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Ivatt 800hp Diesel Electric Locomotive

photograph: Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt collection.

N°10800 outside the North British Locomotive Co. works in Glasgow.

Although not strictly a Southern Region Locomotive, N°10800 did see trials on the Southern Region in 1952, as described below. Known by many of the Southern Region steam enginemen on the Central section at the time as the "Wonder Engine" from the locomotive department's daily query "I wonder if it will go today" due to its poor reliability record and the fact that it spent more time in the works being repaired than actually working trains.

It was originally conceived by H.G Ivatt of the London Midland & Scottish Railway in 1945, who wanted a basic design for an 800hp diesel-electric loco for comparison with similar output steam traction on secondary and branch lines. The order was placed by the LMSR with the North British Locomotive Co of Glasgow, in 1946, to produce a loco to their design. Ivatt's design was for a Bo-Bo wheel configuration with the cab slightly set in at one end. The cab was arranged to enable the driver to face the direction of travel and therefore duplicate controls were fitted. The power unit used was a Dave Paxman 16 RPHXL Mk2 engine that drove an 800hp British Thompson-Houston main generator and traction motors.

The loco was constructed in 1948-50 and when completed carried the BR number 10800. The livery applied was the then British Railways standard for its diesel fleet of black with silver bogies. When complete N°10800 underwent testing in Scotland and after a few months was allocated to the LMR at Willesden from where it operated tests in the London area.

In July/August 1952 it was allocated to Southern Region at Norwood. The shed being chosen one would suspect due to the fact that it already had diesel refuelling facilities owing to its fleet of diesel shunters although, as described below, it also spent a lot of its time at Brighton works. The first test run of 10800 on the Southern Region was a 165 ton train 10:45 am from London Bridge to Tonbridge Wells West via Oxted and East Grinstead (High level) and return at 1:08pm on 13th August 1952. From 18th August 1952 it was allocated Norwood duty 610 which involved services such as the 5.08am London Bridge to Brighton via Dorking, Horsham and Steyning; the 10.18am Brighton to Victoria and 3.52pm return (both via Oxted and Eridge); the 6.49pm Brighton to Tonbridge Wells West and the 9.01pm onwards to Victoria; the 11.04pm Victoria to Oxted (Wednesdays and Saturdays excepted) or East Grinstead (Wednesdays and Saturdays only).

The trials also showed that N°10800 was underpowered, so much so that time was lost on the banks with even a modest six coach load.

Following its less than spectacular testing on the Southern Region, its recorded mileage being the lowest at anytime during its short life, on 11 December 1954 it was allocated to Plaistow shed on the ER for further testing.

It was withdrawn in August 1959 and stored at Doncaster Works. Then in 1961 Brush of Loughborough were seeking a loco for experimental traction purposes and N°10800 filled the role adequately so was sold to Brush in 1962. Following rebuilding, N°10800 was tested by British Railways at the Rugby test plant and on the GC Leicester-Nottingham route. In this guise N°10800 received a green and brown livery. The body was finally broken up in 1972-73.

It was often found wanting and more often than not, was replaced by steam. In October 1952 it was taken off passenger work and switched to freight workings from Norwood to Purley. Its first visit to Brighton works was for nine days from 5 November 1952 where they carried out a light casual repair (costing only £23) at which point 10800 had completed 58,228 miles. The reliability of N°10800 was poor, it was active for short spells during January and April 1953 but from 29th June 1953 until 6th February 1954 Brighton works tried to put right the faults that had so far blighted her career. They spent according to official documentation £1,357. On 25th January 1954, whilst still officially in the care of Brighton Works, she worked an eight coach trial train from Brighton to East Croydon and back via Uckfield and Oxted. Initially on first returning to Norwood on 6th February she was put onto freight workings. It did, however, take up working the Norwood 610 duty again from 9th February 1954. The locomotive failed totally at Streatham Common on 30th March whilst working the 3.52pm Victoria to Brighton service and had to be towed to Norwood from where it was then towed via Oxted and Sheffield Park to Brighton Works on 6th April where the repairs to the badly damaged diesel engine took until the beginning of December to complete. She had only completed a further 8,172 miles since being released back into service in February and would be destined to stay in Brighton Works for 210 days whilst a further £404 was spent on various repairs.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.
  • At NBL works
    Another view of N°10800 outside the North British works.
    Photograph: Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt.
  • At Brighton
    N°10800 at Brighton Works on 3rd September 1952. The engine is showing a headcode for a Victoria-Brighton via Eridge service so has probably just come off the 3.52pm from Victoria.
    Photograph: the John Wills Photographic Collection.
  • On Eastern
    Here the locomotive is seen on the Eastern Region, but still retaining the middle two lamp irons that were fitted upon its allocation to Norwood in 1952.
    Photograph: Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt.
Croydon, Oxted & East Grinstead Railway, The; Gould, D.; The Oakwood Press; 2003.
Engineman SR; Jackman, Michael; Bradford Barton Limited.
Lifetime in traction, A; Tayler, Arthur; KRB Publications; 2004; 0-954485-92-0
Classic Diesels and Electrics Magazine; Norman, Barry; (Date unknown)
Text by Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt with thanks also to John Wills, Roderic Cameron and Mike Morant

Technical Details

  • Built: North British Locomotive Co 1948-50
  • Introduced: 1950
  • Rebuilt: Brush Traction, 1961
  • Number Series: 10800
  • Wheel Arrangement: Bo-Bo
  • Engine: Paxman 16RPHXL Mk2
  • Engine Horsepower: 827 hp
  • Gear Ratio: 66:15
  • Maximum Speed: 70 MPH
  • Weight: 69 tons 16cwt
  • Height: 12 ft 95/16 ins
  • Length: 41 ft 10½ ins
  • Width: 9 ft 2 ins
  • Wheel Diameter: 3 ft 6 ins
  • Wheelbase: 31 ft 0 ins
  • Bogie Wheelbase: 22 ft 6 ins
  • Bogie Pivot Centres: 8 ft 6 ins
  • Minimum Curve Negotiable: 3 ¾ chains
  • Braking: Vacuum
  • Fuel Tank: 300 gals
  • Cooling Water Capacity: 85 gals
  • Boiler Water Capacity: 300 gals
  • Boiler Fuel Capacity: 90 gals
  • Heating: Steam-Clarkson
  • Sanding Equipment: Pneumatic
  • Tractive Effort: 34,500 lbs
  • Beake Force: 46 tons
  • Tractive Motors: 4
  • Tractive Motor Type: BTH 159
  • Route availability: 4

This page was last updated 10 August 2004

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