Diesel locomotives, which are powered by diesel engines, began to be developed as an alternative to steam locomotives in the 1930s. The earliest ones were not very powerful, and it was not until 1932 that the Hunslet Engine Company produced the first one that was suitable for any kind of main line operation – and this is now in our collection. In the same year Hudswell-Clarke also produced some comparable locomotives, and one of those is in our collection, too. Thus, our collection here illustrates many of the key features of the development of diesel locomotives for use on industrial railways.

By contrast, industrial railways made comparatively little use of electric locomotives, because of the safety concerns over having either live rails or overhead wiring in typical industrial sites. One of the few situations where they were used successfully was in coking plants, where the locomotive simply had to shunt the coking car backwards and forwards under the retorts, and so it was possible to feed the power via a cable which could be wound in and out to match the movement of the locomotive. We have an example of one of these in our collection, too, although it is still waiting for restoration, and so is not on display.

The following diesel and electric locomotives are in our collection. For each one the locomotive is identified by the name of the builder and the ‘works number’ which they allocated to it when they built it. Some builders just used the same series of numbers for both steam and diesel locomotives, while others used a separate series of numbers for diesel locomotives.

Also, as with the steam locomotives, many of them carry what are usually called ‘running numbers’, and these are given here in single quotes, while others carry names, and these are given here in double quotes. Unlike main line locomotives, however, very few industrial locomotives carried both running numbers and names, although often the running numbers did also include the name of the company that owned the locomotive.