(C) Transport Topics,BRCW.
In 1967 locomotive number 711 appeared from the Brush Falcon Works in Loughborough. It’s yellow ochre and chocolate brown livery wasn’t the only thing different about it. It’s streamlined appearance wasn’t there to make it just look good but were there to help this 4,000hp giant haul passenger trains at speeds up to 110mph. The loco’s number was a combination of Brush owner Hawker Siddeley and its power rating, HS4000, and a name to match that power, KESTREL.
Not only did this locomotive have the power to haul passenger trains at unheard of speeds but had the strength to haul freight trains of over 2,000 tons. Even after the loco was fitted with Class 47 bogies in an effort to reduce axle weight Kestrel regularly clipped 14 minutes off Deltic timings between London Kings Cross and Newcastle.
The loco was a testbed for several new systems, the first to use alternators instead of the standard DC generators, regenerative braking using resistors for high speed use and solid state control systems. But this all came with a weight penalty, 133 tons as built which reduced to 129 tons after Class 47 bogies were fitted still exceeded BR’s requirement for a 20 ton axle load.
After the trials on passenger workings came to an end Kestrel settled down to regular freight workings around Shireoak depot. Unfortunately the writing was already on the wall. With no chance of orders for a production version Brush put Kestrel up for sale, with £127,000 being accepted from Russia.
Kestrel left the UK in July 1971 aboard the MV Krasnokamsk from Cardiff bound for St Petersburg. From there it went to the Railway Institute in Moscow for them to learn the secrets of this giant of a loco. The results were the Tep70, and later Tep70BS, which were to become the mainstay of the Russian Railways and other countries within the Warsaw Pact. After the Institute had finished testing the loco was left in dereliction for many years before finally ending its days at the Kolomna Locomotive Works. The exact date Kestrel met its end is unknown, but reports suggest it was during 1994.
Kestrel still holds the record as the most powerful diesel loco built in the UK.
We now have the chance to build a replica using modern technology to allow Kestrel to rise from the ashes. Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company Ltd was reformed in 2014 to rebuild some of the prototype locomotives and other iconic items of rolling stock currently missing from the nation’s collections.
Kestrel is the first of the company’s projects to reach the stage where it can be formally launched. The plan is to use a Stage 3b emissions compliant engine together with the other advances that have occurred in the last 50 years whilst keeping as close to Kestrel’s classic lines as possible.
To pay for this work we are offering 500,000 shares at £10 each. There will be no minimum or maximum holding and will be available and can be purchased by regular payments to spread the cost over a number of months. Shares do not confer ownership of the loco. One share will entitle the purchaser to one years membership of the BRCW Support Group and ten will give life membership. Shareholders will be entitled to other benefits as they become available. In addition shareholders will get the chance to travel on the new Kestrel’s first passenger train. Shareholders will also be able to vote for the Kestrel Project Director to oversee the project and sit on the BRCW board. All funds will be held in a separate account and treated as loans until contracts are signed to cover the required work, at which time they will be converted to donations which should then qualify for GiftAid. If the project fails to reach sufficient funds to progress all monies can either be returned or transferred to another BRCW project.
To become a shareholder please email BRCW at email@example.com (NO .UK on the end as it will go to someone completely different) or contact us through the BRCW facebook page, www.facebook.com/brcwco, or the Project Kestrel page, www.facebook.com/groups/kestelproject.