'BoCo' - British Railways Class 28 'Metrovick'

The first article that Sir Richard had published in UK Heritage Hub Magazine about BoCo, the Metropolitan Vickers Diesel-Electric!

When BoCo arrived on the NWR to Edward's Branch Line in 1965, we were only just showing signs of noticing Modernisation, and indeed we were still seen as a 'backward network', preferring the so called 'problems' of steam service to those of the new diesel electrics, new fangled locomotives we felt lacked character and personality - rather ironic considering the 'classic traction' movement!

 

BoCo is a Metropolitan-Vickers Class 28 Co-Bo Diesel Electric Locomotive. The first asymmetri-cal engine to be constructed in the United Kingdom, it is little surprise my Grandfather (Charles Topham Hatt, whom played 'Fat Controller' from 1954-1984) chose to go for an oddity!

 

The CoBos were known for being relatively unreliable, noisy, smokey things, but with a Route Availability of 8 they were more than ideal for running on one of our branch lines, and as remedial work at Vickers' workshop proved insufficient to rectify the issues my grandfather stepped in to 'take one off of BR's hands for a trial on the Wellsworth Branch - and later purchased the engine for a very low fee indeed - the classic Hatt Bargaining, I dare say!

 

Most of the Metrovicks were allocated to Barrow-in-Furness in the final years of their lives so transporting the locomotive proved very simple with British Railways more than happy to co-operate.

 

Rather than simply refer to the locomotive as a 'CoBo' my Grandfather chose to spin the name around to something more personal. After a few checks at Crovan's Gate on arrival we began outly-ing plans for rectifying the troublesome crossley en-gines -but this had to wait due to China Clay traffic increasing steadily at Brendam.

 

It was in 1967 that the Metrovicks began leaving service, making BoCo and a certain D5705 (Now based on the East Lancashire Railway) the final survivors.

 

BoCo was rather troublesome 'behind closed doors' - his engines were difficult, a touchy subject matter indeed for our engineers and subject to many thoughtful pints at the Old Tramway and Godred's Rest. It took five years before we success-fully found a route around although it must be ad-mitted he is far from the same locomotive - the en-gines were 'toned down' into something less power-ful but ultimately capable and far less... .argumentative! By the time my father and indeed myself came into ownership BoCo was a perfectly capable unit with few problems and an excellent track record.

 

BoCo can be found on the Wellsworth-Brendam branch line, home to the oldest locomotive on the NWR, Edward - however, if you do not wish to travel so far you may see his brother, D5705 at the Baron Street Site of the East Lancashire Rail-way, where he is under restoration. After our own experience with BoCo we can agree the Metrovicks were complicated, troublesome machines, but a bit of hard work can cure anything and our own is one of the most reliable, level headed locomotives in our 'family'.

Find out more about BoCo and his origins on the internet's definitive Awdry Railway Series website - The Real Lives of Thomas The Tank Engine.

One of BoCo's brothers survived on the mainland and is now the subject of a restoration project at the East Lancs Railway in Lancashire.  Click the link to read more about the Class 28s and 5702

Click the link above for relevant books and products about BoCo and other early British Railway Diesels!