The thirty Class 56 locomotives built by Electoputere at Craiova, Romania arrived in Great Britain at Harwich during 1976 and 1977. They were then moved by rail to Tinsley depot one or two at a time with some subsequently being forwarded to Barrow Hill and Darnall depots for storage (see Note 6). Although most commisioning work was undertaken at Tinsley depot the first eleven locomotives had defects that required rectification elsewhere before entering service (see Note 7). A member is very interested to know which locomotives where moved from Harwich to Tinsley on which date and the locomotive(s) used for each movement.
In all cases it is believed the train conveying the locomotives was routed from Harwich via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, March, Spalding, Gainsborough Lea Road, Retford Low Level, Woodhouse and Darnall to Tinsley. It is presumed they by-passed Sleaford and Lincoln on the avoiding lines. The first five trains which conveyed 56001 – 56008 were routed via Colchester Depot for inspection with subsequent trains running via Manningtree East to North curve.
Information so far compiled is shown below, further observations and comments would though be welcomed as would any photographs of the trains. It has become apparant that on most, but not all dates, a locomotive change took place at Grassmoor Junction, March, thus location of observations is of importance.
We are particularly grateful for permission to use information previously published by the Ipswich Transport Society and in the article ‘From Romania with Love’ written by Society member Graham Hardinge and published in ‘Gridiron’ the journal of the Class 56 Group.
If you can add any further information please contact Peter Hall
56001 + 56002 7th August 1976 by 31318 (Note 1.)
56003 + 56004 17th August 1976 by 31304 (Note 2.)
56005 14th September 1976 by 37039
56006 + 56007 10th September 1976 by 37033 (Note 3.)
56008 – 22nd September 1976 by 37081 (Note 4)
56009 + 56010 7th October 1976
56011 3rd November 1976 by 47298 to Grassmoor Junction, 20165+20192 forward
56012 + 56013 – 23rd December 1976 by 37109
56014 + 56015 7th January 1977 by 37130 to Grassmoor Junction, 25214 forward
56016 + 56017 10th January 1977 by 37266 to Grassmoor Junction, 31176 forward
56018 + 56019 22nd January 1977 by 37026 to Grassmoor Junction, 31161 forward
56020 – 4th February 1977
56021 12th March 1977 by 37014 to Grassmoor Junction, 37140 forward.
56022 25th March 1977 by 37039
56023 + 56024 – 1st April 1977 by 37027 to Grassmoor Junction, 31145 forward.
56025 + 56026 – 22nd April 1977 by 37110 to Grassmoor Junction, 31259 forward (see Note 5) as far as Lincoln East Holmes, by ? from Lincoln East Holmes on 25th April 1977.
56027 + 56028 27th July 1977 by 37109
56029 28th July 1977 by 31169 to Grassmoor Junction, 37121 forward
56030 14th September 1977 by 37019
1. These were the first to arrive in Great Britain and were landed at Harwich Town via the linkspan at 17:30 on August 4th 1976. They were the hauled from Harwich Town to Harwich Parkeston Quay yard by 08767. It appears that they remained their until the morning of the 7th August 1976 when they were hauled to Colchester for inspection by 31318. They departed at 10:30 that morning also behind 31318 bound for Tinsley via Manningtree and the normal route.
2. 56004 was the first of the Class to haul a passenger train. This occured on 22nd June 1977 when 45022 hauling the 10:20 Penzance-Leeds failed at Wincobank Station Junction (better known these days as the site of Meadowhall station). 56004 assisted the failed train to its destination. This was rather unfortunate as the ‘Melton Mowbray Pieman’ excursion of 24th July 1977 had been advertised to be the first use of a Class 56 on a passenger train (see Note 4.).
3. 56006 was taken into BR Stock on 25th February 1977, the first of the Class to do so.
4. 56008 hauled the ‘Melton Mowbray Pieman’ 09:00 Barnsley – Melton Mowbray excursion on 24th July 1977. This had been advertised as the first Class 56 hauled passenger train. However, by this date 56004 had already seen passenger use (see Note 2.)
5. On 22nd April 1977 the train terminated at Lincoln as no guard available to work forward. The two locomotives remained at the former Lincoln Steam depot until the 25th when they were worked forward to Tinsley.
Initial storage and rectification locations away from Tinsley
6. Some locomotives moved to Barrow Hill for storage within a few days of arriving at Tinsley, these are believed to have been 56006/07/08/09/10/14/15/16/17/18/19/20/25/26 view picture whilst 56023/24 view picture moved to Darnall where they were observed on 17th April 1977. Prior to this 56020/21 were reported at Darnall on 26th March 1977. Further comments confirming or to the contrary would be welcomed.
7. Prior to entering service 56001 – 56011 all visited Doncaster Works for attention to defects. 56003 and 56010 also similarly visited Derby Locomotive Works with 56003 spending some time at the Railway Technical Centre, Derby.
8. Various locomotives also visited Stratford for bogie modifications, known examples are 56001/03-20/22/26.
Early Sheffield Area Passenger Workings
56004 – 22nd June 1977 – 45022 hauling the 10:20 Penzance-Leeds failed at Wincobank Station Junction (better known these days as the site of Meadowhall station). 56004 assisted the failed train to its destination.
56008 – 24th July 1977 – ‘Melton Mowbray Pieman’ 09:00 Barnsley – Melton Mowbray / 18.48 Leicester – Barnsley excursion. This had been advertised as the first Class 56 hauled passenger train.
56001 – Date unknown – The delayed 1E73 17.45 Cardiff-Sheffield arrived at Sheffield with 56001 piloting a failed 47072. It is not known where 56001 was attached to the train. The fact that 47072 was the train engine suggests it was before the train was formed of air-conditioned Mark 2 stock, thus probably 1978/1979. Local opinion though suggests the event took place slightly later, possibly 1980/1981. If correct, it would be unusual for a locomotive without ETS to have been the train engine. We are extremely grateful that John Wade, the photographer who took the only known picture of the event has allowed it to be reproduced here. John has yet to find the notes he made at the time which might help establish the date.
56002 – 2nd September 1982 – 15.10 Sheffield-St.Pancras / 19.24 St.Pancras – Sheffield throughout on air-conditioned Mark 2 stock.
56003 – 29th October 1983 – 07.27 Nottingham – Glasgow Central/Edinburgh. Assisted 47433 forward from Sheffield.
Last updated: 25th January 2019