The Class 08 design was based on the LMS 12033 series (later TOPS Class 11) design. There were also 26 of the near-identical but higher-geared Class 09, and 171 similar locomotives fitted with different engines and transmissions (some of which became Class 10), which together brought the total number of outwardly-similar machines to 1193.
The locomotives were built at the BR Works of Crewe, Darlington, Derby and Doncaster between 1952 and 1962.
The majority of the class were re-classified as TOPS sub-class 08/0, when some locomotives were reduced in height for use on the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway in south west Wales and became Class 08/9.
The first locomotive to be withdrawn was D3193 in 1967. Four other machines were withdrawn before TOPS reclassification in 1973. Withdrawals continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s. By the beginning of the 1990s, most of the class were no longer in service. Withdrawals continued in the 1990s. At the same time as the withdrawals, many were purchased by heritage railways.
When British Rail was privatised and sold in the 1990s, EWS inherited most of the class. More units were disposed of, being sent to EWS's Component Recovery & Distribution Centre (CRDC) in Wigan for stripping of re-usable components prior to scrapping. Others were stored in case of an increase in traffic.
As of mid 2008, EWS had over 40 class 08 locomotives in operation, with a greater number stored. Freightliner also had about five locomotives in operation, as did locomotive company Wabtec. First Group operated less than five; additionally, some work at industrial sidings - two for Foster Yeoman, one for Mendip Rail, one for Corus, one at ICI Wilton, two for English China Clays, amongst others. A few other businesses in railway-related business operated single examples.
Read more about this topic: British Rail Class 08
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