Big diesel void leads two former Network Rail Class 31s to Mangapps


By Geoff Courtney

AS HE bid farewell to No. 31430 Sister Dora in October, Mangapps Railway Museum boss John Jolly feared he would suffer from withdrawal symptoms, for the Class 31 was the sole remaining ‘big’ diesel on site.

However, within days he was his usual ebullient self, for through the gates of his Essex museum came not one, but two Class 31 replacements, in the form of Nos. 31105 and 31233, which had been newly-acquired from Network Rail.

Down to a D: The driver of Class 31 No. 5523 and a trilby-wearing inspector studiously survey the track on an unrecorded date, but with the diesel’s D prefix removed, it is post-1968, when BR dropped the prefix following the end of steam, and before the TOPS renumbering system, which was introduced in the early 1970s. The location is also unrecorded, but John Jolly, who now owns No. 5523, believes it may be in the environs of County School station on the Mid-Norfolk Railway between Dereham and Fakenham. The Class 31 is passing a Class 03 shunter, whose points are set towards the photographer, Dr Ian Allen. D5523 has recently been retired by Network Rail as No. 31105 after becoming its oldest working diesel, and arrived at John’s Mangapps Railway Museum in Essex at the end of October in tandem with classmate No. 31233. TRANSPORT TREASURY

John had enjoyed the company of at least one main line diesel since 2007, but last year his son James’ Class 47 No. 47579 James Nightall G.C. departed for the Mid Hants Railway on a three-year loan, leaving just No. 31430, which was being restored at the site by its owner Martin Staniforth and a small group of volunteers.

And with that overhaul completed, the A1A-A1A moved to the Spa Valley Railway on October 14, as reported in last month’s issue, leaving John’s diesel stable comprising only shunting locomotives, including four ex-BR Class 03s and a Class 04.

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