The prototype Deltic arrived at RSR on 9th August 2012 and was on public view in the museum until October 2015. She was kindly loaned by the NRM. The loco was built in 1955 in Preston. She has now returned to the NRM Shildon.
The most adventurous of the early UK diesel prototypes was Deltic, designed and built by English Electric (Dick Kerr) and loaned to BR for operational testing. At the time of its design, the EE company had considerable hopes in the export field, hence the fitting of a large nose headlight, but alas this was not to be. The prime mover incorporated was two D. Napier & Son ‘Deltic’ D18-25 opposed piston engines, each developing 1,650hp.
The bodyshell, incorporating the two ‘Deltic’ engines was constructed by EE at the Dick Kerr Works in Preston in early 1955, being ready for testing in October. During construction some deliberation was made over a number or name for the machine; these ranged from DP1 (Diesel Prototype 1) to Enterprise. However, when the loco emerged it carried the name given to its prime mover, Deltic. After acceptance tests Deltic was allocated to Liverpool Edge Hill depot, from where it commenced work on December 13, 1955 on Euston services. After a short time, engine problems befell the loco, which was returned to EE for attention.
During mid-1956 the loco was temporarily reallocated to Carlisle Durran shed from where trials with BR test vehicles were conducted over the arduous Settle route. By Autumn the loco was returned to Liverpool, again working on Euston services such as the “Merseyside Express” or the “Shamrock”. From early 1959 Deltic was transferred to Hornsey on the ER, from where ER (GN) trials were undertaken, although not totally successfully. On one occasion the locomotive hit the platform edge at Manors near Newcastle, and on another it lost its cab footsteps at Darlington. By March 1959 high speed performance tests were carried out on the ECML, which involved operations at up to 105mph with a BR dynamometer car. Until June 1959 Deltic had always operated south of the border, but late in the month five days of testing were carried out in the Edinburgh area and over the Waverley route.
By July 1959 most testing was complete and Deltic was diagrammed for general ECML work alongside the East Coast racehorses—the A4 Pacifics. In March 1961 a serious engine failure befell Deltic and it was returned to English Electric’s Vulcan Foundry and stored pending a decision on its future. A proposal was made in September 1961 to modify Deltic for operation in Canada in an attempt to attract overseas sales but the idea was not pursued. Under BR operating the locomotive had covered over 450,000 miles.
Deltic remained at Vulcan Foundry until 1963, when a decision was made to restore its bodywork and present the loco, non-operational, to the Science Museum in London, where it arrived on April 28, 1963 on the back of a road low loader. The loco remained in the Science Museum until a re-design required it to be found another home. In October 1993 Deltic was lifted from its bogies, removed from the Science Museum hall and taken by road to the National Railway Museum, York, where it was put on display.
For its entire working life on BR, the loco was painted in a distinctive powder blue livery with aluminium mouldings with yellow ‘whisker’ markings on the ends.