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Class 33/0 33063 'R. J. Mitchell'
Class 33/0 33063 'R. J. Mitchell'
Withdrawn – February 1997 at Stewarts Lane
HistoryOriginally ordered in 1957 as part of the modernisation of Britain's railways, the British Rail BRCW Type 3 (later a Class 33) was constructed specifically for the Southern Region of British Railways and constructed at the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon works between 1960 and 1962. Originally numbered between D6500 and D6597 a total of 98 Class 33's were constructed and they gained the nickname 'Cromptons' quite early on due to their electrical equipment being manufactured by Crompton Parkinson.
Designed for pulling coaching stock and freight the Type 3 was fitted with an 8-cylinder Sulzer Diesel engine which produced a total of 1,550hp, an increase from the British Railways Sulzer Type 2 (later the Class 26s) which was fitted with a 6-cylinder Sulzer power unit that produced 1,160hp. The Southern Region's traffic requirements varied with the Summer season being heavy passenger traffic but in the Winter the Class 33s would see more use on freight traffic. The increase in power from the Type 2 to the Type 3 was gained by not including the Steam Heat boiler in the construction, instead introducing Electric Train Heating.
Once a former mainstay of the Southern Regions diesel traction, having been introduced in 1962, 33063 was withdrawn in 1997 around the time other Class 33's were withdrawn from service. Sold for preservation to Mike Biddell, Blue Triangle Buses in March 1997, 33063 moved by road to Blue Triangle Buses Depot in Rainham, Essex on 6th August 1997 for restoration.
Purchased by the fledging South East Locomotive Group along with sister 33065 in January 2000, both locomotives moved to the East Kent Railway in the March of that year. The locomotive was then started in the July of that year and remained at the East Kent Railway until 2002 before moving to the Spa Valley Railway, initially on loan but following a decision by the South East Locomotive Group to relocate to Tunbridge Wells West both 33063 and 33065 moved to the Spa Valley Railway and it has been their home ever since!
In 2005, a major bodywork overhaul took place on 33063 at Tunbridge Wells West which saw numerous areas of metal work replaced and the locomotive painted in 'Triple Grey' with Construction decals, an authentic livery for this particular Class 33. At the same time during this restoration, 33063 was named 'R. J. Mitchell' Designer of the Spitfire, a huge achievement for the South East Locomotive Group and indeed on the return to service day, 3rd September 2005, a Spitfire with its distinctive Merlin engine roaring away undertook three flypasts over Tunbridge Wells West before the freshly named 'R. J. Mitchell' hauled the 16:30 from Tunbridge Wells West.
Since then, 33063 has visited the engine shed on a few occassions to ensure continued reliability which has since included the rebuilding of both cab ends of the locomotive, a known weak point in terms of rust on the 'Cromptons' and further coats of 'Triple Grey'.
33063 is often seen hauling Spa Valley Railway passenger trains, engineering trains, running at our very popular Diesel Gala's as well as taking part in driver experiences, it continues to be a very popular engine with our visitors and has also visited other railways which include the Nene Valley, Great Central, North Norfolk and Dean Forest. Very rarely does 33063 stand still for very long between duties!
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