Kent Rail

BR Standard 5MT



The first BR Standard to emerge was 7MT No. 70000 ‘’Britannia’’, in January 1951, which was open to mixed emotions. Many of the older railwaymen, steeped in the days of the Grouping, viewed the engine as worse than their existing express passenger locomotive fleets which they came to augment. However, the ‘’Standard’’ range of engines became comparatively cheap to run, and were easier to maintain for less competent servicing and maintenance teams. Based heavily on pre-nationalisation designs of the LMS, the ‘’Standard’’ engines were generally built to a more restrictive loading gauge than their predecessors, improving route availability and versatility.

The design team for what became the second BR Standard type was based at Doncaster, and Riddles observed his Chief Draftsmen produce a locomotive - on paper - which heavily resembled Stanier’s ‘’Black Five’’ engines of the LMS. Of the latter, 842 had been produced in stages between 1934 and 1951; where the Black Five production left off, that of the BR Standard version took over. The first engine, classified as a ‘’Standard 5MT’’ and numbered 73000, left Derby Works in April 1951, subsequently heading to Sheffield on the Eastern Region. Like the Stanier engines, it utilised a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement (one which was heavily used by the GWR), had a virtually identical boiler (measuring 13 foot 2 inches in length, and tapering in diameter from 5 foot 8 inches to 4 foot 11 inches), and had outside cylinders for ease of maintenance. The cab, however, was noticeably of ‘’Britannia’’ lineage, the tender was also of a BR design, and the driving wheels were two inches larger than the six-foot diameter examples of Stanier’s engines.

Derby was responsible for the construction of locomotive Nos. 73000 to 73089; thereafter, Nos. 73110 to 73171 were assembled at Doncaster Works. Of the latter batch, there was a significant variation: that of the valve gear. The majority of the 172 engines built were fitted with Walschaerts Valve Gear, but Nos. 73125 to 73154 instead had Caprotti Valve Gear installed. In brief, the latter, designed by Italian engineer Arturo Caprotti, was fitted to a number of locomotive classes over the years under the impression that it was more efficient than existing systems. Subsequently, the Caprotti system transpired to be an expensive and difficult arrangement to maintain, eventually causing a reduction in efficiency compared with its Walschaerts counterpart. The valve gear was not the only variation within the batches, however - there was also the issue of tenders. When the 5MT construction had reached completion in 1957, there were six tender variations among the class, each subsequent build offering varying water and coal capacity combinations.

In total, twenty were delivered to the Southern Region when new: Nos. 73080 to 73089 and Nos. 73110 to 73119. Seven went to Stewarts Lane on the South Eastern Division, whilst the remaining thirteen went to Nine Elms on the South Western. The largest recipients of the type were the Midland and Scottish Regions, which acquired 38 and 48 examples respectively. Switching the concentration to the South Eastern Division examples, Nos. 73080 to 73086, these engines were generally found on those ex-LC&DR lines to the Kent Coast. When the ‘’Chatham’’ main line was subject to electrification in June 1959, the 5MTs were re-allocated to Nine Elms, bringing the South Western Division allocation of the type to twenty. The ‘’Chatham’’ line electrification also resulted in the withdrawal and scrapping of numerous pre-Grouping and pre-Nationalisation engines, the graceful ‘’King Arthurs’’ being one of the affected classes. Indeed, the latter had also experienced a cull with the advent of the Bulleid Pacifics and, marginally later, the BR Standard classes. In the month preceding the ex-LC&DR trunk route going ‘’live’’, ex-King Arthur class names began being applied to the 5MT fleet, but only to those twenty examples which were allocated to the Southern Region.

Withdrawals of the class began in 1964, after an uneconomically short BR career. Southern Region examples lasted until the end of steam on the Waterloo main line, in July 1967, but the very first example, No. 73000, lasted right into the final year of steam, not being withdrawn until March 1968.


Names: Transferred from Class N15

An Aside Note on Tenders

As touched upon in the main text, this class was supplied with no less than six tender variations:



No. 73029 is seen heading southwards from Eastleigh with a freight, equipped with a 4250-gallon tender. In

the background can be seen a Type 3 diesel (later Class 33), whilst far in the distance, at the platforms, can

just be seen a WR Hymek. © David Glasspool Collection




No. 73098 piloting No. 73099 at Bellshill, Scotland

Two BR Standard 5MT locomotives are depicted in this view from about 1965, working a ''Murrayfield

Special'' through Bellshill (situated in-between Glasgow and Motherwell). No. 73098 is piloting No. 73099,

and both locomotives are paired with BR1C tenders. Note this variant of tender includes curved upper

fairings, as per the Scottish-based ''Britannias'', which were designed to improve airflow over the engine.

© David Glasspool Collection


June 1966


In June 1966, BR Standard 5MT No. 73018 is observed piloting West Country Class No. 34004 ''Yeovil''

on Upwey Bank. At this time, No. 73018 was allocated to Weymouth shed, and the West Country was

also devoid of nameplates. Removal of the latter was done to prevent theft, the nameplates then beginning

to accumulate significant value. Many Battle of Britain Class nameplates were presented by British Rail

to the Royal Air Force Museum. © David Glasspool Collection


24th September 1966


Change is imminent as No. 73119 ''Elaine'' approaches Fleet, Hampshire, on 24th September 1966, with a

non-stop Bournemouth express. The platforms have received prefabricated concrete extensions in readiness

for longer electric formations, and colour aspect lights are due to replace the splendid semaphore gantry.

© David Glasspool Collection



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