As long ago as 1973, founder members of the Western Locomotive Association (WLA) discussed the possibility of saving one of British Rail’s Class 52 “Western” diesel-hydraulic locomotives.
The first withdrawals of the class had taken place in May 1973, hence the need to take action and, at a meeting in Bristol in January 1974, the Western Locomotive Association (WLA) was formally launched.
After a year as a largely local group, with membership concentrated in the Bristol area, an advertising fund was set up.
With the aid of advertisements in the railway press, membership grew nationally, along with the popularity of the class in general.
The remaining locomotives were withdrawn by British Rail gradually through 1975 and 1976, whilst donations were steadily flowing into the WLA’s locomotive appeal fund.
In October 1976 the Association successfully purchased D1062 “Western Courier” and restored the locomotive to full operational condition in original maroon livery by May 1977, only a few months after the final demise of the class on British Rail.
Meanwhile Mr Richard Holdsworth, a businessman and WLA member, had privately purchased D1013 “Western Ranger” and this locomotive joined D1062 in the care of the Association. Western Ranger was subsequently by purchased by the Western Locomotive Association in 2004
First operations took place on the Torbay and Dartmouth Railway in Devon during 1977 and 1978, followed by a move to the Severn Valley Railway at the end of 1978 which greatly increased the opportunities to operate the locomotives.
Over the years a considerable amount of overhaul and maintenance work has been undertaken to ensure that the locomotives are in good condition.
Whilst D1062 Western Courier has received a substantial amount of overhaul work over the years, D1013 Western Ranger is currently in the process of undergoing a major overhaul, which will need a complete strip-down, assessment and overhaul of its bogies, in order to extend its working life by over 40 years or so.
The WLA aims to be “carbon neutral” by purchasing at least 62 trees per year to help off-set an estimated 15 tonnes of carbon each year. Trees can be purchased at £6.00 each by CLICKING HERE.
The Western Locomotive Association Ltd is a “not for profit” company limited by guarantee – Registered No: 3873466.
5, Prospect Place, Millennium Way, Pride Park, Derby, England DE24 8HG. Charity No. 1115058.
c/o Bridgnorth Railway Station, Hollybush Road, Bridgnorth, Shropshire WV16 5DT.