What’s in the Shops – Southampton dockside shunters from Heljan

The short-wheelbase Ruston & Hornsby Class 07 diesel-electric shunters were produced specifically for Southampton’s tight dockside rail complex – and the Danish firm Heljan has made a terrific job of modelling them in OO, writes Nigel Burkin.

Fourteen Ruston & Hornsby 275hp Class 07 0-6-0 diesel electric locomotives were ordered by British Railways for a very specific application compared to Class 08 and 09 shunters that were also used on the Southern Region – the cramped Southampton Docks complex for which the latter two types were generally unsuited.

Despite the 07s being six-coupled, their short 8ft 7½in wheelbase made them ideal for the sharp curves found around the docks, and their tall centre cabs with large windows offered excellent visibility for shunting operations.

No. D2991 was withdrawn from BR service as early as May 1973 because it was not equipped with vacuum brakes, but strangely enough it was retained as an ‘internal-user’ works shunter at Eastleigh, where it survived railway privatisation to see the Eastleigh Centenary open days in May 2009. It is pictured at one of these, and remains at Eastleigh under the ownership of Arlington Fleet Services, which applied the TOPS number it never carried in BR ownership.

Numbered D2985-D2998 (07 001-014), they were introduced in 1962 and finished originally in BR (SR) Lancing coaching stock green (not BR loco green) with yellow and black stripes on the bonnet ends.

BR blue livery was applied to all the shunters in the late 1960s with TOPS numbering being applied from 1973, except for the first four locomotives to be withdrawn from service.

Air brakes were fitted to several members of the class in the late 1960s, making them dual-braked to meet the increase in modern air-braked freight wagon use. They were also fitted with waist-height air hoses that duplicate those on the buffer beam, which enabled them to shunt SR multiple-unit stock around Eastleigh.

For the full article, see the October edition of Modelling – available now!

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