Unusually for a large class of locomotives, all Western Class locomotives had the same prefix which gave them a unique identity. Redesigned as Class 52 in the early 1970’s, they were essentially designed by & for the Western region, which saw hydraulic transmission as the way forward in replacing the 4-6-0 steam locomotives that Swindon had produced. However, the rest British Rail went down the road of electric transmission as the mistakes of wholesale lunge into dieselisation came to fruition, & when BR opted for the standard policy the Western Region was forced to comply. It was in 1967 that the death warrant for the hydraulics was signed, though it would take more than a decade to finally end the hydraulic era.
Illustrated with full colour photographs of all 74 of the Western Class locomotives, on a variety of workings that illustrate their versatility, this nostalgic volume gives a portrait of a much loved, but short lived class of locomotive.