Resident Brush Type 4 diesel reaches 30 years in preservation at GWR

Alex Farran
June 24, 2024

• Brush Type 4 / British Rail Class 47 diesel No. 47105 hits 30-year milestone • Locomotive saved for preservation by ‘Brush Type 4 Fund’ in January 1994 • 47105 has now operated for longer in preservation than with British Rail

This year marks 30 years in preservation service for one of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s resident Brush Type 4 / British Rail Class 47 diesel-electric locomotives - No. 47105 (D1693). The popular Cotswold based BR Blue ‘47’ was started for the first time in preservation during May 1994, and has now achieved this remarkable milestone. The locomotive has also worked longer in preservation than it did during its career with British Rail (BR). The Type 4’s anniversary was reached in May 2024, just two months before the start of the railway’s annual Summer Heritage Diesel Gala in mid-July. This is testament to the tireless efforts by The Brush Type 4 Fund and the volunteers in the railway’s diesel locomotive department.

Time for a bit of history on the Brush Type 4 / British Rail Class 47 locomotives and 47105 (D1693)

512 locomotives were built between 1962 and 1968, with construction being carried out at Brush Traction’s Falcon Works in Loughborough and British Railways’ Crewe Works. With the decline of steam and with diesel-hydraulics falling out of favour – the latter had become synonymous with the Western Region; the Class 47s quickly became the workhorse of the new diesel-electric era. Fitted with powerful 2,750 bhp Sulzer 12LDA28-C engines (which were later de-rated to 2,580 bhp to aid reliability), the Brush Type 4s could be found at home on both freight and passenger services across the railway network.

Large numbers of the class took charge of express passenger workings which for many years had been the preserve of prestigious steam locomotives. The locomotives had a route availability of 6 & 7 (RA6/7) and many examples led colourful and interesting lives wearing a myriad of liveries. A number of subclasses were developed over the years to meet the ever changing landscape and needs of British Rail and the Privatisation era which subsequently followed during the mid-1990s. Between 1998 and 2004, Brush Traction rebuilt 33 examples fitting them with EMD 12-645 engines and reconditioned alternators, which became the British Rail Class 57s. Popular with rail operators and enthusiasts alike, over 70 members of the Brush developed Class 47 still exist today, either in active mainline service, long term storage, or in preservation.

47105 (D1693) is owned by ‘The Brush Type 4 Fund’ and was built by Brush Electrical Machines Ltd at its Falcon Works in Loughborough in 1963 (the ‘Type 4’ having the Works No. BS455). The locomotive was accepted into traffic with British Rail on the 6th December 1963 as D1693, painted in BR two-tone green livery with small yellow warning panels (GSYP). It’s first working took place on the same day, where it operated light from Brush, Loughborough, to Old Oak Common via the Midland mainline, Welsh Hap Junction, Dudding Hill and Acton Wells Junction.

D1693 was allocated to Bristol Bath Road (82A) on the Western Region (WR) from new, later spending time allocated to Crewe Diesel (5A), Birmingham Division (D02), and Immingham (40B) where it was renumbered to 47105 under TOPS on the 22nd January 1974. In 1975, the ‘47’ was reallocated to Cardiff Canton (CF) and notably spent its next 10 years based there, before spells at both Tinsley (TI) and Stratford (SF).

The locomotive was vacuum braked only from new, with air brakes being fitted between September and November 1969. That November, it also received a repaint into BR Blue will full yellow cab ends (BFYE). By the late 1980s, 47105’s four-character headcode boxes had been replaced with the domino style (black blinds with 2 marker lights), along with high intensity headlights. In December 1987, the livery was to change once again, this time with the addition of a silver roof – a colour extended to most Stratford (SF) allocated Class 47s, which made for quite a contrast with the BR Blue bodysides.

The ‘47’ was fitted with steam heat provision from new, by way of a Spanner MkIII boiler, which was later isolated in April 1986. It was unofficially named “Goldcrest” at Tinsley TMD on the 27th November 1987, a name which it would carry until the end of its BR career. 47105's last depot allocation was Old Oak Common (OC) from December 1991, and after operating for the best part of 30 years with British Rail, the locomotive was stored unserviceable on the 1st November 1993.

47105 was officially withdrawn from BR service on the 13th December 1993 and was purchased by ‘The Brush Type 4 Fund’ on the 24th January 1994. The locomotive was transported to the GWR in April 1994 and started for the first time in preservation one month later. Its “Goldcrest” name was removed in August 1994 during preparations for a repaint at the railway.

Since then, a considerable amount of work has been carried out on the ‘47’, culminating in the reinstatement of its steam heat boiler on the 27th February 2000 – at the time, making 47105 the first Class 47 to steam since 1987. The boiler remained operational until the ‘Type 4’ was removed from GWR traffic. The locomotive returned to passenger service once again on the 16th July 2021 following an extensive 10-year overhaul at Toddington, which included a full repaint into BR Blue livery will full yellow cab ends (BFYE).

‘The Brush Type 4 Fund’ operated a successful charter train (known as ‘The Frontier Brush’ tour) over the weekend of the 8th and 9th June in Hungary, using former British Rail Class 47 locomotive No. 47375 – Showing that these great icons of British Rail appeal far and wide.

47105 will be in service during the 2024 summer diesel gala alongside sister Class 47 No. 47376. Both resident ‘47s’ will also be running on another of the railway’s popular 'Double Up Sunday' events on Sunday 4th August, celebrating 30 years to the day that 47105 operated on the GWR for the first time. Tickets for this ‘Brush Experience’ are available on the GWR website.

Tickets for the summer diesel gala are available online at www.gwsr.com. With up to eight diesel locomotives and a diesel multiple unit (DMU) running*, it will offer an action-packed timetable of trains. The locomotive and carriage & wagon workshops will throw open their doors for rare behind-the-scenes visits and there will be plenty of other activity at the railway’s picturesque period stations.

The sound of a 2,580 bhp Sulzer 12LDA28-C diesel engine rumbling through Greet Tunnel is hard to beat, especially when there’s two of them!