BR Class 50 50007 Hercules

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BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 50007 Hercules
50007 Hercules 20190418.jpg
Class 50 No 50007 Hercules at Kidderminster TMDTraction Maintenance Depot, also referred to as Diesel Depot in April 2019
Built By English Electric Vulcan Foundry Works, Newton-le-Willows
Configuration Co-Co
Power type Diesel Electric
Status In service
Loco Number 50007
Other Numbers D407
Built 1968
Designed By English Electric
Type Class 50
1994 Preserved
2016 Purchased by The Class 50 Alliance
Length 68ft 6"
Weight 115t

Diesel Locomotives

50007 Hercules is a BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 diesel locomotive, purchased by the SVRSevern Valley Railway-based Class 50 Alliance in November 2016. Between 1984 and 2014, it was named Sir Edward Elgar.

BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50

Fifty English Electric Type 4The British Railways classification for diesel locomotives of 2000 bhp to 2999 bhp (later BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50) diesel locomotives were built by English Electric (EEEnglish Electric) at their Vulcan Foundry Works plant in Newton-le-Willows between 1967 and 1968. The class was a production series of the prototype DP2 of 1962. EEEnglish Electric owned the class and leased them to BRBritish Rail or British Railways: the locomotives carried an owners plate to note this.

The class shared parts with other EEEnglish Electric classes 37, 40 and 55. The 16CSVT engine of 2,700hp was a development of the 16SVT used in the Class 40. These 'advanced' Type 4The British Railways classification for diesel locomotives of 2000 bhp to 2999 bhp locomotives were amongst the first in the UK to include innovative features such as electronic control, dynamic braking and electric train heating incorporated into their design. The fleet was delivered in BRBritish Rail or British Railways blue to the London Midland Region and utilised on all types of traffic, including prestige trains such as the 'Royal Scot'.[1]

When built they were numbered in the D4xx series. They later became BRBritish Rail or British Railways's Class 50, being allocated TOPS numbers in the 50xxx series. The class was nicknamed "Hoovers" because of the distinctive sound of the inertial air-filters with which the locomotives were originally fitted.

Initially the locomotives were used to haul express passenger trains on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between Crewe and Scotland; that section not then being electrified. This often entailed ‘Multiple Working’, with two locomotives under control of a single driver. The class utilised a unique ‘Orange Square’ control, and so could only work in multiple with other class members.

By 1974 the northern WCML had been electrified, and the Class 50 fleet was being transferred to BRBritish Rail or British Railways’s Western Region to work main line passenger services out of London Paddington, replacing the 'Western Hydraulics' which were in the course of being withdrawn. The arrival of HSTs after 1976 saw them transferred onto other work, including Waterloo to Exeter trains and inter-regional trains from both Bristol and Paddington to Birmingham New Street.

The Class 50s did not originally carry names, but in the late 1970s BRBritish Rail or British Railways agreed to their being named after Royal Navy vessels with notable records in the First and Second World Wars.

The low number of Class 50s made them a target for BRBritish Rail or British Railways's fleet rationalisation plan of 1985, and they were progressively withdrawn between 1987 and 1994. 19 are preserved, six of which are based on the SVRSevern Valley Railway.

50007 Hercules in service

D407 entered service in March 1968, initially allocated to the Western Lines (LMR)[note 1] before being re-allocated to the Stoke Division in June of that year. It was equipped with Dual brakes and Electric Train Heating from new, and was additionally fitted for Multiple Working in February 1970. [2].

D407 was re-numbered as 50007 under TOPS in April 1974. The following month it was re-allocated to Plymouth Laira, where it received the name Hercules on 6 April 1978 after the British First World War battleship of the same name. It carried the name Hercules until 5 February 1984.

On 25 April 1984[note 2] the locomotive was outshopped in Brunswick Green and renamed Sir Edward Elgar[note 3] by Simon (later Sir Simon) Rattle at Paddington Station, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway.[3] On 29 December 1984 the locomotive visited the SVRSevern Valley Railway at the head of 'The Thames Severn Pullman' railtour as part of those celebrations.[4][5]

After initially being withdrawn on 16 July 1991, the locomotive was re-instated for railtour service, and was one of the two Class 50 locomotives to haul the final BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 railtour, the '50 Terminator', in March 1994.[3][6] 50007 was the second to last member of the fleet, being retired on 26 March 1994.

50007 Hercules in preservation

50007 Sir Edward Elgar was purchased by the Class 40 Appeal and was transferred to the Midland Railway Butterley in July 1994. Under this name, 50007 attended SVR diesel galas in 2000 and 2004.

In 2013, the locomotive was sold to Neil Boden and relocated to Washwood Heath, where it was repainted from GWRGreat Western Railway Green to BRBritish Rail or British Railways Blue, and restored to its original name of Hercules.[6] The locomotive was also fitted with the relevant equipment for mainline running, including TPWS, OTMROn-Train Monitoring Recorder, a device similar in principle to the flight data recorder found on aircraft, and GSM-R.

The Class 50 Alliance acquired 50007 from Neil Boden in November 2016. It was moved to the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 16 January 2017 and spent that most of that year at Kidderminster TMD while the generators were removed, sent away for overhaul and refitted, before planned haulage of a number of railtours in 2017 and 2018 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the class.[7]

On 30 August 2017, 50007 was one of a convoy of main line diesels to travel from the SVRSevern Valley Railway to London for the Old Oak Common open day (the consist being 50049, 50007, 50044, 50035 and D1015).[8] 50007 then became the first locomotive to use the newly installed lifting jacks in the Diesel Depot when it was lifted for maintenance on 4 November 2017.

Unlike most other Fifty Fund operated locomotives there was no running agreement with the SVRSevern Valley Railway, until 50007 was added to the SVRSevern Valley Railway/Class 50 Alliance running agreement in 2018.[9]

On 20 March 2019 freight operator GB Railfreight and The Class 50 Alliance unveiled 50007 and 50049 Defiance in GBRfGB Railfreight, a main line rail freight operating company. livery, with the locomotives available to operate selected GBRfGB Railfreight, a main line rail freight operating company. trains on a ‘spot-hire’ basis.[10][11] In the same month both locomotives hauled the charter train from Paddington to Penzance and return to mark the 25th anniversary of the final BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50-hauled train.[9]

In mid-2021 one side of 50007 was temporarily re-designated as 50034 "Furious" as a thank you to GBRfGB Railfreight, a main line rail freight operating company. charter manager Paul Taylor for his prostate cancer charity fundraising efforts; Furious was his favourite class 50[12].

In 2024 Hercules required some extensive cab side repairs, before a repaint into BRBritish Rail or British Railways Blue large logo livery[13].

See also


  1. a generic 'paper' allocation for LMR mainline locomotives in the late 1960's
  2. BRDatabase states 25 April 1984. Wikipedia states 25 February 1984
  3. The name 'Sir Edward Elgar' was previously carried by GWRGreat Western Railway Castle 7005 (originally named 'Lamphey Castle') between 1957 and withdrawal in 1964.


  1. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 156
  2. BRDatabase, accessed 9 June 2023
  3. 3.0 3.1 BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 on Wikipedia
  4. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 76
  5. David Rostance photo on Flickr
  6. 6.0 6.1 English Electric Archive | 50007 Hercules, accessed 22 November 2016
  7. The Fifty Fund - 50007 Hercules, accessed 22 November 2016
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 200
  9. 9.0 9.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 206
  10. Class 50 Alliance, 15 January 2019
  11. GB Railfreight Facebook 20 March 2019
  12. Trackside Magazine, Issue 2, p. 15.
  13. Class 50 Alliance, 10 and 27 April 2024 (Retrieved 17 May 2024)