, Italy

** - See also The Attilio Rossi Ex BRs D2231 and 13xxx-D3xxx

*** - See also - Ex BR Class 03s, Class 06 and Class 07 exported to Trieste, Italy

Photographs and other information will be welcomed by Peter Hall

last updated: 16/10/16