As we are sure most will realise, 55 007 ‘Pinza’ was withdrawn by British Rail at the end of December 1981 and cut up for scrap at Doncaster Works by August 1982. The loco is of course D9000 – 55 022 ‘Royal Scots Grey’ currently running in the guise of one of her fallen class mates.
D9000 was the first of the production series of “DELTIC” locomotives built by the English Electric Company at the Vulcan Foundry in Newton Le Willows. Although the first of the series, she was the second unit to enter service, being preceded by five days in this respect by D9001. In March 1961 she became the first production “DELTIC” to visit Scotland and was based at Leith Central Diesel Depot for crew training purposes, hauling trains of empty stock to and from Berwick upon Tweed.
D9000 was experimentally fitted with an electric flashing light above the buffer beams for trial purposes. The subsequent removal of this short lived experiment produced the distinctive rectangular panel around the nose end footstep which she still carries today and is just one of many features unique to ‘Royal Scots Grey’.
During October 1967, the green D9000 entered Doncaster Plant for her scheduled Intermediate repair and for fitting of air brake equipment. When she reappeared, on the 3rd November 1967, it was in B.R. Blue livery and one month later, on 3rd December, she was transferred to Finsbury Park Depot (London), a temporary arrangement whilst the air braking of the class was continuing. “Royal Scots Grey” was the second Deltic to be air braked, the first being D9016 “Gordon Highlander”, which also remains in preservation owned by the same owners who own ‘Royal Scots Grey’ to this day.
The next event of note involving “Royal Scots Grey” took place on the 28th February 1981. On this day she became the first Deltic to reach 20 years in service and to mark the event, she hauled the 12.20 Kings Cross to York train carrying a suitable headboard. By this time the run-down of the class had begun and withdrawals had already taken place. “Royal Scots Grey” received its last repair attention at Doncaster Plant between the 6th and 9th July with attention to the body and one power unit.
Later in the final Deltic year of British Rail Deltic operation, 55022 was selected as one of four loco’s to be smartened up for use on the many enthusiasts specials, which were run to mark the end of the class. Subsequently she was repainted and had a power unit changed at Stratford Depot, returning to traffic on 5th November.
Without doubt the most noteworthy of the specials which she worked during the final months was the Severn Valley Railtours “The Deltic Venturer” which ran from York to Paddington and back on the 28th November. In addition to breaking much new ground for the class, she gained the distinction of being the only Deltic to climb the famous Lickey Incline under B.R. Ownership.
Having been selected to work the southbound leg of the “Deltic Scotsman Farewell” on 2nd January 1982, she had to be worked north in readiness and on 31st December 1981 she hauled the 05.50 Kings Cross to Aberdeen as far as Edinburgh Waverley, adding to her long list of honours the distinction of working the last Deltic hauled service train into Scotland.
Her part in the events of 2nd January 1982 is well documented and while the scenes which greeted her arrival at Kings Cross were a tribute to all 22 Deltics, it was fitting that the focus of the emotion should be “Royal Scots Grey”, the longest serving member of the class.
Her duties done, she returned light engine to York Depot, where she was officially withdrawn, having accumulated almost 3,250,000 service miles. On Tuesday 5th January 1982 she was towed from York Depot to Doncaster Plant in company with 55009, 55015 and 55016, all of which were to find homes in preservation.
D9000 was purchased by the Deltic 9000 Fund from British Rail and was moved to the Nene Valley Railway together with ‘Gordon Highlander’ in September 1983 to start her life in preservation. Following a good few years based at Wansford, a mainline return was planned for the locomotive and she moved around various sites before being the first Deltic to return to the national network in 1996. Following this return to mainline use the loco worked regularly throughout the UK and also worked many scheduled trains mainly for Virgin Trains, notably the summer Saturday Birmingham to Ramsgate services.
Problems started to set in with the finances of Deltic 9000 Locomotives and the loco lay out of use for a few years at Hornsey Depot alongside the East Coast Main Line, the situation eventually lead to receivers being appointed. Martin Walker’s Company Beaver Sports Ltd. Purchased D9000 in a terrible state in July 2004 and moved it to Barrow Hill for a complete restoration and overhaul which was completed in August 2006. The loco then made another mainline return and has since seen use once again on the mainline throughout much of the UK.
Most of the work for the first five years was hauling Railtours and Charter trains far and wide in addition to working at many of the countries preserved railways. The last 5 years has seen a varied life for the loco having been kept busy hauling freight and moving electric trains around for maintenance on lines without electrical power. In addition 55 022 has continued to visit preserved railways and work passenger trains including a stint on the prestige ‘Royal Scotsman’.
Many modifications have been implemented over the last 10 years ensuring that the loco is suitable to cope with the demands of the modern railway and a thorough routine maintenance policy ensures that ‘Royal Scots Grey’ remains in tip-top condition.