D5631 Class 31 Press Release
July 25, 2021
Iconic East Anglian locomotive comes back to life
An iconic diesel locomotive, a member of a class – the Brush 2 or Class 31 - once a common sight on passenger and freight trains on the main lines and many branch lines which criss-crossed Norfolk and East Anglia pre-Beeching, returned to service on the North Norfolk Railway on July 24 at the Railway’s Mixed Traction Weekend.
The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway Society, the owners, were delighted to see return following major overhaul of its Class 31 locomotive D5631, meaning that this really useful mixed traffic diesel is now available again for service on the North Norfolk Railway.
Such excitement was once reserved for the return of steam locomotives, but today the first generation diesels which replaced them are old enough to attract enthusiasts and those wishing to relive and share memories of the 1950/60s.
D5631 has been out of service now for 4½ years. Withdrawn from traffic at the close of the 2016 season, it went into the Weybourne workshops of North Norfolk Railway Engineering in early January 2017. The work undertaken by NNRE staff and volunteers has been considerable. Initially seen as focussing on the badly corroded bodywork, something which plagued the class as a whole, it has also seen the replacement of No 4-traction motor and extensive electrical work.
To increase operational usefulness on a railway with steam-heated stock, the trustees decided to re-install a steam boiler with which the Class 31s were equipped when built. These were removed from many in the 1970s/80s during major overhauls following the demise of steam-heated carriages. 5631 lost her boiler in a major overhaul at Doncaster in 1986.
Besides fitting the new water tank, steam generator, associated fittings, removing the concrete stability weight installed when the boiler equipment was removed, the bodyside steps to access the water tank have been reinstated, bringing it very close to its original form.
5631 was outshopped in BR Green with bodyside stripes and small yellow front panels. This was the livery from the 1960s which members indicated in a poll that they wished the locomotive to carry after the overhaul.
Prior to departure of the 13:00 charter train for members, shareholders and the media, , there was a short ceremony to mark the completion of the overhaul project with the locomotive being handed back to its owners. The NNR’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, Keith Ashford, handed over the locomotive to Society Chairman, Neil Sharpe, who presented the keys to the driver, ready for departure on the return trip to Holt
Mr Ashford said that “the overhauled 31 demonstrates the quality of work achieved by NNR Engineering. This is a very special project with much work being undertaken in the Weybourne workshops during the 16 months of Covid restrictions demanded by government.”