98 Class 33 locomotives were built for the Southern region of British Rail by the Birmingham Carriage and Wagon (BRCW) in Smethwick. The first off the production line was D6500 in January 1960, through to D6597 in May 1962.
They were all fitted with an 8 cylinder Sulzer power unit rated at 1550hp supplying a Crompton & Parkinson DC main generator. Due to the electrical equipment supplied they were generally referred to as “Cromptons” by the crews who worked on them.
The fitting of an 8 cylinder power unit was a very forward thinking move on the Southern Regions behalf, as previous BRCW locos Class 26 and 27 had a shorter and less powerful 6 cylinder power unit to make space for a steam generator to heat the existing coaching stock.
The Southern Region saw that the days of Steam Heat were limited and a bigger more powerful engine was far more valuable in the long run.
The last batch of 12 locos D6586 /33201 to D6597 / 33212 were built to a design 7 inches narrower to be able to operate through the restricted tunnels on the Hastings line.
The class was very unusual in that the cabs were designed to be dual controlled, and could be driven from either side. This made them exceptionally useful for both shunting and engineering duties
In 1965 D6580 (33119) was modified at Eastleigh Works for Push Pull operation, which lead to 19 locos in total being modified to operate Push & Pull trains between Bournemouth and Weymouth, to coincide with the end of Southern Steam (and electrification) in July 1967.
Class 33’s were regular visitors to the Mid Hants Railway. From new, they were often used to assist diverted trains over the steep gradients between Winchester and Alton.
The last service from Alton to Winchester and Southampton before the line closed on 3rd February 1973 was in fact operated by D6511 (later 33101) and a 4TC unit.
In 1974 the BR TOPS (Total Operation Processing System) came into being and all locomotives were allocated a 5 figure number (the first 2 being the Class number, the third being the Sub class).
The fleet became thus:
33001 – 33065 33/0 Standard locos
33101 – 33119 33/1 Push & Pull fitted locos
33201 – 33212 33/2 Hastings gauge locos
The class operated far and wide, and often strayed from the Southern Region regularly working the Portsmouth – Cardiff services, until the then new Sprinter units came into service, which ultimately replaced the Class 33’s by 1998.
33053 was built at the BCRW works in Smethwick (Birmingham) in October 1961 as D6571 and was initially allocated to 73C Hither Green shed.
In January 1974 D6571 was renumbered under the TOPS system as 33053.
November 1985 saw the loco transferred to Stewarts Lane Depot in South London.
33053 received a heavy overhaul at Eastleigh Works in October 1988, before returning back to Stewarts Lane, where she remained until withdrawn from service in February 1997.
After being stored at various locations including Carlisle (Kingmoor), Barrow Hill, and Smalmstown (Cumbria), she was eventually brought for preservation and repaired for service at Shackerstone on the Battlefield Line.
33053 operated on the Mid Hants Between 2009 and 2012, when she returned to Shackerstone for bodywork and electrical repairs. Returning to the MHR in August 2016.
Built at: Birmingham Carriage & Wagon Company, Smethwick.
Build year: 1961
Entered service: October 1961
Owner: Privately owned
Route availability: 6
Total built in class: 98
Power output: 1550bhp
Power unit: 8 cylinder, Sulzer 8LDA28
Top speed: 85 mph
Total length: 50’ 9”
Total weight: 76 tons
Tractive effort: Max 45,000 lbf
Wheelbase: 39’ 0”