BR Class 42 D821 Greyhound



Designed by

British Railways






Currently undergoing bodywork overhaul

British Railways’ Western Region developed a diesel fleet with hydraulic transmissions, rather than the electric traction motors used elsewhere, with Swindon’s exceptionalism still evident a decade after nationalisation!

The concept was based on the Deutsche Bundesbahn Class V 200, with two high-speed (1,500 rpm) V12 engines and a hydraulic torque converter on each bogie. This combined lower weight and high traction, which the Western Region argued was essential for tackling the steeply-graded Devon banks. It certainly had that – equipped with two Maybach MD650 engines it generated 2,300 hp and weighed 78 tons, against 2,000 hp and 133 tons for the EE Type 4, with the same 52,000ib tractive effort.

The class initially hauled the top Western Region expresses, before the more powerful ‘Westerns’ were introduced. Some were then re-equipped for multiple-working, an expensive solution. Thereafter they continued in a lesser role on both passenger and freight including, for a time, the LSWR route from Waterloo to Exeter.

Reliability issues followed the hydraulics, partly due to a supply chain to West Germany and partly due to the higher maintenance requirements of the engines and transmissions. The 1965 National Traction Plan reviewed the diesel fleet and future requirements in the light of Beeching’s Reshaping report. The reductions meant that the diesel-hydraulics were designated non-standard and slated for early withdrawal. D821 entered service in 1960 but lasted only to 1972, one of the final classmates in traffic.

D821 is one of the two preserved Class 42 Warship locomotives from the 38 built by BR at Swindon, and was the first main line diesel to be sold for preservation. It has been based on the SVR since 1991, although it spent three years undergoing repairs at Old Oak Common TMD prior to its closure. The locomotive is one of four owned by the Diesel Traction Group, and will celebrate 50 years in DTG ownership in 2023!

All but two of the class were named after Royal Naval vessels. A destroyer, HMS Greyhound sadly sank with the loss of 100 lives in Crete in 1941. Other vessels also carried the name.

Book your tickets for a journey behind Class 42 Greyhound

View the locomotive roster to find out when D821 is next working