One of my previous jobs involved travelling to a variety of locations selling things. Amongst those locations was the British Rail Engineering works (BREL, more familiarly known as just “The Plant Works”) in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. It was one of those amazing old Victorian factories where you felt like you had stepped back 100 years as soon as you walked into one of the huge old brick buildings. It reeked of history and those wonderful engineering aromas of cutting fluid, oil, engines, and ancient machinery.
But getting inside was, to a geek or trainspotter, like finding the Holy Grail. And I was lucky, one day in April 1979, to be taken – complete with camera – on a private guided tour. So, if you are interested in railways, you may just find the following photos and notes interesting…
At the time, the works was building the Class 56 freight locos. Here you can see the assembly line, the power plant, the assembled loco, and the finished result:
The works also refurbished diesel multiple units. Here are before and after views:
BREL maintained the Deltic fleet. Unfortunately, they were short of one engine so there was always one Deltic sitting forlornly in the yard – in April 1979 in was 55 020 “Nimbus”. In the photo here, 55 015 “Tulyar” is undergoing refurbishment.
Another section of the works was, during 1979, refurbishing the “Hoover” class 50 locos, which operated mainly on the Western Region at that time. The photo shows 50 043 “Eagle” ready to go back to work, with Class 31/1 number 31 301 alongside in for running repairs:
Some of the class 50s managed to bring forward their planned refurbishment. This is 50 003 “Temeraire” awaiting some serious attention after a collision:
And, of course, more than a few locos ended their life as spare part donors:
And that’s enough railways. Next week look out for (as Monty Python always used to say) something completely different…