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Vic Berry established his Leicester scrapyard in 1973 on the site of what had been the former GC Braunstone Gate goods yard, just south of Leicester Central (GC) Station. Like Woodham Brothers at Barry, Vic Berry focused initially on breaking up redundant passenger coaches and goods wagons. The first locomotives did not arrive until 10 years later in April 1983 when three BR Class 76 electric locomotives arrived for breaking up.
The yard is best known for scrapping large quantities of Class 25 and Class 27 diesel-electric locomotives. This led to the famous 'stack' of Class 25 and 27 locomotives which reached its peak in 1987 with 30 examples stacked. The yard did not exclusively deal with these locomotives, as examples of classes 20, 31, 40, 45, 47, 50, 82, 83, 84, and 85 were scrapped on site, along with a large quantity of BR DMUs. Vic Berry also scrapped a London Underground train and ex-CIE 201 Class locomotives 208 and 219 in 1990.
Vic Berry also specialised in asbestos removal as well as scrapping withdrawn locomotives and rolling stock. This was of value to railway preservation societies, who sometimes would benefit from purchasing a locomotive from Vic Berry as it would have already been stripped of asbestos. As the scrapyard was connected to the Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line, the yard contained a large number of locomotives, coaches, wagons and DMUs which were held for either purchase or scrapping.
The yard moved from scrapping locomotives to DMUs and rolling stock in December 1990 when what was believed to be the last complete locomotive in the yard, 25213, was scrapped. Another 18 class 25s were broken up by Vic Berry at other sites; five were broken up off-site while the other 13 were also broken up off-site but with their cabs subsequently transported to Leceister.
Fire and closure
In the early hours of Sunday 10 March 1991, a serious fire broke out in the scrapyard which took firefighters several hours to bring under control, by which time serious damage had been caused. The cause of the fire, which led to widespread distribution of airborne asbestos across the city, has never been determined. As a result of the fire and after months of difficulties, the Vic Berry Company ceased trading in June 1991, the final straw being the failure to reach a deal with its landlord, British Rail, for the decontamination of 170 grounded bodies in the Western Boulevard which contained asbestos. The company owed creditors a reported £4 million. On 7 June, British Rail gave Vic Berry five days to begin clearing the site or it would bring in a contractor to do so. Vic Berry began to trade under his own name from 11 June 1991, employing around a dozen of his former staff, and began to clear the site on 14 June. The closed site was neverrtheless left significantly contaminated from the disposal process.
The site was re-developed as a part of the Leicester City Challenge project in 1996 / 1997 as Bede Island.
- Leigh, Chris, ed. (May 1991). "Rail report: Vic Berry". Railway World. 52 (613): 312.
- Leigh, Chris, ed. (August 1991). "Rail report: Vic Berry closes". Railway World. 52 (616): 503.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vic Berry's scrapyard.|
- railcar.co.uk - photos
- railpics.sweetp.net - photos
- Derby Sulzers - Vic Berry Page - photos and insight by a Derby Works employee.