In 1964 British Rail's Swindon workshops commenced manufacture of what is generally regarded as the biggest "white elephant" of the dieselisation programme, the D9500 0-6-0DHs, later allocated TOPS code 14.
Envisaged by Swindon as the replacement for the pannier tank, there were criticisms early on that the locos had poor braking, and instances of runaways in traffic in the Welsh valleys when replacing steam. This may in part have been due to the fact that unlike the steam loco they replaced, there was no "engine braking" to be had through the Voith transmission. Certainly the Paxman engines experienced some problems, reputedly as BR specified aluminium cylinder heads against Paxman's recommendations.
Although some locos were transferred to the Hull area, the short fact is that they were built as a shunter/tripper at a time when such duties were fast disappearing post-Beeching and it is scarcely surprising that their lives were short in BR service, all being officially withdrawn by the middle of 1969. D9555 was the last loco to be built at Swindon for BR service (a batch of locos were later built there to a Hunslet design for Kenya through BRE-Metro) but of the 56 class 14s built, most passed direct to industrial users. Reputedly costing £14000 each to build, BR offered them at around £3000 each with "with one careful owner, low mileage" and they were snapped up, mostly by British Steel and the National Coal Board. 19 currently survive in preservation where their horsepower, weight and speed make them ideal locos for heritage railways either as standby locos or even principal locos for lighter traffic days.
The nickname "Teddy Bears" for these locos have two reported origins. One that it is from the "face" created by the cab/casings, the second attributed a Swindon erecting shop foreman George Cole, saying perhaps ruefully, "We've built the 'Great Bear' now we're going to build a 'Teddy Bear'". (A good review of the class can be found in an article in the Railway Magazine for December 2006 and a larger scan of the header article in D9500's gallery section).
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