WD Austerity 2-8-0

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WD Austerity 2-8-0
WD Austerity 90733 Haworth Loco Yard.jpg
90733 at Haworth, 15 July 2007
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerR.A. Riddles
Build date1943–45
Total produced935
 • Whyte2-8-0
 • UIC1′D h2
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading dia.3 ft 2 in (965 mm)
Driver dia.4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Length63 ft 6 in (19.35 m) over buffers
Axle load15 long tons 12 cwt (34,900 lb or 15.9 t)
Adhesive weight61 long tons 5 cwt (137,200 lb or 62.2 t)
Loco weight70 long tons 5 cwt (157,400 lb or 71.4 t)
Tender weight55 long tons 10 cwt (124,300 lb or 56.4 t)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity9 long tons 0 cwt (20,200 lb or 9.1 t)
Water cap5,000 imperial gallons (23,000 l; 6,000 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
28.6 sq ft (2.66 m2)
Boiler pressure225 lbf/in2 (1.55 MPa)
Heating surface:
 • Tubes
1,068 sq ft (99.2 m2)
 • Flues451 sq ft (41.9 m2)
 • Firebox168 sq ft (15.6 m2)
 • Type28-element Melesco
 • Heating area298 sq ft (27.7 m2)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size19 in × 28 in (483 mm × 711 mm)
Valve gearWalschaerts
Valve type10-inch (250 mm) piston valves
Performance figures
Tractive effort34,215 lbf (152.20 kN)
Power class8F
Axle load classRoute availability 6
DispositionOne preserved, remainder scrapped.

The War Department (WD) "Austerity" 2-8-0 is a type of heavy freight steam locomotive that was introduced in 1943 for war service. A total of 935 were built, making this one of the most-produced classes of British steam locomotive. They were nicknamed Ozzies by the railwaymen.[1]


The Austerity 2-8-0 was based on the LMS Class 8F, which until that point had been the government's standard design. Various modifications were made to the 8F design by R.A. Riddles in order to prioritise low cost over design life. These included a boiler of simpler construction which was parallel rather than tapered and a round-topped firebox rather than a Belpaire firebox. The firebox was made of steel rather than the rarer and more expensive copper.

The North British Locomotive Company (NBL) of Glasgow built 545 (split between their two works at Hyde Park and Queen's Park) and the Vulcan Foundry (VF) of Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, built 390. North British also built a larger 2-10-0 version.

WD numbers Builder Works Nos. Quantity Date
800–879 NBL (Queen's Park) 24891–970 80 1944
7000–49 NBL (Hyde Park) 24971–25020 50 1943
7050–7149 VF 4866–4965 100 1943
7150–7262 NBL (Hyde Park) 25021–170 113 1943
7263–7299 37 1944
7300–7416 NBL (Queen's Park) 25171–320 117 1943
7417–49 33 1944
7450–64 VF 4966–80 15 1943
7465–7509 4981–5025 45 1944
8510–30 NBL (Queen's Park) 25321–70 21 1944
8531–59 NBL (Hyde Park) 29 1945
8560–8611 25371–435 52 1944
8612–8624 13 1945
8625–8718 VF 5026–5119 94 1944
9177–9243 5120–86 67 1944
9244–9312 5187–5255 69 1945

WD nos. 800–879 were ordered as LMS Class 8F. No. 9312, the last one built, was named Vulcan when new. NBL builder's plates were not all in correct sequence, and were mixed up between the two works as well as between batches. All locomotives had their WD numbers increased by 70000 prior to shipping to mainland Europe; those completed after 5 September 1944 carried their 70000 series numbers from new. All but three (WD nos. 77223, 77369 and 79250) saw service with the British Army in mainland Europe after D-Day.[2][3]

Post-war disposal[edit]

After the end of the conflict, the War Department disposed of 930 locomotives (Two engines being retained by the War Department and three being scrapped).

After the Second World War, 200 were sold to the LNER, who classified them as "Class O7" and numbered them 3000–3199. In 1948, 533 more were purchased by the British Transport Commission.[4]

With the formation of British Railways, the 733 locomotives were renumbered into the 90000–90732 series. Only one of these, No. 90732, was named, becoming Vulcan after the Vulcan Foundry where many of the locomotives were built.

In 1946, 12 were exported to the British colony of Hong Kong to work the Kowloon-Canton Railway. Six were scrapped in 1956, but the final two survived until September 1962.

The other 184 locomotives remained in mainland Europe, mostly working in and around the Netherlands for Nederlandse Spoorwegen.

Finally, one went to the USATC in an exchange for an USATC S160 Class locomotive in the Postwar exchange of WD and USATC locomotives.

No. of engines Country Company Class Local numbers
733 Great Britain British Railways (BR) BR ex-WD Austerity 2-8-0 90000–90732
184* Netherlands Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) NS 4300 class 4301–4537 (with gaps)
12 Hong Kong Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) KCR ex-WD Austerity 2-8-0 21-32
1 United States US Army Transportation Corps
* Of the NS engines, 2 subsequently were sold to Swedish State Railways forming SJ Class G11.

Postwar WD service[edit]

Two locomotives continued to be held in WD stock, seeing service on the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire, along with two of the WD Austerity 2-10-0s and other smaller locomotives. In the WD 1957 renumbering scheme, they were renumbered 400/1. Details were as follows:

WD No. WD 1957 No. Name Builder Works No. Date built Notes
77337 400 Sir Guy Williams North British (Queens Park) 25205 1943 Name previously on 78672
79250 401 Major General McMullen Vulcan Foundry 5193 1945

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • Soham rail disaster: On 2 June 1944, WD locomotive No. 7337 was hauling a freight train which caught fire as it approached Soham, Cambridgeshire. The train consisted of 51 wagons carrying bombs. The train was divided behind the burning wagon, with the front portion being taken forward with the intention of isolating the wagon in open countryside. Its cargo detonated at Soham station, killing the fireman and the Soham signalman and injuring the train's driver and guard. Soham station was severely damaged, but the line was re-opened within eighteen hours. For their actions, Benjamin Gimbert and James Nightall were awarded George Crosses.[5]
  • On 16 August 1945, WD locomotives 77125 and 77238 were involved in a head-on collision near Kleve, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. Both locomotives were scrapped.[6]
  • On 6 November 1945, NS 4485 (ex WD 77183) was written off after a collision near Kranenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany. The locomotive was eventually scrapped in January 1947.[6]
  • On 17 September 1950, WD locomotive No. 77195 ran away from Nevill Hill Locomotive Shed, Leeds, Yorkshire and subsequently crashed through buffers at Marsh Lane Goods Yard, Leeds.[7]
  • On 2 December 1953, locomotive No. 90048 ran off the end of the loop at Billingham, County Durham whilst hauling a train. An express freight train ran into the wreckage and was derailed.[8]


One WD 2-8-0 has survived. Vulcan Foundry works No. 5200 was repatriated from Sweden to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. It was SJ Class G11 number 1931. It was overhauled to its original condition, finished in 2007, which involved building a new cab and tender, to become BR "No. 90733". After test runs, 90733 ran its first passenger train on Monday 23 July 2007.[9][10][11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whittaker, Nicholas (6 August 2015). Platform Souls: The Trainspotter as 20th-Century Hero. London, UK: Icon Books Limited. ISBN 9781848319905. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  2. ^ Boddy et al. 1983, pp. 118–119.
  3. ^ Pollock, D.R.; White, D.E. (1946). The 2-8-0 and 2-10-0 Locomotives of the War Department 1939-1945. Anerley: RCTS. pp. 11–34.
  4. ^ Marsden, Richard. "The Riddles O7 (WD) "Austerity" 2-8-0s". LNER Encyclopedia. Winwaed Software Technology LLC. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  5. ^ Boddy et al. 1983, p. 133.
  6. ^ a b Boddy et al. 1983, p. 130.
  7. ^ Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 34. ISBN 0-906899 03 6.
  8. ^ Hoole, Ken (1983). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 4. Truro: Atlantic Books. p. 8. ISBN 0-906899-07-9.
  9. ^ Shand, Alistair. "Old loco back on track". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  10. ^ "W.D Austerity 2-8-0 90733 launch". Hawthorne Village. Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
  11. ^ "Wartime loco back to its former glory". Keighley News. IPSO. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  • Boddy, M. G.; Brown, W. A.; Neve, E.; Yeadon, W. B. (November 1983). Fry, E. V. (ed.). Locomotives of the L.N.E.R., Part 6B: Tender Engines—Classes O1 to P2. Kenilworth: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-54-1.
  • Rowledge, J.W.P. Heavy Goods Engines of the War Department Vol. 3 Austerity 2-8-0 and 2-10-0
  • Tourret, R. (1995). Allied Military Locomotives of the Second World War. Abingdon, Oxon: Tourret Publishing. ISBN 0-905878-06-X.

External links[edit]