The English Electric Type 4

A close look any ex industrial site will reveal a wealth of clues to it’s previous life. Occasionally a feature can look so obviously out of place, almost like it had been moved there from another location.

1958 saw a new chapter in the modernisation of Britain’s railways. The massive Vuclan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows, Cheshire started production of a diesel electric powered locomotive. Replacing the steam engines, this fast (90 mph) and clean advancement became the flagship of the developing British Railways and, for two decades, thundered the length of the east and west coast mainlines heading prestige passenger express trains.

Weighing in at over 130 tons the English Electric type 4 (Class 40) was considered underpowered (2,000hp) for its weight. So during the 1980’s this former express locomotive class, numbering 200 in all, was withdrawn from stock and scrapped, with a few exceptions. 

A handful of locomotives were purchased by preservation groups across the UK and, thanks to the hard work and dedication of a multitude of skilled enthusiasts, they hold Heritage Diesel status as they run nationwide excursions and regular haulage in many preserved railway lines.

At the Midland Railway Centre in Butterley we can see D212 (40012) Aureol in the stages of restoration, a number of this class where named after popular cruise liners of the day..




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