The appearance of a picture of a former BR Class 08/10 on an Italian website has opened up a very large can of worms. The picture was taken in 1974 at Albate Camerlata and shows the locomotive in use with Attilio Rossi. The first problem is that no locomotive of this description is recorded as going to Italy in any of the disposal books and all of those withdrawn before 1974 appear accounted for so which locomotive is it?
The only ex-BR locomotive recorded with Attilio Rossi at the time in any of the books is D2232 and examination of what has been recorded about this has brought several more worms out of the can. Starting with ‘Pronounced Life Extinct’, this records D2232 as being disposed of to Shipbreaking, (wrongly shown as P. Wood (Shipbreaking) but see below), Queenborough and then being exported to Italy. By the time of ‘A Decade After’ it is shown as G. Cohen, South Bank, Middlesbrough and then Exported. ‘Locomotive Directory’ again quotes Cohen, Middlesbrough and exported to Italy. Subsequent books are a mis-match of these references. Thus, the exact story of what happened to D2232 needs untangling.
Before continuing it is worth explaining what has been discovered about two companies, P. Wood and Barlborough Metals, often quoted with regard to railway rolling stock disposals. These companies were known in the scrap industry as 'brass platers' and would purchase locomotives and other rolling stock from BR and then arrange for its consignment to and scrapping at, one of a number of scrap yards. The 'brass platers' operated from town centre offices and did not own or operate scrapyards, both are believed to have had their offices in the Rotherham area.
It would appear that D2232 condemned in early 1968 was definitely still present at Gateshead as late as November 1968. But what then really happened to it and when? A picture on page seven of the Ashley Butlin book 'Diesel & Electric Disposal' published in 1990 taken by a Martin Brown shows the locomotive without rods but does not say where or when the photograph was taken. The caption reads “George Cohen Ltd were well known for their Kettering yard, but they also ran a number of small concerns. One of these was the Coborn Works at Cargo Fleet on Teesside. Two Drewry Class 04s were sold there from Gateshead in December 1968. Of these, No. D2321 was cut but No. D2232 was overhauled and exported to Italy. Its ultimate fate is unknown, but was reported out of service in 1984.” Thus, by implication the photograph is taken on Teesside after the locomotive had left Gateshead but was it? Does, anyone know of Martin Brown so he can be asked where and when the photograph was taken?
The Italian connection with this locomotive is interesting as various books quote it as arriving in Italy in August 1972, but is that true and was it actually this locomotive that went to Italy? If it went to Italy in 1972 where was it from November 1968 until August 1972? No sightings have been traced of it in that period which is surprising if it still existed in Great Britain. Did it ever go to Queenborough or is that an assumption based on the fact that other locomotives that went to Italy at the time went via Queenborough. Those locomotives though went to companies in the Trieste and Brescia areas not Attilio Rossi based in Rome? Please come forward if you can shed any light on what happened to this locomotive in that period. Also, have you any fresh information about this locomotive in Italy that has not been mentioned in the quoted books or have you actually visited Italy and seen it?
Another interesting point regarding D2232 and D2321 is that these are the only two diesels recorded as going to G. Cohen at Cargo Fleet, a yard active in steam locomotive disposals at the time. Thus, did anyone seeking out steam visit the yard and note either of these two locomotives.
A further doubt relating to the accuracy of the post 1968 history of D2232 comes from the June 1974 Railway Observer. On page 200 it states 'A visitor to Queenborough on 22nd October 1972 was shown a worksplate (Drewry 2572) and was informed that it was off one of the locomotives which had gone to Italy. On checking it was found that the plate was from D2242 which was sold to C. F. Booth, Rotherham in 1970'. Interestingly at about the same time D2242 arrived at C. F. Booth, Rotherham D2271 also arrived. Adrian Booth was a regular visit to C. F. Booth's at the time, his earliest observation of D2271 their was on 6th June 1970 whilst D2242 was first observed their on 13th June 1970. Both remained for over a year with Adrian last observing D2242 on 21st August 1971 and D2271 on 3rd April 1972. It is known that rather than being scrapped D2271 was sold on for preservation and is recorded as being moved to Thomas Hill, Kilnhurst for storage on 27th July 1972. Was D2242 also sold on and not scrapped as recorded in the various disposal books and was it this rather than D2232 that moved to Queenborough and was exported to Italy in 1972. If that was to be the case then the lack of sightings of D2232 after 1968 could be explained by it also being scrapped at G. Cohen, South Bank, Middlesborough along with D2321 in late 1968/early 1969. Clearly then, any actual sightings of D2242 after 21st August 1971 could prove to be extremely important. Was it scrapped at C. F. Booth, Rotherham or did it move to Queenborough or perhaps elsewhere and was then exported? Curiously the late Alan Sugden quotes the disposal of D2242 in the first two editions of his book 'Diesel & Electric Loco Register' to be P. Wood, Queenborough! What was the reason for Alan not recording D2242 as being scrapped at C. F. Booth, Rotherham as was the case with all other disposal books?
As has been discovered with other dilemmas it only needs one typo to appear in print once for an error to be perpetuated. Bearing this in mind it is quite probable that the information about D2232 being exported to Italy in all the disposal books can be traced back to the June 1975 Railway Observer where on page 177 it states 'D2232 was observed throughout September and October 1973 on the Milan to Chiasso main line in Italy and was being used by its owners Attilio Rossi of Rome, in connection with track renewal'. What though if D2232 that was a typo for D2242? Presumably though a British enthusiast made those observations. Was that you and if do can you confirm it was D2232 that you saw? Certainly by 1986 the locomotive carried a faded yellow livery and did not carry a BR number. Did anyone who visited Italy in the 1970's closely examine the locomotive and confirm that it was indeed D2232?
Turning back to the mystery Class 08/10, two lines of enquiry need to be explored but both result in more worms coming out of the can. The first line of enquiry is based on the pictured locomotive having arriving in Italy around 1973 but if this was the case then it is a second locomotive as observations exist of a locomotive of this description in Italy as early as 1969. The second line of enquiry is based on the pictured locomotive having arrived in Italy around 1969.
If the 1973 scenario is followed then in the view of member and diesel locomotive detail expert Richard Day who has carefully studied the photographs the only locomotive that would fit the criteria is D3034. If ‘Pronounced Life Extinct’ that wrongly records it as being exported to Liberia, a mistake that can be explained, is discounted all books quote this as being scrapped at Derby Works in November 1973. True, it was at Derby Works on 19th August 1973 and no longer present on 11th November 1973 but what really happened to it between these dates? Was it scrapped or was it exported to Italy? Did you go to the Works Open Day in September 1973 and if so did you record or photograph D3034? If you do not have a picture it at the Open Day do you have any taken of it after July 1972 taken at Tinsley or Derby Works. Whilst seeing if you can help with D3034 at Derby Works any information about D3020 and D3051 that disappeared from there at the time would be useful, further details can be found at Derby works scrapings.
Now for the 1969 scenario, the clue here can be found on page 120 of the April 1970 Railway Observer where it says “During July, 1969 an ex-BR, 350 hp diesel-shunter was noted working at Imperia, Northern Italy. Unfortunately, no numbers were seen but the builders plate (Derby 1959) was clearly seen. The rear of the cab still contained the yellow/black strips of B.R.”. The’ (Derby 1959)’ has though to be wrong as no Derby built locomotives in that year had been withdrawn by then. So discounting that and working on the assumption this is the same locomotive as photographed in 1974 it has to be one withdrawn by that date. If Derby 1959 was a mistake for Derby 1955 then prime suspect is 3121. This was apparently still noted intact at Derby Works on 16th June 1968 but no longer present on 2nd July 1968. All books record this as scrapped at Derby Works but another riddle surrounding disposals of diesels at this time from Derby Works currently being worked on suggests this has to be treated with suspicion. Thus, did you see 3121 during 1968 and more importantly have you any pictures of it around that time?
If the ‘(Derby 1959)’ is totally discounted and this is the same locomotive photographed in 1974 then in the view of Richard Day detail features suggest that the mystery locomotive is one of 3137-3145/3152-3166. Analysis by Rob Aston has also come up with the same conclusion. Of these, 3165 has been highlighted by John Hall as being suspicous. The last traced observation of 3165 was at Colwick on 20/09/1967 (p.410 12/67 RO) but it was not recorded on a subsequent visit on 02/02/1968 (p.118 4/68 RO). Although 3165 is recorded as having been scrapped at C. F. Booth, Rotherham by 23/04/68 (p.207 6/68 RO) it is the only locomotive scrapped their at the time that was not actually observed. Thus, any observations of 3165 after 20/09/1967 are keenly sought. Similarly, Richard Day has suspicions about the dispopsal of 3144. Although officially withdrawn from Thornaby on 07/07/1969 no further information or observations about it appeared at the time. Interestingly 'Pronounced Life Extinct' records its disposal as G. Cohen, Kettering but no evidence supporting this has been traced. However, after the book was published the RO recorded its disposal as being to Hughes Bolckow, Blyth during October 1969 (p.155 5/76 RO). This being the disposal given in subsequent publications. Any observations of this locomotive in July 1969 or later would be thus of great interest. It is also interesting to note that although 3140 & 3142 have been consistently recorded as being consigned To C. F. Booth, Rotherham in March 1969 (p.369 11/77 RO) no sightings of them there have been traced. Thus, any observations of these in 1969 would also be of particular interest. Pictures of 3137-3145/3152-3166 and 3140/2/4 & 3165 in particular in their latter days of British Rail service may though hold a clue.
Having said the above, consideration should also be given to the possibility that the locomotive could be a later built Class 10 from those numbered 3439-3502/3612-3651/4049-4094. Although there are no doubts about the disposal of the majority of these, as a result of research undertaken by the 'What really happenned to steam' project serious doubts exist about what has been published about some. It is regrettable to say that it now appears that some of the information forwarded as a result of the February 1975 RO (p.41) appeal for disposal details of diesel shunters may have been fabricated. Consequently a number of potentially false disposals have subsequently appeared in print. Class 10's included in the list for which doubts as to the exact disposal have been raised are 3440/51/53/87, 3622/23/40 & 4076/81/82/84/91 but disposals of others are far from clear. Thus, it would be very useful to receive sightings of withdrawn Class 10's in 1968/69 especially if these do not appear to fit with what has been published previously about the locomotives disposal. Research by Richard Day indicates that the 'strap hinges' on the locomotive pictured ceased to be a feature from 3473 onwards thus ruling out all but 3440/51/53 though.
Of the later built Class 10's one in particular is worthy of special attention, this is D4091. This was included in the above mentioned February 1975 RO listing with its last known location being Doncaster in August 1968. Subsequently, the March 1976 RO (p.81) reports it as sold to P. Wood, Rotherham during December 1968. 'Pronounced Life Extinct' published in 1976 interestingly though records no dispsal for D4091. Then in 1978 two contradictory references appear. Firstly, 'A Decade After' gives the disposal as C. F. Booth, Rotherham. Secondly, the October RO (p.365) gives the disposal as Slag Reduction Company, Ickles. Both appear suspicous as if D4091 had been acquired by 'brass plater' P. Wood then it would be the only locomotive known to have been acquired directly from BR that did not go to Shipbreaking, Queenborough. Subsequent disposal books are inconsistent quoting one or other of C. F. Booth or Slag Reduction Comany. It should be noted that no sighting of D4091 in either Rotherham scrap yard has ever been found, nor have any sightings of the locomotive after August 1968 has come to light. Could it be that D4091 was acquired by P. Wood and was actually consigned to Shipbreaking, Queenborough whom then arranged for it to go to Italy? Clearly any sightings of D4091 after August 1968 are very keenly sort after, can you help? Again though, the presence of 'strap hinges' on the engine room doors of the locomotive in the photograph would appear to rule out D4091.
The full picture of what became of the ex-BR, diesel-shunting locomotives in Italy is far from complete. Generally speaking those that went to the Brescia area are reasonably well documented, those to the Trieste area less so and those to Attilio Rossi in the Rome area are very poorly documented. Thus, if anyone has further information about these locomotives or has attempted to seek them out on a visit to Italy I would very much like to hear from them. Several other worms are squirming around these locomotives.
I fear more worms are going to escape from this can before the lid can be put back on and those that have already escaped are going to prove difficult to catch and put back in but somebody holds that vital clue!
Details of all the Ex BR locomotives exported to Italy can be found here
Photographs and other information will be welcomed by Peter Hall
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last updated: 13/03/13