‘Scottish’ Class 31 on trials at ‘The Plant’ in Doncaster

As an enthusiastic trainspotter during the BR steam/diesel ‘crossover’ era of the late 1950s and early 1960s, I was interested to read Geoff Courtney’s article in last month’s issue about the little-publicised evaluation trials of Stratford-allocated Class 31 D5511 in Scotland during the summer of 1958.

It prompted me to carry out some research of my own, and I have discovered that the diesel was recorded at Doncaster works on June 8, 1958, and again on August 31, the latter visit described as being for trials.

Looking ahead: With crew members looking out fore and aft, D5511 passes through Blair Atholl station on the Highland Main Line during its evaluation trials in Scotland in the summer of 1958. The brand-new diesel, allocated to the east London shed of Stratford (30A), spent nearly three months north of the border in a visit that received little publicity and it was rarely photographed. E R MORTEN COLLECTION

These dates would fit in with the dates in the article of its spell in Scotland – Geoff said it arrived in Scotland on or about June 18, so perhaps the first Doncaster visit 10 days before was on its way north when the loco would have been straight out of the Brush Traction factory at Loughborough.

The August 31 visit to Doncaster was probably when it was on its way south having finished its evaluation north of the border, and the fact that it is noted as being on trials at ‘The Plant’ indicates that maybe they continued for a period after it had journeyed back south.

With most of my trainspotting being in the Bedford area, I rarely saw the D55xx series unless I visited Liverpool Street, King’s Cross or Cambridge.

Our nearest to the Class 31s was another Type 2, the short-lived Class 28 ‘Metrovicks’ numbered D5700-19, which had service lives of a mere 10 years.

Maybe Dave Brennand was thinking of this class, among others, when in the article on D5511 he says that some diesels of the era proved to be very expensive failures.

Michael Throssell,
Kempston, Bedfordshire

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