Locomotive C231 was built
for Coras Iompair Éireann (CIE), the Irish State owned transport
company by Metropolitan Vickers at their premises at Dukinfield,
Manchester, in 1956. C231 was part of a class of 34 Bo-Bo
locomotives, designated “C” class and numbered C201 – C234
inclusive, which were ordered as part of the drive to eliminate
the majority of steam traction from the railways of the Irish
Republic in the late 1950s. The contract to build these
locomotives was signed at Heuston Station, Dublin, on 5th
May 1954. The bodies for the thirty-four “C” class locomotives
were constructed by Metropolitan Cammell at their Midland Works
in Birmingham between 1956 and 1958. The English Steel
Corporation constructed the bogies in Sheffield, and Crossley
Brothers at Openshaw, Manchester, supplied the engines. The
electrical equipment for these locomotives was provided by
Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Co. Ltd. The completed
locomotive bodies were then transported by low loader to
Metropolitan Vickers’s premises at Dukinfield, Manchester, for
fitting of their engine/generator sets, bogies and for testing
prior to shipping to Ireland.
C231 entered traffic with
CIE on 1st January 1958. When built, these locomotives were
originally fitted with a Crossley ESTVee8 engine of 550 hp.
However, the Crossley engines proved to be extremely troublesome
and unreliable. In 1969, the decision was taken to re-engine the
whole class with General Motors 8-B645E engines of 1100 hp. C231
itself was re-engined on 24th February 1972, and subsequently
re-numbered B231 to reflect its higher power classification.
Eventually, the letter prefix “B” was dropped, and the
locomotive became 231. Locomotive 231 continued in service with
CIE until it was stored unserviceable on 9th July 1983. The
locomotive was officially withdrawn on 18th September 1985.
Following several years
stored in the scrap line at Iarnród Éireann’s Inchicore Works in
Dublin, 231 was purchased by the Irish Traction Group (ITG) on
16th November 1992, originally as a source of spare parts for
226, for the sum of I£ 930 plus VAT. It was moved from Inchicore
Works to Carrick-On-Suir for storage in December 1992. However,
as this locomotive was virtually complete, and we had already
acquired a good stock of spare parts from other withdrawn “C”
class locomotives, it was decided that 231 was in too good a
condition to dismantle for parts, and was now an excellent
candidate for restoration as well.
In December 1995, after
spending nearly three years in store at Carrick-On-Suir, 231 was
first moved to Waterford, and then back to Inchicore Works in
readiness for its eventual display at the “Inchicore 150” open
weekend in June 1996. Over the following few months, various
corroded sections of the locomotive’s body side were
re-panelled. The locomotive was eventually repainted into CIE
green livery, and renumbered C231, a few days before the open
weekend. Following the event, the locomotive remained at
In June 1999 Iarnród
Éireann offered the Group the opportunity to have the locomotive
shipped back to the UK on a low-loader that would otherwise have
gone back empty. Negotiations were started with RMS Locotec at
Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, to have C231 returned to working
order. The locomotive was subsequently moved to Dewsbury on 30th
September 1999. Whilst there, the locomotive was completely
re-wired and the cooler group overhauled, with some parts being
manufactured to replace rotten items. The locomotive’s engine
was successfully started for the first time in seventeen years
on 14th July 2000.
Following this, the
locomotive was shipped back to Inchicore Works, Dublin, in
August 2000 following its display at the Old Oak Common Depot
open weekend on 5th and 6th August 2000. It was then the
intention to have Iarnród Éireann undertake further work on the
locomotive to complete its restoration. However, this never
happened, but most of the remaining work has since been
undertaken by ITG volunteers. C231 is currently drained down
and sheeted over to help protect it from the elements
Locomotive C231 was moved
by low-loader from Inchicore Works, Dublin, to the West Clare
Railway, Moyasta, Co. Clare, at the end of November 2009 for
display in a museum that is due to be constructed at the site.
231 before restoration.
C231 following restoration.
Locomotive C231 on display at Old Oak Common Depot on 5th
August 2000. Photo: Paul Winter.