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50 Years of the ‘Westerns’

D1000 'Western Enterprise' at Old Oak Common, 1964

In December 1961 the first of the ‘Westerns’, Class 52 as they became later categorised, emerged from Swindon Works.  Steam fans may have been muttering under their breaths at the onward march of the diesel enemy at the time but there was always a grudging recogntion that here was a diesel that was, at least, ‘different’ and therefore Swindon enough to be almost acceptable.

Years on, the 7 surviving class 52 Westerns are now much loved for their heritage status as representatives of the last time the GWR, in its Western Region guise, managed to maintain an independent stand against the onslaught of homogenity on UK railways.  Nowadays there is little to differentiate the regions of the network in any respect and the old diesel hydraulics of the WR were a great attempt to be radically experimental and to do things differently.

As with the Broad Gauge, the diesel hydraulics failed, not because they were an intrinsically bad idea (apart from the Class 22s and 14s, that is!) but just because they didn’t fit in with the rest, so, to me, they are part of the GWR heritage as much as Castles and Kings.

I am, therefore, pleased to be able to point you to our page dedicated to the WR hydraulics here.  This is  not meant to be remaoetly authoritative on the subject but we are, I hope helping you in the direction of some good resources.  Please help us do this better by contributing to the development of pages devoted to this topic with your ideas.   Note also that you can also find our link to excellent books on the subject here.

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