History of the Class 20 Locomotive Society

The Class 20 Locomotive Society (CTLS) was formed by Paul Mee and Brian Lees over a pint way back in 1981, with a somewhat challenging dream of buying a Class 20 once they were withdrawn from BR service. In the early years, the growing core team started seriously looking at how to raise funds for a Class 20 to supplement the standard revenues from membership, donations and sales. The CTLS therefore ran a series of railtours, which were always renowned as being slightly off the wall, of which undoubtedly the ‘Three to the Sea’ was the most famous, taking 20030, 20064 and 20118 to Brighton! We also attended many Open Days with our Sales Stand in the Early years but found that once we had Locomotives - additional revenue streams were required. In September 1991 CTLS bought 20227, the last built member of the class. The opportunity arose after it was condemned at Toton depot through a lack of work, having spent 23 years hauling coal wagons around Fife and Nottinghamshire. In retirement, 20227 continued to provide service to the industry and has probably had the most varied career of any preserved locomotive, from crash testing of coaching stock in 1992 at Derby RTC, LU track renewal work during 1993, Channel Tunnel Rail Link overhead wiring trains, Yorkshire RHTT trains in 2011, to S-stock delivery trains in 2012. It was the 1993 track renewal work that started a close relationship between CTLS and London Underground, with 227 being used in top and tail mode on heritage trains for many years and on the ‘Metro gnome’ tour on the Metropolitan lines. In recognition of the London Underground 150-year anniversary, in early 2013 20227 was repainted from BR Railfreight livery into what some would say was a controversial London Underground S-stock livery! But in true outrageous style 227 was then out shopped in lined Metropolitan maroon and named ‘Sherlock Holmes’ for working a railtour from Wembley to Quainton with 20142. Mainline registered 227 currently supports the North Norfolk railway in operating dining trains over the section from Sheringham to Cromer and is expected to remain as a long-term guest. Shortly after withdrawal in November 1991, 20001 came up for sale and the opportunity to purchase a pilot scheme locomotive was too great to ignore; CTLS was now the owner of two 20s. 001 was immediately shipped to France helping to build the Channel Tunnel before finally returning to the UK via the tunnel itself! In 2013, 001 needed extensive work doing on the cab, a notorious area for Class 20s to rust. The stripping out of the cab began and revealed the rust to be far worse than originally thought. We replaced the majority of the cab metalwork up to the windows and replaced the floor and multi-working box in the cab, which had disintegrated into rust powder. All the cab fittings and window surrounds (an unusual job for Autoglass!) had to be painstakingly fitted back into the cab and then everything tested. We also took the opportunity to give 001 a coat of fresh green paint, before heading of for a long term stay at the Epping & Ongar Railway where it is currently based as a long-term guest. In March 1995, 20205 came up for sale, and this too was procured with the intention of returning it to running order when we had some spare time and money. As anyone in locomotive preservation will tell you, locomotives are a very expensive money pit and consume hours of your spare time, so it was no surprise that 205 sat untouched apart from basic maintenance for 17 years, until an agreement was forged between the CTLS and long time friend Michael Owen to not only return it to running order, but to main line standards! This involved one of our members working full time for a year bringing it up to show room condition, with the rest of us helping at weekends, and it can be seen today on the rail network working with 20007 on spot hire anywhere in the UK. As well as locomotives, the CTLS also owns two grey liveried vacuum braked ICI hopper wagons from the Peak Forest limestone trains, one of these being the pioneer no. 19000. CTLS also owns an LMS (London Midland & Scottish) brake van which was recently overhauled and given a full repaint into LMS bauxite livery. We loan this to the Midland Railway Centre for their use and you can see this in regular use on the demonstration freight trains or stabled somewhere around the centre. Since 1981, Paul and Brian have been joined in the active working group by Rob, Chris, Dom, Trev, Lester, Lee and Steve who together look after the fleet. This core team are equally split between the north and the south of the country, allowing flexibility in supporting the fleet. We are extremely fortunate to have a fantastic team of people who all offer different skills and flexibility, anyone in preservation will know both resources and cash are hard to find and easily lost too. Together the CTLS has undertaken just about every job imaginable from heavy duty power unit overhauls to wiring in modified electronic units and we never seem to stop learning something new!

All Photos are Copyright CTLS & Paul Warden

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