BR Class 31/1 No. 31101

  • Construction year: 1945
  • Builder: Brush Traction
  • No.31101
  • Owned by Suburban Preservation
  • In Service


D5518 (or 31101) is one of two Class 31 diesel locomotives based here at the Avon Valley Railway.

Built by Brush Traction in Loughborough, she entered service as D5518 on the 16th October 1958 based out of Stratford Shed. Being one of the original batch, D5518 was built without headcode boxes and non-standard electromagnetic multiple working equipment.

By a stroke of luck (good or bad?), she was involved in a serious collision in 1967 – after which she was rebuilt with standard blue star multiple working equipment and headcode boxes and therefore saved from withdrawal in the 1970s with the rest of the original (and non-standard) 31/0s.

The locos were originally fitted with Mirrlees JVS12T engines but these proved unsuccessful. After BR lost their patience with reliability issues, it was decided to fit a downrated version of the well-proven English Electric 12CSVT as found in the Class 37. Now rated at 1470hp, the English Electric 12SVT was about as much as the original electrical equipment could handle, but this proved successful and the Class 31 was reborn out of the increasingly unreliable Class 30. D5518 received this modification in August 1967.

In 1973, D5518 was renumbered 31101 to fit with the new(ish) TOPS system that had been introduced by British Rail.

The loco has had an interesting life, having being saved from scrapping twice, being the first Class 31 to work passenger services on the Southern Region and hauling the Royal Train conveying the Queen.

After over 34 years in service, 31101 was finally retired from main line duties in January 1993 and purchased for preservation by Waterman Railways before eventually being sold to Suburban Preservation. She’s spent time in preservation at the East Lancashire Railway, Battlefield Line and of course here with us at Avon Valley Railway.

She arrived with us from the Battlefield Line on the 21st October 2014, joining her sister locomotive 31130 here at Bitton. Since being with us, she’s been repainted, renumbered back to 5518 from 31101 and had a Spanner Mark 1 steam heat boiler fitted.

A splendid addition to our fleet, D5518 is invaluable here providing steam heat services for Santa trains, off peak services and standing in if one of the steam locos or DMU doesn’t want to play. She can also be found taking turns in the summer with 31130 on Saturdays and Wednesday Evening Meal Trains.

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