The BR Modernisation plan of 1955 called for large numbers of light diesel locomotives as direct replacements for the many classes of steam locomotives performing mixed duties on branch lines across the country. A number of different "Type 2" designs were trialled including this, a partnership between Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company (BRCW) and the Sulzer brothers. 

20 were built as a trial batch and initially assigned to the Eastern Region in 1958-59, but when the trial was complete in 1960 it was decided to build more and assign the whole class to duties in Scotland. In all, 47 locomotives were built in what became known as Class 26 under the new "TOPS" designations brought in in 1974, and spent their working lives assigned to the Edinburgh Haymarket and Inverness depots. The Class 26 proved to be a useful all-rounder and were seen on freight and passenger services across Scotland, with Inverness-based locos becoming particularly familiar sights on the scenic "Far North Line" to Wick and Thurso and the Kyle of Lochalsh route. 

The class was originally intended to last until the year 2000, but in the end a surplus of light diesels saw them start to be retired in the late 1980s, with the final loco withdrawn in 1993.


26038 was built in 1959 as number D5538 and spent most of her life based at Inverness, working for 33 years before her withdrawal in 1992. In 2013, she was named Tom Clift 1954-2012 in honour of lifelong railwayman Tom Clift, who had been appointed the new head of Hull Trains shortly before his sudden death. The locomotive had been one of his favourites in preservation and his family raised the money to buy and maintain the locomotive in his honour.

Usually based at the Bo'ness and Kinneil railway, 26038 has joined us on a long-term loan to support our heritage diesel fleet and can be seen (and heard!) operating throughout the season.