Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0DH: Claire
|Weight||35tons (in working order)|
|Power unit||Cummins NHS6 12 litre 6 cylinder supercharged|
|Rating||255bhp at 1800rpm|
|Condition||Train air braked and in working order|
When the Rolls-Royce subsidiary "Sentinel" launched their diesel-hydraulic shunter range in 1959, it took other manufacturers by surprise. One of the first to respond to the challenge was Hudswell Clarke, with the prototype of this design built in 1962. Available later as an 0-4-0 (35ton) and 0-6-0 (40ton), it utilised the Cummins 12 litre supercharged straight six, then being assembled at the Cummins plant at Shotts, near Glasgow, and the Twin Disc torque converter, and Hudswells broke new ground with their own design of forward/reverse axle-mounted final drive gearbox (previously they had always bought gearboxes from other manufacturers). Rugged and with a simple and reliable pneumatic control system, they should have been a worthy competitor to the Sentinel 34ton 4w DH but in reality failed to sell. Hudswells started two batches but completed them only when orders were forthcoming, hence "Claire" (D1388) was completed in 1970 but D1387 (preserved on the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway) had been finished 3 years earlier.
"Claire" was eventually sold to the NCB's Avenue Coking plant just south of Chesterfield, an interesting rail system that featured the works above the Midland main line but on the west side, with a fly-over to the exchange sidings situated to the south on the other side of the main line. "Claire" worked alongside a collection of locos including two Vanguards and another Hudswell 0-4-0DH, now in Andrew's collection ("Grace").
When Avenue Coking plant closed, both Hudswells disappeared into the Shropshire collection, and ultimately came up for auction (2001). At that time the whole collecton (56 locos) was sold to a Somerset business man, but duplicates in the collection were to be re-sold and Andrew, unable to decide between the two Hudswells put an offer in for both D1388 and D1345, still standing in Shropshire. His offer was accepted and work on the newly-christened "Claire" began at Long Marston. Returned to running order and repainted, the loco went out to RMS Locotec before returning to Peak Rail in mid 2004. Later it spent two years at Snibston Discovery Park, then moved on to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, where it was works loco for months running to Idridgehay, Shottle and beyond (see it on a train at Duffield in the gallery section) before being declared "unsuitable". In April 2009 it returned to Shropshire, being based with the Cambrian Railways Society for restoration of the Llynclys Junction-Blodwell line.
The first two Hudswell-Clarke 0-4-0DHs Andrew bought from the erstwhile Shropshire loco collection were "Claire" (HC D1388 of 1970) and "Grace" (HC D1345 of 1971). Of the two, Claire was in better order and was brought up to running condition first, being taken to Peak Rail, Snibston and Wirksworth before finally going to the Cambrian Rly Society as a shunter for Nantmawr. Later a third HC, Beverley, was saved at the last minute from scrapping. Although an attractive and rugged design, having three "identical" locos was an obvious excess and as "Grace" turned out to be the last s.g. shunting loco to be finished at HCs works, selecting "Claire" as the first to be sold, to a member of the combined Cambrian groups, was almost inevitable. The change in ownership took place in early November 2010.
In 2016 however, "Claire" was seen to be being advertised for sale in Old Glory magazine, and enquiries revealed it had changed hands in the interim. Negotiations were opened with the new owner and agreement subsequently reached whereby it was bought back by Andrew. The loco, now in green livery, left Llanyblodwell on the 11th September 2017, going on loan to UKRL at Leicester where it is acting as works shunter,usually visible from the ends of Leicester station pllatforms.