80151 is a member of the BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T class, which was designed at Brighton under Riddles and introduced in 1951. They were based on an existing 2-6-4T design built by Fairburn for the LMS (itself derived from earlier Stanier and Fowler designs) and share many components with the Standard Class 4 4-6-0 tender engines, of which the Bluebell's 75027 is an example.
Right: 80151 during a photo charter in 2004 (Jon Bowers)
155 of the engines were built at Brighton, Derby and Doncaster. Designed to a common loading gauge and able to work over all but the lightest of lines, they found useful employment on a wide variety of traffic including tightly-timed commuter trains (notably on the London, Tilbury and Southend line), general passenger trains and branch line work. 80151 comes from the final batch, constructed at Brighton in 1956.
The Standard Class 4MT tanks were more handsome in appearance than their LMS forebears, and were well liked by their crews for their comfortable cabs, free running, good steaming and economical operation. They performed their duties well until the arrival of diesel units for local services and the electrification of suburban routes rendered them redundant. Withdrawals began in 1964; the final nine were condemned by the Southern Region in July 1967. One of these was 80151, then based at Eastleigh shed. Like many of its fellows it was sent for scrap to Woodham's yard at Barry.
Left: 80148, 76058 and 80151 en-route to Barry Scrapyard, at Basingstoke, 23 July 1967 (Nostalgia Collection/Ray Ruffell)
The engine was bought for preservation in 1974 by a group based in Essex, and work proceeded slowly until 1998 when it was transferred to the Bluebell Railway. Restoration was completed as quickly as possible and 80151 re-entered traffic in 2001. Since then it has been a reliable and consistent performer; designed to run equally well backwards and forwards, it is ideally suited to the type of trains normally operated on the Bluebell. In early 2011 it received some boiler work, and the loco's certification was extended until May 2012.
Right: 80151 taking water at Sheffield Park (Derek Hayward - 28 October 2003)
Its most recent overhaul started in at the end of September 2015, one of the first major tasks being to remove the driving wheels for re-tyring, new tyres already having been obtained. The overhaul, which cost over half a million pounds saw heavy maintenance and boilerwork undertaken in-house.
It is particularly appropriate that a member of this class should be working on the Bluebell Railway, as the 4MT tanks worked many of the passenger trains on the line during its final years under BR operation, and 80151 itself, built at Brighton Works, is known to have worked the line's services on occasion. Two other members of the class also survive on the Bluebell: 80064, which worked on the line from 1984 to 1991 and is now awaiting its turn for overhaul, and 80100 which was rescued by the Bluebell from Barry scrapyard in 1978 and is awaiting restoration.