Posted on June 2, 2017 · Posted in General IRO news, North West & Wales

For a couple of hours the twenty-five of us went back in time to the days before electronics ruled our daily lives on the railway. 

To the days when oil and grime crept into our “snapping” and when drivers like Chris Mackenzie would not have always been as smartly dressed as he is today. Equally, Locomotive Storage wasn’t always as clean and tidy as we found it last Friday. Resurrected from the old Diesel Depot in Crewe, this operation is now far and away a different place to what it was.

Whilst some of our national treasures; steam locos such as Britannia, Bittern, and indeed more recent examples like the Class 47-Clansman were sitting on the inside roads (there are eight covered roads plus a further number outside), it is the depot itself and the skills being used which are the stars of this show.

Backtracking to 2014, news came that Pete Waterman had sold his Crewe based London & North Western Railway Heritage Company boiler shop and steam locomotive heavy repair business to Jeremy Hosking. Interesting indeed! Following this, the other big news was that Jeremy Hosking’s company Locomotive Storage had negotiated a 25 year lease of the Crewe Diesel Depot from DB Schenker, the present “owners”. Within this “new Crewe Works”, an impressive repair and servicing facility incorporating a Heavy Lift Shop and Paint Shop would be born.

Walking through the new roller shutter doors, the general tidiness and cleanliness is as you would find in a modern car dealership workshop. This is thanks to a regime which includes the regular sweeping and floor scrubbing using special machines. Overhead glide three five and one forty tonne newly purchased Street cranes to move large and small components effortlessly around the workshop. Half-way down the building is a footbridge spanning all the internal roads, which makes for an excellent high level viewing platform.

There was evidence of a variety of work being undertaken including loco rebuilds, carriage bogie overhauls, and a plethora of different components receiving attention in the machine shop section.

Moving outside and into another newly refurbished building – the Heavy Lift Shop, it was pleasing to see the age-old skills of boiler-making being put to use and to view the intricate shape of a firebox throat-plate lying flat on the floor. Plus, of course the number of firebox stays which may need to be replaced in the boilers under repair.

The adjacent Paint Shop had a Class 37 Ruston powered loco undergoing a repaint, and this job was well underway. Several coaches had received the same treatment over recent months, following full overhauls, in readiness for a future major opportunity.

As a postscript to our visit, it has been announced that Mr. Hosking has been given the all-clear to apply for a Train Operating Company licence.

This being the case, it sounds like there will be considerable activity around “the Old Diesel Depot” for some time to come.
Our thanks go to Jeremy Hosking and his team at Crewe for a most interesting visit.

Phil Bateman
North West & Wales Area Council Member