The London Midland and Scottish Railway in partnership with English Electric designed the 350hp 0-6-0 shunting locomotive in the 1940s.
A few of these earlier locomotives still survive including Class 1 12131 built at Darlington in 1952, at the North Norfolk Railway.
North Norfolk Railway
Also at the North Norfolk Railway are two of the Class 08 versions: numbers D3935 and D3940. Both are in the care of Phil Ward and his team. Phil worked at Colchester Depot for many years as a British Railways trained engineer. It was here that he first became acquainted with these two locomotives.
In April 2017, a group of working volunteers from the Somerset and Dorset Railway at Midsomer Norton decided to tour a number of heritage railways in East Anglia including the North Norfolk Railway. For me, this was also an opportunity to meet with Phil, who I’ve spoken to on a number of occasions on the phone about technical issues on Class 08’s. At Midsomer Norton we have D4095. Phil had kindly agreed to show me round the workshop at Weybourne where he and the team had been undertaking restoration work on D3935.
History of Class 08 shunter D3935
D3935 was built at Horwich in April 1961 and for the following six years was allocated to 61A Kitty Brewster. Then in August 1967, it became a 61B Aberdeen Ferry Hill allocation. Late in 1971 it was transferred to the Eastern Region at 51L Thornaby for six months before moving South to 30A Stratford. Within a month it was re-allocated to its final shed at 30E Colchester. In 1974 it was re-numbered to 08767 under the recently introduced TOPS system. It remained at Colchester for the next 22 years until withdrawal at the end of January 1994. Phil told me he worked on this loco numerous times albeit that during this period it was outstationed for long periods at Ipswich.
After withdrawal D3935 (or 08767 as it was now known) was sold along with two other Class 08s to Birds the scrap merchant. For some time the three locomotives were stored at the closed depot 32B Ipswich. Sadly 08627 and 08748 were scrapped on site. However, the North Norfolk Railway purchased D3935 as they needed a diesel shunting locomotive. It was then used up until 2004 but unfortunately during its use it suffered a moved crank on one of the axles.
Major overhaul begins on D3935
After storage for a number of years, it was bought by Phil in 2012 and work began on its restoration. Phil clearly has massive experience on Class 08’s and knows the history of both this and D3940.
History of Class 08 shunter D3940
D3940 was built in March 1960 at Derby and was delivered to 50A York for the first three years or so of service. It was then sent to 52A Gateshead in June 1963 for a number of years before moving East to 52E Percy Main. It remained here for three years before it returned to Gateshead. Towards the end of 1976 it moved South to 51L Thornaby. Its time there included a period of temporary storage. Its final reallocation was to Colchester around 1985 and was officially withdrawn by British Railways in mid-January 1994. Two weeks later D3935 was also withdrawn from traffic. Although the official withdrawal dates are recorded as January 1994 Phil believes that it was probably during 1993 that they were actually taken out of service.
Upon withdrawal D3940 was purchased by Phil and was for a number of years based at the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chapel & Wakes Colne before moving to the North Norfolk Railway to join D3935.
Progress on Class 08 D3935
Horwich works where D3935 was built had a very proud tradition of building locomotives to excellent engineering standards. Clearly time restrictions and productions schedules to deliver locomotives into service severely limited the time for cleaning, painting and polishing. Fortunately there is a different situation on heritage railways.
The care and attention lavished on D3935 is outstanding. With a side doors open we were able to view the 350hp diesel engine. There was no trace of oil leakage. The engine looked resplendent in its cream paint work. It was set off with silver painted exhaust manifold and blue coolant pipework along with salmon pink lube oil lines.
In the electrical compartment, the main generator sports a light grey. The colour differentiates it from the auxiliary generator which is painted in a darker grey. Neatly arranged orange coloured electrical conduit runs between black ‘cupboards’.
I have never seen the cab interior of a Class 08 look so immaculate. Even the brass plate surround on the air brake pipe gauge is polished.
Externally the loco is painted in BR plain green with red buffer beams. Keen observers will note the reinstatement of middle and top marker lights – a nice touch of detail. Other retrofitted parts includes the radiator ladders.
Brakes on Class 08 shunters
D3935 is dual brake fitted though when built it was one of the 08s that had a vacuum brake system installed for operating train brakes. The 08’s brakes are operated by air. Later in its service life, possibly in the late 70’s – early 80’s, it was fitted with a train air brake system as was D3940. This includes a second compressor to provide a sufficient volume of air to operate air braked trains. This was at a time when Brisith Railways were eliminating vacuum brake fitted stock. You can see the red air train brake pipe and yellow air main reservoirs pipes in the photo above.
I recently spoke to Phil and as of November 2017, the locomotive is nearing the end of its restoration. This is a fantastic achievement on such an iconic class of locomotive.
The Class 08 is well respected among the railway fraternity. The high standard of workmanship on D3935 will see it in service for many years to come. I congratulate Phil and his team as the quality of work on the Class 08 shunter is a credit to them all.
At some point I will add a photograph of D3935 in its finished state.