Founded in 1989, The Fifty Fund was an attempt to preserve a British Railways (BR) class 50 (or English Electric type 4) locomotive in working order. At that time it seemed unlikely that many of these complex engines would be saved. 

In less than three years sufficient capital was raised to purchase two 50's (50035 and 50044) and an extensive supply of spares. In addition 50031 was purchased by two shareholders for use by The Fund. All three locomotives were carefully selected to maximise The Fund's chances of long term success. From the very start it was realised that success was only possible with a very sound spares policy, and to that end the Fund put a lot of effort and money into securing whatever Class 50 spares were becoming available as BR continued the rundown of the class.

50035 withdrawn at OC

50035 in withdrawn condition at Old Oak. It had already been purchased at this point. Photo: Dave Keogh 

50035 Handover

50035 is handed over to Fund Chairman Dave Keogh at the Old Oak open day in 1991.

In the early years the Fund was based at St Leonard's depot near Hastings, until a permanent home for our locomotives was found at The Severn Valley Railway (S.V.R.), which is widely regarded as the premier preserved railway in the UK.

Project Defiance 

The Class 50 Society had been a long standing organisation dedicated to the promotion of Class 50's, and with the intention of eventually preserving an example themselves. 50049 and 50031 had been on the same tender list, and 50049 was bought by the Society. Subsequently, the group name was changed to Project Defiance. Project Defiance undertook its early restoration work at ASW in Cardiff, before moving to the West Somerset Railway and eventually on to The Severn Valley Railway.  


50049 (as 50149) undergoes surgery at Williton during it's stay at the West Somerset Railway. Photo: Darren Harris

So where does the 'Class 50 Alliance' come into it?

In 2006 The Fifty Fund agreed to merge its ownership and maintenance responsibilities with Project Defiance. The new combined organisation was called The Class 50 Alliance. Ownership of 50035, 50044 and 50049 transferred to the Alliance, as did the custodianship of 50031.

At that point, The Fifty Fund effectively became the public 'front end' of the organisation, dedicated to fundraising, promotion of the class, and selling shares in the Alliance. 

Meanwhile, Class 50 Alliance Ltd is now responsible for the maintenance and operation of all of our locomotives. 

50031 St Leonards 

50031 'Hood' stands outside St Leonards shed, shortly after purchase. Photo: Jon Dunster

The purchase of 50007

In late 2016, the decision was taken to purchase 50007 Hercules from Neil Boden. The loco was purchased solely for forthcoming mainline work and the purchase was funded by a loan from a number of Alliance Shareholders. We now need to repay that loan, so do please consider buying a few shares or setting up a Standing Order. 

50044 at St Leonards not long after purchase. Photo: Neil Morgan