During the early years of the 1980’s, the Scottish Region of BR required a source of electrical power to heat trains on their remote western lines. Already planned were a fleet of converted Class 37 locomotives but a short term solution was required.
Withdrawn on 11 Oct 1982 at Tyseley with bogie damage, 25 310 (CW) should have been recorded as just one more casualty, especially as it had run for eight years since its last classified repair. However, late in December it journeyed to Aberdeen Ferryhill where the local staff adapted it to permit the operation of electrically heated/air conditioned rolling stock. The loco lost its yellow front ends and gained a paint scheme similar to that of the coaching stock and painted nameplates were applied. It was renumbered 97250 and gained the acronym ‘ETHEL 1’.
25 305 (BS) and 25 314 (CW) followed and became 97251 ETHEL 2 and 97252 ETHEL 3 respectively.