The following dilemmas have been recently significantly updated (April 2020)
Where exactly was Class 03 D2185 located in the 1970s – full revision
A. R. Adams & Sons, Newport – Ex BR Shunters – full revision including extra maps and sightings
EX BR Diesel Shunting Locomotives Exported to Italy – full revision of text to incorporate recently received information.
The past thirty-five or so years have seen numerous books published detailing the disposals of former British Rail diesel locomotives, none though by the RCTS. Although all are in agreement about the disposal of the majority of the locomotives that they list, there are several where entries differ. Initially it was the intention to highlight the differences here and attempt to get to the truth, whilst at the same time airing queries surrounding the accepted agreed disposal of a few other locomotives. It has though become apparent, as a result of work carried out by the What Really Happened to Steam project (WRHTS), that possibly as many as 200 listed disposals may have been fabricated. Thus, at present only a few of the more baffling anomalies are covered here, others will be added in due course. A full list of those resolved by the WRHTS can be found here. Allied to this, the whereabouts of certain locomotives whilst still in BR ownership, or subsequent ownerships, is not always clear. Thus, it is also the intention, to highlight certain of these locomotives and appeal for sightings of those to be submitted, in order to build up a clearer picture of their movements and activities.
The Railway Observer of the late 1960’s, 1970’s and early 1980’s was very prominent in recording diesel disposals and I believe it is fair to say that had tremendous efforts not been made by the then ‘Withdrawn Locomotives’ editorial representative, Peter Trushell, much of the information would not have then come to light. Not unsurprisingly, as mentioned above, the RCTS was not the first to publish a diesel disposal book and still has not. This was left to Mayfield who produced the book ‘Pronounced Life Extinct’ in 1976 authored by a Mr G. Smith of Burnley. What is best described as a revised version of this was published by Midland Railfans in 1978 titled ‘A Decade After’ authored by Kenneth Taylor.
In subsequent years a plethora of titles appeared from publishers such as Ashley Butlin / Coorlea Publishing, David Strickland / Diesel & Electric Group – Locomotive Directory, Platform 5 Publishing – Diesel & Electric Loco Register, Metro Enterprises – Locomotive Lexicon, Roger Harris – The Allocation History of BR Diesels & Electrics, Colin Marsden / OPC – Complete Diesel & Electric Locomotive Disposals and possibly others I have forgotten to mention. It is obvious much extra research went into later disposals in the later titles but often it appears what had already been published about earlier disposals was simply repeated.
Allied to these books are the Industrial Railway Society ‘Ex-BR Diesels In Industry’ series which detail the diesel locomotives up to 650 h.p. that did not go directly for scrap but saw industrial, preservation or similar use. These containing a wealth of information regarding particular locomotives post British Rail histories. Similar simplified listings, usually only giving the then believed current location, have also been published either as part of other publications or as stand alone publications.
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Last updated: 26th April 2019