History of 45149 (D135)
Brand new and unpainted D135 outside Crewe Works in 1961 Photo: K Connelly
45149 was built at Crewe Locomotive Works in 1961. Then allocated the number D135, it was amongst one of the last batch of 127 BR Sulzer 2500hp Type 4s, ordered as a follow on from the 10 (later class 44) pilot scheme ‘Peak’ locomotives. In ‘as built’ condition, it was fitted with vacuum brakes, multiple working equipment and a Stone Vapor train heating boiler. Externally it was equipped with split type headcode boxes mounted centrally in the nose end and was finished in BR lined Brunswick green livery with small yellow warning panels.
Released to traffic in December 1961, D135 was originally allocated to Derby Loco (17A) and quickly settled into traffic hauling passenger and freight services over a wide area, helping to oust steam from top link duties. Evidently, the new diesels still needed occasional assistance from their steam counterparts - on 24th January 1963, D135 hauling the 07.55 Swansea to Newcastle arrived two hours late at Sheffield with standard 2MT No.78009 (85A) coupled inside to provide train heat!
When major repairs were required, D135 would visit Derby Locomotive Works, being noted there on 10th March and 16th June 1963 and again on 29th November 1964, by which time it had been transferred to the Midland Line Division (ML), working from Cricklewood. In September 1965, another transfer saw it allocated to M16 Nottingham Division, based at Toton for maintenance.
Throughout the 1960s, D135 remained a well travelled mixed traffic loco. On 16th January 1966 it was noted on St. Margarets Shed (Glasgow) having worked in from Saltley (Birmingham) and one month later (14th February 1966) ventured on to the East Coast Main Line at the head of 1A13 Sunderland to Kings Cross. Then the following week (23rd February 1966) it hauled the 12.00hrs Bathgate to Kings Norton empty car flats!
By July 1967, D135 had become one of ten class 45s to be repainted in plain early blue livery, still with small yellow warning panels. Following a transfer back to the Midland Line Division in April 1968, D135 was noted at Derby Works on 11th August 1968 for the fitting of dual brake (vacuum and air) equipment. It was around this time that the loco received collision damage to the No.1 end nose. The subsequent repair saw the split headcode box replaced by a full four character box and it was released back to traffic with ‘odd’ ends.
The loco was also treated to a full repaint into standard BR blue livery with full yellow ends and sporting the number 135, the ‘D’ prefix having been made obsolete at the end of steam in 1968. Interesting workings during 1969 included a Derby to Edinburgh cadet troop train on 2nd August 1969 and a breakdown train to Keighley on 12th October 1969 following the derailment of a Nottingham to Carlisle goods the previous day. Moving forward to 1971 and another notable working occurred on 22nd October of that year when 135 developed a fault and was observed being piloted through Gloucester by class 44, No.3 ‘Skiddaw’!
The next significant event in the history of the loco came in January 1975 when 135 entered Derby Works to become the penultimate loco of fifty class 45s to be fitted with electric train heating (ETH). This work involved the removal of the Stone Vapor steam heating boiler and the fitting of a Brush alternator to generate the train supply. To maintain the weight distribution throughout the loco, ballast weights were installed in the former boiler compartment. Externally, the roof section above the ETH cubicle was altered to remove the boiler header tank recess and boiler exhaust grille, in addition to the complete removal of the bodyside step recesses which were welded over with steel plate. Of course, the most obvious change which distinguished an ETH fitted loco was the fitting of jumper cables and sockets to the buffer beams. 135 therefore emerged ex-works in February 1975 with its new TOPS number of 45149!
The ETH conversion programme was to enable locos to haul the new electrically heated and air conditioned Mk 2 coaches being introduced to the Midland Main Line and so 45149 became a dedicated passenger loco allocated to Toton depot. However, it still managed to stray occasionally onto other routes and other duties.
Use of the four character headcode displays on locomotives ceased in 1976 and 45149’s display, like many other locos, was wound to show ‘0000’. Then in 1978 the boxes were altered to the white spot on a black background ‘domino’ style. This lasted until September 1979 when 45149 was called in to Derby Works for a ‘light’ overhaul. During this overhaul the headcode boxes were removed altogether and replaced with the then standard flush front end and sealed beam headlights. The loco was released to traffic by the end of 1979 and still looked smart on 4th April 1980 when it was observed hauling the 10.33 Wolverhampton to Penzance relief.
1982 appeared to be a busy year for the loco and one in which it attempted to visit as many London termini as possible! On 16th March 1982 (presumably due to loco shortages following the demise of the Deltics?) it worked the 15.10 York to Kings Cross and 19.37 return to York. Eleven days later (27th March 1982) it hauled Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z12 07.54 ‘The Wigan Enigma’ from St. Pancras to Blackpool and back. Then on the last day of the winter timetable (Sunday 16th May 1982) 45149 made history by hauling the last scheduled loco hauled train from Manchester Piccadilly (18.55hrs) to St. Pancras via the Hope Valley. On 24th June 1982, 45149 was on cross country duties, firstly hauling the 09.50 Newcastle to Poole between Sheffield and Reading, then running light to Paddington to take the 17.41 to Manchester, via High Wycombe! Not settling for just visiting Kings Cross and Paddington, 45149 powered the 07.40 from Nottingham all the way through to Euston via Bedford and Bletchley on 3rd July 1982. This was during the weekend of diversions due to new signalling commissioning work at West Hampstead. However, all this activity must have proved too much, as the loco was noted at Derby Works on 14th August 1982 undergoing a main generator change!
By May 1983 the majority of passenger services on the Midland Main Line had been handed over to InterCity 125 ‘HST’s and the class 45/1s found themselves relegated to secondary parcels and freight traffic on the route. However, new work was found for them on the revamped Trans-Pennine services between Newcastle/Scarborough and Liverpool/North Wales and 45149 soon became a regular performer on these trains. The loco had a break from these duties on 28th March 1984 when it worked a football excursion from Liverpool to Manchester Victoria for the Milk Cup final replay between Liverpool and Everton. In addition the 45/1s continued to work cross country NE-SW services and on 10th July 1984, 45149 was noted on 2C48 16.50 Gloucester – Weston Super Mare, returning the following day on 2C83 18.45 Weston Super Mare to Bristol.
In early 1985, class 45 spares were in short supply and repairs to the class, particularly to bogie fractures, were becoming prohibitively expensive. Withdrawal of the steam heat fitted class 45/0s had begun in earnest and good components from these locos were used to keep the class 45/1s in traffic. Also it was announced that only a handful of class 45/1s were to receive classified overhauls before this sub class was also run down. 45149 was one of these fortunate few, being called into Derby Works in April 1985, albeit for the lowest cost ‘light’ overhaul.
The length of time the loco was in works reflected the reduced demand for the class, not being released to traffic until 4th October 1985. However, the loco had been given a new lease of life and was still gleaming in its fresh coat of BR blue paint when seen at Bedford on 27th October. On this occasion it was hauling InterCity liveried Mk1 stock on one of the Sunday only loco hauled trains on the Midland Main Line, the 18.45 St. Pancras to Nottingham.
From late 1985, although in the twilight of their careers, the class 45/1s were fitted with high intensity headlights, mounted centrally on the nose ends and 45149 received this treatment at Toton depot in early 1986.
Cross country, as well as Trans-Pennine passenger duties continued to provide 45149 with regular employment. On 28th June 1986, whilst hauling 1E56 10.15 Paignton to Newcastle, 45149 failed south of Chesterfield and had to be assisted forward by 47156. Then, on 23rd August 1986, the boot was on the other foot – 31460 failed at Leicester on the 05.50 Birmingham to Parkeston Quay and 45149 took over as far as Peterborough for 31198 to take the train to its destination.
By late 1986 all classified repairs to class 45s had ceased and several class 45/1s had been withdrawn due to collision damage or serious failure. On 23rd November 1986 the remaining 43 class 45/1s, including 45149, were transferred en-bloc to Tinsley depot in Sheffield to see out their days on secondary passenger, parcels and freight traffic.
On 16th January 1987, 45149 had a more unusual duty, working the last 1M36 19.35 Bristol – Derby TPO via Worcester Shrub Hill and carrying a commemorative headboard.
The wheelset/traction motor problems which beset 45149 in its final few months in traffic seem to have started around March 1987, the loco being noted up on jacks at Tinsley on 23rd of the month receiving attention to the bogies. Then on 30th March it visited Thornaby depot for tyre turning and ultra sonic axle testing.
The end of the winter timetable in May 1987 dealt a devastating blow to the Class 45/1 fleet. The majority of Trans-Pennine services had been taken over by new Class 150/2 ‘Sprinter’ units and the few loco hauled trains that remained were now diagrammed for Class 47/4 haulage. Twelve more Class 45/1s were written off in the days leading up to the timetable change, most with minor faults and some simply switched off as ‘surplus to requirements’. 45149, being one of the later locos to be overhauled and having avoided a major failure, survived the cull. Indeed, it had been on Trans-Pennine duties at the end of the old timetable and stuck around to work a few Class 47 diagrams under the new timetable – one example being the 18.58 Liverpool – Newcastle on 18th May 1987!
The 21 surviving examples of Class 45/1 had been retained principally for parcels and newspaper traffic and so the 1S04 22.55 Manchester Victoria – Preston newspapers on 21st June 1987 was a typical duty for 45149. On 4th July 1987 however, 45149 again deputised for a ‘47’ across the Pennines on the 17.03 Liverpool – Newcastle and on 7th August it was noted on Bristol Bath Road depot.
The class did still have a handful of passenger diagrams at weekends. One such diagram involved the booked ‘45/1’ working the Sunday only 1E87 15.25 Manchester Piccadilly – Harwich Parkeston Quay (via the Hope Valley) as far as Sheffield. 45149 performed this duty on 16th August 1987, before retiring to Tinsley depot for a B exam. During this exam, 45149 acquired the Tinsley unofficial name of ‘Phaeton’, consisting of a red painted on nameplate with white letters, accompanied by a painted on ‘41A’ shed plate and a Tinsley Yorkshire Rose symbol. Tinsley had begun the practice of naming its fleet of locos earlier in the summer, typically along a Greek mythological theme, and a total of 15 Class 45/1 locos were so treated.
Phaeton was the son of Helios, the Sun God and had bragged to his friends about who his father was. However they did not believe him, so to prove it Phaeton persuaded Helios to allow him to drive his chariot (the Sun) for the day. Phaeton lost control of the chariot, firstly veering too high so the earth became chill (creating the ice caps) and then dipping close enough to scorch the earth (creating deserts). Eventually Zeus was forced to intervene by striking the chariot with a lightning bolt to stop it and Phaeton plunged to his death in the river Eridanus.
45149 was released back to traffic on 18th August 1987, but unfortunately only carried its new name in service for three weeks. On 28th August it returned to Tinsley for attention to its control cables and connections and on 1st September received repairs to its exhaust system at Leicester shed. September 4th saw the loco hauling a rake of brand new Class 319 EMUs en route from BREL York to the capital.
On 6th September 1987, 45149 hauled what was probably its last ever passenger train in BR service, the Sunday only 1C22 12.15 Derby – St. Pancras, and the following day (7th September) was back at Leicester shed for an ‘A’ exam and brake block change. On Tuesday 8th September it worked a Dunstable cement train, but developed a fault and was removed to Cricklewood depot for examination. There, it was found to have a defective traction motor on No.2 bogie and was placed ‘on decision’. Then, at 16.00hrs on 14th September 1987, 45149 was officially withdrawn from service, becoming the 35th member of class 45/1 to be condemned.
Remarkably, the loco then appears to have been forgotten and spent a considerable time in reasonably secure storage in the by now closed Cricklewood TMD. However it was later shunted outside where it suffered vandalism and theft of components. It languished at Cricklewood until 16th September 1991 when it was hauled to Leicester depot during the early hours of the morning for further storage pending scrapping. 45149 was then offered for sale by competitive tender in the spring of 1992 and that summer it was revealed that the successful bidder was pop producer Pete Waterman. It was reported that Mr Waterman planned to move 45149 to the Midland Railway Centre for cosmetic restoration and a repaint into original livery as D135, before putting the loco through a ‘yet to be nominated’ works for renovation to main line standards. He then planned to use the loco on main line railtours. Had these plans come to fruition, 45149 (or D135!) may well have become the first preserved loco to run on the main line, and not class 46 No.D172 ‘Ixion’!
Instead, 45149 was moved to Crewe Heritage Centre where the power unit was lifted out. The loco was then dispatched to the Lancastrian Wagon Repair Works at Heysham for restoration work to start. However, following a period of store marooned on a short length of track and with little or no work completed, the loco moved back to Crewe Heritage Centre in 1994. It resided there, again with no work carried out, until 1996 when Pete Waterman decided to offer it for sale.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway based Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group (CMDG) became the successful new owners and 45149 arrived at Toddington in two parts (loco and power unit) in April 1997. The daunting task then began of identifying what needed to be done to restore the loco to a serviceable condition. One of the first jobs was to source the multitude of parts that had been damaged or gone missing during ten years of storage. Thankfully, other class 45 enthusiasts and owners of preserved Peaks have been very helpful in supplying spare parts, or lending parts so that they can be reproduced. The CMDG also received a boost when they acquired the No.2 cab from 45128, which was virtually complete and able to yield numerous parts unique to 45s. The decision was made early on that the Sulzer engine should receive a thorough overhaul and so it was positioned on a flat wagon so that it could be stripped down and rebuilt outside the loco. Subsequently all 12 cylinder heads, pistons and cylinder liners were removed, repaired, overhauled or replaced as necessary. In addition, the main generator has received a thorough clean and all the missing or damaged pipework at the ‘free’ end of the engine replaced. In 2003 the loco was lifted off its bogies to enable the defective traction motor to be replaced. This also gave the opportunity to inspect and repair the underside cables and air pipes. Whilst work continued on the engine, the vacant engine room was cleaned and repainted and the electrical cubicle and vacuum exhauster stripped down and overhauled. Other electrical machines such as compressors and traction motor blowers have been rebuilt and electrical circuits tested and repaired. The Group have found that as each job is tackled, numerous smaller jobs become necessary and many components have had to be remanufactured to enable the ‘kit of parts’ to be reassembled.
The overhauled power unit was lifted back into the loco in August 2008 and work then concentrated on reinstallation of the turbocharger, intercoolers, exhaust system and associated connections. The bodywork and roof sections required a great deal of attention to remove corrosion and weld in new metal. Whilst removing the old paint from the body sides, interesting evidence of previous liveries, bumps and scrapes, and the old lion and wheel emblem were revealed. The No.2 cab and nose end was then reassembled and the restoration reached its final stages.
It was decided that the loco would be returned to its 1979 condition, with 'domino' headcodes displayed in a full headcode box at the No.1 end and a split centre headcode box at No.2 end. This makes it unique in comparison to other preserved Class 45 locos.
The loco made its debut at the GWR in 2013 and has been a regular and reliable performer since.