This year’s warm and dry summer in the UK resulted in many heritage railway lines having to switch from steam to diesel power because of the fire risk. The Watercress Line was no exception and called in support from two class 37 diesel electric locomotives – D6836 and 37901 Mirrlees Pioneer. These two locomotives were a contrast to the pair of two Bulleid light Pacific steam locomotives 34051 Sir Winston Churchill and 34007 Wadebridge that could be found in the same loco yard.Although very different duets, they nevertheless have something in common – both are relatively common in preservation! Bulleid Pacific’s are plentiful; including unrebuilt light Pacific’s such as these.
The class 37 is a heritage diesel type that has many variations that would take some time to describe! They are common in preservation (around 50 are preserved to-date), plus there are some in mainline service, despite being over fifty years old.
In the UK Heritage Hub magazine, I discussed the topic of heritage and the class 37 certainly presents an interesting example to consider. It’s longevity as a useful working type means that it both has had an important role in the history of our railways and still continues to do so. Some might argue that as it is still used in service; describing it as a heritage machine is wrong, however, my feeling is that it is a heritage machine, with a story that’s yet to be finished!
The two Bulleid machines sitting side by side have different fates awaiting them. 34051 Sir Winston Churchill is to be cosmetically restored to a condition more fitting of this locomotive. However, it’s sister locomotive 34007 Wadebridge is in working condition and a regular performer on the Watercress line.
As ever, a visit to Ropley always provides something different to see and to ponder. This visit was no exception, with A1 class 60163 Tornado sitting in the yard to add to the mix! Thanks for reading folks 🙂