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The British Rail Class 33 also known as the BRCW Type 3 or Crompton is a class of Bo-Bo diesel locomotives ordered in 1957 and built for the Southern Region of British Railways between 1960 and 1962.

A total of 98 class 33s were built by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company (BRCW), and they were called "Cromptons" after the Crompton Parkinson electrical equipment installed in them.Like their lower-powered BRCW sisters (BR Classes 26 and 27), their bodywork and cab ends were of all steel construction.

The original (1957) number sequence was D6500—D6597.

Early years

They began service on the South-Eastern Division of the Southern Region but rapidly spread across the whole Region, and many were used much further afield - an example being the weekly Cliffe (Kent) to Uddingston (Glasgow) cement train which was worked throughout by a pair of the locomotives. This service gained some notoriety when the derailment of a north-bound train resulted in the destruction of DP2, the Class 50 prototype, near Thirskmarker N.Yorkshire. They were built with the ability only to supply the new type of electrical train heating, not the more traditional steam heating which most passenger carriages then used, so in the early years their use as winter-time passenger locomotives was restricted to the more modern passenger carriages. Early delivery problems and a shortage of Steam locomotives resulted in many class 24 locomotives being borrowed from the Midland Region. The Southern region was un-accustomed to the high maintenance required and they rapidly became unpopular but pairing of them with class 33 while electrically heated Mk1 coaching stock was delivered (with class 24 providing steam heat) was common. With the advent of modern stock and warmer seasons, class 24 was sent back home with the Southern as pleased to see them gone of them as the Midland were to have them back.

Class 33s today

Most of these locomotives have now been withdrawn from active duty, though some of preserved members are in railtour services with heritage spot hire rail companies West Coast Railway Company and Cotswold Rail, whilst others remain operational on preserved heritage railways.


There were three different types, later known as Class 33/0, 33/1 and 33/2.

Class 33/0 - standard locomotives

A total of 86 were built as standard locomotives, and the remainder of this type which were not converted into Class 33/1 (see below) were classified 33/0 under the TOPS numbering scheme as 33001-33065. The remaining two locomotives did not survive long enough to receive TOPS numbers: in 1964, D6502 ran through signals at Itchingfieldmarker near Horshammarker on a freight working, running into another freight train that was ahead of it - damage was so extensive that the loco was cut up on site. In 1968, D6576 was involved in a collision at Readingmarker, but was not considered worth repairing and was cut up at Eastleigh Works.

Class 33/1 - push-pull fitted locomotives

While third rail electrification was expanding on the Southern region, it was not considered to be justified to extend beyond Bournemouthmarker, and so in 1966, D6580 was fitted with experimental push-pull apparatus and high-level brake pipes and jumper cables to make it compatible with Multiple Unit stock. Tests were carried out on the Oxted Line using a 6-coach rake of unpowered multiple unit coaches (designated TC, the T standing for Trailer). The use of this equipment removed the necessity for the locomotive to run around to the front of its train at each terminus, as it could be controlled from the driving position of a TC unit and hence could propel its train from the rear. This prototype was the only member of Class 33 to run in green livery with this Multiple Unit control equipment (not to be confused with preserved members of Class 33/1 that have been repainted into green). Following successful completion of trials, D6580 and eighteen other members of the class entered Eastleigh works in 1968 to be converted Class 33/1, fitted with a modified version of the push-pull apparatus (fully compatible with Class 73 Electro-Diesels) and painted in the new BR corporate blue with full yellow ends. With the advent of TOPS, these modified locomotives were numbered 33101–33119 and settled into sterling work, proving themselves highly useful and reliable. Early during the roll-out of TOPS, Class 34 was earmarked for these modified Class 33 locomotives but was never used.

Class 33/2 - narrow-bodied locomotives

For the Hastings Line, the last 12 locomotives were built with bodies which were narrower than standard to fit the narrower "Hastings" profile, a change that cost BRCW dearly. The whole body structure had to be re-designed and new construction jigs constructed by BRCW. Already in financial trouble, they were never likely to recoup the design costs on such a small production run and this hastened their demise as a locomotive builder. These locomotives acquired the nickname 'Slim Jims'.

Push-pull operation

Trains operating on the line started at London Waterloomarker, where they were powered by third-rail electric traction via Winchester and Southampton until Bournemouth. They generally consisted of twelve car trains with a 4 REP electric multiple unit at the rear while the leading units would be a pair of unpowered 4TC. At Bournemouth, the REP at the rear would be detached and the TCs were taken on to Poole and Weymouth by a Class 33/1. The electric unit remained at Bournemouth or returned to London with another train. At Weymouth, rather than the 33/1 running round the TCs, it propelled them back to Bournemouth where they would be attached to a waiting London bound REP. Occasionally only one TC would be taken to Weymouth with the other being left with the REP at Bournemouth.

The section of route from Weymouth to the ship terminal at the quay is actually tramway, following, and largely in the middle of, the harbour road. The quay spur did not pass through the station proper, but diverged westwards at the throat; thus it was not possible for boat trains to call at Weymouth station. Boat trains were usually made up of conventional coaching stock and the locomotive would run-round its train on arrival at the sea-terminal. In later years, 4TC units were employed which, being able to control the locomotive remotely, removed the necessity for the run-round.

The usual configuration was 4TC+4TC+Loco with the locomotive at the seaward end. Light traffic would result in 4TC+Loco, and in rare operational circumstances 4TC+Loco+4TC was noted. The 4TC+Loco+4TC combination was not preferred, as it led to operational difficulties and inconvenience to waiting passengers who found themselves confronted with the side of the locomotive when their train has drawn to a halt.

This external link shows operational footage from the 1980s note the bell and beacon. The casual abandon with which road users and train jockey for position is also of note - such action would be unthinkable in modern HSE-aware Britain! The second external link shows the novel methods used to remove fouling vehicles and the police escort in absence of the bell and beacon on a railtour.

Tramway safety

Any trains operating over public thoroughfare tramway are required to be fitted with warning equipment for the general public. Two warning units were built and housed in a cabinet at the track side of the quay spur at the throat of Weymouth yard. This equipment comprised a yellow box which fitted on a lamp bracket on the cab front, and had an amber rotating beacon and bell which served to warn street traffic and pedestrians. The bell did not ring continuously but could be controlled by the driver. Each member of Class 33/1 and all TC stock had a small socket where the bell/beacon units plugged in and drew power from the train systems. Trains for the quay would halt at the station throat, and the warning equipment was attached and tested by the train guard. In addition, trains on the tramway were escorted by railway staff with flags, clearing the route of people and badly parked cars all the way to the point at which the tramway reverted to conventional track adjacent to the station. On arrival at the ship terminal the guard would move the warning equipment to the other end of the train in readiness for the return journey.


Image:D33025.jpg|Class 33/0 33 025 Sultan at WeymouthImage:33103_derby_130407_d.adkins.jpg|A side view of a Class 33/1, number 33103, stabled at Derby on 13 April 2007. This loco is in Fragonset livery.Image:33208 at Dorchester.jpg|Class 33/2 No. 33 208, one of those built with narrower bodies, at Dorchester with a nuclear flask train


24 examples have survived into preservation (all of them in England).
Numbers carried

(Current in bold)
Name Location Current Status Livery
D6501 33002 Sea King South Devon Railway Operational DCE Grey and Yellow
D6508 33008 Eastleighmarker Battlefield Line Railwaymarker Undergoing Restoration BR Green (Yellow Warning Panels)
D6515 33012 Stan Symes Swanage Railwaymarker Undergoing Overhaul at Eastleigh BR Green (Yellow Warning Panels)
D6530 33018 - Midland Railway - Butterleymarker Undergoing Restoration BR Blue
D6534 33019 Griffon Battlefield Line Railwaymarker Operational DCE Grey and Yellow
D6552 33034 - Swanage Railwaymarker Being stripped of parts at Nordenmarker BR Blue
D6553 33035 - Barrow Hill Engine Shedmarker Undergoing Restoration Network SouthEast
D6564 33046 Merlin Midland Railway - Butterleymarker Awaiting Restoration SWT Blue
D6566 33048 - West Somerset Railway Operational BR Green (Yellow Front)
D6570 33052 Ashford Kent and East Sussex Railway Operational BR Green
D6571 33053 - Mid Hants Railway Operational BR Blue
D6575 33057 Seagull West Somerset Railway Undergoing Restoration N/A
D6583 33063 R.J. Mitchell Spa Valley Railwaymarker Operational BR Blue
D6585 33065 Sealion Spa Valley Railwaymarker Stored servicable - awaiting overhaul BR Blue
D6513 33102 - Churnet Valley Railwaymarker Operational BR Blue
D6514 33103 Swordfish Swanage Railwaymarker Operational BR Blue
D6521 33108 - Barrow Hill Engine Shedmarker Undergoing Repairs BR Blue
D6525 33109 Captain Bill Smith RNR East Lancashire Railwaymarker Operational BR Blue
D6527 33110 - Bodmin and Wenford Railwaymarker Undergoing Repairs BR Green (Yellow Warning Panels)
D6528 33111 - Swanage Railwaymarker Operational BR Blue
D6535 33116 Hertfordshire Rail Tours Great Central Railway Operational BR Blue
D6536 33117 - East Lancashire Railwaymarker Undergoing Repairs BR Blue
D6586 33201 - Midland Railway Butterleymarker Operational BR Green (Yellow Front)
D6593 33208 - Mid Hants Railway Undergoing Repairs BR Green (Yellow Warning Panels)
A list of preserved Class 33 locomotives and their locations is available here -



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