The class 14 diesel-hydraulic locomotives were built by BR and entered service during 1964 and 1965. In fact, class 14 D9555 was the last locomotive built by Swindon Works for BR.Nicknamed ‘Teddy Bears’ 56 class 14 locomotives were built for heavy yard shunting, local pick up freight duties and working light branch line services. However, even as the class 14 diesel-hydraulics were built, changes to the structure of the railway network meant that many of the branch lines which the locomotives were designed for were already being closed. The increase in fixed formation block trains with little need for marshalling yards meant that within a few years nearly all wayside station goods yards were closed.
The redundant but almost new class 14 locomotives were deemed too big simply for yard shunting, but with reliability issues and a top speed of only 40 mph were also considered unsuitable for main line operation.The first members of the class were withdrawn in 1968, only two years after they were built. The longest serving class 14 was sold before it could achieve five years service with BR.
The locomotives were usually seen in a grimy condition whilst in BR service, possibly because there seemed little point in maintaining machines which seemed to have no future.Incredibly 48 examples of the class were bought by private industry for work at collieries, steelworks, dockyards, cement works, quarries and oil refineries.
Whilst in industry, some of the class 14 locomotives received new liveries and minor modifications such as headlights. Many of the new owners invested in scheduled maintenance which greatly improved reliability enabling many class 14 locomotives to achieve around 10 to 20 years service.After proving their worth in industrial use, a number of class 14 diesel-hydraulics were bought for regular work on preserved railway lines. Of the 56 locomotives built, 19 class 14 diesel-hydraulics have been preserved.
Even more remarkably, some locomotives found a second role in industrial use working on the Channel Tunnel project.The N gauge class 14 model locomotive photographed is product number 372-950 from the Graham Farish range by Bachmann.