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BR Standard Class 4 4-6-0 Locomotive No.75027
– one of the last steam locomotives working on British Railways


Click to enlarge - Standard Class 4 75027 at Kingscote - Derek Hayward

No.75027 seen here during the run-round at Kingscote in August 2006.
Derek Haywardclick to enlarge image.

75027 on a goods train in 1998 - Richard Salmon
Although three narrow-gauge locos continued to work the Vale of Rheidol line, regular steam-hauled trains ended on BR in August 1968. 75027 was withdrawn from BR service from Carnforth shed (BR code 10A) at that time. It was purchased by the late Charlie Pyne, then one of our working members, and generously donated by him (anonymously) to the railway.

The Standard Class 4 4-6-0 tender engines were designed as a lighter version of the Class 5 4-6-0 (like 73082). Similar in concept to the GWR Manor class, their greater route availability allowed them to haul both freight and passenger services on the country's secondary routes. Some, with larger tenders, were allocated to the Southern Region but 75027 is essentially a foreigner to the south, having been built for the Western Region (the blue disc painted on the cab-side is its WR route availability code). However, it may not have been a stranger to the south, as it was noted at Bournemouth West in 1962, during its time on the Somerset and Dorset line.

75027 was ordered under the 1952 build programme as one of a batch of locomotives comprising Nos. 75020-75029. Production of this batch of locomotives (plus numerous others) was delayed due to a national steel shortage, during which the Government prioritised steel output towards export products. As a consequence, 75027 was not completed until May 1954 at BR Swindon Works as part of Lot No. 400, although the builder's plates show 1953 as the build date. It was coupled to a type BR2 small tender and would have been outshopped in BR lined black livery with an early BR crest on the tender. After 1956 the BR Regions were given a little more autonomy in the matter of loco liveries, and one result of this was the WR painting more locomotives in green – 75027 being an example.

The photo above shows No.75027 approaching Horsted Keynes with a goods train in 1998.

Initially allocated to Laira (Plymouth) shed (83D), it was transferred to Reading (81D) in September of that year. Transfers of locomotives were generally recorded at the end of a Period, each being four weeks; thus there are 13 Periods in a year. This transfer was recorded at the end of Period 10 of 1954.

Ironically the Modernisation Plan published by BR on 1st December 1954 called for the elimination of steam traction. The service history of 75027 illustrates the decline of steam over the next thirteen years.

At the end of 1954 (P13/'54) the loco was transferred to Oxford (81F), where it remained until February 1959 (P2/'59). 75027 then moved to Swindon (82C), followed by Templecombe (82G) on the Somerset & Dorset line in February (P2) 1960.

At the end of the 1962 summer timetable all through services were diverted away from the S&D route, so November 1962 saw the loco on the Cambrian Coast route, being shedded first at Machynlleth (89C), then Croes Newydd (6C) in March 1963. This former GWR shed in Wrexham had just been transferred to the London Midland Region under boundary changes, which also brought the narrow-gauge Vale of Rheidol line under LMR control. BR steam ended on the Western Region in 1964.

February 1965 saw the loco allocated to Liverpool (Bank Hall) (8K) where it remained until October 1966, the shed being closed completely on 22nd of that month. Bank Hall's allocation of locos was transferred to Aintree (8L); 75027 stayed there for just one month (Aintree itself was booked for closure on 6th March 1967, but finally closed on 12 June).

From November 1966 until January 1967 the loco was allocated to Skipton (10G) where one of its duties was to serve Swinden quarry on the Grassington branch. The lower axle-loading of the 75xxx class made them ideal engines for this work. Skipton was also booked for closure on 6th March 1967.

From January to April 1967 75027 was allocated to Carnforth (10A) but it spent at least some of that time in store at Carlisle Upperby (noted there in April with 75019 and 75039).

75027 was then transferred to Tebay (12E) until January 1968; there it was one of nine similar locos rostered for banking duties on the Grayrigg Incline between Oxenholme and Tebay. Tebay shed had previously been booked for closure in that month, with the banking duties due to be taken over by diesel locos on 1st January. The replacement Clayton (D85xx later, Class 17) Type 1 class locomotives had been introduced in 1962 but were particularly unreliable, so Class 4 steam locos were still used occasionally to cover diesel failures until banking was deemed no longer necessary for diesel-hauled trains.

The final shed for 75027 was Carnforth (10A), where it was one of the last five of the class in service. 75027 was noted as the last banker at Oxenholme on 4th May 1968 – banking was no longer available at Oxenholme after this. It also continued to work on the Grassington branch, being noted there in May and June. A week before the end, 75027 and 75019 worked an enthusiasts' special organised by the Severn Valley R.P.S. Withdrawal from BR service came with the end of steam on 3rd August 1968.

When it arrived at Sheffield Park in January 1969, 75027 appeared to be far larger than was necessary on the Bluebell Railway of the late 1960s. It ran almost immediately after delivery, largely in ex-BR condition (albeit with its grimy green paintwork well cleaned) and soon proved its worth as we entered the 1970s. After a repaint in 1971 it continued as the mainstay of the fleet until 1975.

A relatively modern loco, capable of hauling heavier trains up our 1-in-75 gradients, it was very much appreciated. It remains to this day the ideal locomotive for many of our trains, powerful yet economical, attractive and easy to prepare and maintain.

Given an overhaul in 1978, it ran for another period of service through much of the 1980s, and again for a decade following a further general repair completed in 1997. It was withdrawn from service to await another overhaul at the end of February 2007.


Standard Class 4, with the U-class - Mike Esau

No.75027 in a classic Somerset & Dorset double-heading combination with U-class No.1618.
Mike Esau


75027 at Sheffield Park distant - Derek Hayward Class: Standard Class 4
Wheels: 4-6-0
Class introduced: 1951
Designed: at Brighton; R.A. Riddles
Built: 1954 at BR Swindon Works
Purpose: Mixed traffic
Total number built: 80
Number: 75027
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 22 January 1969
Last Operational: end of February 2007
Current status: Static display awaiting overhaul

Length: 50ft
Weight: Engine 69 tons, Tender 42 tons 3cwt
Water capacity: 3,500 gallons
Coal capacity: 6 Tons
Boiler pressure: 225 lb/sq.in
Driving Wheels: 5ft 8in diameter
Cylinders: (two, outside) 18" x 28"
Tractive effort: 25,515 lbs
BR power classification: 4MT

Photo right: The loco passes Sheffield Park distant signal – Derek Hayward


75027 in Lindfield Wood with the SR vintage set - Derek Hayward 75027 on shed at Sheffield Park - Derek Hayward 75027 at Three Arch Bridge - 27 July 2006 - Derek Hayward

Three more of Derek Hayward's photos.

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