“Class 08, Gronks no more”..


The distinctive sound of the station pilot’s whistling hoot or the unique rumbling “thrash” of one on the move, was once a long established part of our local railway. With the decline of news, parcels and wagon load traffic plus cost cutting measures the humble “gronk” is almost history on our railway today.


The decline in shunter duties probably began as early as the late 50’s, soon after many were introduced as new as various lines and yards were closed.


70’s decline


Swanbourne Yard closed in May 69 and with this went one of Bletchley’s turns with the likes of 12049/12089/12099 losing a regular rural turn. In the late 70’s/early 80’s the decline in shunter duties continued with, for example, at least the following local turns being confined to history.


Luton pilot

Hitchin pilots (3 duties)

Watford Yd pilot

Bedford station pilot

Wellinborough yard pilots


90’s decline


Exact dates of when such long lost turns are not as yet known. Into the late 80’s and 90’s and the decline continued with at least these local turns also becoming history as news and parcel duties largely finished


Bedford Yard pilots

St Pancras pilot

Cricklewood yard pilot

Bletchley station pilot

Marylebone pilot

Coventry pilot

Camden CS pilot



2000 and beyond saw the final shunter workings at


Rugby (reinstated for “modal” work in 2010/11) then ceased.


Euston pilots

Bletchley TMD


The local survivors


The surviving big yards at Willesden/Wembley saw big fleet reductions and only an as required WN depot pilot duty remains. Stonebridge Pk CS and works still retains a small fleet of grand prix/blue liveried machines which occasionally can be seen from the DC lines dragging “pendo’s” through the shops.


The new yard at Daventry still retains a busy 08 duty. Sadly Forder’s yard lost their resident gronk in 2008 as the new yard was mothballed. For a short while in 2003 even lonely Calvert “yard” hired in a HNRC gronk, although it’s not sure if it ever worked.


Bucking the trend, is the former BREL Wolverton Works now “Railcare Wolverton” have retained 2 shunters for internal works duties and stock transfers “under the boards” to the exchange sidings just south of Wolverton station. Also Aylesbury “Turbo” depot surprisingly gained a gronk in 2009, albeit a /Ruston industrial machine.


Local Celebrity “gronk” 08011 remains operational on the preserved Chinnor Railway whilst Quainton has a celebrity 04. Former Bletchley legend 12049 has been in active preserved service on the Mid Hants for many years now until destroyed in a fire during 2011.


So when you are next whizzing past Willesden or Wolverton look out for these classic relics of the past, the humble 08 is still doing the business, true survivors from the days of a real railway.


Local “gronk” phot spot


25098308808r.jpg BY 08’s were occasionally allowed out on engineering turns, 08808 is photted here just North of Leighton station during track renewal work, 250983.


27108308629ar.jpg After early morning Sunday duties at Ledburn, 08629 whirrs through Leighton station with a short engineers train, 271084


02038608011r.jpg A Mark Beal phot of 08011 and 2 classmates stabled outside Bletchley TMD on 020386


28088708806r.jpg 08806 trundles through MK with the afternoon Volkswagon empties from Wolverton yd to Bletchley, 280887

24051308789r.jpg Former BY gronk 08789 awaiting the final cut at nearby SM McGregors Bicester scrapyard, 140595, thanks to Mark Beal for the rare phot


19040308742r.jpg 08742 rests in the bay at Northampton on 190403


050703calr.jpg  A rare view of 08818 at Calvert on 050703. We believe the HNRC hire in was for a new spoil train flow but was probably never used


22050412049r.jpg Former Bletchley station pilot 12049 in preserved service at Ropley on 220504. She in DAYS aggregate livery from her 80s service as an industrial shunter at Brentford. In 2011 this loco was destroyed by fire and although 12049 reaapeared courtesy of a renumbered classmate the Bletchley link is gone.


03110708874r.jpg Mark Beal’s phot of 08874 prior to railtour duty where she drageed the Silverlink Swansong from the TMD to Bletchley station back on 031107


23040808578r.jpg Another short term duty from 2006-8 was at Forders sidings, Robin Morel photted 08578 stabled in the yard on 230408.


10101108943r.jpg The “house liveried” 08943 shunts the Malcolm modal traffic at Daventry, a busy turn. David Percy photted 08943 on 101011


11021108629r.jpg 08629 has been resident in the local area for over 40 years, the celebrity Wolverton Works pilot is photted here by Andrew Chambers leaving the Works for a “holiday” in the East Midlands on 110211


12021108629.jpg MIB was on hand to capture 08629 hauling Shunter shuttles on the Great Central south on 120211. She was back on Wolverton works turns afew days later!


09061108617.jpg The Stonebridge Park “gronks” occasionally come out allowing a “grab shot” from passing trains, 08617 is viewed here on 090611


14041208628r.jpg Long lost former BY 08628 was an unexpected site at the Ribble Railway base in Preston docks, 1 of 53 locos there on 140412


090812lesleyr.jpg The Ruston shunter Lesley in her usual spot at Aylesbury depot, on 090812


30051512099r.jpg 12099 is seen as Brignorth depot pilot on May 30th 2015. She has been preserved on the SVR since March 90. She was new in 1952 and was Bletchley based from 1969 until withdrawl in 1971. Industrial use mainly in South wales before SVR preservation..

Other Leighton logs “gronk”links..


Link to our 08011 celebrity loco feature


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