BR Class 50 50035 Ark Royal

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BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 50035 Ark Royal
50035 20170510.jpg
50035 Ark Royal at Hampton Loade (2017)
Built By English Electric Vulcan Foundry Works, Newton-le-Willows
Configuration Co-Co
Power type Diesel Electric
Status In service
Loco Number 50035
Other Numbers D435, '50135'
Built 1968
Designed By English Electric
Type Class 50
1991 Purchased by The 50 Fund
1996 Arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway
Length 68ft 6"
Weight 115t

Diesel Locomotives

50035 Ark Royal was the first BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 diesel locomotive to enter preservation. A brief description and history of the class can be found on the 50007 page. Unlike a number of the other Class 50s resident on the SVRSevern Valley Railway, 50035 is not registered to work on the main line and is not fitted with the necessary equipment such as OTMROn-Train Monitoring Recorder, a device similar in principle to the flight data recorder found on aircraft, TPWS or GSM-R. However it can be hauled for the purposes of visiting other railways.

50035 Ark Royal in service

The locomotive was built at English Electric's Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows as Works No 3805/D1176 and entered service as number D435 at Crewe in August 1968. It was re-numbered 50035 in March 1974. Following electrification of the WCML, 50035 moved to Bristol Bath Road in January 1976 and then to Plymouth Laira in December 1976.[1]

On 17 January 1978, 50035 was named in a ceremony at Plymouth Station.[2] It received the name Ark Royal after HMS Ark Royal, a Royal Navy World War 2 aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 1938, HMS Ark Royal was sunk on 14 November 1941 after being torpedoed by German U-boat U-81.

50035's final allocation was to London's Old Oak Common in June 1980. In June 1986 it received the distinctive "Network South East" livery as pictured below. It was withdrawn from service there by BRBritish Rail or British Railways on 5th August 1990[1][note 1].

50035 Ark Royal in preservation

50035 was the first Class 50 to be preserved, being acquired by The Fifty Fund (now Class 50 Alliance). Having been advised that the going rate for a Class 50 was £16500, the fund simply added the last two digits of the locos number to this and bid £16535. 50035 was handed over by Network SouthEast at the 1991 Old Oak Common Open Day held on 17-18 August.[3]

A few weeks after handover, 50035 was moved to St Leonards Depot in East Sussex where the restoration work and start-up was carried out, together with repainting from its final 'Network South East' livery into BRBritish Rail or British Railways blue 'large logo' livery. While at St. Leonards, two other Class 50s, 50031 Hood and 50044 Exeter arrived at the SVRSevern Valley Railway in May 1994.

Due to concerns about a suspect wheel-set flange profile, 50035 was moved to the SVRSevern Valley Railway by road rather than by rail, arriving on 19 September 1996.[1] After arrival, work on the locomotive continued at Kidderminster to address a number of minor mechanical problems and an issue with the engine shutting down due to a fault on the train heating generator. Five cylinder heads had to be removed so that worn-out exhaust valves could be replaced, with the fuel injectors all being overhauled at the same time. After reassembly, it then transpired that six cylinder liners were leaking water, requiring a complete engine strip-down and overhaul starting in winter 1997-98.[4] The engine was fired up for the first time during the October 1999 Diesel Gala weekend[5], and once a few teething problems were addressed, 50035 was able to attend the August 2000 Open Day at Old Oak Common with 50031 Hood. After the open day, 50035 remained at Old Oak Common while the No 6 wheel set was replaced.[6]

After returning, 50035 became a regular performer on the railway. During 2002 the ETHElectric Train Heating facility and cab heating were reinstated, culminating in it working the annual Fifty Fund shareholders' Christmas dining train, using the SVRSevern Valley Railway's (then) ETHElectric Train Heating fitted dining car set.[7]

On 27 July 2003 50035 attended the Doncaster Works open day. It ran 2,102 miles during the year before failing just prior to the October 2003 SVRSevern Valley Railway Diesel Gala due to high lubrication oil pressure, caused by a defective pressure relief valve.

It was planned that after repair over that winter, 50035 would visit the Mid Hants Railway Diesel Gala in May 2004, the first time it would have worked away from its home on the SVRSevern Valley Railway.[8] However the winter repair work revealed that the locomotive was suffering from an earth fault on its main generator, which required removal of the power unit complete with the faulty generator. The latter was then detached and sent away to Messrs Dowding & Mills in Bristol for repair.[9] While that took place, 50035 was stored out of service away from the railway.[10] In May 2007 50035 was still at Old Oak Common, awaiting the refitting of the engine after the generator repair.[11] In September 2008 the bodywork was being prepared for a repaint.[12]

50035 returned to service in 2009, carrying a fictitious Load Haul livery and numbered 50135. It appeared as a static exhibit at the 100th Anniversary of Eastleigh Locomotive Works Open Weekend on 27-28 May and was rostered to work its first booked SVRSevern Valley Railway passenger train for over four years on Saturday 18 July 2009, although this was subsequently postponed.[12] However it did participate in the October 2009 Diesel Gala.[13]

'50135' sustained damage to a wheelset while appearing at the East Lancashire Railway in 2011. The damage prevented a return move by rail so, with no facilities at the ELREngineer's Line Reference, East Lancashire Railway for lifting a locomotive of that size, it was moved to Cardiff Canton by road. Once there the locomotive was jacked up, the bogie with the damaged wheelset was removed, a spare wheelset was overhauled and fitted, along with an overhauled traction motor, with all the work being carried out by SVRSevern Valley Railway volunteers." Plans for the SVRSevern Valley Railway's Diesel Depot were in progress at the time; SVRSevern Valley Railway News noted that "hopefully sufficient facilities will soon be available at Kidderminster for this type of activity to be done without the costs associated with using workshops elsewhere."[14]

'50135' had returned to service by 2012 as pictured below.

Having been repainted into BRBritish Rail or British Railways Blue livery, 50035 appropriately played a prominent role in the opening ceremony in January 2016.[15]. In May 2016 50035 attended the St Philip's Marsh open day.[16]

In August 2017, 50035 was one of five SVRSevern Valley Railway based diesels to travel in convoy to that year's Old Oak Common open day, the others being 50049, 50007, 50044 and D1015.[17] July to October 2019 was spent on hire to the GWSRGloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (Commonly known as the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway) at Toddington.[18] During 2020 it worked a considerable number of ballast trains associated with the Falling Sands track renewal.[19]

See also


  1. There are some discrepancies in service allocations and dates between the SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book and the BRBritish Rail or British Railways Database. The latter are marked as "WIP" therefore the Stock Book data has been used.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book, 9th edition
  2. BR Database
  3. BR Open Days (Retrieved 18 August 2019)
  4. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 122, 123, 124
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 131
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 134
  7. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 144
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 146
  9. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 148
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 152
  11. SVRSevern Valley Railway-Online Forum
  12. 12.0 12.1 via the Internet Archive
  13. Pictures on Sharpo's World.
  14. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 178
  15. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 194, 196
  16. Photo on Wikimedia Commons
  17. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 200
  18. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 206
  19. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 211