Colas locomotive 37099 named ‘Merl Evans 1947 – 2016’
Colas Rail today named Class 37/0 locomotive No. 37 099, ‘Merl Evans 1947 – 2016’. The naming ceremony at Derby Station today (2 December 2016) was attended by Merl’s family, and his wife Maureen unveiled the nameplate.
Bachmann’s former Head of Research and Development sadly passed away on the 16th August 2016. Merl is a great loss not only to Maureen, his family and his former colleagues, but to the whole model railway community.
David Haarhaus, Managing Director of Bachmann Europe Plc said today “We were all devastated by the loss of Merl. He was a fantastic colleague, eloquent ambassador and more personally a wonderful friend to me and so many others here at Bachmann. The world became a poorer place with his passing. Merl was instrumental in the development of the company’s large portfolio of OO Scale locomotives and rolling stock for over 20 years”.
Merl first became involved in the model railway industry when working in the Palitoy Design Department on Action Man accessories. An enthusiastic railway modeller since childhood, he left a copy of the Railway Modeller on his drawing board one lunchtime and as a result was called to a meeting with William Pugh, the Development Director from which Merl emerged as the Project Controller for a yet unnamed new range of model railways. In due course Merl introduced Mainline Railways at the 1976 Toy Fairs and kick-started the standards of ready to run models that we all have today.
After Palitoy closed the Research & Development Department, Merl found employment designing Point of Sale material which he continued until 1992 when he was invited for an interview at Bachmann. Merl was soon designing the first of all the new models that were not part of the former Mainline range including the Ivatt 2MT 2-6-2T and the Class 158.
Merl was known and respected by many and was always keen to engage with modellers everywhere at the many events he attended over the years. British outline railway modellers owe Merl a great debt and his legacy will live on in the many models he was responsible for.
Merl worked closely with many railway companies and heritage railways over the years to develop the models he designed. Bachmann Europe Plc are honoured that Colas Rail have ensured that all who see the locomotive in traffic will be reminded how a lad from Aberystwyth designed the model of the locomotive that proudly carries his name.
There is no greater honour that Merl could receive than his name on the side of a full size working machine that has been immaculately turned out from the workshops in Cardiff complete with Aberystwyth shed code and a Welsh Dragon. It is just so sad, that he could not be with us today to see it for himself.
History of No. 37 099
Built by the English Electric Co Ltd at their Vulcan Foundry work at Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside and originally numbered as D6799 it was delivered new to British Railways on the 14th of December 1962.
Out-shopped in BR Green livery and with a small yellow warning panel, it was allocated to the Eastern region depot of Darnall (Sheffield) 41A prior to the building of the new purpose built Diesel depot at Tinsley (Sheffield) 41A ( after Darnall closed Tinsley took its former 41A code)
When new the Locomotive would have been used on Class 1 passenger trains, such as the Newcastle- Bournemouth train that used to run on the Great Central Mainline and the Somerset and Dorset routes (both now long closed) from the autumn 1962 a Darnall allocated Class 37 was rostered to haul the service between Sheffield Victoria and Banbury and this was probably one of D6799 first workings.
D6799 was to remain allocated to the Sheffield area until 1967 when it was transferred to Gateshead (Newcastle) 52A, this pattern of allocation to the Eastern Region was to continue until the early 1980’s with the locomotive being allocated to five different depots over a 13-year period.
In December 1972, the now 6799 received a new livery of BR Blue and shortly afterwards in March 1973 it was renumbered to No. 37 099 under the TOP’s renumbering scheme.
By the mid 1980’s the use of Class 37/0 on passenger trains in East Anglia was coming to an end and No. 37 099 left the Eastern Region for a new home in Scotland arriving at Eastfield depot Glasgow in May 1985.With the introduction of the then new 37/4 in Scotland 37099 was soon surplus to Eastfield depot as a passenger locomotive and its future now was as a freight only locomotive.
Reallocation soon followed to Motherwell depot as part of a dedicated pool of Class 37 for imported Iron ore traffic from Hunterston to Ravenscraig, these heavy trains were booked for pairs of Class 37’s. In 1986 it was renumbered to No. 37324 and in 1987 received the name ‘Clydebridge’ after the local BSC Clydebridge Steel works.
In September 1989 No. 37324 visited Doncaster works for attention, as it was no longer required for these dedicated steel workings it was renumbered again back to 37099, during this visit it also received the new Rail-freight Triple Grey livery along with Metals sub-sector branding.
During the next 10 years No. 37 099 spent most of its time allocated to various Scottish region depots, although it was briefly sent to the Western region for the first-time, spending 8 months allocated to Cardiff Canton depot. Whilst at Cardiff in August 1992 the locomotive received an E exam, that once again resulted in it acquiring a new livery, this time the in the new Civil Engineers colours of yellow and grey, often referred to as “Dutch” livery.
Returning to Scotland in January 1993, No. 37 099 was to remain here until its final BR reallocation to Bescot TMD in September 1995, this was to be short lived, as by March 1996 it was withdrawn from BR service and destined to be scrapped.
No. 37 099 was initially sold for scrap by EWS to MRJ Phillips in 1997, however it was swapped with recently preserved No. 37 373 when it was found that 37099 was in far better condition.
No. 37 099 now entered preservation for a new lease of life in 1997 and 3 years of restoration were required before 37099 worked its first train, in March 2000.
Over the next 16 years No. 37 099 continued to work at various preserved railway including the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire railway.
In 2016 No. 37 099 left preservation for a new career on the National Rail Network, after it was purchased by Colas Rail.
No. 37 099 has undergone an extensive overhaul mechanically/electrically and body work wise, as well as having the modern electronics installed that are now required to run on the National Network.
In late October 2016 No. 37 099 completed a series of loaded test run before acceptance into traffic with Colas.
On Friday 4th November 2017 No. 37 099 worked to Cardiff to receive another new livery, this time Colas Rail livery in readiness for its naming ceremony today.