Keeping the wheels turning

Barrow Hill Roundhouse & Railway Centre, Derbyshire:  D9009 Alycidon

Barrow Hill Roundhouse & Railway Centre, Derbyshire: D9009 Alycidon

Among transport-preservation enterprises, I think the Deltic Preservation Society is particularly admirable.

The Deltics were the first-generation high-powered diesel locomotives that replaced steam on the East Coast expresses between London and Edinburgh in the early 1960s.  In their time they were the most powerful diesel locomotives in the world.

The prototype was named Deltic as an allusion to the marine-pattern Napier engines, which featured a triangular arrangement of cylinders like the Greek letter delta.

Twenty-two production locomotives were built, replacing a roster of 55 express steam locomotives dating back to the 1930s, and ran the East Coast services until the arrival of the High Speed Train in 1978.

They lasted another ten years on other routes, and six of the original twenty-three have been preserved.

They’re much-loved for their size and power, their classic American shape and the distinctive sound of their diesel-electric power units.

Three of these belong to the Deltic Preservation Society [] and are based in a purpose-built depot at Barrow Hill Roundhouse, Derbyshire.

All three locomotives – D9009 Alycidon, D9015 Tulyar (both named, in the old LNER tradition, after racehorses) and 55019 Royal Highland Fusilier – were purchased as long ago as the 1980s, and they have now been in preservation for more years than they were in public service.

Another Deltic, 55022 Royal Scots Grey, recently made news when it was hired as a working locomotive by GP Railfreight to haul bauxite trains:  [].

The Society maintains them in working condition so that they can earn their keep on preserved railways and on main-line excursions.  Alycidon and Royal Highland Fusilier are serviceable, and Tulyar is currently under overhaul.

It’s good to see superannuated locomotives in practical use, rather than as frozen-in-time exhibits in a gallery setting.

I applaud the acumen of groups of enthusiasts who have so successfully combined their own enjoyment of maintaining traditional engineering with a commercial business model that brings pleasure to present-day enthusiasts and guarantees a long-term future for these fine locomotives.

A similarly laudible preservation campaign, but at an earlier stage in the process, is the Deltic Preservation Society’s neighbour at Barrow Hill, the 5-BEL Trust’s project to restore an entire train, the Brighton Belle

The 60-page, A4 handbook for the 2018 ‘Waterways and Railways of the East Midlands’ tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list features the Barrow Hill Roundhouse and is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

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