Comings & goings at St. Leonards Depot (part 2)

This article was opened on Sunday 22 November 2009, and
closed on Friday 17 February 2012.

[PHOTO: Locos in depot yard: 41kB]

Above: Locomotives galore: a convoy of Class 47s, a class 66 and a class 73 are visible in St. Leonards Depot yard on Monday 16 November 2009. Another three locos receiving attention at the depot that day are not shown in this photo, nor are the regular class 171 DMU activities.

All photos on this page are by Andy Armitage.


St. Leonards Depot is leased and operated by St. Leonards Railway Engineering Limited (SLREL), which is HDL’s sister company. This article is intended to illustrate the number and variety of tasks which are undertaken by the small band of staff at the depot. It is felt that these might be of interest to some of our readers.

These works provide a steady income for the depot site and provide a source of revenue; some of this is used to offset the costs of storing & maintaining HDL’s fleet of railway vehicles.

It should be noted that the activities described on this page are not those of Hastings Diesels Limited (HDL).


Staff at St. Leonards Depot undertake many tasks, including the following works:

A convoy of Class 47 locomotives

On Monday 16 November 2009, a convoy of five Class 47 locomotives was sent to St. Leonards depot for some of them to receive a top-up of coolant. The five locos were (in order of arrival): D1916 (47812), 47805 Talisman, 47727 Rebecca, 47769 Resolve, and 47739 Robin of Templecombe.

This move was also photographed by Craig Stretten.

[PHOTO: Class 47 locomotives in depot yard: 79kB]

Above: Five Class 47 locomotives in convoy at St. Leonards Depot 2009, with 47739 Robin of Templecombe nearest the camera.

[PHOTO: Green DEMU meets green locomotive: 67kB]

Above: Green DEMU meets green locomotive: Motor coach Tunbridge Wells meets class 47 locomotive D1916; it is good to see two relatively ancient British Rail liveries meeting face-to-face!


[PHOTO: Depot dog in depot yard sunshine: 112kB]

Above: Henry in the sunshine of the depot yard at St. Leonards.

For well over a decade, the depot was home to Henry, the depot dog. Henry provided a sense of companionship and security at the depot, and was very much part of the small team of staff working there. Sadly he died at New Year 2010 having attained 16 years of age. He is remembered for his excitable greeting of depot visitors, for helping to finish their packed lunches, and for perching on the pile of sleepers (above) to bark at cats in the adjacent council yard.

Unusual visitors

[PHOTO: Mark II carriages in depot: 52kB]

Above: On 30 December 2009, the DRS Rail Blue Charter came to St. Leonards to have its water-tanks refilled; some of the Mark II carriages can be seen on no.4 road above where they make an incongruous sight for those of us entirely used to seeing slab-sided ‘Hastings’ stock in this position!

[PHOTO: Diesel locomotive in depot yard: 55kB]

Above: A pair of Class 37 “growlers” visited St. Leonards depot on 14 January 2010; this is believed to be only the second such visit. 37610 and 37611 escorted Electro-Diesel 73107 to the depot to have a DSD fault rectified.

[PHOTO: Locomotives in depot yard: 43kB]

Above: Four Class 20 locomotives (20301, 5, 2 and 4) turned up on Saturday 29 January 2011 to fetch GBRf’s 73209 and take it to Cardiff.

A new office space

St. Leonards diesel-shed was built as the facility in which heavy overhauls of the Hastings DEMUs would be undertaken; accordingly, as well as the main depot space it had some side rooms which mostly contained workshops and stores.

In its second life as the HQ for Hastings Diesels and the base for several different types of other work besides, administration and record-keeping has—until now—been undertaken in cramped conditions, somewhat cheek-by-jowl with oily engine-parts and piles of recovered spares from long-gone rolling stock.

During March 2010 an area which had become largely overrun with clutter was tidied, partitioned off, false internal walls added for warmth, an insulated false ceiling added; and was decorated, carpeted and furnished as a comparatively spacious office room from which HDL and St. Leonards Rail Engineering can administer their operations.

[PHOTO: office room during refitting: 40kB]

Above & below: Before and After. The office space at St. Leonards depot during refitting, and after furnishing. Photos by Andy Armitage.

[PHOTO: office room during refitting: 44kB]

Colas Rail Class 66

St. Leonards is now visited twice-weekly by a Colas Rail class 66 locomotive which receives fuel, and fresh brake-blocks if required.

[PHOTO: Trains in depot yard: 41kB]

Above: 66841 rests alongside our “long-term stopped” motor coach 60000 Hastings in the yard at St. Leonards, on 13 January 2011. The following day, 66844 was the visitor.

73205 repainted in InterCity livery

Electro-Diesel class 73 locomotive number 73205 has been repainted at St. Leonards Depot by Andy Armitage, for GB Railfreight; on his own suggestion, he has chosen the Early Executive variant of the InterCity livery.

[PHOTO: Loco in depot yard: 50kB]

Above: 73205 shows off its fresh paintwork at St. Leonards, on Thursday 28 April 2011; this livery evokes the latter years of the British Rail era. The loco was due to depart for Swanage the following day.

Shunter 08 925

Class 08 shunter number 08 925 arrived at St. Leonards Depot on the back of an Alleley’s low-loader on 24 January 2012. It had come from Cardiff, and is believed to be the first instance of this class visiting the depot.

It will be overhauled for GB Railfreight; the overhaul will include swapping its wheelsets (the replacements already having been delivered), repairs to the coolant system and to the engine, and a repaint.

[PHOTO: Railway loco on low-loader: 43kB]

Above: The Alleley’s rig has a self-steering trailer with 4 axles containing a relatively modest 16 wheels in total. The banksman is observing the passage of the rear corners of the vehicle and can operate the steering via a hand-held paddle.

[PHOTO: Railway loco on low-loader in depot yard: 50kB]

Above & below: The trailer was parked directly in line with the rails of No.4 road, on the concrete apron as much as possible; the tractor unit was uncoupled and temporary rails installed to form a ramp… to offload 08 925 into the waiting clutches of our own shunter 07 011.

[PHOTO: Two shunting locomotives in depot yard: 41kB]

73 119 repainted

Electro-diesel locomotive 73 119 was outshopped at St. Leonards depot on 25 January 2012, having been repainted for GB Railfreight. It carries the nameplate Borough of Eastleigh.

[PHOTO: Locomotives in depot yard: 52kB]

Above & below: 73 119 looks immaculate as it poses in St. Leonards depot yard, with sister loco 73 206 Lisa in the background.

[PHOTO: Locomotie in depot yard: 43kB]

Other happenings in January 2012

[PHOTO: Yellow locomotive in depot yard: 45kB]

Above: On 31 January 2012, the Network Rail snow-clearance train visited the depot so that its locomotives, 57 305 + 57 306, could receive fuel.

[PHOTO: Train being repainted in depot: 66kB]

Above: The pair of Network Rail Sandite/De-icer motor coaches, formerly of Berkshire DEMUs 1127 and 1131 and now forming departmental unit 930301, is seen in the depot part-way through losing its “Railtrack Brown” livery in favour of Rail Blue. 31 January 2012.