Diesel Dilemmas

Did D6121 and D6122 swap identities in 1964?

   D6121 stands in Edinburgh Waverley on 24th August 1967. By this date it had been re-engined but had it started life as D6122?   Ian Cotter

For twelve years (1968-1980) Woodham's Barry scrapyard contained a Class 21 locomotive that initially carried numerical identity D6122. As the years went by, weathering revealed that the locomotive may have previously, on the cabs at least, carried numerical identity D6121 at one time. Examination of various photographs does though give further evidence suggesting that this locomotive did indeed start out as D6121 and that it did swap identities with the original D6122 around May 1964. At this stage the evidence suggesting an identity swap is not totally conclusive but continues to mount. Thus, the intention of this dilemma is to present the current evidence and see if any viewer can add further.

Cab roof 'eyebrow' ventilators

Much like the D6300's, the early D6100's had the cab ventilators, often referred to as 'eyebrows', above the front cab windows. D6100-20 had the 'eyebrows' and D6123-57 didn't in all photographs of these locomotives viewed so far. This though leaves the intriguing situation with D6121 & D6122 to be explained.

   D6121 is pictured at Fort William during 1968 after conversion to Class 29. It clearly no longer has "eyebrows". To its left is D6108 also converted to Class 29, which retains "eyebrows. Both locomotives were built with "eyebrows".   J Richardson
D6121 'eyebrow' ventilators

Confirmation that D6121 definetly had 'eyebrows' when built can be found in the book 'British Railways Main-Line Diesels' by R. S. Carter, first edition published in August 1963. The photograph chosen to depict the NBL diesel electric Type 2s is of D6121 at what looks like Eastfield Depot taken by D. J. Dipple. The problem is D6121 never appears with eyebrows in any post 1965 photograph after it had become a Class 29! The accompanying photograph shows D6121 in 1968 without "eyebrows" next to D6108 with "eyebrows".

D6122 'eyebrow' ventilators

Then we move on to D6122, in all the images of this locomotive viewed taken from July 1965 onwards and obviously any Barry shots, it clearly has the 'eyebrows'. Two images of this locomotive in 1960 & 61, clearly showing its number, definitely show it with no 'eyebrows' as does the photograph below taken on 28th March 1962. There is also a picture of D6122 without 'eyebrows' leaving Gleneagles on May 11th 1963 in the book 'Britain's Railways 1948-1998 - a personal view of 50 years of change' (page 72) by Gavin Morrison. The locomotive number being clearly visible. Finally we have the picture below taken on 11th April 1964 at Perth of a seemingly damaged D6122 without 'eyebrows'. The earliest picture so far traced showing D6122 with 'eyebrows' was taken on 13th July 1965 at Stirling whilst the earliest published picture was taken on August 28th 1965 from Princess Street Gardens by Brian Stephenson and can be found in 'Trains Illustrated - BR Then & Now, no. 21 The North British Railway' (page 50). The locomotive number is just visible in the Brian Stephenson photograph.

   D6122 stands at Holytown prior to departure with the 17.07 to Glasgow Buchanan Street on 28th March 1962. This picture shows that at this time it did not have ?eyebrows? above the cab windows.   Peter Smith
   The most recent picture of D6122 without 'eyebrows' so far discovered is this one taken at Perth on 11th April 1964. Interestingly the rear cab appears to have been damaged.  

Windscreen wiper mountings

Another clue could be the positioning of windscreen wiper mountings. When delivered it would appear that the normal mounting position was above the windscreen. However, it appears that this was later changed to a position below the windscreen. Pictures of D6121 & D6122 taken up until 1964 show them with windscreen wipers mounted above the windscreen whilst pictures taken from 1965 onwards show D6121 with then mounted below the windscreen and D6122 above.

So far though only photographs of re-engined locomotives with windscreen wipers mounted below the windscreen have been traced so it may be that only these locomotives had the modification. Below are two photographs kindly provided by Colour-Rail clearly showing the position of the wipers after D6121 had been re-engined.


   The locomotive record card for D6122 held in the National Archive, Kew indicates that D6122 spent much of 1963 in St. Rollock Works.   Gerard Fletcher
Was D6122 the subject of comparative trials?

Not as yet verified by any references, but a viewer of this dilemma believes that in early 1963, at the same time as D6123 was the first Class 21 converted to Class 29, D6122 was also overhauled and had its MAN engine uprated. The two locomotives were then used for comparitive trials. The locomotive record card for D6122 held in the National Archive, Kew, a copy of which was been very kindly provided by Gerard Fletcher, does though show the locomotive spending a considerable part of 1963 in St. Rollock Works. It is known that in May 1963 D6122 did not have 'eyebrows' suggesting that an identity swap had not take place by then. The suggestion the viewer poses though is that the overhauled/uprated D6122 was a disaster despite the expenditure and it would be embarrasing to admit this and then spend even more money on it. In addition it appears from the above photograph that by May 1964 it was in need of collision repairs. Thus, to save face the D6122 identity was transferred to also uprated D6121 in order for the comparative trials to continue. The troublesome and damaged D6122 then became D6121 which was later selected for conversion to Class 29. Any comments regarding the points raised by the viewer would be welcomed.

Did D6121 & D6122 swap identies in May 1964?

What could well be a vital clue is tucked away on page 236 of the August 1964 RO. There, under a report of the Scottish Whitsun Tour of 16th-18th May 1964 it says with regard to Eastfield Depot "Mention of this depot also brings to mind the confusion caused by D6121 which bore the number D6122 on the cabside at one end. Some cannibalisation has obviously occurred as D6122 is one of the twelve cripples of the class which appear to be more or less permanent residents of St. Rollox Works". It is presumed from this that a locomotive carrying the number D6122 was seen at St. Rollox Works on the same trip, possibly the same day, but was it? However, Roy Henefer actually recorded D6122 at St. Rollox Shed on 18th May 1964 and the record card gives no indication of D6122 visiting St. Rollox works at the time. Could it be that a change of identities was in the process of occurring on that day and the locomotive at Eastfield was in the process of being transformed from D6121 to D6122 at the time of the visit. The transformation of D6122 to D6121 being about to take place at St.Rollox Shed prior to it being tucked away in St. Rollox carriage shed with D6101. Observations and photographs of these two locomotives at this time could proof to be of great importance. The comment about D6122 being a permanent resident of St. Rollock Works at the time sppears to be not quite correct as submitted sightings plus the above photograph at Perth on 11th April 1964 suggest it was not actually there. In addition, is the comment about cannibalisation a presumption rather than anything else. If an identity swap did take place then May 1964 would appear to have been a very likely date based on this. Also worth noting is that between May 1964 and March 1965 the only sighting of D6122 is at Eastfield which correlates with its record card. Similarly the only sighting of D6121 is of it hidden away in the St. Rollox area. If anyone has access to the record card for D6121 it would be interesting to know what it shows for this period.

What happened in 1965?

Moving on to 1965, references so far unearthed have D6122 as being at Inverurie Works by 16th April 1965 and still present on 6th June 1965. The above record card shows it being present from 11th March 1965 with completion being on 7th May 1965. However, the locomotive is shown as having further unclassified repairs there between 13th and 19th May and between 26th May and 8th June suggesting it was being rather troublesome. Observations so far received (see below) indicate that it had returned to regular service as a Class 21 by mid July 1965. Several sightings of it at a different locations having been received, the earliest being at Stirling on the 13th July 1965 by which time it is known to have acquired eyebrows.

D6121 though does appear to have spent the first half of 1965 in the St.Rollox area. No sightings before May have though been submitted suggesting it was in the mysterious shed were it had been observed the previous October. Interestingly though it is reported as being present in the paint shop on 5th June 1965. By 22nd June 1965 it had though reached Inverurie Works were it was transformed into a Class 29.

What is very intriguing though are the observations made by Bob Stone at Inverurie Works on 22nd June 1965. Bob records D6121 present as one would expect but also he has recorded "part of D6122". Fifty years on Bob has no recollections but could this be very relevant. Is it evidence of an identity swap having just taken place or of an earlier one.

During 1965 Roy Hennefer did two extensive 'shed bashs' in Scotland during which he visited both Inverurie and St. Rollox Works. On neither the 17th April 1965 nor the the 7th August 1965 did he observe either D6121 or D6122 in St Rollox Works. Taking this with observations submitted it would thus appear the visit of D6121 fell between these two dates. Interestingly though, although Roy observed D6122 at Inverurie Works on 19th April 1965 he does not record it or D6121 as being present on the 7th August 1965! If D6121 had been transformed into D6122 at St.Rollox Works and D6122 had been transformed into D6121 at Inverurie Works (prior to conversion to Class 29) in June or July 1965 as has been suggested then one would have expected that Roy would have observed D6121 at Inverurie Works!

D6122 in later years

D6122 was officially condemned at the end of 1967 by which time it had departed from Scotland for Hither Green and subsequently to Barry. There is some doubt that a report of it being at Perth on 11th September 1967 is correct as other reports and the record card suggest that it was then at Inverurie works.

   This is the earliest photograph of D6122 with 'eyebrows' that has been made available for publication. It was taken at Stirling on 25th July 1966   Bob Faulkner
   The photographer was extremely fortunate to come across D6122 at Crewe South shed on 22nd October 1967. It being en route from Inverurie Works to Hither Green at the time. Clearly, by this time the locomotive had gained eyebrows.   Peter Martin

   Photographed at Barry Docks on 26th October 1968 was Southern Railway U 31618 and behind it D6122 with eyebrows just visible.   Peter Martin
   The exact date this picture of D6122 was taken is not known, it shows it coupled to Southern Railway U 31618 at Barry Docks. The eyebrows being clearly visible.   Colour Rail

With regard to the above two pictures, Dave Hilling comments. "The colour picture of D6122 was taken at Barry between October and December of 1968. It arrived at Barry with its windows intact, photos of it during October 1968 confirm this. By December the locomotive had not moved, yet all its windows were smashed. There is also, what looks to be a dock crane in the background, confirming Barry". In addition Brian Rolley comments. "The colour picture of D6122 with the smashed windscreen is taken at Barry Docks. The footbridge is, rather was, a landmark. The locos appear to be waiting to be shunted into either Woodhams West Pond main site, or the handful of sidings closer to the former low level goods shed."

   Pictured is the restored builders plate from the locomotive that arrived at Woodham?s Yard numbered D6122. When discovered the plate was in two pieces which accounts for the crack. The smaller piece was still attached to the locomotive whilst the larger piece was found nearby. The number on the plate is recorded as that applied to D6121 in all references consulted.  
Builders plate mystery

A notable feature of these locomotives was that when built they carried North British Locomotive Company Builders plates. D6121 is recorded as being number 27851 and D6122 as being number 27852 on their respective plates. It would be thus very interesting to know whether anyone personally checked the builders plates of D6121 and D6122 at any time and can confirm from observation whether this is correct. Amazingly, it would appear that when first at Barry D6122 did retain its builders plates, or a builders plate. The gentlemen now in possession of one of these has emailed and says the following about it. "The plate was liberated by myself from Woodham Brothers yard, Barry Docks not long after D6122 (or D6121) arrived there from Hither Green. As it is an alloy plate, it was deemed worthless to the yard! The plate is in two pieces. The larger piece I found in the long grass (literally). The smaller piece of the plate was still attached to the locomotive. I cannot recall which end cab the remains of the plate were affixed to (i.e. the cab that later weathered to show D6121). At the time I liberated the plate both cabs showed D6122. The number on the plate is 27851 which I have since been advised refers to D6121." So why did the locomotive that arrived at Barry numbered D6122 carry the builders plate from D6121?

   Although this picture of D601 taken on 22nd June 1979 is of D601 the number D6121 rather than D6122 can be clearly seenon the adjacent locomotive, as can the location where the builders plate was mounted.   Michael Ponting
Number change mystery

Pictures taken of D6122 soon after arrival at Barry clearly show it as numbered D6122. However, as its twelve year sojourn in the yard progressed weathering revealed that the locomotive may have previously, on the cabs at least, carried numerical identity D6121 at one time. This being further evidence that D6121 was once its identity.

This explains why early visits to the yard record D6122 as being present and those in later years as D6121 being present.

It is hoped to add further detail and pictures in the coming weeks to explain in more detail the differences. Any contributions though that could be incorporated would be very much welcomed.

Your observations are welcomed

It would also be very useful to receive any sightings of D6121 & D6122 made in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967 in order to build up as complete picture as possible as to where they were at the time.

Sightings for D6121

LocoLocationDateSeen by
D6121St Rollox Shed22/04/1962Roy Hennefer
D6122St Rollox Shed22/04/1962Roy Hennefer
D6122Perth Station20/07/1962JIm Dempsey
D6122St. Rollox Works, Glasgow14/04/1963p85 June 63 BLS
D6121St Rollox Works, Glasgow15/08/1963Oct 1963 Page 143 British Locomtove Society Mag
D6122Eastfield Shed29/03/1964Roy Hennefer
D6122Eastfield Depot30/03/1964Peter Skinner
D6122Perth11/04/1964Colour Rail
D6122Eastfield Depot18/05/1964Roy Hennefer
D6121St.Rollox (carriage shed between works & shed +D6101)04/10/1964Dave Hunt
D6122Eastfield Shed22/11/1964Roy Hennefer
D6122Inverurie Works16/04/1965p.64 Roger Harris pt5
D6122Inverurie Works19/04/1965Roy Hennefer
D6121St. Rollox Works, Glasgow22/05/1965p.64 Roger Harris pt5
D6121St. Rollox Works, Glasgow29/05/1965p.234 7/65 RO
D6122Inverurie Works05/06/1965p.273 8/65 RO
D6121St. Rollox Works, Glasgow (paint shop)05/06/1965p.64 Roger Harris pt5
D6121Inverurie Works Yard 22/06/1965Rob Stone
D6122Inverurie Works Yard Part Of Loco 22/06/1965Rob Stone
D6122Stirling13/07/1965David Quayle
D6122Passing Edinburgh St Margarets Depot15/07/1965Les Wheeler
D6122Stirling Station17/07/1965Les Wheeler
D6122Edinburgh Waverley31/07/1965David Mant
D6121Inverurie Works10/08/1965David Bromley (British Locomotive Sociert visit)
D6122Princes Street Gardens28/08/1965Brian Stephenson
D6121Inverurie Works02/09/1965p.369 11/65 RO
D6121Edinburgh Princess Street Gardens19/03/1966Stephen Hall
D6122Eastfield Depot10/04/1966A Ledwick
D6122Eastfield Depot10/04/1966Roy Hennefer
D6122Grangemouth28/05/1966Ian Cotter
D6121St. Rollox Depot25/06/1966A Ledwick
D6121Glasgow Buchanan Street Station23/07/1966Les Wheeler
D6121Perth Depot25/07/1966Les Wheeler
D6121en-route Inverness to Dunfermline26/07/1966Les Wheeler
D6121Aberdeen Ferryhill Depot29/07/1966Les Wheeler
D6121Dundee Depot31/07/1966David Mant
D6121Stirling06/08/1966David Bromley
D6122Stirling06/08/1966David Bromley
D6122Stirling area11/08/1966S.Marshall (me)
D6122Grangemouth shed18/09/1966Roger Rounce
D6122Eastfield shed21/09/1966Roger Rounce
D6121Eastfield Shed27/05/1967Roy Hennefer
D6122Inverurie Works28/05/1967Roy Hennefer
D6121Eastfield Depot30/07/1967C. Greedus
D6122Eastfield Depot30/07/1967C. Greedus
D6122Eastfield Depot07/08/1967Steve Kinsey
D6122Eastfield Depot09/08/1967Steve Kinsey
D6121Eastfiled Depot13/08/1967S.Marshall (me)
D6121Edinburgh Waverley24/08/1967Ian Cotter
D6122Perth Depot11/09/1967p.376 11/67 RO
D6121In traffic Eastfield17/09/1967p.423 12/67 RO
D6122Inverurie Works (stored)17/09/1967p.423 12/67 RO
D6122Preston (hauled by D1955)21/10/1967Mike Rhodes
D6122Crewe South Depot22/10/1967Peter Martin
D6122Hither Green Depot05/11/1967p.419 12/67 RO
D6122Hither Green Depot04/02/1968Peter Martin
D6122Hither Green Depot (plate 27851)09/03/1968philip stuart
D6121Eastfield Depot28/07/1968Peter Martin
D6121Inverurie Works28/08/1968Clive Greedus
D6122Barry Docks26/10/1968Peter Martin

Photographs and other information will be welcomed by Peter Hall

last updated: 05/09/18

Submit your sightings
Seen by: