Western Galore!

Western Galore!

A number of pictures I found during research upon a related subject – in fact there were so many it was difficult to choose from! Why enthuse over the Westerns anyway? Well like many others I simply found the class very admirable and it was impossible to not like the Class 52s compared to the other modern era locomotives. Certainly the more unique and the more successful the class were the bigger their following. The Class 52s and Class 55s were no doubt the biggest draws in the 1960s and 1970s. As a regular user of the Great Western Main line through the 1960s and 1970s, almost invariably any train used would have a Western in its charge and my following of these caused me to reach a point where the biggest locomotive fleet on my own model railway happened to be the Class 52! I think I had about six of these!

Class 52 Western

Promo pic of D1000 in original sand livery at Plymouth. Eddie John – Flickr.

Sadly I never took any pictures of the Westerns. The whole time I was accustomed to the Westerns I was in fact a schoolkid. Its like a number of other things that I experienced during the sixties. For example I remember Reading’s trolleybuses – but no pictures. There too was the Victoria line test trains on the Hainault Loop, and the brand new the Victoria Line in its first days during September 1968, a Great Eastern steam special finale and even a cab ride on the Great Western main line between Paddington and Reading. And yet I rarely took photographs because it was a hobby I could ill afford.

Brand new Western Leviathan at Paddington 1963. Martyn Hearson – Facebook.

Practically all the pictures here, as well as being black and white, are of Class 52s in station or depot environments and some are historic because the scenes no longer exist – and its many thanks to the various photographers who took these! I wish I had taken these photographs but there we are!

The Hydraulic era, Paddington

Brand new Western and Hymek at Paddington in 1963. Geoff7918 – Flickr.

Its sad that the Westerns were not given more time to prove their worth on the Great Western Main Line and other routes. They were excellent workhorses no doubt (and were much preferred in terms of specific workings such as Merehead quarry or the China clay traffic for example) but in terms of operational lifetime their reign was fairly short. Each member of the class was given just one major overhaul and this was clearly a deliberate tactic. That is because the decision to get rid of the Westerns was made almost as soon as the class were introduced.

D1020 Western Hero

D1020 Western Hero at Shrewsbury Railway Station 1963. f22photographie – Flickr.

This came about because the earlier batch of hydraulics, the 35s (Hymeks) and the 42s/43s (Warships) had not proved to be as reliable as the authorities had hoped and the hydraulics were rejected as a potential form of traction – although the Westerns proved to be far more reliable and that is why the class were allowed one major overhaul and no more. The Westerns had no more than fifteen years of use on the main line in British Railways days (this disregards the successful reintroduction of Class 52s in recent years on both railtours and freight workings).

Swindon 1964 - Western Legionnaire

D1029 Western Legionnaire at Swindon 1964. Paul Braybrook – Flickr.

Class 52 D1058 'Western Nobleman'. Gloucester(Central) 4 July 1964

Gloucester Central. 1964. This is the days when there were two railway stations! I have some pictures of the derelict Gloucester Eastgate. Ricsrailpics – Flickr.

Paignton 1972

Western Challenger at Paignton 1972. Chris – Flickr.

Western Venturer at Paignton 1975. Martyn Hearson – Facebook.

Western Sentinel Plymouth 1975. Marc Koch – Facebook.

Western Renown leaves Truro 1975. Martyn Hearson – Facebook.

Western at Platform One Paddington. Marc Koch – Facebook.

D1036 at Newton Abbott with a working for Friary or Dump Lane. Peter Lovell – Derby Sulzers.

A Glimpse of Heaven (gbw,75,32,03)

Western line-up at Plymouth 1975. Nearest is D1012, then D1023 and D1001. Geoff7918 – Flickr.

D1050 at Laira. Unknown – Twitter/X.

Pair of Westerns on the blocks at Penzance 1972. David Letcher – Facebook.

Western Stalwart at Cheltenham St James – a terminus sited off the Honeybourne line which shut in 1966. Martyn Hearson – Facebook.

Bristol Temple Meads Station 10th May 1975

D1072 Western Glory at Bristol TM. 1975. Loosegrip99 – Flickr.

D1013 Western Ranger, Plymouth 1975

D1013 Western Ranger Plymouth 1975. Its said these are driver Jack Barrett and guard John Williams from Penzance. SteveAsh3 – Flickr.

Reading UK  |  1976

D1023 ‘Western Fusilier’ Reading 1976. Keith Wilde – Flickr.

Western Trooper D1033 night shot Plymouth 1976. Marc Koch – Facebook.