Rolling Stock

Ruston & Hornsby 165hp 0-4-0 Diesel Mechanical Shunter (Build No 327974)

Built in 1954 by Ruston and Hornsby of Lincoln, this is an example of a shunter design that dates back to the 1940s - indeed a prototype was loaned to the LNER for trials in 1946.

At exactly 1pm on 4 September 2007, this shunter was rolled off the lorry onto the newly laid track at Trevarno, becoming the first locomotove on the Helston Branch since closure in 1964.  The locomotive later became the first to run under its own power on the branch line since closure.

This is a 28 tonne loco fitted with a Ruston 6VPH engine number 384147.  Transmission is via a 5 speed semi-automatic gearbox and has a maximum speed of 15mph. It was delivered new to the British Sugar Corporation (BSC) at Bardney, Lincolnshire on 15 October 1954 for £8,213.

It remained at Bardney until August 1982 when it was transferred to BSC's works at Kings Lynn, Norfolk. On 7 February 1997, Great Eastern Traction took possession for use at Hardingham Station, Norfolk until 28 June of that year when it was transported to the Northampton Ironstone Railway Trust at Hunsbury Hill, Northampton.

The shunter (and its sister) was purchased by three members of the Helston Diesel Group and it arrived at Trevarno on September 4 2007.  The engine was started up on December 27 of that year and the shunter finally moved under its own power on May 18 2008.

We have been using the shunter to move other stock around Trevarno, but at prresent the shunter is currently awaiting repair following a reversing gear failure.

Although painted in BR blue and carrying the fake BR No 97649, this shunter has never been owned by or operated on BR.  Two shunters of this design were purchased by BR in 1956 (Nos 11507/11508 later renumbered to D2957 and D2958). Although one was photographed working at Immingham they spent most of their lives allocated to Stratford East London until sold in 1967/8.

Ruston & Hornsby 165hp 0-4-0 Diesel Mechanical Shunter (Build No 395305)


This is the sister locomotive again purchased by three members of the Helston Diesel Group from the Northampton Ironstone Railway and delivered on the same day as the other shunter.  In all respects its build history and design is exactly the same as the other shunter.

The shunter first ran under its own power on Sunday 3 October 2010 following overhaul by the railway's volunteers and is now in use for passenger trains.

Park Royal Class 103 Diesel Multiple Unit W50413 and W56169

This is an example of the thousands of Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) that BR introduced from 1955 under the 'Modernisation Plan' of the time.  The quantity of DMUs BR required was so large that their own workshops did not have the capacity to build them all and many private suppliers were awarded to contracts.  Park Royal Vehicles Ltd were given a contract for 20 two car units in 1955 which they built at the Crossley Motor Works in Stockport. They were introduced on BR in 1957 and our two car unit is the last surviving complete set.

Although the mechanical equipment on DMUs was highly standardised, BR's regions and the manufacturers were given considerable freedom over the interior and exterior design. The Park Royal's bodywork is a combination of light alloy steel members on an underframe of steel and with riveted joints. In BR service, the bodywork was to become troublesome and was the main reason why BR started to withdraw the class from 1972 with all having been withdrawn by the late 1980s.

When introduced in 1957, our unit was initially based at Ryecroft shed Walsall and worked many lines in the Birmingham, West and East Midlands areas of the London Midland Region. After Ryecroft shed was closed and West Midlands DMUs were all concentrated at Tyseley depot, most of the Park Royal Units were transferred to Chester Depot and spent their final days on BR  services in Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales. However, four units (including ours) were reallocated to the Western Region and our unit spent its last days on BR based at Laira Depot Plymouth and working the Kingswear Branch until closure in 1972. This line of course now forms the preserved Torbay and Dartmouth Railway.

The DMU was withdrawn from BR in 1972 and acquired by the West Somerset Railway where it became one of the first passenger carrying trains on the Minehead branch after preservation.  The unit was sold by the WSR to the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group in 1982. Based at Williton the DMU was overhauled and saw continued use on the WSR.

In 1991, the unit had all its abestos removed which unfortunately involved removal of all the original seating and internal panelling. By 2000, the DMU was stored at Williton in this 'semi-restored' state, and in 2005 the DEPG offered the unit for sale. The Helston Diesel Group became the preferred bidder in March 2006 and the DMU was moved to a temporary base at Gwinear Road in May 2006 until the railway at Trevarno had been completed.  The DMU was moved to its current location at Trevarno on 4 September 2007.

The DMU is powered by two AEC 150bhp horizontal drive engines each with a four speed Wilson epicyclic gearbox  and fluid flywheel transmission.  The unit is driven from the cab via an Electro-pneumatic control system and has a vacuum braking system.

The Helston Diesel Group has restored most of the interior of the Driving Trailer Composite and some of the Driving Motor Brake Second including the fitting of seats recovered from Class 142/143 Railbuses as the original seating was destroyed when the asbestos was removed.  First class seating has been installed from a Metro-Cammell Class 101 DMU.

Although one of the engines on the unit has been successfully started, a lot or work is required to repair the control, electrical and braking systems before it can move under its own power. It is hoped to eventually make an application for lottery funding to restore the unit to full working order, but prior to this it may be possible to restore the braking on the Driving Trailer Composite and perhaps use this as a passenger carrying vehicle with one of the Ruston Shunters.

BR General Utility Van

This van was built by Pressed Steel in 1958. There is little know about where it was based until 1988, but it did work on both the London Midland and Western Regions of BR prior to then.  By 1988 it was based at Peterborough and three years later at Cambridge.

In 1995 it was converted to a High Security General Utility Van by plating over its windows and the installation of roller shutter doors and Time Division Multiplex multiple unit wiring.  This was part of a scheme by Rail Express Systems (which became a division of the privatised freight operator English Welsh and Scottish Railways) to improve services for Royal Mail.  This included provision of a network of high speed overnight services and fixed formation 'push-pull' trains.

The van was based at Bristol Barton Hill by 1996, moving to Euston in 2003 and then back to Barton Hill in 2004.

In 2005, Royal Mail decided to abandon transport of mail by rail and the van became surplus to requirements and stored at Exeter Riverside Yard. By December 2005 it was moved to the West Somerset Railway.

In 2008 we purchased it from the WSR and brought it to Trevarno. The van has been converted into a shop and exhibition area and also a store. We installed a unique lighting system in the roof that filters daylight into the van so that electric lighting is not normally required.

During its life with BR, the van has carried various numbers including W86416, W93416, M93416, 95148 and 94148.

Brake Van - Bluebell

Little is known of the van's history, but in early 2007, the brake van was stored in the Clay Sidings at St Blazey amongst CDA Clay Hoppers awaiting disposal. Eventually it was decided to scrap the van and stabled in another siding to await dismantling.

Members of the Helston Diesel Group moved in to rescue it and in June 2008 it was delivered to Trevarno station.

A Peco N Gauge model of the van can be seen in the Trevarno station display case in the shop.


Brake van - Daisy

A new edition to the railway in 2014 having been purchased by supporters of the railway and named Daisy. 

Built in Faverdale near Darlington in 1959 she was delivered to Inverurie in Scotland and used on the Oldmeldrum branch for most of her working life. She moved to the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire after decommissioning and from there moved to Helston Railway in 2014.

• Type: 4 wheeled Toadfit

• Gauge: 4ft 8 1/2 inches

•Wheelbase: 16 ft

• Lot Number: 3129

• Diagram Number 1/506

• Capacity: 20 tonnes

• Features: Original cushions; guards desk; fire; fittings

 Pressed Steel Co. Class 117 DMU Trailer Composite with Lavatory (TCL) 59521

Originally part of a three car DMU set built by Pressed Steel Co in 1959, to operate Thames Valley commuter services out of Paddington.  By 1975, 59521 was allocated along with the majority of the class to Reading DMU depot.  The services it would have provided were mainly local trains between Paddington and Oxford, with some extensions to Banbury and also workings between Oxford and Hereford, Reading and Basingstoke and between Reading and Bedwyn.  In the 1970s a Class 117 DMU was also diagrammed to work an evening service between Paddington and Birmingham Moor Street - hardly suitable stock for an otherwise InterCity route.

In 1982, 59521 was reallocated to the (now closed) Bristol Bath Road depot. Here it would have worked services in and around Bristol including to Taunton, Cardiff, Portsmouth Harbour, Weymouth, Severn Beach, and Worcester and on the Cheltenham to Swindon line.  Bristol Bath Road DMU allocations also shared work with Tyseley DMUs between Hereford and Birmingham New Street via both Kidderminster and Bromsgrove. Although unlikely - as Laira had its own DMU allocation - it is possible that 59521 may have worked into Devon and Cornwall.

In 1987, 59521 was allocated to Tyseley, where it would have worked most of the Diesel commuter services in the West Midlands - but quite possibly may have ended up on Summer Saturday trains to Skegness as well.

By 1994, when most of Tyseley's services were converted to Sprinters or electrified, 59521 spent its final working days for BR based at Haymarket Depot in Edinburgh working services in Fife, and along the 'Central Belt' to Glasgow. 

By 2000, 59521 was stored surplus to requirements at Perth and finally in 2001 'off-lease' awaiting disposal at the Pigs Bay MOD depot in Shoeburyness.  In 2004, Dorset County Council acquired some Class 117 DMUs - including 59521 - and stored them at the former Nuclear Power Station sidings at Winfrith.  Their intention was to use them on a restored link to Wareham on the Swanage railway.  In 2007, the site at Winfrith had to be cleared and 59521 along with a Power Car was moved to the Midland Railway Centre at Swanwick, Derbyshire. In 2011, Dorset County Council confirmed it no longer needed 59521 and it was sold to private individuals until March 2012 when volunteers in the Helston Diesel Group purchased the vehicle for use on the Helston Railway.

59521 has carried a variety of liveries, green when first delivered in 1959 then rail blue.  When  refurbished in the late 1970s it received the white livery with the blue band. This would have become Blue and Grey by the 1980s and finally into the Regional Railways livery it had when delivered to us - Scotrail branding being applied whilst based at Haymarket.  Until the 1980s it would have been numbered W59521 (the 'W' denoting Western Region).

We intend to use 59521 with one of our Ruston Shunters, fitting the shunter with vacuum brake equipment to operate 59521's brakes.  A repaint into a more appropriate livery is also planned, possibly Chocolate and Cream.          




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