Visiting Sulzer Type 2 to join the roster for GWR summer diesel gala

Alex Farran
May 17, 2023

• Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 25 Diesel D7659 to visit the Cotswolds • A ‘Rat’ load of fun for the GWR summer heritage gala, 7-9 July 2023 • Class 25 joins GWR’s home diesel fleet for intensive three-day weekend

A popular and versatile 56-year-old British Rail Bo-Bo diesel locomotive is to join the roster for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s annual Summer Heritage Diesel Gala in July. The locomotive in question is recently restored Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 25 No. D7659 (7659/25309/25909), and is appearing courtesy of Peak Rail and the Waterman Railway Heritage Trust.

327 locomotives were built between 1961 and 1967, with construction being carried out at British Railways’ Crewe Works, Darlington Works, Derby Works, and by Beyer Peacock & Co in Manchester. Numbered in two series between D5151–D5299 and D7500–D7677, the Type 2s were fitted with 1,250 bhp Sulzer 6LDA28-B engines and primarily operated freight services from the outset. However, they could also be found taking charge of passenger trains with a number of the class being fitted with boilers to provide steam heating for such services. With a route availability of 5 (RA5), the Sulzer Type 2s could be found pretty much anywhere across the British Rail network, which quickly brought about the nickname ‘Rats’ amongst rail enthusiasts.

Regular performers throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s, they were also known for operating summer Saturday trains to Aberystwyth and workings between Crewe and Cardiff. Members of the class were progressively withdrawn during the 1980s with the final example being taken out of service in March 1987 – this being No. D7672/25322. This particular ‘25’ was subsequently restored and continued to operate until 1991 working on various railtours. Of the 327 locomotives built, twenty survived into preservation and are either in storage, operational or undergoing restoration.

Time for a bit of history on our visitor - Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 25 Diesel No. D7659.

D7659 was built by Beyer Peacock & Co. at its Gorton Works in Manchester (works No. 8069), entering service on the London Midland Region (LMR) and allocated to Line Power Controller, Derby (ML) on the 21st July 1966 wearing BR two-tone green with small yellow warning panel livery (GSYP). The Sulzer Type 2 belonged to the final batch of locomotives which were designated 25/3 and is particularly notable for being the last locomotive to be constructed by Beyer Peacock at Gorton before the works closed – as a result, further locomotives due to be built were transferred to BR Derby.  

With a British Rail career spanning just over 20 years, D7659 was allocated to a number of divisions and depots, spending time allocated to; London Division (D01), Nottingham Division (D16), Liverpool Division (D08), Manchester Division (D09), Birmingham Division (D02), Preston Division (D10), Springs Branch (Wigan) (SP), Longsight (LO), Willesden (WN), Cricklewood East (CW), Toton (TO), Kingmoor (KD) and Kingmoor (KM). The locomotive was renumbered into TOPS to 25309 in April 1974 and by April 1978, had been repainted into BR Blue with full yellow ends.

On the 11th December 1985, 25309 was once again renumbered, this time to 25909, in readiness for operating freight traffic for BR Railfreight’s Industrial Materials Division. However, this traffic sadly never materialised and 25909 went into storage as unserviceable on the 11th August 1986. A month later, the locomotive was officially withdrawn and became the 284th member of the class to be retired from British Rail service.    

Following withdrawal, the locomotive was stored at Kingmoor for two years before being transferred to Vic Berry’s of Leicester via Crewe & Bescot during April 1988. The Type 2 was saved for preservation by Pete Waterman and following the removal of asbestos, the locomotive left Vic Berry’s on the 2nd June 1988 for display at the Coalville Open Day on the 4th June 1988. Following the event, it was transferred to the East Lancashire Railway, arriving later that month.

The ’25’ operated for 10 years in preservation and was last used on a passenger working in 1998. Long term visitors of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway may remember that the Type 2 was fortunate to visit the line between 1996 & 1997. The locomotive moved to Peak Rail along with the rest of the Waterman Railway Heritage Trust’s collection in 2017.

D7659 returned to traffic in the latter part of 2021 following a full restoration, operating services for the first time in 23 years. The sight and sound of another Sulzer powered diesel locomotive is one not be missed!

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.

Headline picture - Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 25 No. D7659 (Picture: Martin Hawksby / Hellfire TV).

Below: Sulzer Type 2 / British Rail Class 25 No. D7659 at the GWR (Picture: Martin Loader).