A Gronk

Youngsters will have no idea how much shunting used to go on all over the railway network in Britain. It really did happen almost everywhere and huge numbers of locos were built to do the work.

This extended into the diesel era. Over 1000 of the 350 Horse Power diesel electric shunters were built from 1953 onwards. The last entered service in 1962.

What did they all do? Well freight trains (or goods trains as we called them) were quite different then and a train of wagons, at say Brighton, might need putting together to go to Norwood. At Norwood trains might be formed to go off to various destinations and shunters would spend their days moving trucks from one train to another.

Every loco depot (or shed as we called them) needed a shunter to move steam locos around. An out of use steam engine can’t just be started to move itself. It takes hours to get them ready. Shunters were needed for that. And carriages for passenger trains needed moving from one place to another. Step forward, again, the shunter.

When a train – say The Atlantic Coast Express was being prepared and the carriages needed to get from the depot to Waterloo they were hauled in by a shunter. When journeys were completed, carriages were hauled away again, by a shunter. Shunters were ubiquitous and there commonness made them somewhat despised by spotters.

But things change and as the numbers diminished the good old English Electric shunter (by now officially a class 08) got a nickname. They became gronks. Somehow it seems a fitting name for these box like diesels.

There are still some front line gronks and also many are kept and used by heritage railways. I noted this one, recently, at Swanage.


These days, with that outside con rod – much like steam locos had, they seem quite characterful.


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6 Responses to “A Gronk”

  1. Pete Says:

    There was one of these (or very similar) in very frequent use at the Ally Pally depot, when I lived near there a few years back.

  2. sed30 Says:

    One of my fav locos – use to watch them shunting at Norwood when i was a boy. TheY have 2 preserved on North Norfolk which i saw when visiting on Friday last.

  3. sed30 Says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    Gronks – fav locos

  4. eddy hawman Says:

    Quite a few shunters at Shildon wagon works where i lived as a kid. i used to love it when the big Deltics came with 25 or 30 wagons on the back, the noise was immense. Sadly all gone.

    • locksands Says:

      A few Deltics survive in preservation. I remember them as brand new but they’d now be about 55 years old so really it is no wonder they are no longer the front line and amazing locos they once were.

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