Graham Chapman

The Late, Great Graham Chapman sadly passed away 4 October 1989 Born 8th January 1939. He started out in the 1960’s writing professionally for the BBC alongside John Cleese, initially for David Frost, but also for Marty Feldman. Chapman also contributed sketches to the BBC radio series I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again and television programmes such as The Illustrated Weekly Hudd (starring Roy Hudd), Cilla Black, This is Petula Clark, and This Is Tom Jones. Chapman, Cleese, and Tim Brooke-Taylor later joined Feldman in the television comedy series At Last the 1948 Show. There, Chapman displayed a gift for deadpan comedy (particularly evident in the sketch “The Minister Who Falls to Pieces”) and for imitating various British dialects. Chapman and Cleese also wrote for the long-running television comedy series Doctor in the House. Chapman also co-wrote several episodes with Bernard McKenna and David Sherlock.

Chapman joined British sketch comedy series Monty Python alongside Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, which was first aired on BBC One on the 5th October 1969. The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. It also featured Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and imaginatively bizarre animations, often sequenced or merged with live action. Broadcast by the BBC. with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, The show often targets the idiosyncrasies of British life, especially that of professionals, and is at times politically charged, and over the years many of the sketches have attained classic status including The Lumberjack Song, Ministry of Silly Walks, Upper class twit of the Year,Spam song, The Dead Parrot Sketch and Bicycle Repair Man.

The members of Monty Python were all highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate. Chapman also played the lead roles in two of the Python’s Films – Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and the Life of Brian. After reuniting with the other Pythons in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Chapman began a lengthy series of American college tours where he would tell the audience anecdotes about Monty Python, the Dangerous Sports Club, Keith Moon, and other subjects. In 1988, he appeared in the Iron Maiden video Can I Play with Madness.

Chapman also secured funding for his much cherished pirate project Yellowbeard in 1982. Once again, Chapman collaborated with writer Bernard McKenna and for the first time with Peter Cook. The film, which starred Chapman as the eponymous pirate, also featured appearances from Peter Cook, Marty Feldman, Cleese, Idle, Spike Milligan, and Cheech & Chong. It marks the last appearance of Feldman, who suffered a fatal heart attack during shooting. It was released in 1983 to mixed reviews. His final project was to have been a TV series called Jake’s Journey. Although the pilot episode was made, there were difficulties selling the project. Chapman was also to have played a guest role as a television presenter in the Red Dwarf episode “Timeslides”, but died before filming was to have started.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Dutch painter and etcher Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn sadly passed away on 4th October 1669. He was born 15 July 1606. His contributions to art came during a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age which was very different to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, he was extremely prolific and innovative. As a boy he attended Latin school and was enrolled at the University of Leiden, although according to a contemporary he had a greater inclination towards painting and was soon apprenticed to a Leiden history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh, with whom he spent three years. After a brief but important apprenticeship of six months with the famous painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, Rembrandt opened a studio in Leiden in 1624 or 1625, which he shared with friend and colleague Jan Lievens. In 1627, Rembrandt began to accept students, among them Gerrit Dou. In 1629, Rembrandt was discovered by the statesman Constantijn Huygens, the father of Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens, who procured commissions from the court of The Hague. As a result of this connection, Prince Frederik Hendrik continued to purchase paintings from Rembrandt until 1646.

The Polish Rider

In 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, then rapidly expanding as the new business capital of the Netherlands, and began work as a professional portrait artist with great success. Throughout his career the themes of portraiture, landscape and narrative painting were his primary subjects and he produced over 600 paintings, nearly 400 etchings and 2,000 drawings including a number of biblical works, including The Raising of the Cross, Joseph Telling His Dreams and The Stoning of Saint Stephen, he was especially praised by his contemporaries, who extolled him as a masterly interpreter of biblical stories for his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail.During Rembrandt’s Leiden period (1625–1631) his Paintings were rather small, but rich in details (for example, in costumes and jewelry). Religious and allegorical themes were favored. In 1626 Rembrandt produced his first etchings, the wide dissemination of which would largely account for his international fame In 1629 he completed Judas Repentant, Returning the Pieces of Silver and The Artist in His Studio, works that evidence his interest in the handling of light and variety of paint application, and constitute the first major progress in his development as a painter.

Between 1632 and 1636 Rembrandt painted dramatic biblical and mythological scenes in high contrast and of large format (The Blinding of Samson, 1636, Belshazzar’s Feast, c. 1635 Danaë, 1636), seeking to emulate the baroque style of Rubens. With the occasional help of assistants in his workshop, he painted numerous portrait commissions both small (Jacob de Gheyn III) and large (Portrait of the Shipbuilder Jan Rijcksen and his Wife, 1633, Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, By the late 1630s Rembrandt had produced a few paintings and many etchings of landscapes. Often these landscapes highlighted natural drama, featuring uprooted trees and ominous skies (Cottages before a Stormy Sky, and The Three Trees. From 1640 his work became less exuberant and more sober in tone, possibly reflecting personal tragedy. Biblical scenes were now derived more often from the New Testament than the Old Testament, as had been the case before. In 1642 he painted The Night Watch and in the decade following the Night Watch, Rembrandt’s paintings varied greatly in size, subject, and style. The previous tendency to create dramatic effects primarily by strong contrasts of light and shadow gave way to the use of frontal lighting and larger and more saturated areas of color.

However these graphic works of natural drama eventually made way for quiet Dutch rural scenes and by the 1650s, Rembrandt’s style changed again. Colors became richer and brush strokes more pronounced. With these changes, Rembrandt distanced himself from earlier work and current fashion, which increasingly inclined toward fine, detailed works. In later years biblical themes were still depicted often, but emphasis shifted from dramatic group scenes to intimate portrait-like figures (James the Apostle, 1661). In his last years, Rembrandt painted his most deeply reflective self-portraits, and several moving images of both men and women in love, in life, and before God.Although he achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt’s later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters.

Rembrandt’s greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity. In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt’s knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam’s Jewish population, his legacy lives on in the form of many wonderful paintings and because of his empathy for the human condition, he is also sometimes referred to as “one of the great prophets of civilization.”

Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys)

Chris Lowe, English singer and keyboard player with English electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys was Born 4 October 1959. Lowe attended Arnold School, in Blackpool, Lancashire. He also worked in the Solarium. While there, Lowe played trombone in a seven-piece dance band called One Under the Eight, that played old-time favourites like “Hello Dolly”, “La Bamba” and “Moon River”. Lowe’s grandfather had been a trombonist and was a member of comedy jazz troupe The Nitwits. Lowe also became a skilled pianist. Lowe studied architecture at the University of Liverpool from 1978. During a work placement in 1981 at a London architectural practice, he designed a staircase for an industrial estate in Milton Keynes.

It was at this time that he met Neil Tennant in a hi-fi shop on the Kings Road in London. Recognising a mutual interest in dance music, they began to work on material together, first in Tennant’s flat in Chelsea and from 1982, in a small studio in Camden Town. It was during those early years that several future hit songs were created, including “It’s a Sin”, “West End Girls”, “Rent” and “Jealousy”. Starting out, the two called themselves West End because of their love of London’s West End, but later they came up with the name Pet Shop Boys, derived from friends of theirs who worked in a pet shop in Ealing. Their big break came in August 1983, when Tennant was assigned by Smash Hits to interview The Police in New York. The duo were obsessed with a stream of Hi-NRG records made by New York producer Bobby Orlando, simply known as Bobby ‘O’. According to Tennant: “I thought: well, if I’ve got to go and see The Police play, then I’m also going to have lunch with Bobby ‘O’.” They shared a cheeseburger and carrot cake, at a restaurant called the Apple Jack, on 19 August (two years to the day since Tennant and Lowe had met) and, after hearing a demo tape that Tennant had brought along with him, Orlando suggested making a record with the Pet Shop Boys.

From 1983-1984, Orlando recorded eleven tracks with Tennant and Lowe including; “West End Girls”, “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money”), “It’s A Sin”, “I Want A Lover”, “I Get Excited”, “Two Divided By Zero”, “Rent”, “Later Tonite”, “Pet Shop Boys”, “A Man Could Get Arrested” and “One More Chance”. In April 1984, the Orlando-produced “West End Girls” was released, becoming a club hit in Los Angeles and San Francisco. On 2 November, it was voted “Screamer of the Week” by listeners of Long Island, New York radio station WLIR. It was a minor dance hit in Belgium and France, but was only available in the United Kingdom as a 12″ import.

Since then Pet Shop Boys have sold more than 50 million records worldwide, and are listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by The Guinness Book of Records.Three-time Brit Award winners and six-time Grammy nominees, since 1985 they have achieved 42 Top 30 singles and 22 Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, including four UK number ones: “West End Girls” (also number one on the US Billboard Hot 100), “It’s a Sin”, a remake of Wayne Carson’s “Always on My Mind” and “Heart”. Other hit songs include a remake of The Village People’s “Go West”, “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (satire of Thatcherism which exemplified them as ironists) and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” (with Dusty Springfield). At the 2009 Brit Awards, Pet Shop Boys received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. The band’s eleventh studio album, titled Elysium was released in September 2012 andThe twelfth album, entitled Electric, was released in 2013. The album was the biggest-selling record among the UK’s independent record shops during the week of its release, and went straight to the number 1 position on the Official Record Store Chart.The album was produced by Stuart Price and was supported by the ‘Electric World Tour’ which included Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Asia (the duo will perform in the Philippines, Indonesia, China and Thailand for the first time), Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Europe and North America.

On 23 July 2014, the Pet Shop Boys new work A Man from the Future received its world premiere at the 2014 BBC Proms.Performed by the BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra and the Pet Shop Boys, the work was inspired by the life of WW2 code breaker Alan Turing and was orchestrated by Sven Helbig. The concert also included Overture to Performance, an orchestral arrangement of Pet Shop Boys songs used to open their 1991 Performance tour, and four Pet Shop Boys songs arranged by Angelo Badalamenti and sung by Chrissie Hynde – “Vocal”, “Love is a Catastrophe”, “Later Tonight” and “Rent”. their thirteenth studio album

Aside from Pet Shop Boys, Chris Lowe also wrote and produced the track “Do the Right Thing” for the footballer Ian Wright (Lowe is a die-hard Arsenal F.C. fan). The song featured backing vocals by the long-time Pet Shop Boys’ backing singer, Sylvia Mason-James, and the single featured remixes by Rollo and In 1995, he had a cameo in the Australian soap opera Neighbours and In 1997, his flat was the subject of an in-depth feature in Elle Decoration magazine. Pet Shop Boys latest albums include Nightlife:Further listening 1996-2000, Release: further listening 2001-2008. Yes: further listening 2008-2010 and Elysium: further listening 2011-2017 were both released in 2017.

Buster Keaton

Best known for his silent slapstick films, the American comic actor, filmmaker, producer and writer Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton was born October 4, 1895 . His trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname “The Great Stone Face”. Buster Keaton was recognized as the seventh-greatest director by Entertainment Weekly. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Keaton the 21st-greatest male star. Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Keaton’s “extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, when he worked without interruption on a series of films sadly though His career declined when he was hired by MGM. However, he recovered in the 1940s, remarried and successfully revived his career to a degree as an honored comic performer for the rest of his life, earning plaudits like an Academy Honorary Award in 1958.Orson Welles stated that Keaton’s The General is “the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made.”A 2002 worldwide poll by Sight & Sound ranked Keaton’s The General as the 15th best film of all time. Three other Keaton films received votes in the magazine’s survey: Our Hospitality,Sherlock, Jr., and The Navigator. At the age of three, Keaton began performing with his parents in The Three Keatons. He first appeared on stage in 1899 in Wilmington, Delaware. The act was mainly a comedy sketch. Myra played the saxophone to one side, while Joe and Buster performed on center stage. The young Keaton would goad his father by disobeying him, and the elder Keaton would respond by throwing him against the scenery, into the orchestra pit, or even into the audience. A suitcase handle was sewn into Keaton’s clothing to aid with the constant tossing. The act evolved as Keaton learned to take trick falls safely; he was rarely injured or bruised on stage.

February 1917, Keaton met Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle at the Talmadge Studios in New York City, where Arbuckle was under contract toJoseph M. Schenck. Joe Keaton disapproved of films, and Buster also had reservations about the medium. During his first meeting with Arbuckle, he asked to borrow one of the cameras to get a feel for how it worked. He took the camera back to his hotel room, dismantled and reassembled it. With this rough understanding of the mechanics of the moving pictures, he returned the next day, camera in hand, asking for work. He was hired as a co-star and gag man, making his first appearance in The Butcher Boy. Keaton later claimed that he was soon Arbuckle’s second director and his entire gag department. Keaton and Arbuckle became close friends, In 1920, The Saphead was released, in which Keaton had his first starring role in a full-length feature. It was based on a successful play,The New Henrietta, which had already been filmed once, under the title The Lamb, with Douglas Fairbanks playing the lead. Fairbanks recommended Keaton to take the role for the remake five years later, since the film was to have a comic slant. A clip from the beginning of CopsAfter Keaton’s successful work with Arbuckle, Schenck gave him his own production unit, Buster Keaton Comedies. He made a series of two-reel comedies, including One Week(1920), The Playhouse (1921), Cops (1922), and The Electric House (1922). Keaton then moved to full-length features.A scene fromSteamboat Bill Jr. required Keaton to run into the shot and stand still on a particular spot. Then, the facade of a two-story building toppled forward on top of Keaton. Keaton’s character emerged unscathed, thanks to a single open window. The stunt required precision, because the prop house weighed two tons, and the window only offered a few inches of clearance around Keaton’s body. The sequence furnished one of the most memorable images of his careerAside from Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928), Keaton’s most enduring feature-length films include Our Hospitality (1923), The Navigator (1924),Sherlock Jr. (1924), Seven Chances (1925), The Cameraman (1928), and The General (1927). The General, set during the American Civil War, combined physical comedy with Keaton’s love of trains, including an epic locomotive chase. Employing picturesque locations, the film’s storyline reenacted an actual wartime incident. Though it would come to be regarded as Keaton’s greatest achievement,

Aside from Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928), Keaton’s most enduring feature-length films include Our Hospitality (1923), The Navigator (1924),Sherlock Jr. (1924), Seven Chances (1925), The Cameraman (1928), and The General (1927). The General, set during the American Civil War, combined physical comedy with Keaton’s love of trains, including an epic locomotive chase. Employing picturesque locations, the film’s storyline reenacted an actual wartime incident. One of his most biting parodies The Frozen North (1922), is a satirical take on William S. Hart’s Western melodramas, like Hell’s Hinges (1916) and The Narrow Trail (1917). In The Playhouse (1921), he parodied his contemporary Thomas H. Ince, Hart’s producer, who indulged in over-crediting himself in his film productions. The short also featured the impression of a performing monkey which was likely derived from a co-biller’s act (calledPeter the Great).[24] Three Ages (1923), Keaton’s first feature film, is a parody of D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916), from which it replicates the three inter-cut shorts structure.[24] Three Ages also featured parodies of Bible stories, like those of Samson andDaniel.n 1964, Keaton appeared with Joan Blondell and Joe E. Brown in the final episode of ABC’s circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth, starring Jack Palance.In 1965, Keaton starred in the short film The Railrodder for the National Film Board of Canada. Wearing his traditional pork pie hat, he travelled from one end of Canada to the other on a motorized handcar, performing gags similar to those in films he made 50 years before. The film is also notable for being Keaton’s last silent screen performance. The Railrodder was made in tandem with a behind-the-scenes documentary about Keaton’s life and times, calledBuster Keaton Rides Again, also made for the National Film Board, which is twice the length of the short film. He played the central role in Samuel Beckett’s Film (1965), directed by Alan Schneider. Also in 1965, he traveled to Italy to play a role in Due Marines e un Generale, co-starring alongside with the famous Italian comedian duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia.

Keaton signed with MGM in 1928, a business decision that he would later call the worst of his life. He realized too late that the studio system MGM represented would severely limit his creative input.Keaton was so depleted during the production of 1933’s What! No Beer? that MGM fired him after the filming was complete, despite the film being a resounding hit. In 1934, Keaton accepted an offer to make an independent film in Paris, Le Roi des Champs-Élysées. During this period, he made one other film in Europe, The Invader (released in America as An Old Spanish Custom in 1936). Upon Keaton’s return to Hollywood, he made a screen comeback in a series of 16 two-reel comedies for Educational Pictures. Most of these are simple visual comedies, with many of the gags supplied by Keaton himself, often recycling ideas from his family vaudeville act and his earlier films. The high point in the Educational series is Grand Slam Opera, featuring Buster in his own screenplay as an amateur-hour contestant. When the series lapsed in 1937, Keaton returned to MGM as a gag writer, including the Marx Brothers films, A Night at the Opera, (which included developing the famous crowded stateroom scene. At the Circus (1939) and Go West(1940), and providing material for Red Skelton. He also helped and advised Lucille Ball in her comedic work in films and television

.In 1939, Columbia Pictures hired Keaton to star in ten two-reel comedies, running for the series’ debut entry, Pest from the West, a shorter, tighter remake of Keaton’s little-viewed 1935 feature The Invader; The final entry was She’s Oil Mine, and Keaton swore he would never again “make another crummy two-reelerThroughout the 1940s, Keaton played character roles in both “A” and “B” features. He made his last starring feature Boom in the Moon (1946) in Mexico; the film was a low budget production, and it was not seen in the United States until its release on VHS in the 1980s. Critics rediscovered Keaton in 1949 and producers occasionally hired him for bigger “prestige” pictures. He had cameos in such films as In the Good Old Summertime (1949), Sunset Boulevard (1950), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1956). Keaton also appeared in a comedy routine about two inept stage musicians in Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight (1952), recalling the vaudeville of The Playhouse. He was a non-speaking card player in Sunset Blvd. (1950), providing additional weight to the silent era echoes of the movie.In 1950, Keaton had a successful television series, The Buster Keaton Show, which was broadcast live on a local Los Angeles station. An attempt to recreate the first series on film as Life with Buster Keaton (1951), In 1960, Keaton returned to MGM playing a lion tamer in a 1960 adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In 1961, he starred in The Twilight Zone episode “Once Upon a Time”, which included both silent and sound sequences. Keaton played time-traveler Mulligan, who traveled from 1890 to 1960, then back, by means of a special helmet. Keaton also had a cameo as Jimmy, appearing near the end of the film It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Jimmy assists Spencer Tracy’s character, Captain C. G. Culpepper, by readying Culpepper’s ultimately-unused boat for his abortive escape

Sadly though Keaton died of lung cancer on February 1, 1966, aged 70, in Woodland Hills, California.Despite being diagnosed with cancer in January 1966, he was never told that he was terminally ill or that he had cancer; Keaton thought that he was recovering from bronchitis. Confined to a hospital during his final days, Keaton was restless and paced the room endlessly, desiring to return home. In a British television documentary about his career, his widow Eleanor told producers of Thames Television that Keaton was up out of bed and moving around, and even played cards with friends who came to visit at their house the day before he died. His Speak Easily costar, Hedda Hopper, died the same day. Eleanor Keaton died in 1998, from emphysema and lung cancer, aged 80.years.

National Poetry Day

This years National Poetry Day takes place on 4 October. The purpose of National Poetry Day is to promote poetry, including public performances. National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart. Since its inception, it has engaged millions of people across the country with live events, classroom activities and broadcasts. National Poetry Day is coordinated by the charity Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience. Its other projects include the Forward Prizes for Poetry. The day is run in collaboration with partners including Arts Council England, Literature Wales, Poet in the City, Southbank Centre, The Poetry Book Society, The Poetry Society, The Scottish Poetry Library, Poetry By Heart and The Poetry School. Prince Charles performed in the 2016 National Poetry Day, reading Seamus Heaney’ The Shipping Forecast. On 2015 National Poetry Day poems were included on Blackpool Illuminations. National Poetry Day 2018 is on 4th October. Events, readings and performances will take place across the UK celebrating this year’s theme of Change.

National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart who said, “There are millions of talented poets out there and it’s about time they got some recognition for their work. They shouldn’t be embarrassed about reading their work out aloud. I want people to read poetry on the bus on their way to work, in the street, in school and in the pub.” National Poetry Day is celebrated around the UK. In 1994 the Radio Times wrote “National Poetry Day has been created to prove that poetry has a place in everyone’s life. From children chanting to advertising jingles and pop songs, it is used to entertain and communicate across the nation.”

The Belfast Newsletter reported, “National Poetry Day swept Ulster yesterday, transforming ordinary citizens into part-time bards or budding Heaneys or Wordsworths.” The Daily Telegraph reported that in London at Waterloo station, “The announcement boards were given over to poems about trains by T S Eliot and Auden.” Chris Meade, then director of the Poetry Society stated that, “Readers are finding a place for poetry in their lives again. You can read one between stations on the Northern Line. It fits well into the modern experience.” The East Anglian Daily Times reported, “National Poetry Day was the cue for a stanza bonanza, with railway stations, classrooms, theatres and supermarkets bursting with verse and echoing to epics”.

Severn Valley Railway Class 50 Golden Jubilee

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of The Severn Valley Railway and the 50th year of the class 50 Diesel locomotive there is a Class 50 Diesel Golden Jubilee event from October 4th to 6th at the Severn Valley Railway in conjunction with The Class 50 Alliance.

The British Rail Class 50 was a class of 50 diesel locomotives designed to haul express passenger trains at 100mph. Built by English Electric at the Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows between 1967 and 1968, the Class 50’s were initially on a 10-year lease from English Electric Leasing, and were employed hauling express passenger trains on the, then non-electrified, section of the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Scotland. Initially numbered D400 – D449 and known as English Electric Type 4s, the locomotives were purchased outright by British Rail (BR) at the end of the lease and became Class 50 in the TOPS renumbering of 1973. The class were nicknamed “Hoovers” by rail enthusiasts because of the distinctive sound made by the dynamic braking resistor cooling fan arrangement (removed at refurbishment). Once the electrification from Crewe to Glasgow was completed the locomotives were moved to the South West of England to allow the retirement of the remaining diesel-hydraulic locomotives then in use. As these trains steadily moved to High Speed Train operation from 1976, the Class 50s moved to hauling trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St Davids, and also trains from London Paddington to Hereford and Worcester via Oxford. The class was steadily retired from service in the late 1980s and early 1990s as their services moved to operation by second-generation DMUs.

 

The Class 50 was created after the British Transport Commission (BTC) requested a design for a Diesel locomotive with a gross power output of at least 2500hp. In order to produce a prototype quickly, English Electric based their design on that for their Deltic locomotives which were then in production. Other parts related to another current design, the Class 37s were also used. The result was DP2, a 2700hp Diesel-electric locomotive weighing 107 tons and with a top speed of 100mph. The prototype was delivered to British Rail in May 1962

The prototype was deemed successful and negotiations took place with English Electric for a production batch of 50 locomotives for use on the Eastern Region English Electric intended to build the new batch as similar to DP2 as possible but the British Railways Board (successor to the BTC) had produced a standard locomotive cab with a flat front and headcode box and also had specific requirements relating to the engine room and other equipment. English Electric produced several alternative front-end designs including one with a wrap-around windscreen but the standard front-end design was eventually adopted for the class.
The complete production run of 50 locomotives was built in just over a year and numbered from D400 to D449. D400 entered service in October 1967 and deliveries were completed with D449 in November 1968 Unusually, the ownership of the locomotives remained with the manufacturer and they were operated by British Rail on a 10-year lease which included certain stipulations relating to availability The D prefix was quickly dropped as for all diesel locos after steam had disappeared in 1968. The locos ran as 400 to 449 from 1969 to 1974. In 1984, 50007 Hercules was repainted into lined Brunswick green livery and renamed Sir Edward Elgar, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR).

From 1987, the class was used on freight trains. So 50049 “Defiance” was renumbered to 50149, equipped with modified Class 37, lower-geared bogies and outshopped in the new trainload grey livery with Railfreight General decals. During the 1990s, the reliability of the fleet became a problem again so the fleet was retired and, temporarily replaced with Class 47/7 locomotives,then by new Diesel Multiple Units. By 1992, just eight locomotives remained in servic Nos:50007/50008/50015/50029/50030/50033/50046/ 50050. Several of these locomotives were specially repainted to commemorate the run-down of the fleet. The first-built locomotive, 50050 Fearless was renumbered D400 and painted in its original BR Blue livery. Two other locomotives, 50008 Thunderer and 50015 Valiant were also repainted, the former in a variation of BR Blue. Of the final eight locomotives, three were retained until 1994 for use on special railtours, these being 50007 Sir Edward Elgar, 50033 Glorious and 50050 Fearless. 50007 was returned to working order. 50050 was repainted into Large Logo livery and 50007 was repainted into GWR green.

Locomotives attending the event include class 50 50007 Hercules, Garcia Hanson’s 50008 Thunderer, 50011 Centurion, 50035 Ark Royal, 50031 Hood, 50044 Exeter, 50015 Valiant, Neil Boden’s 50017 Royal Oak and Paul Spracklen’s 50026 Indomitable , 50049 Defiance and 50050 (D400) Fearless.