37294 (D6994)

D6994 was built as part of the British Rail Modernisation plan and was originally designated a Type 3 of which 309 were built. Designed for mixed traffic duties, so when built it would have had a steam heat boiler for passenger work, however this was later removed and replaced with a concrete block!


D6994 was built at English Electric’s Vulcan foundry (Newton Le Williows, Lancashire) and was finally released into traffic on 8th July 1965, and would have carried the very attractive BR green livery. When new it was allocated in South Wales at Cardiff’s Canton depot. Its initial years in service seem to have been fairly un-eventful, working around the south Wales area until it was repainted into the now very popular BR blue after only four years in service.

 At the time this livery wasn’t seen as very attractive compared to the previously carried BR green although it is now fondly remembered by many enthusiasts. While receiving the re-paint the opportunity was taken to fit the loco with Dual brakes meaning that it could now work both Air and Vacuum fitted trains as opposed to just the previous Vacuum. Three years later in November 1973 D6994 lost its number to the new TOPS system and was designated a class 37/0 and gaining the number 37 294.

 The first known passenger working of 294 was on 14th January 1978 on the 17.00 Cardiff to Crewe where it rescued the failed 25 038. On 2nd December 1978, 37 294 worked its first rail tour the 1Z08 16.35 Bargoed to Paddington with 294 taking charge between Bargoed – Cardiff via Ely. After spending 15 years at Cardiff Canton, 294 was transferred to Landore but was returned back to Canton after just 14 months.

During the late 1980s when sectorisaton of the freight network took place 37 294 was moved into the Freight Coal Distribution Cardiff Pool in 1988 for a short period before being moved  into the Freight Petroleum & Chemicals South Wales Pool in December of the same year, gone are the days when any loco could take any train!

On the 10th May 1992, 294 was moved into Scottish territory when it was moved to Inverness as part of the Regional Railways Scot Rail pool. Between May 1992 and November 1992 it worked almost daily between Inverness and the Kyle of Lochalsh running over the beautifully picturesque route. The following years involved many more Scottish workings from its base at Inverness. An interesting example of this took place on 7th August 1996 when it worked the luxurious Royal Scotsman between Kyle and Inverness. On 27th November 1998, 37 294 was moved into the Motherwell based pool of 37’s.

In 1999 it had its vacuum brakes isolated and RETB removed, before departing for foreign shores to France on 25th August 1999. Although it is now hard to imagine, it is believed that the loco was moved through the channel tunnel in convoy with other 37’s.While in France the locomotive was used to help build the new high speed lines, working over steep gradients with heavy trains. Amazingly the gauges in the Embsay end cab (No 1 or 2?) still carry the French conversion stickers turning the gauges into French! After just a year in France the locomotive was returned, once again using the channel tunnel.

 Once back in England it was allocated to the infamous WNXX pool, this often results in scrapping of many of our historic locomotives as they are deemed surplus. However 2 years later in September 2000, it was moved into the WNSS pool, this was a pool which although still designated for stored locomotives meant it was still considered serviceable as opposed to just stored. There was then further good news in the October of the same year as it was allocated to Crewe Diesel depot.

In April 2003 it was transferred to Toton and in the September it was Sandite fitted, for the forthcoming winter. This was a small reprieve for the locomotive and meant that it lived for a while longer and was kept ‘warm’. However this was short lived and in February 2004 it was moved into the WNXX pool for the last time. It was never used on the main line again.

After being moved to Crewe Electric the loco was offered for tender. Fortunately the locomotive was kept in reasonable condition with not many parts being removed as is often the case. It was thanks to its sandite duties that the loco survived so long.

The defect book was still in the locomotive when it was moved to Embsay on 25th March 2009 this showed that there were no apparent defects and that the locomotive was a runner. However this was dated 2004 and after 5 years without use it was always going to be a miracle if the loco would start/run. Amazingly this was the case and pulled it’s first passenger train in preservation at 10.00 leaving Embsay for Bolton Abbey at the very popular Diesel gala, with 37 294 being the star of the show. Its only passenger workings have so far being at the annual diesel galas in 2009 and 2010.

It is hoped that the loco can be repainted from its scruffy Dutch livery and into a more respectable BR blue. When this has taken place the loco will become part of the Embsay Railway fleet of locomotives and be used as and when necessary on the diesel hauled turns. It is nice to see a class 37 based at the railway as they are one of the few locos that actually used to run over the line in British Rail days. There is some footage of them running through Embsay with a goods working and a brake tender in front to increase the braking capacity! Food for thought! The future looks bright for 37 294 and thanks must go to its owner for having the loco based here and I’m sure all will agree that the sight of a BR blue 37 leaving Holywell on load 4 is a sight and sound that most can’t wait to see!

Technical info:

Number: 37 294
Class: Type 3, 37/0
Built: 1965
Wheel Arrangement: Co-Co
Wheel Diameter: 3 ft 9 in
Wheelbase: 50 ft 8in
Length: 61 ft 6in
Width: 8 ft 101/2 in
Height: 12ft 9 in
Weight: 102 t?
Engine: English Electric 12CSVT
Traction Motors: English Electric
Transmission: Electric (DC Motors)
Multiple working: Blue Star
Top Speed: 90 MPH
Power output: Engine: 1,750bhp (1,305KW)
Tractive Effort: Maximum: 55,500 Lbf
Continuous: 35, 000 Lbf @13.6 MPH
Nicknames: Tractor, Syphon, or Growler
Route Availability: RA5