BR Class 50 50031 Hood

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BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 50031 Hood
50031 20170401.jpg
50031 Hood in 2017
Built By English Electric Vulcan Foundry Works, Newton-le-Willows
Configuration Co-Co
Power type Diesel Electric
Status Awaiting overhaul
Loco Number 50031
Other Numbers D431
Built 1968
Designed By English Electric
Type Class 50
1991 Purchased for preservation
2007 Main generator failure
2010 Returned to service
2016 Refurbished at RVEL, Derby
Length 68ft 6"
Weight 115t

Diesel Locomotives

50031 Hood is a BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50 diesel locomotive.

BRBritish Rail or British Railways Class 50

The 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 locomotive was the last main-line diesel passenger locomotive designed for BRBritish Rail or British Railways.[1] The fifty members of the class were built by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry Works plant in Newton-le-Willows between 1967 and 1968. When built they were numbered in the D4xx series. They later became BRBritish Rail or British Railways’s Class 50, being allocated TOPSTotal Operations Processing System, an American computer system adopted by BR from the late 1960s to number and manage rolling stock. 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 all based at Crewe and 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.

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line passenger services out of London Paddington, replacing the 'Western Hydraulics' which were in the course of being withdrawn.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 50’s 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 1992.

50031 Hood in service

D431 entered service allocated to the BRBritish Rail or British Railways Stoke Division in July 1968, having been built as English Electric Works No 3801/D1172. Less than a year later she was derailed at Lancaster whilst in charge of a parcels train.

D431 was re-numbered 50031 in February 1974. Following electrification of the WCML, 50031 moved to Plymouth Laira in May 1976.

In June 1978, 50031 was named Hood after HMS Hood, the Royal Navy’s last battle cruiser. Commissioned in 1920, HMS Hood was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck on 24 May 1941.

After working Waterloo-Exeter services and inter-regional services to New Street as pictured below, 50031 was withdrawn from service by BRBritish Rail or British Railways on 5th August 1991.

50031 Hood in preservation

50031 was purchased privately for preservation by two members of The Fifty Fund in December 1991, with the intention of placing it under the Fifty Fund's umbrella.[2] On the understanding that the 'guide price' was £18000, they simply added the last two digits of the loco's number and bid £18031. They later found out that they had outbid their nearest rival by £31.

50031 was in near operational condition, having only minor faults when withdrawn. It was moved to St Leonards in East Sussex in March 1992 for initial repairs. After attention to the mechanical and electrical systems and bodywork, the locomotive began touring, visiting a number of railways including a guest appearance at the SVRSevern Valley Railway Diesel Gala on 8-10 May 1992 where it became the first Class 50 to haul a public passenger train in preservation. While at the Mid-Hants Railway in April 1993, the locomotive was re-dedicated by members of the HMS Hood Association. Another guest appearance at an SVRSevern Valley Railway Diesel Gala took place on 7-9 May 1993. The 'tour' continued including visits to the NYMR and Midland Railway Centre, ending with an appearance at the 'Exeter 150' celebrations on 1-2 May 1994. 50031 then moved to the Severn Valley Railway as a permanent resident,[note 1] arriving on 6 May 1994 with 50044 Exeter.[1][3]

After arrival, 50031 became a familiar sight on SVRSevern Valley Railway Summer Saturday 'dated trains', special charters, diesel galas and footplate experiences. The Fifty Fund were also keen to see 50031 working on the main line, and it became only the third preserved diesel to receive mainline certification.[1][note 2] On 1 November 1997 Hood became the first preserved class 50 to haul a main line railtour, "The Pilgrim Hoover". The tour, originally named "The Pilgrim Hoovers", was to have been double headed with D444 but the latter was not certified in time. 50031 successfully took load 12 single-handed from Birmingham International to Plymouth and return, with the route including the Lickey Bank and the South Devon Banks.

50031 suffered a failure of the Train Heat Generator while at Swanage in May 2014 and was withdrawn from traffic for repairs and attention to the body work.[2] It was sent to RVEL, Derby for refurbishment in June 2015. On 11 April 2016, it was revealed in a fictitious BRBritish Rail or British Railways Inter-City livery, with the locomotive returning to the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 13 April 2016.[4] Following a return to service, the locomotive was re-dedicated in a ceremony at Kidderminster on 17 September 2016. The ceremony marked two anniversaries; 100 years since the keel of HMS Hood was laid in 1916 and 75 years since the ship was sunk during World War 2.

50031 was withdrawn from service in 2020 pending an engine overhaul.[5] This is not likely to commence until after the completion of BR Class 37 37308[6].

In August 2022 the Class 50 Alliance announced that "2022 marks 30 years since the first run of a Class 50 on the SVRSevern Valley Railway when 50031 appeared at the 1992 Diesel Gala and became the first 50 to haul a public passenger train in preservation. We are going to celebrate this anniversary formally on Saturday 24th September 2022 when 50s are rostered to "S1 diagram" with two round trips on the SVRSevern Valley Railway commencing with the 09:45 departure from Kidderminster. To all our supporters and shareholders both old and new, we would very much like to see you there if possible to celebrate this important milestone in the ongoing Class 50 story!"

It is owned by 50031 Consortium Limited.

50031 Hood on the main line in preservation

A list of 50031's main line appearances is as follows (possibly incomplete):

Date Tour name Tour Operator Route Notes Reference
1 Nov 1997 The Pilgrim Hoover Past-Time Rail Birmingham Int's to Plymouth + return [1]
16 Sep 2000 The Celtic Hoovers Pathfinder Tours Birmingham New Street to Glasgow Central + return 50031 (as D431) + 50149 SBJ
30 Jun 2001 Cornwall Pathfinder Tours Worcester to Penzance + return 50031 + 449 SBJ"
7 Jul 2001 Galloway Princess Pathfinder Tours B'ham International - Carlisle + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
3 Nov 2001 The Northern Lights Pathfinder Tours Cardiff to Blackpool + return SBJ
3 Nov 2001 Nor' by Nor' West Pathfinder Tours Blackpool to Sutton Oak (Hays Chemicals) mini-tour SBJ
1 Dec 2001 The County of Kent Pathfinder Tours Cardiff to Asford, Kent + return SBJ
27 Apr 2002 Brighton Bell Daylight Railtours Alresford - Red Hill - Brighton + return 50031 + 37308 SBJ
4 May 2002 Penzance Castles Pathfinder Tours Lonton to Taunton, Penzance to London Steam from Taunton to Penzance with 5029 + 5051 SBJ"
13 Jul 2002 Harrogate Hoovers Pathfinder Tours Reading to York + mini-tour & return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
3 Aug 2002 Settle & Carlisle Excursion Pathfinder Tours Salisbury to Carlisle + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
10 Aug 2002 The West Wales Excursion Pathfinder Tours London to Swansea + minitours & return 50031 + 50049 & 66092 SBJ
22 Sep 2002 Countryside Alliance  ? York to Kings Cross + return 50031 + 50049, one of a series of trains to get people to a large "countryside march" in London. SBJ
21 Dec 2002 The Cornubian Pathfinder Tours Ealing Broadway to Par and Newquay + return 50031 + 50049 & 66092 SBJ
12 Jul 2003 The Garden of England Pathfinder Tours Cardiff to Canterbury + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
16 Aug 2003 Shrewsbury, Llangollen & Chester Pathfinder Tours Reading to Chester + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
10 Sep 2003 Cathedrals Express Steam Dreams Waterloo to Salisbury + return Replaced 34016 Bodmin due to a steam ban SBJ
20 Sep 2003 The Cream of Cornwall Pathfinder Tours Slough to Par + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
29 Nov 2003 York, Harrogate or Leeds Pathfinder Tours Swindon to Harrogate and Leeds + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
16 Dec 2003 The Christmas Diner I Pathfinder Tours Gloucester to Gloucester via Hereford 50031 + 50049 SBJ
18 Dec 2003 The Christmas Diner III Pathfinder Tours Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol Temple Meads via Exeter 50031 + 50049 SBJ
24 Jul 2004 The Eden Belle Pathfinder Tours Guildford to Par + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
27 Aug 2004 The Northern Lights Pathfinder Tours B'han Int to Preston, Carlisle to B'ham New Street SBJ
25 Sep 2004 The Royal Sovereign Steamy Affairs Kings Lynn to Bath Spa + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
9 Oct 2004 The Alton Observer Pathfinder Tours Sheffield - London Victoria - Alresford - Sheffield 50031 + 50049 & 60001 SBJ
27 Nov 2004 The Yorkshire Royale Pathfinder Cardiff-Derby (detached/reattached)-York (steam) With 50049 Defiance and 6233 Duchess of Sutherland SBJ [7]
18 Dec 2004 Luncheon Festive Dining Excursion Pathfinder Tours Bristol - Salisbury - Reading - Bristol 50031 (on rear) + 50049 SBJ
18 Dec 2004 Evening Festive Dining Excursion Pathfinder Tours Cardiff to Worcester + return 50031 (on rear) + 50049 SBJ
12 Feb 2005 BBC Filming Special (?)  ? Paddington to Frome & Westbury + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
4-7 Mar 2005 The Monarch of the Glen Pathfinder Tours Swindon to Fort William & Mallaig + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
9 Apr 2005 The Irish Mail Steamy Affairs Ashford to Crewe, Crewe to Tonbridge 50031 + 50049 SBJ
7 May 2005 The Irish Mail Steamy Affairs St Albans to Crewe + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
30 May 2005 Football special  ? Stratford (London) to Cardiff + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
7 Aug 2005 Football special  ? Kensington Olympia to Cardiff + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
26 Aug 2005 The Whistling Scotsman Pathfinder Tours Birmingham to Bradford, York to Birmingham SBJ
24 Sep 2005 Pixies Revenge / Eden Belle Pathfinder Tours Banbury to Penzance + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
1 Oct 2005 The Devonshire Riviera Express Steamy Affairs Northampton to Bristol, Kingswear to Northampton 50031 + 50049. Also 60009 SBJ
15 Oct 2005 The Devonshire Riviera Express Steamy Affairs Ashford Int'l - Kingswear - Newton Abbot; Westbury - Ashford Int'l 50031 + 50049 SBJ
4 Dec 2005 Rhymney Valley Diesel Extravaganza Arriva Trains Wales Cardiff to Rhymney + return 50031 + 37411 SBJ
25 Mar 2006 Redmire Rambler Pathfinder Tours Cardiff Central to Redmire + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
16-19 Jun 2006 The Orcadian Pathfinder Tours Swindon to Inverness, Kyle of Lochalsh, Wick & Thurso + return 50031 + 50049 SBJ
16 Dec 2006 The Airean Raider Pathfinder Cardiff to Leeds 50031 + 50049 [7]

See also


  1. The 1998 SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book gives May 1994 as the date the locomotive moved to the SVRSevern Valley Railway on a permanent basis. The 1992 and 1993 appearances were described in SVRSevern Valley Railway News as being by a 'visiting locomotive'.
  2. Prior to 50031, Class 46 D172/46035 and Class 55 Deltic D9000/55022 had also received main line certification.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book, ninth edition
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Fifty Fund website
  3. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 105, 107 (Gala appearances)
  4. Railway Herald
  5. Branch Lines newsletter, September 2020 (Retrieved 29 August 2020)
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 218, Summer 2022, p. 24
  7. 7.0 7.1 website (Retrieved 21 January 2018)