Class 53 Brush Prototype No.1200 'Falcon'
'Falcon' was built by Brush at Loughborough as a prototype locomotive for future high powered diesels. The locomotive was interestingly fitted with two Maybach MD655 engines as fitted to the Class 52 'Westerns', and, unlike the Class 52's, coupled to generators for electric transmission. Introduced in September 1961, as D0280, the machine was run for many years on loan to British Rail and remained the property of Brush. Initially the machine was allocated to Finsbury Park numbered D0280, and at this time also ran diagrams between St.Pancras and Sheffield, possibly due to the fact that the locomotive frequently had to return to the Brush works for rectifications. In 1965, unfamiliarity by Finsbury Park staff of the Maybach engines saw the locomotive transferred to Bristol Bath Road.
Falcon during early trials, possibly on the Western Region. At this time the name and crest
were simply white transfers. After a works visit in March 1962 cast alluminium
examples were fitted. (Photographer unknown)
December 1970 saw the ownership pass officially to BR and after almost a year in Swindon Works undergoing overhaul, the locomotive returned to service designated Class 53 and renumbered 1200. Withdrawal came in October 1975, when the preservation of diesels was in its infancy, and although reports at the time of a possible new lease of life for this unique machine, plans were were thwarted by a clause in the 1970 sale to BR whereby the locomotive was to be broken up on withdrawal. Thus attempts to save 'Falcon' came to nothing and it was reduced to scrap at Cashmores, Newport in March 1976. (The first three photographs below for this article are by David Rogers. Many thanks go to him for his permission to use them.)
In April 2007 a nameplate crest of the bird of prey (see header photo) appeared on an internet auction site advertised under the title '2nd World War Reichstag Eagle' and with an asking price of £1,750. Clearly this needed further investigation. For obvious reasons 'Falcon' carried only two crests with small nameplates and it is widely known that one set is displayed at the National Railway Museum in York, and the other sold to a private buyer for £22,500 in 2006. Measurements with PC software of the NRM crest showed that the replica was virtually (or exactly) the same size of the originals. No private dealers produce facsimiles so where did this come from? Perhaps Brush produced several examples (bearing in mind the price of a wooden pattern) and offered several to component producers for the locomotive as a gift? Perhaps only three were produced, one for display in the Brush Managing Directors office?
A further addition to the mystery came in May 2007 when HST power car No. 43089, converted to an experimental battery assisted diesel electric traction drive locomotive, emerged from the Brush Loughborough works carrying the exact same 'Falcon' crests but this time bearing the legend 'Hayabusa'. In theory it seems that Brush possibly kept the original patterns for the castings, and the auction example (again possibly!) could have been produced at any time over the past forty-five years!
(Click on the thumbnails for larger images and text)
Maker: Brush Electrical
Engineering Co Ltd
Engines: Two Maybach MD655 Vee Type
Engine bhp: 1440bhp at 1500rpm
Transmission: Electric. Six Brush TM73-68 Mk2 traction motors
Maximum Tractive Effort: 60000lb
Driving Wheel Diameter: 3ft 7ins
Train Heating Boiler: Spanner Mk3
Tank Capacities: Engine fuel; 1440gal. Train heating boiler water; 800gal