Gloucester from 1967

Diesel casualties

With steam vanquished, rationalisation of diesel classes commenced with the implementation of the 1968 Traction Plan, which aimed to reduce the number of classes from 28 to 15. 

Of the earlier diesels, the D600 class had proved unreliable in service, and by 1965 were confined to Cornwall working china-clay traffic. In August 1967 some were transferred to Pantyffynnon to work coal trains, but they proved unsuitable, and by the end of the year all were returned to store at Laira. By November 1968 they were in scrapyards in South Wales along with another NBL interloper from Scotland, No. D6122 and the last steam engines.

Many NB ‘Type 2s’ were in store by Autumn 1968 prior to withdrawal, but Gloucester retained a stud for local trip working, sub-shedded from Bristol. In January 1970, Gloucester had Nos. 6320/31/48/54, being joined a month later by Nos. 6310/52. Later in 1970, 85B still had Nos. 6320/48/52 allocated, but the four survivors of the class were withdrawn in January 1972. 

NBL ‘Type 2’ diesel-hydraulic No. D6331 waits in Gloucester New Yard after arrival with a short pick-up freight including a tank from the Berry Wiggins siding at Lydney in July 1970.

However, the D9500 (Class 14) 0-6-0 diesel-hydraulic locos had an extremely short life. They were introduced in August 1965, but some members of this ill-fated class lasted only 3 years, many being withdrawn in Spring 1968, with the last being taken out of BR service in April 1969. This was partly because the trip workings for which they had been designed had all but vanished with the advent of brake-fitted block freight trains and the decimation of the coal-mining industry in South Wales. Some might say that they were ordered as the hydraulic-loving ‘GW’ Region’s last ‘fling’, cocking a snook at Stanley Raymond. Members of the class were being sold on to private owners by the end of 1966 – some went to Hull Docks but became redundant there in 1968, whilst others went to Corby steelworks where they lasted until about 1980. Locally, several including Nos. D9502 and D9553 were employed on trip workings to Nailsworth (May 1966), Berkeley and Cinderford, but by 1969 these duties were in the hands of North British diesel-hydraulic ‘Type 2s’.  No. D9502 was recorded in use in the Forest of Dean in April 1967, but withdrawn in April 1969, before going to NCB Ashington until closure in 1987.

Finally, Gloucester’s first diesel shunter, No. D2123 had reached the scrap yard at Long Marston by December 1968 and was still present when Jeff visited the site in April 1970.