As far as freight operations go in the South of England, there was only really one workhorse during the 1960’s 70’s and 80’s – the Class 33 “Crompton”. The nickname came from the electrical equipment manufacturer used in the loco – “Crompton Parkinson”. Very similar in looks to the class 26, the only difference being the inclusion of a 2 digit headcode indicator between the cab windows.
Originally for sole use in the South East of the region, Kent and Sussex, they rapidly became used throughout the southern region. They were even used as passenger locos, most memorably on the Weymouth Harbour line.
These passenger services to Weymouth would be in a “push pull” configuration, starting at Bournemouth going down to Weymouth through the streets to the harbour.
The Class 33 has a top speed of 85 Mph, and frequently would work in pairs as “Double Headers” to facilitate longer freight trains. In Kent, its speciality was primarily hauling freight, although it occasionally rescued failed passenger units. Because of this, a few were stationed at some locations in the region. Indeed, when the siding was still at Rainham (Kent), a ’33 could be seen stabled there during the 1970’s. The loco’s would also provide freight runs further afield, notably cement trains from Cliffe in North Kent, up to Lanarkshire.
In this photo, taken by RMWeb member “eastwestdivide”, two 33’s are seen approaching Strood from the south with a Rake of empty stone carriers from ARC at Allington :
(c) eastwestdivide – link Here
These locomotives, along with the British Rail 411 Unit (4 Cep) and variants “Slam Door” were the first trains I saw as a youngster, and the sight of a Class 33 would be extra special. The noise and smell of these locomotives would fuel my passion for the railway, and as such I have a great fondness for them. They were superseded by the Class 66 in the late 1990’s.
Currently a few remain at Heritage centres around England, and three are owned by the West Coast Railway Company , who provide railtours in the UK.
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That’s all for now, thanks for reading and I’ll blog again soon.