the 1960s, The North Western Railway - or the North Western Region of British
Railways, as it was officially designated, was finding it increasingly
difficult to ignore modernisation. The pipe smoking bods at the headquarters of
the nationalised network were continuously nudging my grandfather in the ribs
as new prototypes and ideas began to roll out onto the metals of the Mainland,
doing away with the steam powered workhorses that Sodor was so proud to have
grandfather had little tolerance for the pestering, and this typically came to
a head with the arrival of a diesel locomotive for a 'trial' on the hefty
gradients and tight curves of Sodor. These were not always new prototypes, and
one wonders to this day if we were sometimes 'fobbed off' with engines no
longer wanted by the rest of the Nationalised Network, where standardisation
seemed to be ruling every fleet of locomotives from Land's End to John O'
Groats - but, one digresses.
particular day in the spring of 1967 two locomotives arrived on trial from the
Mainland, both examples of 'modern traction' from the period - and both rather
iconic classes of engine. They were treated with suspicion, and for at least
one of the pair, rightfully so. Neither of the diesels had names - they were
known only as D199 and D7101.
was a Class 46 'Peak'. This class of locomotive, it would be fair to say, was a
very enterprising, well built piece of kit. They were an efficient design,
tried and tested in preceding classes - and unfortunately, D199 was well aware
of this. He arrived at Tidmouth Sheds with a terrible attitude, outspoken and
self-congratulating, consistently claiming that diesel locomotives were the
future and the sad 'antiques' on the NWR should be in scrapyards.
did not make he or his friend very popular - rather unfair, as D7101 was
consistently trying to shut him up over the course of the day.
their trials, D199 was tested with a Goods train of tankers. He didn't have the
finest bit of performance and failed carrying the train just outside Maron. Rather
than make any effort, the crippled 'peak' complained for the attention of a
fitter, which he didn't get. Instead the
signalman cursed him as a 'Spamcan' and made threats of attention from his tin
who himself had suffered a failed regulator, and was instead working upon
cutoff, rolled alongside to await a clear line - the signalman requested Henry
move 'Old Reliable' and his train, to which Henry, with the usual NWR worker
ethic, agreed - taking great humour in the irony of the situation!
by, on his trial, D7101 was pulling 'The Limited', an express train, on the way
towards Barrow-in-Furness. Unfortunately, his ejector had failed when he
climbed over the brow of Gordon's Hill, - something that, as ejector failures
often do, went unnoticed for the majority of the remaining journey - but by the
time he had passed Maron his brakes were applying slowly, making his journey
increasingly difficult - the train growled past Henry and Old Stuck-Up ...and
ground to a halt only a few hundred feet in front.
railway was now in a rather complex predicament - Henry, a 'failed' engine,
would rescue both trains - keeping the brakes off of 'The Limited' so D7101
could pull his own load - Spamcam, however, gave no assistance. They reached
Cronk Station without losing too much time and 4472 'Flying Scotsman', whom was
coincidentally in the middle of his famed visit to Sodor - took 'The Limited'
for the remaining journey. Henry was strongly complimented - D199 was sent away
after his failure in disgrace, while D7101 was kept for further trial.
proved to be a hard worker - Henry, despite being a 'failed' engine proved to
him the Sodor work ethic - and inspired him - to the point he still remembers
it well today, and treats Henry as somewhat of a mentor! He made friends very
easily and even James couldn't help but grow to like him.
little deliberation D7101 was transferred permanently to the North Western
Railway, renumbered to 'D3', but being known for commonly as 'Bear' - thanks to
the growl of the famous Bristol-Siddeley Maybach engines. His fierce noise can
make even the worst temperament of goods stock behave.
has now been with us since 1967 and given excellent service throughout. His
build number places him as quite literally the last of his batch, meaning the
transmission issues noted with the early Hymeks are not in place - he has seen
further modifications in his time on the NWR to improve efficiency and engine
temperatures without sacrificing power or speed - this has ultimately had
varied success and were generally reverted - meaning Bear is still largely the
same locomotive he was upon arrival.
The Hymeks were statistically the most
efficient of any Diesel-Hydraulic on the network at the time, and Bear has
constantly proved this. He can be relied on - the greatest asset of any
locomotive! We find great use for him on early mornings and late nights - he
takes barely any time to prepare compared to our steam motive power and has the
same spirit and capabilities of them - the engines enjoy this arrangement too
as it means longer rests!
also very versatile - he can be running a top link express service one moment,
and the next will be pulling a slow goods! While not the most powerful
locomotive on sudrian metals he's incredibly capable, and is an asset to the
NWR, as he was to the Western Region in his time. Bear is painted in the
original 'Hymek' livery (albeit with
yellow warning panels), complete with Brunswick green and ivory window
surrounds - this has made him very popular with enthusiasts, and when running
an express service he will attract just as much attention as Gordon. (Much to the
of you will note Bear does not appear often in the Railway Series since his
introduction - this is fairly easy to explain. He's a regular worker but
mishaps rarely occur - something I have no complaints about!
you wish to see classic traction, running at full capability, across some
stunning scenery, you'll find few places better to Sodor - if you are unable to
travel, however, four are in preservation, two of which are undergoing
comprehensive overhauls. You shall find a 'Bear' running at the West Somerset
Railway (D7017), and one at the East Lancashire Railway (D7096) - they are fine
examples, and I hope the two remaining shall be running soon, as well - perhaps
it'll soon be time for a Hymek reunion!