One hundred and thirty-five (135) Class 56 diesel locomotives were built between 1976 and 1983. The first thirty locomotives (Nos.56001 to 56030) were built by Electroputere in Romania, but these suffered from poor construction and many were withdrawn from service early. The remaining 105 locomotives were built by BREL at Doncaster Works (Nos.56031 to 56115) and Crewe Works (Nos.56116 to 56135).
The class 56s were built to be used on heavy freight trains. They were fitted with a Ruston-Paxman engine developing 3,250 bhp.
Class 56 diesel locomotive No.56078 (probably!) at Stoke Works with a southbound empty oil tank train on a sunny afternoon in December 1982. Photograph taken by Andrew Smith.
At Kings Norton on 21st May 2002 class 56 diesel locomotive No.56118 in Loadhaul livery has just crossed from the 'up' slow line to the 'down' fast line in preparation for taking the original Birmingham and Gloucester Railway line to Camp Hill . It is working an empty steel train probably from Margam or Llanwern to Lackenby. Photograph taken by Andrew Smith on 21st May 2002.
Peter Tandy has provided this photograph of one of the rarely used class 56s normally kept at Washwood Heath in Birmingham which ran light engine to Hither Green during the week commencing 3rd July 2011 in order to collect some scrap carrying wagons. These were taken to Grimsby and the locomotive then took a train of loaded scrap metal (code No.6Z56) to Cardiff Tidal. Photograph taken on 12th July 2011. See www.petertandy.co.uk for more of Peter's fine photography.