THE CLASS 58:


The BR Class 58 has been one of the most successful heavy freight locomotives built. Originally conceived in 1977 the Class 58 was thought through in a way that no other locomotive of its time had been before. In fact its design was light years ahead of other designs of the same period. It incorporated many of the values which are expected ‘as standard' on any modern diesel locomotive.
The Class 58 was designed with maintenance, and cost effective operation in mind, as such the design was radical in it's approach, using a steel base frame, with cabs mounted at either end, and a modular installation of engine, cooler group and electrical compartments. A steel ‘skin' was then applied to fit around the slim line design with removable access doors. For the first time a locomotive had been developed around the engine, rather than the engine and equipment being designed to fit the locomotive body. The loco was fitted with a Ruston Paxman four stroke, turbocharged 12RK3ACT power unit providing 3300hp. 58001 rolled off the production line at Doncaster Works on the 9th December 1982.


The class was originally designed to haul heavy coal trains throughout the Midlands on the Merry-Go-Round (MGR) circuit. During the 1980's the UK coal market was still providing enough output to keep many rail accessed collieries very busy. All 50 members of the class were based at Toton Traction Depot near Nottingham, and the fleet was pretty much dedicated to coal flows in the area. It wasn't until part privatization in 1994/1996 that the Class 58's began to spread their wings.
Under the part privatization agreement the Class 58's became the property of Mainline Railfreight, and although still based at Toton for heavy maintenance, many members of the class began to be out-based in the South of England at depots such as Eastliegh , Hither Green, Hoo Junction, Westbury and Bescot. Although coal still played a major part of the Class 58's day to day work, the fleet soon found themselves working Binliners, Engineers, Fuel, and Aggregate trains. While there had been a couple of fleeting visits to Taunton of the Class in the early years, it was during this transition period that the class migrated to the South West and Taunton. They were regular performers on the Merehead - Exeter Riverside stone services, Fawley - Tavistock Junction Fuel and weekend engineering trains (their slow speed control making them ideal for ballast drops). They were an ideal Type 5 locomotive which was quite capable of mixing in with heavyweight Class 37's, Class 59's, Class 60's and Class 66's.Sadly under English Welsh & Scottish Railways (EWS) the Class were dealt a big blow, the introduction of 250 Class 66's from General Motors (later EMD) wiped out many of our own British built locos. While some of the Class 58's did find work for several years on European Infrastructure projects in countries such as France, Spain and Holland, many were simply stored or switched off and left to rot. Thankfully at least one Class member (58016) has survived and under the care of the Class 58 Group, is now under restoration at Barrow Hill.

We have put together a pictorial of images taken of the Class 58's operating in the Taunton area over time we hope to expand the gallery as more images arrive. If you can help with images for this gallery please contact: TauntonTrains

Further Reading on the Class 58s:

Locomotives Illustrated & Class 58 Group

This rare image was taken on the 1st September 1984 when Railfreight Class 58 No.58002 amazingly managed to pilot the late running 12:10 Liverpool - Penzance HST into Devon!Before this time the Class 58's were virtually unseen in the South West, let alone piloting HST's. The train is pictured here at Taunton before departing for Exeter and Plymouth.

(Photo: Roger Marsh)

Mainline liveried Class 58 No.58003 sands at Taunton during July 1998 on one of the many Mendip Stone trains to Exeter Riverside from Merehead. The Class 58's became common place on these services and were ideal for these heavily loaded trains.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

A grubby / unwashed 58004 is pictured at Taunton in April 1999 working the 6V62 Fawley to Tavistock Junction fuel tanks. This loco was not a regular vistor to the area so was a welcome change to see.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

Wearing full Mainline Blue livery, 58008 is seen at Norton Fitzwarren in July 1999 heading North with an engineers train. We do not currently have details for this working but expect it would have been an Exeter Riverside to Westbury working.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

A grubby 58009 passes Cogload Junction in July 1998 heading to Exeter Riverside from Merehead Quarry loaded with stone for unloading at the Hanson/ Yeoman terminal.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

Engineering Trains were quite common to find Class 58's operating, due to their slow speed control and heavy hauling capabilities they were ideal suited to the task in hand. On the 28th August 2002, 58020 is seen at Taunton with the GTRM Autoballaster waiting to return to Westbury.

(Photo: Jeff Treece)

Class 58's operating railtours was not a common sight (not in the South West anyway!) On the 19th June 1992 two Railfreight Coal liveried Class 58's No's. 58020 and 58002 teamed up to work 'The Paignton Decorator' charter from Derby - Paignton. Once at Paignton the pair took part in the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway Diesel Gala, even hauling a demonstration goods train over the line! The pair are seen passing Norton Fitzwarren on the Southbound run.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

Class 58's were also regular performers on weekend engineering works in the South West when operated by Mainline Railfreight. On the 10th March 2002 58025 passes Cogload Junction with the 6W50 Bridgwater to Westbury, which had run round in Fairwater Yard before gaining access to the Berks and Hants route via Castle Cary.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Another charter operated by a Class 58 (in part) was 'The Tone Bone' which ran from Crewe to Taunton via Westbury and Exeter using a variety of Type 5 Traction. 58030 operated the Westbury - Yeovil - Exeter - Taunton leg, before 67026 & 59203 took control. 58030 is seen at Taunton on the 27th October 2001 having just arrived.

(Photo: Lester Solway)

The Fawley - Tavistock Junction Tanks became another favorite turn for the Class 58. Originating from Eastleigh (A Mainline Freight Depot base) 58's took turns in sharing the flow with Class 66's, 60's and 37's. In July 1998 58031 brings the Fawley Bitumen tanks through Taunton heading for Tavistock Junction.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

Several livery variations of EWS appeared on the Class 58's while the company decided on the correct height of the yellow bodyside band. 58033 was one of the early EW&S examples which carried the band on the upper bodyside doors. It's seen here on the 5th March 1999 with a loaded Merehead - Exeter Riverside service passing 40 Steps, Taunton.

(Photo: Jeff Treece)

 

58037 carried the eventual 'standard' EWS livery with the mid positioned yellow band on the bodyside. On the 10th February 2002 58037 passes through an engineering blockade at Creech St Michael running wrong line. The 58 had originated from Cowley Bridge and was returning to Westbury, from a second worksite based in Devon.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

The cover of darkness often hides many nocturnal movements of engineering trains. On the 9th January 2001, 58037 is seen tucked inside a 5 loco convoy while working the 6W51 from Westbury to Cowley Bridge. 66011 leads the convoy, with 66244 66001 and then 58037. Other engineering trains had already been positioned at Exeter Riverside during the week, these locos would then be split up to work other trains at Exeter.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Mainline Blue livery suited most of the locomotive classes it was applied to. A rare working on the 14th July 1997 was actually a locomotive rescue. During the morning 58038 was dispatched light engine from Westbury to collect a failed Class 37 (515). The pair later returned (around mid day judging by the sun position!) returning to Westbury, seen here at Cogload Junction.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Class 58's often stopped at Taunton for pathing requirments, slow stone trains operating between Westbury and Exeter would often need to wait for booked passenger services to overtake. In May 1999 58039 stands at Taunton with the 7C27 loaded stone to Exeter Riverside.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

Some heavier stone trains required the use of two Class 58's. This type of working happened on serveral occasions. In July 1999 58040 leads one such working, double heading with 58043 returning from Exeter Riverside with empty wagons for Westbury. Both locos at the time carried the basic Mainline Grey livery.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

This very rare shot shows 58045 using the Fairwater Yard headshunt in July 1999. It's unclear why this loaded stone train was using the headshunt as loaded trains would normally head South to Exeter. Clearly there was some reason why this train was within the confinds of Fairwater Yard, which at the time was closed.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

The rarest of the rare occurred on the 30th May 2002, which a Class 58 was dispatched to Laira depot to perform a stock transfer move for Virgin Trains. 58050 'Toton Traction Depot' hauled 43101 and 43122 North through Taunton during the evening of the 30th heading for St Phillips Marsh Depot (Bristol). The quite unbelievable convoy is seen here at Cogload Junction.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)