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The British Railways Standard Class 4 tank is a class of steam locomotive, one of the BR standard classes built during the 1950s. They were used primarily on commuter and outer suburban services.

BR standard class 4 tank
Victoria Station, with Oxted line steam train geograph-2685243-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
80085 at London Victoria Station, 1954.
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerR.A. Riddles
BuilderBrighton Works (130)
Derby Works (15)
Doncaster Works (10)
Build dateJuly 1951 – November 1956
Total produced155
 • Whyte2-6-4 T
 • UIC1′C2′ h2t
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading dia.3 ft 0 in (0.914 m)
Driver dia.5 ft 8 in (1.727 m)
Trailing dia.3 ft 0 in (0.914 m)
Length44 ft 10 in (13.67 m)
Width8 ft 9 14 in (2.67 m)
Height13 ft 0 in (3.96 m)
Axle load17.95 long tons (18.24 t; 20.10 short tons)
Adhesive weight53.05 long tons (53.90 t; 59.42 short tons)
Loco weight86.65 long tons (88.04 t; 97.05 short tons)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity3.50 long tons (3.56 t; 3.92 short tons)
Water cap2,000 imp gal (9,100 l; 2,400 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
26.7 sq ft (2.48 m2)
Boiler pressure225 psi (1.55 MPa)
Heating surface:
 • Tubes and flues
143 sq ft (13.3 m2)
 • Firebox1,223 sq ft (113.6 m2)
 • Heating area240 sq ft (22 m2)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size18 in × 28 in (457 mm × 711 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort25,515 lbf (113.5 kN)
Factor of adh.4.65
OperatorsBritish Railways
Power class4MT
Axle load classRoute availability 5
WithdrawnJuly 1962 – July 1967
Disposition15 preserved, remainder scrapped



On the nationalisation of British Railways (BR) in 1948, the London Midland Region had a number of ex-London, Midland and Scottish Railway 2-6-4T and the Western Region a number of GWR Large Prairie 2-6-2T types. These tank engines were particularly suited to commuter and secondary services. However, particularly in Scotland and the Southern Region, the situation was not so good, with large numbers of pre-grouping types struggling on.

Design and constructionEdit

BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T engine no. 80118 at Guisborough railway station, 1950s

On the decision to build the BR standard series of locomotives, a series of class four tank engines was ordered, based on the ex-LMS Fairburn 2-6-4T with some modifications. The lineage of the class could therefore be tracked through the LMS/BR Class 4 2-6-4T locomotives back to the Fowler design of 1927.

Design work was done at Brighton, the overall programme being overseen by R.A. Riddles. The principal modifications to the Fairburn design involved the reduction of their envelope to enable them to fit into the L1 loading gauge. To do this, the tanks and cab were made more curved than the Fairburn design, the Fairburn having a straight-sided tank. The biggest mechanical change was a reduction in cylinder size, also to reduce cross-section, and a corresponding increase in boiler pressure to compensate. Other visible changes included the re-introduction of plating ahead of the cylinders.

130 of the class of 155 were built at Brighton, 15 (80000–80009, 80054–80058) at Derby Works and 10 (80106–80115) at Doncaster Works between 1951 and 1956. The first to emerge was 80010 from Brighton in 1951. Fifteen that were due to be constructed in 1957 were cancelled, due to impending dieselisation, and the last five would have been, too, had they not been at an advanced stage of construction when the order came to cancel them.

No significant modifications were made to the design. The tank vent was found to restrict the driver's vision and was moved further forward from 80059 onwards. Initially built with fluted coupling rods, these caused problems on other classes and, from 80079, plain section coupling rods were substituted.

The BR standard class 4 4-6-0 was essentially a tender engine derivative of the Standard Class 4 tank.


The Standard 4 tanks were originally allocated to all regions of British Railways, bar the Western. They became particularly associated with the London, Tilbury and Southend Line (LT&S) working commuter services out of London, until that route was electrified in 1962. They were also widely used in East Sussex and Kent, working from Brighton, Tunbridge Wells and Three Bridges on those lines of the former London Brighton and South Coast Railway that were not electrified. Another group worked from Polmadie depot in the Scottish region on the Glasgow commuter services. Note that, from July 1962, a batch displaced by electrification of the LT&S was transferred to the Western Region's Swansea (East Dock) and Shrewsbury districts, as well as other regions.

Accidents and incidentsEdit


There was a mass withdrawal of steam locomotive classes in the 1960s. Older types were withdrawn in preference to the Standard 4s, which class remained intact until 1964 (except for 80103 as noted below). The final nine were withdrawn from the Southern Region on 9 July 1967. One Scottish Region example, 80002, remained in Glasgow past the end of steam haulage until 1969 as a static carriage heating boiler.

No. 80103 was withdrawn in 1962 after being reported for rough riding. It was towed between two other locomotives to Stratford Works, where it was discovered that the mainframe was broken in half. Considered beyond economic repair, 80103 was withdrawn and scrapped. It was the first of the 'Standard' locomotives to be withdrawn, and the only one scrapped at Stratford.

Table of withdrawals
Year Quantity in
service at
start of year
Locomotive numbers Notes
1962 155 1 80103
1964 154 31 80008–10/17/21/30–31/36/38/40/44/49–50/52–53/56/62/71/73–77/87,
1965 123 42 80003/14/18/20/22–23/29/35/42/48/64/66–67/70/72/78–81/84/88/90/97–99,
1966 81 56 80000–01/05–07/13/24–28/33–34/37/39/41/43/47/51/54–55/57–61/63/65/68–69/82–83/89/91–96,
1967 25 25 80002/04/11–12/15–16/19/32/45–46/85–86,

Operation in preservationEdit

British Railways 2-6-4T Class Standard Four No. 80072 runs round its train at Ongar

Of the fifteen engines to survive into preservation, only one was purchased directly from BR and this was No. 80002, all the others being purchased from Barry Scrapyard. Of the fifteen engines to be preserved only two members of the class are yet to run in preservation, these being: 80100 & 80150. 80097 has recently been steamed in preservation and is soon due to commence running in following its restoration from scrapyard condition at the East Lancashire Railway.[4] Five of them have also seen mainline operation: Nos. 80002, 80079, 80080, 80098 and 80135. 80002 operated over the former BR system in the 1970s when it appeared at an open weekend in Leeds arriving and returning home from the event under its own power. Three of the class were regular mainline performers around the '90s, with 80080 being originally used on LU 'Steam on the Met' trips. In 1991, steam was to return to the Folkestone Harbour branch with 80080 taking the train down from the mainline to the station at Folkestone Harbour and then for the journey back up to the mainline 80080 was used to bank West Country Pacific No. 34027 Taw Valley.

No 80079 and No 80080 at Tenby in October 1993 on a main line special from Swansea to Pembroke Dock and return.

80080 became the first steam locomotive to work a normal stopping passenger service on the mainline in March 1993. It also returned to the Cambrian network in 1992. In 1994, 80079 joined up with 80080 to work a number of steam specials including a run over the Cambrian Coast Line.

In 1998, 80079 became the first steam locomotive to work a steam special down the Conwy Valley Line to Blaenau Ffestiniog since 1967.

80079 returned to Blaenau in 1999 with 80098.

80135 is currently owned and based at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR)(the worlds longest heritage railway). It hauls passenger services between Pickering and Grosmont (and does not run through on the Network rail section to Whitby as it is not mainline registered).


No fewer than fifteen Standard Four tanks have survived the cutter's torch.

All but one member of the class in preservation were built at Brighton Works with 80002 being built at Derby Works.

Number Builder Built Withdrawn Service life Location Livery Status Image
80002 Derby Works Nov 1952 March 1967 14 years, 4 months Keighley and Worth Valley Railway BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Awaiting overhaul. Boiler certificate expired in August 2013.  
80064 Brighton Works June 1953 Sep 1965 12 years, 3 months Bluebell Railway BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Awaiting major overhaul. Boiler certificate expired in 1991.[5]  
80072 Brighton Works Nov 1953 July 1965 11 years, 8 months Llangollen Railway BR Lined Black, Late Emblem Operational. Returned from boiler repairs in 2015.  
80078 Brighton Works Feb 1954 July 1965 11 years, 5 months Privately Owned, Currently undergoing left cylinder replacement. BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Operational. Returned to service May 2017 at Mangapps Railway Museum  
80079 Brighton Works March 1954 July 1965 11 years, 4 months Severn Valley Railway BR Lined Black, Late Emblem Restored. Cosmetically restored in The Engine House.  
80080 Brighton Works March 1954 July 1965 11 years, 4 months Midland Railway - Butterley BR Lined Black, Late Emblem Operational at the East Lancashire Railway.  
80097 Brighton Works Dec 1954 July 1965 10 years, 7 months East Lancashire Railway BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Recently undergone restoration from scrapyard condition, running in commenced in October 2018 and returned to service in January 2019.  
80098 Brighton Works Dec 1954 July 1965 10 years, 7 months Midland Railway - Butterley BR Lined Black, Late Emblem Undergoing overhaul.  
80100 Brighton Works Jan 1955 July 1965 10 years, 6 months Bluebell Railway N/A Awaiting restoration from ex-Barry condition.  
80104 Brighton Works March 1955 July 1965 10 years, 4 months Swanage Railway BR Lined Black, Late Emblem Operational, boiler ticket expires in 2021. Numbered as 80146 for the 2017 season.  
80105 Brighton Works April 1955 July 1965 10 years, 3 months Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Under overhaul, Boiler certificate expired 2010. Undergoing major 4-year overhaul.  
80135 Brighton Works April 1956 July 1965 9 years, 3 months North Yorkshire Moors Railway BR Lined Green, Late Emblem Currently under overhaul. 80135 is the only 4MT to carry lined BR Brunswick Green, a livery not carried by any 4MT's in BR service. Will be fitted with TWPS for main line use between Pickering and Whitby when finished.  
80136 Brighton Works May 1956 July 1965 9 years, 2 months North Yorkshire Moors Railway BR Lined Black, Early Emblem Resteamed in late July 2016 after a complete overhaul, mostly at Crewe but finished at Grosmont.  
80150 Brighton Works Dec 1956 Nov 1965 8 years, 11 months Mid Hants Railway Unlined Black Awaiting restoration from Barry scrapyard condition. Swapped to the MHR by the Vale of Glamorgan District Council in exchange for the ex-Bricklayers Arms turntable.  
80151 Brighton Works Jan 1957 June 1967 10 years, 5 months Bluebell Railway BR Lined Black, Late Emblem Undergoing overhaul. Boiler ticket expired in May 2012.  

In fictionEdit

Belle, a character from Thomas & Friends, is loosely based on this engine. The difference is that she has water cannons on top of her tanks (which was clearly an idea by the series producer) and a big brass steam locomotive bell.[6]


  1. ^ Hoole, Ken (1983). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 4. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 32. ISBN 0 906899 07 9.
  2. ^ Hoole, Ken (1982). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 3. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 45. ISBN 0-906899-05-2.
  3. ^ Bishop, Bill (1984). Off the Rails. Southampton: Kingfisher. p. 85. ISBN 0 946184 06 2.
  4. ^ 80097 under final assembly
  5. ^
  6. ^
  • Bradley, Rodger P. (1984). The Standard Steam Locomotives of British Railways. David & Charles. ISBN 0715383841.
  • Chancellor, Paul J. (December 1997). Taylor, R. K. (ed.). A Detailed History of British Railways Standard Steam Locomotives: vol 3 Tank Engine Classes. Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (RCTS). ISBN 0-901115-77-0.

External linksEdit