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My Favourite Class - Class 08 Diesel Electric Locomotive

Matt Lovell

MATT LOVELL tells us about his favourite locomotive.

Class 08

Being a fan of industrial railways I would have to say that my favourite class of locomotive has to be the Class 08 Diesel Electric.

The History

The Class 08s were built in 1952 at BR Works in five different factories including Crewe, Darlington, Derby, Doncaster and Horwich. A total number of 996 Class 08 Diesels were produced at these works which made it the most numerous of all British locomotive classes.

These locomotives are typically seen in goods yards organising and shunting heavy freight into position, ready for a larger locomotive to haul them around the UK (and beyond!) They could also be seen in and around large stations moving coaches in and out of the platforms.

The tech behind the Locomotive

The Class 08 is fitted with a 350hp English Electric generator which produces a maximum speed of 20mph. The short 0-6-0 wheelbase gives this class an advantage on tighter radii, which means they can operate on dockyards and industrial sites where space is an issue, and larger locomotives would be too big and heavy.

It measures just 29'3" by 8'6", making the Class 08 one of the smallest locomotives made by BR. The early designs had a total weight of 49.6 tons but later designs were increased to 51 tons.


With freight trains being mostly fixed rakes of wagons, and passenger trains being mostly DMUs or EMUs, the requirement for small shunting locomotives has become almost nonexistent, so a great many of the class have been withdrawn from service. In the 1990s with privatisation the BR Class 08s were inherited by EWS, and most were stripped of usable parts and scrapped. At the same time of these locomotives being withdrawn over 60 were purchased to run on heritage/preserved railways including the Kent and East Sussex, Great Central and West Somerset Railways - The most numerous BR locomotive has now become the most numerous preserved locomotive.


Over the years the Class 08 has been a popular model for both steam and diesel era railway modellers in both N and OO scales. Hornby and Bachmann have both produced these diesels in OO scale and Graham Farish produced them in N scale.

Hornby Class 08

R3490 Railroad BR Class 08 673 Intercity

Hornby have produced lots of these diesels in various different liveries and over the many years in production the design has changed. The old design consisted of the con-rods being connected directly to the wheels (like a steam locomotive) these designs are still available in the Hornby Railroad Range.

Hornby Class 08

R3343 First Great Western Class 08 822

The later designs used smoother motors and featured crank shafts to operate the con-rods thus giving a more realistic movement. The detail of the locomotive was also greatly enhanced to make the locomotive more visibly pleasing.

R3261 Network Rail Class 08 417

R3342 BR Class 08 BR Blue

R3484 BR 0-6-0 13363 Class 08

R3485 Class 08 Laira Diesel Depot BR Blue

Bachmann Class 08

B32-119 Class 08 08907 DB Schenker

Bachmann have also produced Class 08 shunters in different liveries including BR Green, BR Blue and DB Schenker.

B32-115B Class 08 08818 BR Blue Wasp Stripes Weathered

B32-120 Class 08 13287 BR Plain Green Early Emblem

Graham Farish
Graham Farish Class 08

GF371-015C Class 08 08672 BR Blue Wasp Stripes

Graham Farish produced quite a few Class 08s in N Scale in various different liveries. The most popular liveries being BR Green for steam era and BR Blue with black and yellow wasp stripes for diesel era.

GF371-021A Class 08 D3785 BR Green Late Crest

Roco F Class

RC72886 Victorian Railways F Class Diesel Locomotive III

Roco have produced an F Class diesel in HO Scale. This locomotive uses the same basic design of the Class 08 and is painted in AR Livery (Victorian Railways).

Dapol Class 08

Dapol are producing a Class 08 in O Scale in various different liveries with and without DCC Sound.

Click Here to view all available Class 08's from Dapol.

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