British Rail Class 04

The British Rail Class 04 was a 0-6-0 diesel-mechanical shunting locomotive class, built between 1952[1] and 1962 and was the basis for the later Class 03 built in the British Railways workshops. However, the first locomotive to be built to the design was actually DS1173, in 1948, which served as a departmental shunter at Hither Green depot, before being transferred to the capital stock list as D2341 in 1967. The Class 04 locomotives were supplied by the Drewry Car Co., which at the time (and for most of its existence) had no manufacturing capability. Drewry sub-contracted the construction work to two builders both of whom built other locomotives under the same arrangement. Early locomotives (including DS1173) were built by Vulcan Foundry and later examples were built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns.

British Rail Class 04
11226 at Hither Green Depot in March 1960.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-mechanical
BuilderDrewry Car Co., at Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns
Build date1948 (D2341); 1952–1962 (D2200-2340)
Total produced142
  Whyte0-6-0 DM
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameterD2200–D2214: 3 ft 3 in (0.991 m)
D2215–D2273: 3 ft 6 in (1.067 m)
D2274–D2339: 3 ft 7 in (1.092 m)
Minimum curve2 chains (130 ft; 40 m)
Wheelbase9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
Length26 ft 0 12 in (7.94 m)
Width8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Height12 ft 1 12 in (3.696 m)
Loco weight30.2 long tons (30.7 t; 33.8 short tons) to
32 long tons (32.5 t; 35.8 short tons)
Fuel capacity225 imp gal (1,020 l; 270 US gal) to
300 imp gal (1,400 l; 360 US gal)
Prime moverGardner 8L3
TransmissionWilson-Drewry 5 speed epicyclic gearbox
Train heatingNone
Train brakesVacuum
Performance figures
Maximum speed25 mph (40 km/h) to
27 mph (43 km/h)
Power outputEngine: 204 hp (152 kW)
At rail: 152 hp (113 kW)
Tractive effortMaximum: 16,850 lbf (75.0 kN) to
15,650 lbf (69.6 kN)
Brakeforce14 long tons-force (139.5 kN)
OperatorsBritish Railways
Axle load classD2200–D2214: RA 1
D2215–D2340: RA 2
Disposition19 preserved, remainder scrapped


A clear line of development can be seen in the Class 04s from the 0-4-0DM locomotives built by Andrew Barclay and Drewry/Vulcan Foundry in the early 1940s. The design continued to develop during the construction period, but this was generally confined to the size of the cab windows and the diameter of the wheels. Similar locomotives had been built before the first Class 04, and others were built for industrial use.

Use on tramways

The first four of these locomotives (11100-3 later D2200-3) were fitted with side skirting and cowcatchers for use on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway and on the Yarmouth Docks tramway system. (British law requires locomotives running on unfenced street trackage to be so protected for the protection of pedestrians). The next batch differed from the first in being fitted with conical exhaust stacks (instead of the plain exhaust pipe that was later added to the original exhaust "hole") and shaped cab front windows (instead of the rectangular windows of the first batch). However, at least two (11111/D2210 and 11113/D2212) were also fitted with cowcatchers, etc. for use on the Ipswich docks tramway system. (Note - from 11115/D2215 the small cab side window of the first two batches was replaced by a much larger window, the rear half of which slid open.)

Technical details


Mechanically they were identical to the Class 03, with the same 24 litre Gardner engine, 5-speed epicyclic gearbox and the same overall layout. They had a straight bonnet (US: hood) from the front to the rear-mounted cab, unlike the 03s which bulged higher towards the rear (over the larger fuel tank), and the cab's rounded roof met the sides at an angle instead of with a curve as in the 03, with a lip all the way round. The internal cab layout was almost symmetrical to allow the driver to work from either side as required.

Drive Train

The engine is a Gardner 8-cyl, 4-stroke 8L3 developing 204 hp (152 kW) at 1200 rpm, connected to a Wilson-Drewry CA5 R7, 5-speed epicyclic with RF11 spiral bevel reverse and final drive unit mounted on a jackshaft. The drive to the wheels was by coupling rods from the jackshaft.


The class was distributed throughout the British Railways system, but the significant decline in the traffic for which they were designed resulted in a large surplus of shunting engines on the network. With this reduction in the need for shunters it was decided to standardise on the Class 03 as a light diesel-mechanical shunter and the Class 08 and 09 as larger, diesel-electric shunters.


The Class 04s were withdrawn from service earlier than the Class 03, being taken out of service between June 1967 and May 1972, with some sold for re-use by industry. Four were exported to Italy about 1972, with D2289 reported as still in service until 2012.

Table of withdrawals [2]
YearQuantity in
service at
start of year
Locomotive numbers
196714213D2203/07/54/63/66/73/75/88/90–92, D2303/39.
197200D2217 (reinstated and withdrawn).


19 examples of the BR Class 04 fleet have been preserved, although (until 2003), there was previously a 20th example but it has since been scrapped:

Number Image Built Original Allocation Current Owner Current Location Status Notes
D2203 19/07/1952 Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway[3] Only surviving locomotive from the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway.
D2205 14/03/1953 Thornaby Heritage Shunters Trust Rowsley South, Peak Rail Non Operational Worked Middlesbrough Docks its entire life, sold to the Port Authority in 1969. Preserved initially at the Kent and East Sussex Railway, then moved to West Somerset Railway. Placed up for sale in April 2012,[4] it was sold to the Heritage Shunters Trust in October 2012
D2207 14/02/1953 North Yorkshire Moors Railway North Yorkshire Moors Railway Operational Full overhaul completed 2018. BR Green with Wasp Stripes. Usually based at Pickering C&W.
D2229 28/11/1955 Heritage Shunters Trust Rowsley South, Peak Rail After sale from BR, owned by the National Coal Board and operated at Manton Wood Colliery, Worksop
D2245 12/11/1956 Leeds Neville Hill Private Derwent Valley Light Railway (York) Operational Previously owned by the Derwent Valley Light Railway[5]
D2246 06/12/1956 Devon Diesel Society South Devon Railway Operational
D2267 20/01/1958 North Norfolk Railway Scrapped in situ, circa April 2003
D2271 14/03/1958 South Devon Railway South Devon Diesel Traction Group
D2272 28/03/1958 Heritage Shunters Trust Peak Rail
D2279 15/02/1960 East Anglian Railway Museum East Anglian Railway Museum Operational Painted in BR Green with wasp stripes. Used regularly for shunting and on occasional passenger trains.
D2260 10/12/1957 Private Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Operational Not actually an ex BR loco. but the second of two built by RS&H after 11212, DC/RSH nos. 2572/7858 (later D2242) and before 11213, DC/RSH nos. 2575/7862 (later D2243) and having the DC/RSH nos. 2574/7860. It carries the number 11230, as the last of the 'old numbers' used by BR was 11229. It so happens that 11230 would have been the 'old number' allocated to D2260. It was used at CEGB's Willington Power Station. However the GWSR do have an ex BR Class 04 loco. which is D2280, DC/RSH nos. 2657/8098, which was sold to the Ford Motor Co. in 1971.
D2284 25/03/1960 Heritage Shunters Trust Peak Rail
D2289 00/00/1960 Heritage Shunters Trust Undergoing Overhaul
D2298 11/10/1960 Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
D2302 31/10/1960 D2578 Locomotive Group, Moreton Business Park
D2310 22/12/1960 Battlefield Line
D2324 26/04/1961 Barrow Hill Roundhouse
D2325 29/04/1961 Mangapps Railway Museum Operational
D2334 25/07/1961 Heaton Private Mid-Norfolk Railway Undergoing Overhaul British Rail Class 04 diesel-mechanical shunting locomotive D2334 was built by the Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn Company in 1961. Outshopped from Darlington Works in 1961, the 04 arrived at Heaton from new on 25 July. Moved on to Percy Main ( North Shields ) on 8 June 1963, then to Gateshead on 30 January 1965 and finally to Darlington on 24 February 1968. Withdrawn from service in 1968 after which it was owned by the National Coal Board (Manvers Main Colliery in South Yorkshire, then Wath, followed by Thurcroft and finally Maltby) before being sold for preservation in 1985
D2337 30/08/1961 Heritage Shunters Trust Peak Rail

Fictional characters

The 'Tramway' Class 04 locomotives were the basis for the character Mavis in The Railway Series books written by the Rev. W. Awdry, and the subsequent Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends TV series. A class 04 is preserved in a similar livery at Mangapps Railway Museum, running number 11104.

The design was also the basis of some related engines not for the UK that were not standard gauge. An example of this was theTasmanian Government Railways V class which ran on 3 foot 6 gauge which is why it had an outside frame design as the main visible difference.


Airfix produced a plastic (static) OO kit in the 1960s; this is still available in the Dapol range as kit number C60.

Bachmann produced an example in N and 00, 0 and 1 gauge. An HO gauge model was made to be used as the Thomas and Friends character Mavis.

In O gauge Vulcan produced a Kit and Bachmann produced ready to run models



  • Strickland, David C. (September 1983). Locomotive Directory: Every Single One There Has Ever Been. Camberley, Surrey: Diesel and Electric Group. ISBN 978-0-9063-7510-5. OCLC 16601890.
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