THE CLASS 33:


The Class 33's were built at the Birmingham Railway and Carriage & Wagon works as a Type 3 (mid power range) locomotive. They have become one of the most popular modern traction classes. The class was originally built as a direct replacement for steam on the Southern Region. They were confined to the Southern Region for most of their working life until the 1980's when the Class was given a new lease of life working further afield on the Western Region. The Class was unique in many ways, they were one of the first classes to be built with electric train heating (ETH), they had dual driving controls so the locomotive could be driven from the second man side of the cab. The last 12 of the fleet were also built with a narrower body for use on the Hastings route. Some of the class were also modified to allow 'push pull' mode to be used, modifications included the relocation of multiple working pipes under the cab windows. The Class 33's gained several nicknames which have become common terms when referring to the locomotive type. The Class were built with Crompton & Parkinson electrical equipment so the nickname 'Cromptons' soon stuck. 'Shredders' was also another popular term, so called because of the classic shredding noise made when under power. 'Bagpipes' was applied to the Class 33/1 which was fitted for push pull working, with air pipes located under the cab windows, resembling a set of bagpipes hanging from the locomotive front. 'Slim Jims' was a term given to the 33/2's which were built with the narrower bodies for use on the Hastings route. Taunton saw the majority of the class members pass through its platforms during their operation on the Western Region, their use in pairs on the Meldon stone traffic is perhaps their most memorable accolade. 2010 marks the 50th Birthday of the introduction of the Class 33 having been built in 1960. We have assembled a selection of images which we hope illustrates how versatile the locomotive has been. If you can help out with any further images from the Taunton area please do not hesitate to Contact Us

33115 passes Silk Mills Signal Box on the 25th July 1983 with the 6V77 from Fawley to Plymouth. The train conveyed bitumen from the Fawley Oil Refinery for use in the Plymouth area. Note how by this time, the former link to the Minehead and Barnstaple branches had slowly been lifted. (Photo: Andy Hunt)

Class 33's were at home on passenger and freight diagrams. They were a good all purpose locomotive. On the 30th September 1985 Class 33 No.33020 arrives into Taunton with the 12:05 stopping service from Bristol Temple Meads. (Photo: Russell Harrison)

BR Blue Class 33 No.33008 'Eastleigh' arrives into Taunton on a sunny afternoon in 1986 operating a Cardiff to Taunton stopping service.

(Photo: Malcolm S Trigg)

Pinoneer Class 33 No.33001 is pictured at Taunton light engine on an unknown date in the 1980's.

(Photo: Taunton Trains Collection)

The Class 33 seemed most at home in BR Blue livery, although the class did carry a large amount of different livery variations over the years. After heavy snow fall in January 1987, Class 33 No. 33005 stands at Taunton waiting for the road South on the 15th January.

(Photo: Darren Harris)

Class 33 No.33061 departs from Taunton Station on the 12th February 1987 hauling a mixed engineers train (probably bound for Westbury). The Cromptons were often grubby and workstained from their constant use on freight and passenger diagrams, as this example shows.

(Photo: David Tozer)

Battered Class 33 No.33028 seen at Taunton was a typical daily scene at the station. Bristol - Taunton stopping services would be formed of any locomotive Bristol Bath Road had available for traffic. Class 33's were regular performers on these trains. The driver of this rather battered example prepares to uncouple from the train and run around the stock before returning to Bristol.

(Photo: Jeff Treece)

BR Blue Class 33 No.33029 is pictured at Taunton on the 29th March 1988. The loco was propelling coaches from 16:14 from Bristol Temple Meads. Having arrived into Platform 2 the loco then moved stock into Platform 5 before running around the stock to form the 17:40 stopper back to Bristol Temple Meads. Two resident Class 08's were also visible on the right of this image, No's.08576 & 08954.

(Photo: Guy Vincent)

 

Many of the Class 33's carried names of importance. 33027 was one of the more distinguished of the Class. The locomotive was named 'The Earl Mountbatten of Burma' complete with a crest. The locomotive was captured at Taunton on the 8th March 1988, while shunting an assortment of wagons on the Fairwater Yard headshunt. (Photo: Jeff Treece)
Some members of the Class 33 fleet also gained snow ploughs which gave the locomotives another addition to their front end shape/ colour. As the years passed by the locomotives booked passenger work dwindled, and the locomotives were more widely used on freight services. Here 33051 is seen arriving with a civil engineers spoil train into Fairwater Yard from Taunton Station, at 40 Steps. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

Class 33's become synonymous with workings to and from Meldon Quarry, either working singly or in pairs. This Class 33/1 (identified due to the push pull pipes on each cab end), passes 40 Steps with a loaded train of Seacows heading to Westbury. The train was most likely using the relief lines at Taunton due to local pathing for passenger services.

(Photo: Jeff Treece)

Class 33's working in pairs on the Meldon ballast circuit could provide 3 or 4 trains of loaded ballast through Taunton each day. During the 1990's the Class entered a Civil Engineers pool, and gained a new 'dutch' livery while still operating for British Rail. In 1990 a BR Blue example (33035) leads an unidentified 'dutch' classmate through Norton Fitzwarren with a loaded train of Seacows. (Photo: Dave Jones)

This rare shot shows a pair of civil engineers 'dutch' liveried Class 33's working a Network Southeast working through Norton Fitzwarren. An Ex works 33035 leads matching 33108 North. It's unclear if this was a passenger or empty coaching stock move, as by July 1991 the Class 33's were predominately used on Freight.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

33002 typifies the 'civil engineers' branding in this shot as the locomotive passes Norton Fitzwarren with a mixed rake of engineers wagons heading North. 33002 was one of the lucky locomotives which eventually made it into preservation. It's now based on the South Devon Railway after a caring restoration at Buckfastleigh, where it's now been returned to full working order, and finished in the same striking dutch livery seen opposite. (Photo: Dave Jones)
During the mid to late 90's the Class 33's were becoming scarce in the South West. Many members of the class began work on weekend charters to various locations around the UK. 33116 was also named 'Hertfordshire Railtours' owing to its popularity. On the 5th March 1995, 33116 passes 40 Steps, Taunton with the pristine Ocean Liner Express charter set working from London Waterloo through to Minehead on the West Somerset Railway. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

On the 20th June 2002, 33050 'Isle of Grain' leads 33042 South through Taunton with the 1Z22 08:55 Paddington - Paignton charter. This was a Network Southeast special that ran in connection with the Paignton and Torbay Steam Railway diesel gala that weekend. The 33's did a return trip over the Kingswear line before returning to Paddington at 17:40 through Taunton. Both trips were via the Berks and Hants line. The pair were painted in Railfreight Construction livery and could usually be found (at the time) working heavy stone trains in the South East in connection with the channel tunnel.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

Use of Class 33's to far flung locations increased in the 1990's, previous 'rare track' locations such as Scotland, East Anglia and even preserved lines were visited with the Class. On the 24th August 1996 'The Quantock Crompton' used a dutch pairing consisting of 33202 and 33208 'The Burma Star'. They hauled a Paddington - Minehead excursion and are seen arriving to Bishops Lydeard on the West Somerset Railway before attaching resident Class 25 D7523 for a triple headed run to Minehead. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
33208 and 33202 were captured again at Bishops Lydeard with the return charter from Minehead to London Paddington on the 24th August. Having removed the WSR's own Class 25 (D7523). The civil engineers duo prepare to depart Bishops Lydeard for London Paddington. (Photo: Dave Jones)
The late 90's saw sporadic appearances of Class 33's in the Taunton area, although my then many had been retired from duty or transferred to other areas. The 1st April saw the fleeting visit of 33116 'Hertfordshire Railtours' to the Taunton area. The loco worked an unexplained light engine working South before returning North in the same way. This rare sighting was captured at Cogload Jn on the return light engine move to Westbury. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
33046 and 33019 headed up one of the last booked freight workings in the Taunton area for the Class 33's. On the October 1st 1997 the pair performed an astounding move when they dropped onto the 8C25 13:15 Merehead - Minehead. The working was normally dedicated to a heavyweight Class 37/7 or 37/8. The pair of Cromptons completed the diagram and never returned to the area again. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
Privatisation saw a new lease of life for a reduced fleet of Class 33's. Many companies saw the potential of the small but powerful class. Fragonset Railways (later FM Rail) resurrected several members of the Class. 33202 and 33103 became inseparable. Both locomotives were named 'Meteor' and 'Swordfish' respectively and given a new livery to suit. The pair are seen at Nornvis Bridge on the West Somerset Railway taking part in the 2004 Diesel Gala Weekend. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
Frangonset 33's worked all over the UK network for their new operator. On the 27th January 2005, 33202 'Meteor' is seen at Taunton while working a light engine move from Westbury. The 0Z33 Westbury - Taunton - Westbury move took many by surprise while waiting for a mainline charter to appear in the area. Before returning to Westbury 33202 is seen paused at the South end of Platform 3. (Photo: Steve Thompson)
Not to be outdone by classmate 33202. 33103 'Swordfish' would also venture to far flung parts of the UK Network. The 15th March 2006 was one such occasion, when 'Swordfish' collected inspection saloon 'Caroline' before departing Derby with the 5Z30 Derby - Exeter. The pair would spend the following week visiting the branches of Devon and Cornwall before returning to Derby. 33103 is seen passing Taunton on route to the South. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)
Frangonset's 33103 and 33202 could always be found operating on the mainline together. On the 29th April 2006, Pathfinder Railtours used the pair to haul 'The Cambrian Borderer' charter. It started at Taunton with 47703 hauling the train to Birmingham where the plucky little pair took the charter to Barmouth and back to Taunton. After a 370 mile jaunt from Birmingham to Barmouth and back to Taunton the pair are seen in Platform 2 before retiring to Fairwater Yard for the night. (Photo: Sam Felce)
Sunday 30th April 2006 saw the pair of popular 'Cromptons' return to London with the stock from the previous days charter. 33202 can be seen leading 33103 North through Platform 2 at Taunton with the 5Z74 Taunton - Old Oak Common ECS move. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

West Coast Railways were another private operator who put the Class 33 to good use. The company has three of the Class based at Carnforth. On the 23rd November 2006, West Coast provided 33029 'Glen Loy' to haul Southern Region 'Lord Nelson' No.850 from the West Somerset Railway to East Lancashire Railway. In a rare outing for a Class 33 in the South West, 33029 is seen passing Oath on the Somerset Levels shortly after leaving the West Somerset Railway. (Photo: Brian Garrett)

After the collapse of FM Rail, many of the former fleet were sold to other operating companies. Sadly 33202 and 33103 were split up as a working pair, which severely restricted their mainline duties. 33202 became owned by Advenza Freight. The loco lost its nameplates and event spent a period on the West Somerset Railway. On the 1st April 2007 33202 even managed to work a service train along the length of the line. The war torn Crompton is seen at Doniford heading for Bishops Lydeard. (Photo: Darren Harris)
By August 2007, 33202 was back on the mainline again. Having worked several trains for Advenza the company decided it was time the plucky little machine should have a fresh coat of paint. On the 11th August 2007 33202 worked the 0Z33 Bristol Temple Meads to Totnes where it would visit the South Devon Railway for a two week restoration. The loco is seen passing 73133 at Silk Mills bridge shortly after passing Taunton Station. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
33202 was hardly recognizable from it's former FM Rail livery when it emerged from the South Devon Railway on the 23rd August 2007. It had been many years since a BR Blue 'Crompton' had frequented the rails of the UK. 33202 is seen passing Charlton in Ex Works condition on route to Bristol. The loco spent two more years with Advenza before entering preservation ending its mainline career at the Mangapps Railway Museum. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
Another visit of a Class 33 to the Taunton area was the 8th December 2007, when 33029 returned to the West Somerset Railway riding on the rear of a charter from Tyseley to Minehead and return. The 1Z78 charter was lead by 47773 in both directions. However the 33029 'Glen Loy' is seen on the rear of the train at Norton Fitzwarren heading onto the WSR. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
Between 2007 and 2011 there were no recorded visits of the Class 33 to the Taunton area. Then out of the blue on the 7th September 2011, 33207 was sent from Carnforth to Taunton light engine. The loco then collected Southern West Country 34067 'Tangmere' from the West Somerset Railway on the 8th, returning it to Carnforth for repairs to be carried out, after the loco had failed on a passing charter the previous week. (Photo: Brian Garrett)

 

 

33's IN PRESERVATION


Due to their popularity a total of 26 Class 33's still exist in Preservation, with 2 remaining in mainline traffic and 2 stored at Carnforth. Many presevered lines have found them an invaluable general purpose locomotive. Their fomrer mainline heritage has also made them popular with enthusiasts. The West Somerset Railway currently has one operational Class 33 (D6566, 33048) which has been on the line since 1997, and one Class 33 under restoration (D6575 33057) which arrived on the line from stored condition in 2005.
After it's mainline career 33048 found a new home on the West Somerset Railway where it would be cared for by the DEPG based at Williton. It was purchased in 1997 and first worked on the line in October of the same year. The Class 33 has been well suited to all preserved lines, as it's an ideal sized, instant start 'do anything' locomotive. 33048 is seen at Blue Anchor on the 27th September 1998 hauling hauling the West Somerset Railway DMU. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
One of the highlights of the 2004 West Somerset Railway 'Diesel Gala Weekend' was the chance to trip head Class 33's along the length of the line. D6566 (33048) from the DEPG (based at Williton) joined with visiting Fragonset duo 33202 and 33103 for a 19 mile showcase along the length of the line. 33048 is seen leading the ensemble through Leigh Woods on route to Bishops Lydeard. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
D6566 (33048) spent may years on the West Somerset Railway painted in BR Blue with a white roof. The locomotive has always been a popular locomotive for use on the line, and can be seen working all manner of trains along the length of the line. On the 25th October 2003, 33048 arrives into Williton with a three coach train heading for Minehead. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
Sometimes the impossible is possible. On the 17th September 2005, the rusting hulk of former 33057 arrived onto the West Somerset Railway at Bishops Lydeard by road. The loco had been purchased as a source of spares for 33048, but soon a small team of dedicated enthusiasts set about a feasibility study to repair the locomotive and return it to operational condition. The former BR locomotive is seen at Bishops Lydeard on the day of delivery. (Photo: Jeff Treece)
By 2007 D6566 (33048) was in need of a 'spruce up'. The locomotive was given a cab end repaint, and a blue roof to revive the locomotives paintwork for a little while longer. On the 16th June 2007 6566 passes Yarde Farm on the West Somerset Railway recreating a typical former ballast train the loco would have once hauled on the mainline. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
By 2008 the rusting hulk of 33057 was slowly being coaxed back into life at Williton. On the 16th February 2008 the loco breathed its first breaths for the first time since being stored in 1996. The loco had received a cosmetic coat of grey primer to keep the worst of the weather from doing any more damage, while the internal restoration of the locomotive continued out of sight. (Photo: Steve Hodgson)
The 11th March 2010 saw 33057 leave its West Somerset Railway base for completion of its overhaul. The loco first visited Brush Loughborough where the bogies were overhauled, it was then taken to the East Somerset Railway for contact bodywork repairs to take place during the Summer and Autumn. The loco will soon return to Williton for completion of the overhaul. (Photo: Paul Finnimore)
During 2008, D6566 (33048) would gain another livery. The former BR Blue was ditched in favour of former BR Green with a white roof and wrap round yellow ends. The livery has been a unique choice, which many other preserved lines have overlooked with their own Class 33's. The loco is seen at Minehead during 2010 working one of the popular summer diesel diagrams. (Photo: Brian Garrett)

After being returned to the West Somerset Railway in 2011, 33057 looked like new after a superb restoration at the East Somset Railway. The loco was painted in BR Green and numbered as its original number D6575. It's hoped the loco will be operational for the 2012 operating season. It's seen here at Williton on display at one of the many gala events on the WSR (Photo: Brian Garrett)