THE CLASS 50:


The Class 50 was probably one of the best liked locomotives for Enthusiasts in the South West during their mainline operation, they had a large following of people willing to ride them and photograph them. The class were built at the Vulcan Foundry at Newton le Willows between January 1967 and December 1968 and were out shopped with the numbers D400-D449, during the introduction of the TOPS system in the 1970's they of course became 50001 - 50050. They were originally built to haul trains on the non electrified sections of the West Coast Mainline to the North of Crewe. Once electrification was complete the class were transferred onto the Western Region and slowly took over diagrams previously covered by the Class 52 'Westerns'. The Western Region had a tradition of naming it's locomotives, so with the Class 50's took the names of naval warships. During the late 1970's the Class 50's were given a full overhaul / refurbishment program which was carried out at Doncaster Works, many years of being thrashed up and down the West Coast Mainline had taken it's toll and the Class reliability was suffering as a result. While in works they class were modernized and completely repainted into BR Large Logo livery. After refurbishment the locos returned to the Western Region where their efforts were concentrated on the Exeter - Waterloo route, but many others still worked on varied diagrams, including a dedicated pool of locomotives for infrastructure work. The Class lasted until 1994, when 50007 'Sir Edward Elgar' and 50050 'Fearless' worked the final farewell railtour from London Waterloo - Exeter - London Paddington.

In 1990 50001 'Dreadnought' catches the last rays of sun as it arrives into Taunton with a northbound passenger service from the South, seen passing under Staplegrove Road taken from the adjacent local allotments.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

On the 15th April 1982 50002 'Superb' hauls a lengthy rake away from Taunton with a Southbound working from London Paddington. The train is seen passing Silk Mills prior to the development of the Bindon Road trading estate.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

On the 14th June 1989 50003 'Temeraire' is seen at 40 Steps on a local engineering ballast duty formed of Dogfish and Seacows.The loco carried BR Large Logo, with a Black Roof and Red Buffer Beam.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50006 'Neptune' was an early casualty, many of it's working parts were used to keep other locomotives running when it was finally switched off at Laira. it's seen here in 'Ex Works' condition at Cogload Jn on the 30th March 1986 working a rake of ballast wagons helping to repair the track caused by the recent cement derailment.

(Photo: Andy Hunt)

On the 16th October 1993, 50007 'Sir Edward Elgar' and 50033 'Glorious' pass through Creech St Michael at speed with a railtour heading to the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway.50007 was the only Class 50 to carry the GWR 150 celebration Brunswick green livery.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50008 'Thunderer' and 50015 'Valiant' approach Taunton with a Northbound railtour in 1990.Many farewell railtours operated around this time for various class members, most of them being painted in celebrity paint schemes.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

On the 25th February 1979, 50010 'Monarch' approaches Taunton with 08:30 Paddington - Plymouth passenger service.

(Photo: Steve Awford)

On the 18th May 1985 50011 'Centurion' gives a rare 'wrong line working' image at Taunton West.The Class 50 had been diverted onto the down main because of a broken rail on one of the up lines at Taunton. 50011 is seen passing Taunton West Signal Box on route to London Paddington.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

On the 6th May 1978 50013 is seen dumped behind Taunton Station. Clearly the locomotive had suffered a major mechanical failure and was probably waiting for a tow to either Bristol or Plymouth for repair. 31158 and 31154 are also pictured in the background.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50015 'Valiant' departs from Taunton on the 21st December 1978 with the 1M22. The view shows 50015 in it's un refurbished state prior to the modernization program which the Class were given in the 1980's.

(Photo: Steve Awford)

On the 12th July 1988, 50016 'Barham' approaches Bathpool adjacent to Toneway with a loaded ballast train heading for Westbury. The train is likely to of originated from Meldon Quarry which at the time was providing several ballast trains a day from the Dartmoor out base.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50017 'Royal Oak' passes Norton Fitzwarren on the 2nd April 1981 with a mixed rake of Railfreight wagons heading North.

50017 made it into preservation and spent some time at the West Somerset Railway. Eventually it had a short period back on the mainline before being stored at Tyseley where it remains to this day.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50018 'Resolution' storms through Taunton on the 13th November 1985 catching the crisp morning sunlight as it heads South.

The loco was working the 06:35 Bristol Temple Meads - Plymouth stopping service. Something which would operate as a two car DMU service with First Great Western today!

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50019 'Ramillies' passes Cogload Jn on the 21st February 1990 with a Southbound empty engineers train. It's likely this service was probably heading to Meldon Quarry to load with stone.

A small pool of Class 50's were transferred to the BR Infrastructure Pool to work trains such as this.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

Class 50's on engineers trains were quite common during the latter years of their work in the South West.

50020 'Revenge' is seen passing Cogload Jn heading back to Westbury from a trip to Meldon on the 31st March 1989. Not the open shot with no trees, and the stripes in the field behind!

(Photo: Jeff Treece)

On the 24th of June 1984, 50021 'Rodney' rolls into Taunton passing Obridge with a Southbound service train from London Paddington.

50021 at the time of this image was wearing the infamous BR 'Large Logo' livery. This loco survived into preservation and is currently stabled at Tyseley where one day it may make a welcome return the rails!

(Photo: Alan Randle)

Finding a Network Southeast liveried Class 50 working departmental and infrastructure workings wasn't that uncommon.

50023 passes Bathpool on 12th October 1990 with the 6C55 Bristol East - Exeter Riverside engineers in tow.

50023 was named 'Howe' at the time of this image.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

 

On the 2nd June 1990 50024 'Vanguard' storms South through Cogload Jn with a passenger service from London Paddington.

It was quite common to find Network Southeast locomotives working rakes of Intercity stock at this time. This service probably originating from London Paddington.

(Photo: Jeff Treece)

No topic on the Class 50's would be complete without the classic view departing from Taunton under the famous signal gantry.

50025 'Invincible' in Large Logo departs with a rake of ten blue & grey Mk1 coaches on the 7th September 1985, seen passing 40 Steps.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

On the 29th September 1985, 50026 'Indomitable' races through Norton Fitzwarren with a Northbound service train.

50026 will soon return to the mainline after an extensive 10 year overhaul in preservation, the locomotive has been rebuilt to mainline standards. It will carry the same livery as this image shown in 1985!

(Photo: Alan Randle)

On the 16th February 1985 50027 'Lion' arrives into Taunton captured in another classic Taunton scene. The loco was working a Liverpool - Penzance service.

The Class 50 will more than likely have joined the train at Birmingham New Street, having taken over from an electric locomotive.

(Photo: Andy Hunt)

50028 'Tiger' rolls onto the relief line at Taunton on the 3rd May 1986. At this time 50028 carried a black roof and BR Large Logo Blue Livery.

Note the transition from semaphores to colour light signals at this time.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

On Christmas Eve 1978, 50029 'Renown' stands in Platform 3 at Taunton working 13:35 Penzance - Paddington service.

Again Renown is seen in it's un refurbished state but with BR Numbers and nameplate.

(Photo: Steve Awford)

50030 'Repulse' passes under Obridge viaduct past the semaphores located at the entrance to Taunton East on the 1st July 1985.

The 07:30 from Penzance was loaded with 13 coaches and is seen heading East from Taunton. It's a far cry from the modern scene where today's trains barley reach 8 coaches on a normal service train!

(Photo: Dave Jones)

50032 'Courageous' and 50042 'Triumph' pass Norton Fitzwarren (and Taunton Cider) with a mixed engineers train on the 9th August 1990.

The train was heading for Exeter Riverside and probably originated from Fairwater Yard or Westbury.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

On the 6th December 1991, 50031 'Glorious' approaches Taunton East Foot Crossing with 43154 and 43008 in tow, operating a St Phillips Marsh - Laira stock move.

Glorious has it's nameplate repositioned on the locomotive body so that it read 'Glorious Network Southeast'

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50034 'Furious' storms out of Taunton passing Bathpool with the 15:50 Plymouth - Paddington service.

As this shot shows it wasn't uncommon to find Network Southeast Locomotives working with Intercity stock.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50035 'Ark Royal' was the first Class 50 to be preserved, and the first Class 50 to go through the refurbishment program at Doncaster. The loco famously returned to Laira in undercoat because Doncaster didn't have the paint or the drawings to give her Network Southeast colors.

50035 is seen here at Obridge running round one of the many Bristol - Taunton - Bristol stopping services.

(Photo: Andrew Rowland)

On the 27th October 1979 50036 'Victorious' is seen stabled at the end of the centre platforms at the east end of Taunton Station.

At the time 50036 is seen in it's work stained BR Blue original livery.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

On the 25th June 1978, 50037 'Illustrious' storms through Taunton non stop passing the stabled parcels vans as it races South with it's service from London Paddington.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50038 'Formidable' arrives into Taunton on the 28th April 1984 passing 45020 which was stabled in the bay platform. Formidable was an early casualty as it was scrapped in 1989 just 5 years after this image!

(Photo: Alan Randle)

On the 10th May 1989, 50039 arrives into Taunton passing Taunton East Jn at Obridge with one of the frequent 4 coach stopping services between Bristol Temple Meads and Taunton.

50039 was named 'Implacable' and only lasted until 1991 when it was withdrawn from service.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

 

50041 'Bulwark' passes Cogload Jn on the 26th May 1989 with 43135 and two barrier vehicles in tow.

This move was probably one of the frequent Laira - St Phillips Marsh stock transfers.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50042 'Triumph' shunts wagons ballast in Fairwater Yard on the 30th March 1989. 50042 was another lucky locomotive which made it into preservation, and is currently preserved on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway cared for by the Diesel Group.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

The classic view from Obridge is no longer possible due to rampant tree growth.

50043 'Eagle' departs Taunton with heading East with another excessively long passenger train.

(Photo: Colin J Marsden)

50044 'Exeter' passes a single donkey at Creech St Michael on the 21st February 1989 operating a local stopping service to Taunton.

Such a wide shot at Creech St Michael is no longer possible due to excessive lineside growth.

50044 also made it into preservation and is featured at the bottom of this page.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50045 'Achilles' is pictured at Taunton on the 22nd June 1979 waiting for the road South working light engine.

Achilles in shown in it's un refurbished state, carrying it's original BR Blue livery.

(Photo: Steve Awford)

50046 'Ajax' was a firm favorite for the 1980's enthusiast, but sadly the locomotive never made preservation.

50046 is seen approaching Taunton near Creech St Michael on the 3rd May 1991 with an empty rake of ballast wagons in tow.

(Photo: Alan Randle)

On the 26th May 1989, 50048 'Fearless' approaches Cogload Jn with an Intercity service. Note how neat and tidy the fields and adjacent line side was at this time. A far cry from the veritable jungle which now exists at Charlton!

(Photo: Alan Randle)

50149 'Defiance' was the only Class 50 to carry full railfreight livery. It's captured here at Taunton East heading North with a rake of cement wagons on the 14th June 1988.

50149 made it into preservation and has been one of the most successful Class 50's to do so!

(Photo: Alan Randle)

 

 

50's IN PRESERVATION


Due to their popularity many Class 50's made it into preservation, 19 out of a 50 strong Class still exist, although only two have a current mainline operational ticket. The rest exist on preserved railways around the UK.

50002 ‘Superb' – South Devon Railway – Under Restoration

50007 ‘Sir Edward Elgar' – Boden Rail – Operational

50008 ‘Thunderer' – Nene Valley Railway – Operational

50015 ‘Valiant' – East Lancs Railway – Operational

50017 ‘ Royal Oak ' – Boden Rail - Operational

50019 ‘Ramillies' – Mid Norfolk Railway – Operational

50021 ‘Rodney' – Eastleigh – Under Restoration

50026 ‘Indomitable' – Eastleigh Works - Operational

50027 ‘Lion' – North York Moors Railway – Operational

50029 ‘Renown' – Peak Rail – Under Restoration

50030 ‘Repulse' – Peak Rail – Under Restoration

50031 ‘Hood' – Severn Valley Railway – Operational

50033 ‘Glorious' – Tyseley – Stored

50135 'Ark Royal' – Severn Valley Railway – Operational

50040 ‘Leviathan' – Scrapped

50042 ‘Triumph' – Bodmin & Wenford Railway – Operational

50044 ‘Exeter ' – Severn Valley Railway – Operational

50049 ‘Defiance ' – Cardiff Canton - Under Restoration

50050 ‘Fearless' – Boden Rail – Operational

50049 (50149) entered preservation on the West Somerset Railway sporting it's Railfreight General colours from it's BR trials as a freight pool locomotive.

On the 22nd March 1997 the loco is seen stabled at Williton with Class 25 D5222.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

50017 also had a brief spell on the WSR during 1995/96. The locomotive arrived on a low loader still sporting it's former Network Southeast Livery. The low loaded famously broke down near Norton Manor Camp causing traffic chaos during rush hour.

50017 is seen here at Williton, mid restoration. Despite needing bodywork attention the locomotive had a good set of bogies but needed additional power unit work.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

50149 and 50117 (50017) are seen at Bishops Lydeard in October 1996. 50017 had been given a cosmetic restoration in order to provide a fictitious livery to partner 50149.

50149 is seen waiting to depart Bishops Lydeard for Minehead.

(Photo: Russell Walker)

On the 27th September 2008, 50015 'Ramillies' is seen arriving into Dunster towing the WSR DMU set towards Minehead.

A large selection of preserved Class 50's were gathered on the WSR for a feast of English Electric action on the WSR.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Minehead was the location for the classic Class 50 lineup photo, with 50015 50017 50031 50044 50049 50149 lined up showing 6 members of the Class in preservation.

D444 (50044) and 50031 are seen stabled at Minehead waiting for their next turn to Bishops Lydeard.

(Photo: Russell Walker)

Following a successful restoration 50049 (Project Defiance) and 50031 (The Fifty Fund) teamed up to provide double headed Class 50s back on the mainline around the year 2000.

On the 30th June 2001, 50031 'Hood' leads 50049 'Defiance' into Taunton with a return charter. Both locomotives were painted in matching BR Blue.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

On the 24th of September 2003, 50002 'Superb' was finally returned to it's rightful owners at the South Devon Railway (all be it by slightly unconventional haulage!). After a false start under the DNLL, 50002 is seen being hauled through Creech St Michael by D9016 'Gordon Highlander' after a last minute change of route!

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

50007 was a prime candidate for preservation given its Brunswick Green livery.

The locomotive visited the West Somerset Railway during 2005 to take part in the 2005 WSR Diesel Gala Weekend. Sadly the locomotive experianced a small electrical fire on the Sunday which put a stop to the locomotives use during the rest of the weekend.

On the 6th May 2005, 50007, 31271 and 45112 are seen at Bishops Lydeard.

(Photo: Nathan Williamson)

With nearly 5 years of preserved mainline activity under their belt, 50031 and 50049 were repainted into BR Large Logo. In this image 50031 still has the addition of a 'scottie dog' following their recent trip to Scotland. (Class 50's never carried the 'scottie' during their life working for BR)

50031 and 50049 are seen passing Creech St Michael on the 24th September 2005 working the 1Z52 Banbury - Penzance charter.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

50049 'Defiance' has visited it's original preservation home on quite a few occasions, working in conjunction with with Steam and Diesel Charters.

On the 12th March 2005, 50049 is seen shunting a steam support coach at Bishops Lydeard, prior to returning a charter back onto the mainline.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

During 2008 D444 (50044) 'Exeter' was returned to the mainline to replace 50031 which was out of traffic.

On it's first outing on the mainline in many years, D444 (painted in two tone green) double headed with 50049 'Defiance' on the 1Z48 Manchester - Minehead.

The pair are seen passing through Leigh Woods on the West Somerset Railway.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

29th June 2015

Another historic relic of the past visited Taunton on the 29th June 2015. BR Class 50 No.50021 'Rodney' has been languishing at Tyseley (and many other railway yard locations) since the it was withdrawn in April 1990. The locomotive now has a new owner and is currently in transit to Eastleigh works, where it's hoped the locomotive will be returned to operational condition. It seems as the 2017 anniversary of the class nears ever closer every effort is being made to get as many of the former Class members operational once more.

Photo: Nathan Williamson