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.

BR Standard Number Name Former "N15" Number
73080 Merlin 30740
73081 Excalibur 30736
73082 Camelot 30742
73083 Pendragon 30746
73084 Tintagel 30745
73085 Melisande 30753
73086 The Green Knight 30754
73087 Linette 30752
73088 Joyous Gard 30741
73089 Maid of Astolat 30744
73110 The Red Knight 30755
73111 King Uther 30737
73112 Morgan le Fay 30750
73113 Lyonnesse 30743
73114 Etarre 30751
73115 King Pellinore 30738
73116 Iseult 30749
73117 Vivien 30748
73118 King Leodegrance 30739
73119 Elaine 30747

Notes on Tenders

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

Tender Type Locomotive Nos. Water Capacity (Gallons) Coal Capacity (Tons)
BR1 73000 to 73049 4,250 7
BR1B 73080 to 73089 ; 73100 to 73109 ; 73120 to 73134 ; 73145 to 73171 4,725 7
BR1C 73065 to 73079 ; 73090 to 73099 ; 73135 to 73144 4,725 9
BR1F 73110 to 73119 5,625* 7
BR1G 73050 to 73052 5,000 7
BR1H 73053 to 73064 4,250 7

*Water capacity was the greatest of all the 5MT tender types. These tenders were paired only with the Nine Elms-based examples listed above. The SR network lacked the water troughs found on other regions, hence the requirement to carry a greater amount of liquid.

28th May 1951

The doyen of them all: No. 73000 is seen on shed at Derby, barely a month old but already looking grubby. On 26th of the previous month, the engine made its way from Neasden Shed to Marylebone for official inspection. By 1955 No. 73000 had been allocated to Nottingham (17A); by 1959, the engine had moved to Sheffield Grimesthorpe (41B). The first to be built, No. 73000 was one of the last of the class to be withdrawn, being retired in March 1968. © David Glasspool Collection

12th April 1958

Stewarts Lane-allocated No. 73089 is seen between Beckenham Junction and Shortlands fronting an express to Ramsgate, all but one carriage being in "Blood and Custard" colours. By the following year, No. 73089 had moved to Nine Elms, hauling trains to and from Waterloo, and was later named "Maid of Astolat". Note the curved upper flanges of the tender, which was of greater water capacity than that of No. 73000 pictured above. © David Glasspool Collection

27th April 1961

No. 73042 is seen entering Eastleigh station with an "up" service from Bournemouth West to Waterloo, Bulleid-designed carriage stock in tow. This locomotive started life on the London Midland Region and, as of 1955, was based at Chester (6A), Cheshire. By 1959, the locomotive had moved to the South Eastern Division of the Southern Region, having received Stewarts Lane allocation. After the electrification of Kent Coast lines, the engine moved to the South Western Division, being allocated to Weymouth. Withdrawal came in 1965. © David Glasspool Collection

29th February 1964

A well-weathered No. 73074 is seen flanked by a couple of Western Region engines, that on the left being No. 6878 "Longford Grange", the latter of which was withdrawn in the November. The engine on the right is possibly another Grange or Hall. In November of the previous year, No. 73074 was listed as being allocated to Nine Elms (70A). © David Glasspool Collection

18th April 1964

No. 73171 is seen two miles west of Brookwood, heading in the "up" direction, with a Bournemouth West to Waterloo service. On first look, the train appears freight in nature, but behind the leading vans can just be seen the profile of a passenger carriage emerging. The engine was at this time allocated to Feltham; previously, in 1959, it was based out of Leeds Holbeck (55A) on the London Midland Region. The train will shortly pass below the flyover which takes the "up" track of the branch from Alton over the main line, both merging at Pirbright Junction, the latter situated 1½-miles west of Brookwood station. © David Glasspool Collection