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A BRIEF HISTORY OF 47401
The first Brush Type 4, later Class 47, entered traffic on 28th September 1962 numbered D1500 and was delivered to Finsbury Park depot in North London. Like the rest of the D1500-19 batch the locomotive was maintained by Eastern Region depots throughout its working life, spending much of its time on express passenger duties on the East Coast Main Line. Subsequent orders saw the Class 47s reaching 512 examples (in all 310 were constructed at Loughborough and the remaining 202 built under contract at BR's own Crewe Works) and they were soon to become a common sight on nearly every part of the BR system. The first 20 Brush Type 4s differed from the production fleet in several ways including the fitting of an additional generator to provide current for electric train heating which lead to the nickname 'Generators' being applied to this batch. They were also among the first BR diesels to be built with both steam and electric train heating. Originally vacuum braked only, D1500 had to leave its top-link duties for a time due to the introduction of air braked stock on the ECML and was reallocated to Immingham until returning to the limelight at the beginning of 1971 when it was fitted with airbrakes. The arrival of HST stock in the late 1970s meant that the Generators, now numbered 47401-47420 (1500 became 47401 in October 1973) started to spread to all parts of the network, although still based on the Eastern Region, the entire batch being concentrated at Gateshead in August 1979. On 16th December 1981 47401 was named 'North Eastern' at Gateshead depot and was further enhanced by the fitting of a North Eastern Railway coat of arms above the nameplates in November 1982. The nameplates were removed in May 1988 on transfer to Immingham and were fitted instead to 47443. 1986 saw the beginning of the rundown of the Class 47 fleet and not surprisingly the non-standard Generators were among the first casualties. Fortunately however 47401 itself was to survive for a further six years as a result of receiving an overhaul at the start of 1986 during which it was repainted into the distinctive 'large logo' livery. With BR now increasingly sectorised 47401 was allocated to the Provincial Sector in 1987 and became a frequent performer on Newcastle to Liverpool Trans-Pennine services. The closure of Gateshead depot in 1988, gave Immingham the job of keeping 47401 and the rest of the surviving Generators on the road for the remainder of their careers. With Trans-Pennine services now in the hands of Crewe based 47s 47401's duties changed to Departmental work, also topping up Parcels and Railfreight Distribution pools at various times. In February 1990 47401 came under the control of Trainload Freight and spent much of its time from then on working oil trains around Humberside. Later the same year 401 received a repaint at Immingham into a hybrid standard blue/large-logo style, featuring its original D1500 number. It was then believed that 401 would be withdrawn in October 1990 however both 47401 and 47402 continued in service for a while longer pending acceptance of the new Class 60s. In May 1991 47401 was named 'Star of the East' at Immingham depot for its final months of service and although withdrawal looked a very real possibility in late 1991 further repairs were carried out and another repaint took place, this time into green livery. In this condition 47401 worked its final passenger train, the "Brush Refiner" railtour from Swindon to Humberside and return on 26th October 1991. Final withdrawal came on 5th June 1992.
In the late 1980s the National Railway Museum at York announced that they did not intend to claim 47401 as originally planned and the 47401 Project was formed to ensure the preservation of this historic locomotive in private hands. After five years of successful fund raising 47401 was purchased by the 47401 Project in early 1993. Following some repairs carried out at Immingham the loco was delivered to the Midland Railway, Butterley on 7th July 1993 and worked its first passenger train in preservation on 17th July 1993. In 1994 47401 was returned to large-logo blue livery with grey roof and was renamed 'North Eastern' the following year and has since been a regular performer at the Midland Railway as well as visiting several other railways and works open days. A selection of photos of the loco's career in preservation can be found on our 47401 Gallery page. A second Class 47 locomotive, No. 47417, was purchased in 1994, initially as a source of spares for 47401 and was cosmetically restored in two-tone green livery as D1516. Restoration to full working order began in 2002 and photos of progress to date can be viewed on our 47417 Gallery page.
47401 Project is a trading name of 47401 Diesel Locomotive Ltd. Registered at Cardiff No. 2763772
Registered Office: 61 Link House, New Covent Garden, Nine Elms, London, SW8 5PP