This, together with our Class 25, is the second of the two latest locomotives that we have recently had weathered by Mikron Models in Taunton and, once again, I think Alex has done a brilliant job.
We currently have three Class 50s in our fleet, these being: 50007 'Sir Edward Elgar', 50011 'Centurion' and, this one, 50020 'Revenge'.
50007 was purchased already weathered by Hornby but the other two, both in large logo livery, were purchased in pristine condition. So, it was decided that we should get them both weathered, one more heavily than the other. Revenge was chosen to be the dirtier of the two and I think she looks amazingly good - see the before and after photographs above!
A total of 50 of the Class 50s were built by English Electric and they were, in fact, the last diesel locomotive specifically built for passenger train haulage. They were introduced in 1968 to work the West Coast Main Line between Crewe, Carlisle and Scotland, prior to electrification.
By 1974 this northern section of the WCML was completed and the Class 50s were displaced by Class 87 electrics and the fleet was transferred to the Western Region, where they themselves displaced the diesel hydraulic Westerns. Here the 50s worked services from Paddington to Oxford, Bristol, Plymouth and Penzance then, in their later years, they also worked the Waterloo to Exeter route where they improved timings immensely.
Due in part to the over-complexity of the design, the class was plagued with reliability problems right from the start and, as a result, the decision was taken in the early 1970s to refurbish the entire fleet and simplify their design. This work was completed by 1984 and availability definitely improved as a result although they were never to be the most reliable of locomotives.
They were known as Hoovers to rail enthusiasts because of the noise made by the air filters, however, these filters proved unreliable and were removed during refurbishment but the nickname still stuck. Fortunately Howes have included this sound on their decoder so the Hoover lives again!
The last of the fleet were withdrawn from BR service in 1994 but the Class 50s always proved popular with enthusiasts and eighteen of them were saved for preservation with several subsequently registered for use on the mainline.