Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The 'Austerity' 0-6-0ST locomotive

'Austerity' Elevation (Industrial Railway Record).


In World War II, there was an urgent need for additional shunting engines to deal with the massive volumes of war materiel being produced. To save time, Robert ('Robin') Riddles at the Ministry of Supply chose an existing design - the Hunslet 18-inch industrial - which, with some modifications, was produced in large numbers by Hunslet and other locomotive manufacturers. After the War, many of these locomotives were 'demobbed', finding a new life in collieries and power stations. A total of 75 ended up in LNER stock (classified as 'J94') and a few of these were eventually transferred to Rowsley shed, working on the notorious Cromford and High Peak line. Some new building continued after the War up to 1964 bringing the total build to 485 locomotives.

Hunslet re-acquired some of the surplus locomotives and converted them to the 'Gas Producer' system, based on the work of L. D. Porta in Argentina.

As 'Austerities' were scrapped, around 70 were purchased by preservation groups and, over the years, many of these have re-entered service.


Two live steam injectors, which force cold water from the saddle tank into the boiler, are provided on 'Austerity' tank locomotives. The Davies and Metcalfe 'Monitor' Live Steam Injector, used on the class, has a good reputation and it's well-worth studying the manufacturer's publication here.

'Austerities' I've driven

The first 'Austerity' I worked on was 68009, on which I took my practical driving examination at Tyseley. We were later re-united at the Battlefield line, by which time she was '8009'.

Next came an 'Austerity' at the North Norfolk Railway. This engine's claim to fame was that she was fitted with a Giesl Ejector, replacing a standard blast pipe and chimney. I believe N.C.B. fitted a number of their 'Austerities' with this feature.

At Peak Rail, 'Duke' was a regular performer. Eventually, this 'Austerity' posed as 68006 (one of the Rowsley 'Austerities').

The boiler backhead of 'Duke' (Photo: Marion Reeves).

'Warrington' was the other 'Austerity' at Peak Rail when I joined. I'd first met this locomotive at Dinting Railway Centre as 'Warrington' with the plain chimney cowling I never liked. She remained 'Warrington' for a time at Peak Rail but, thankfully, a proper cast chimney was eventually substituted. Repainted black and carrying the number 68012, she revived memories of the Cromford and High Peak when running with 68006. Then, she assumed her former military identity as WD150, with copies of the nameplates she carried for a time in military service 'Royal Pioneer'.

WD150 'Royal Pioneer' at Rowsley.

Back at the Battlefield Line, I drove the well-known 'Austerity' from N.C.B. service 'Whiston'.

'Lord Phil' arrived at Peak Rail directly from restoration and required a fair bit of extra work before becoming a reasonably reliable engine.

Peak Rail: 'Lord Phil' at Matlock, ready to haul the service train back to Rowsley.

In contrast, WD132 'Sapper' which was at Peak Rail for a time was always a rock-solid performer. It had a 'Kylchap' exhaust combined with the plain chimney cowling I'm not a fan of. 'Sapper' has her own 'Loco Profile' here

'Sapper' operating a 'Santa Special' at Peak Pail.

During Peak Rail's 'Blazing Saddles' event, I got to drive Dean Forest's 'Austerity' 'Wilbert' which I found willing but in need of Tender Loving Care.

'Wilbert' on the rear of a down train at Darley Dale at the Peak Rail 'Blazing Saddles' Event.

Most recently, I drove 'Cumbria' at the Battlefield Line, looking quite handsome but also in need of some mechanical attention.

Battlefield Line Steam Gala, October 2015: 3794 'Cumbria'.

The most unlikely 'Austerity' I've driven is Hunslet 3781, rebuilt by the Mid-Hants Railway as a very convincing 'Thomas'. I drove that that at the Battlefield Line for a 'Thomas' event.

Hunslet 3781, rebuilt as 'Thomas'.

That's a total of 10 'Austerities' I've driven (not counting the 'multiple personalities' some engines adopted at various times).

Related articles on other sites

There's a useful 'Wikipedia' article on 'Austerities' here and a list of preserved examples here.

THE 18in HUNSLETS (article by H. A. Gamble for the Industrial Railway Record)

Austerity 0-6-0st type as modified by L.D.Porta & Hunslet (Article by Martyn Bane).

The 'Austerity Locomotive Owners Association' (A.L.O.A.) has information as part of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society Steam Web Site (select the 'A.L.O.A.' tab).

[A.L.O.A. url updated 23-12-2016, 13-Aug-2017: Injector data added 13-Aug-2017]