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PWM Class 97/6 0-6-0DE

Model Rail, Kernow Model Rail Centre and Heljan have joined forces to bring you a ready-to-run ‘OO’ gauge Class 97/6, better known as the ‘PWM'.
>Click here for details of the models being produced. 

The first of the Western Region’s departmental shunters was ordered from Ruston & Hornsby in November 1951, the intention being that it would accompany track-laying equipment to possessions across the region for on-site shunting. The 0-6-0 diesel-electric loco was based on Ruston’s then recently introduced 165DE model with a few modifications to suit the requirements of British Railways. Weighing in at 28 tons, the shunter was fitted with a six-cylinder Ruston engine developing 150hp along with a generator and traction motor supplied by British Thomson Houston.

Upon completion in December 1952, the shunter was numbered PWM650, this standing for Permanent Way Machine as it was considered an item of engineering plant rather than a locomotive. Finished in green, it was delivered to Swindon Works from Ruston’s Lincoln plant the following month for acceptance tests. By the summer of 1953, it was doing the task for which it had been purchased with weekdays spent in permanent way depots assisting in the assembly of track panels while at weekends, it was hauled to worksites as part of an engineering train to manoeuvre the various wagons. Nominally based at Swindon, it worked where needed, including in South Wales, the Thames Valley and into Worcestershire.

PWM650 Copyright S BendallPWM650 had already notched up 12 years in BR service when it was recorded inside the former steam shed at Swindon on 30 May 1965 following attention at the works. Now with wasp stripes, its BR green livery was also carrying the BR totem rather than the original ‘cycling lion’.

The late 1950s saw the Western Region open four new pre-assembly depots or PADs across its area as the use of traditional track panels declined in favour of continuously welded rail. To provide a shunter for each of these locations, Ruston & Hornsby was again contracted to provide a further four PWMs in 1958. While these were still based on the 165DE design, a number of modifications were made that set them apart from PWM650, including an increase in weight to 30 tons, slightly larger diameter wheels, a restyled cab and radiator grille, roof-mounted air horns and a re-positioned conical exhaust stack.

PWM651 Copyright S BendallRadyr Yard, near Cardiff, was home to PWM651 for many years, where it was pictured in April 1972 still in BR green. The differences between the four later machines and PWM650 were considerable, the most obvious being the restyled cab. In the background is a pair of the early single line track relaying gantries in their collapsed travel position and the associated beam for lifting track panels.

PWM651-654 were again painted in green and delivered to Swindon Works between July and October 1959. The first deployment of PWM651 was to Radyr Yard, on the north-west outskirts of Cardiff, and where it was to spend much of its working life. PWM652 was sent to Taunton Fairwater PAD with PWM653 heading to Theale, between Reading and Newbury, and PWM654 initially to Hookagate, Shrewsbury, although it moved on to Newland PAD near Worcester in 1964.

While all five PWMs were delivered in green, PWM650 initially carried the ‘cycling lion’ BR emblem on its bonnet sides before this was later replaced with the BR totem, its sisters carrying the later logo from new. All of the locos initially lacked wasp stripes but these were added during the 1960s. PWM650/52/54 would all gain BR blue during the 1970s while PWM651 received a non-standard lighter green livery with a white cab roof during the same period.

PWM651 Copyright S BendallRadyr Yard, near Cardiff, was home to PWM651 for many years At some point in the mid-1970s, PWM651 acquired a lighter green livery with a white cab roof and BR arrows. On 26 September 1980 and now renumbered as 97651, the shunter stands on Cardiff Canton, the colour clearly contrasting with the BR blue of the DMU car.

During overhaul at Swindon Works in 1981/82, PWM651-654 were all repainted in Civil Engineers yellow, a colour that would never grace PWM650 as it remained in BR blue until withdrawal. By this time, the decision had been taken to classify the Ruston shunters as locomotives, the quintet becoming Class 97/6 from 1979 and bringing eventual renumbering as 97650-54. Even then, the PWM designation tended to remain in use as a sort of nickname.

97652 Copyright S Bendall

Newly repainted in engineers yellow, 97652 was another PWM to spend much of its existence at one location, in this case Taunton Fairwater PAD, where it was pictured on 11 July 1981. Withdrawal would come six years later after major engine failure.

As rationalisation and modernisation took hold, the PADs to which the PWMs were allocated progressively closed, Theale going in 1972 followed by Newland in 1982 and Taunton Fairwater four years later. As a result, the locos could be seen at other locations, particularly Reading engineers’ yard in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Inevitably, withdrawals soon commenced with class leader 97650 going in April 1987 followed by almost three years in store at Reading. It was subsequently preserved by Lincoln City Council given its local connection and initially plinthed outside the closed Lincoln Holmes steam shed. Today, it resides in the Heritage Shunters Trust collection at Peak Rail.

97653 Copyright S BendallFor a few months in 1984, 97650 could be found at work in Hayes Yard in West London, where it is pictured on 2 October. Never to receive the yellow livery, it was unusual in displaying both its PWM and Class 97/6 identities on its BR blue scheme.

Next to fall was 97652 in June 1987 following engine failure and it was scrapped at Laira in October 1990. 97653 was withdrawn in August 1992, subsequently becoming a parts donor at Reading for 97654. Although later sold into preservation and moved to Long Marston, its remains went for scrap in 2011. One of the most high profile roles undertaken by a PWM occurred in late 1992 and early 1993 when 97654 was employed on works trains around Paddington as part of the remodelling of the station approach.

With privatisation, 97654 initially passed to the ownership of Mainline Freight but was soon sold to one of the infrastructure companies, moving to Slateford Yard in Edinburgh early in 1997, from where it was eventually preserved and transferred to Peak Rail. The last PWM standing was 97651, it having spent the mid-1990s as depot pilot at Cardiff Cathays. Again sold to one of the track renewal companies, withdrawal came in 1998 and it is today located at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway.

All text above was created by Simon Bendall on behalf of Kernow Model Rail Centre and is copyrighted. All images above are copyright of the author. Unauthorised use or reproduction of either the images or text in this article is strictly forbidden.

The Models

KMRC Exclusive PWMs

Our tooling covers PWM651-654 (97651-97654), which were delivered in 1959. The pioneer, PWM650 (97650), built in 1953, had smaller wheels and other differences.

The tooling has been split three ways: Model Rail will offer pristine versions in five liveries, Kernow MRC will offer weathered versions of those same liveries and Heljan will produce versions in industrial‑inspired colour schemes.

Work started in August 2019 – Paul and Peter Martin graciously allowed Model Rail and Heljan to measure and photograph their PWM651 at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway.

The specification includes a Next18 DCC decoder socket and working interior lights (controlled with a 'wand' device to switch them on /off), working mechanical lubricator arm attached to right hand front wheel crank, separately fitted items such as hand rails, vacuum pipes, screw link couplings, roof mounted horns, air tanks and lubricator box under running plate on both sides.

Project Update 29th March 2023

The models are priced at £174.99 each and are in stock - click below to order.

Kernow Model Rail Centre Exclusive PWM Models 

K2400 Heljan Ruston 165DE PWM Diesel - PWM653 - BR GreenK2400 PWM653 BR Plain Green - Weathered Finish
K2401 Heljan Ruston 165DE PWM Diesel - PWM654 - BR GreenK2401 PWM654 BR Plain Green - Weathered Finish
K2402 Heljan Ruston 165DE PWM Diesel - PWM652 - BR GreenK2402 PWM652 BR Green wraparound 'Wasp' stripes - Weathered Finish
K2403 Heljan Ruston 165DE PWM Diesel - 97 651 - BR GreenK2403 97 651 BR Light Green - Weathered Finish
K2404 Heljan Ruston 165DE PWM Diesel - PWM654 - BR BlueK2404 PWM654 BR Blue - Weathered Finish
K2405 Heljan Ruston 165DE PWM Diesel - 97 653 - BR YellowK2405 97653 BR Yellow - Weathered Finish
K2406 Heljan Ruston 165DE PWM Diesel - 97 654 - BR YellowK2406 97654 BR Yellow - Weathered Finish

For details of the Model Rail versions click here>>> 

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Project Update - August 2021


A pair of decorated samples of our Ruston ‘PWM’ 0-6-0DE arrived in late July. Rigorous mechanical and electrical testing has already begun, hence why these models are showing a few bumps and scrapes. This project is running in partnership with Model Rail,C and Heljan, with a variety of BR and industrial liveries being offered in both pristine and weathered condition.
More information will follow soon but, before then, there are still a few minor tweaks to be made and other livery samples to inspect before production can begin.
Keep an eye out for more developments in due course and in future issues of Model Rail.


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Project Update - June 2021

The decorated samples can be seen below being tested in the factory and are now on the way to us for checking before production begins. We hope make them available for pre-order soon.

Project Update - November 2020

Livery artwork specifications have been finalised and we are awaiting the first livery samples to be produced.

Project Update - July 2020 - First engineering samples arrive

The first engineering samples of our PWM have arrived.  These will be extensively tested and evaluated over the next few weeks.  Please see some images below, but please remember these are first engineering samples and as such the combination of tooling options may not match any specific prototype.

PWM Image
PWM Image


None Deliverable