Tim's One Photograph a Day

Prototype Brown Boveri Gas Turbine 18000.

Brown Boveri Gas Turbine GWR/BR 18000.

Brown Boveri Gas Turbine: Prototype Locomotive awaiting restoration.

Prototype Locomotive awaiting restoration.

Having gone to the Didcot Steam Railway Centre today, you might expect a photo of a steam engine! However, I have chosen this shot of the prototype Brown Boveri Gas Turbine Locomotive no 18000.

This is quite an important part of British locomotive history. Although it was ordered by the Great Western Railway from the Swiss company in 1946, it was delayed due to WWII, and not delivered until 1949, thus entering service with the newly created British Railways.

Along with another similar locomotive (no 18100) ordered from Metropolitan Vickers, it was an attempt to build a single unit at least as powerful as the then latest steam engines. Diesels at this time were nowhere near as efficient, and two would have been needed to equal one steam engine.

Neither of these experimental engines were particularly successful. 18100 was returned to Metropolitan Vickers in 1958, and converted to a prototype electric locomotive, no E3100.

18000 was withdrawn at the end of 1960. After 4 years of storage at Swindon works, the prototype Brown Boveri Gas Turbine locomotive was returned to mainland Europe. It was stripped out, and used for experimental studies into the inter-reaction between steel wheels and steel rails. In 1975 in was moved to Vienna as a static exhibit.

Its fortunes changed when, in the 1990s, it was secured for preservation and returned to the UK. After some time at the Barrow Hill Engine Shed, this Brown Boveri Gas Turbine locomotive made its way to Didcot in 2011.

At the moment, it is a very sad shell. Although unlikely to be restored to working order, it is disappointing to see it left outside to the ravages of the weather. The bodywork is in a very sorry state, although there are plans to do some restoration work on it. In the meantime, it laments out in the open.

It is currently owned by the Pete Waterman Trust.

Photograph Details:

  • Taken: 23 Aug 2017
  • Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10 MkIIA
  • Lens: Olympus 40-150mm 1:4-5.6
  • Focal Length 40mm
  • F/5
  • 1/500 Sec
  • ISO 200

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