British Rail Class 04

British Rail Class 04

D2298, as preserved at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
(NB - few examples were given any form of blue livery while in service with British Railways)
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-mechanical
Builder Drewry Car Co., at Vulcan Foundry and Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns
Build date 1948 (D2341); 1952–1962 (D2200-2340)
Total produced 142
Configuration 0-6-0
UIC class C
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Wheel diameter D2200–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 curve 2 chains (130 ft; 40 m)
Wheelbase 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
Length 26 ft 0 12 in (7.94 m)
Width 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Height 12 ft 1 12 in (3.696 m)
Loco weight 30.2 long tons (30.7 t; 33.8 short tons) to
32 long tons (32.5 t; 35.8 short tons)
Fuel capacity 225 imp gal (1,020 l; 270 US gal) to
300 imp gal (1,400 l; 360 US gal)
Prime mover Gardner 8L3
Transmission Wilson-Drewry 5 speed epicyclic gearbox
Train heating None
Train brakes Vacuum
Performance figures
Maximum speed 25 mph (40 km/h) to
27 mph (43 km/h)
Power output Engine: 204 hp (152 kW)
At rail: 152 hp (113 kW)
Tractive effort Maximum: 16,850 lbf (75.0 kN) to
15,650 lbf (69.6 kN)
Loco brakeforce 14 long tons-force (139.5 kN)
Operators British Railways
Numbers D2200–D2341
Axle load class D2200–D2214: RA 1
D2215–D2340: RA 2
Withdrawn 1968-1971
Disposition 18 preserved, remainder scrapped

The British Rail Class 04 was a 0-6-0 diesel-mechanical shunting locomotive class, built between 1952 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.


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.

Table of withdrawals [1]
Year Quantity in
service at
start of year
Locomotive numbers
1967 142 13 D2203/07/54/63/66/73/75/88/90/91/92, D2303/39.
1968 129 74 D2200–02/08/09/13/14/18–22/24/26–28/30/32–36/38/40/45/46,
1969 55 28 D2204–06/15/25/29/31/37/42/43/47/53/64/67/71/74/76/77/83/85/96,
1970 27 15 D2210–12/44/48/49/58/60/61/65/72/78/82/97/99.
1971 12 12 D2216/17/23/39/41/79/80/84/89/93–95.
1972 0 0 D2217 (reinstated and withdrawn).


18 examples of the BR Class 04 fleet have been originally preserved, although there was (until 2003) a 19th example but it has since been scrapped with 1 still in use in Italy D2289:

Number Image Built Original Allocation Current Owner Current Location Status Notes
D2203 19/07/1952 Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway[2]
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,[3] it was sold to the Heritage Shunters Trust in October 2012
D2207 14/02/1953 North Yorkshire Moors Railway
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[4] Usual home at Battlefield Line
D2246 06/12/1956 Devon Diesel Society South Devon Railway
D2267 20/01/1958 North Norfolk Railway Scrapped in situ, circa April 2003
D2271 West Somerset Railway West Somerset Railway
D2272 Heritage Shunters Trust Peak Rail
D2279 East Anglian Railway Museum Peak Rail Undergoing Overhaul Currently undergoing a full overhaul. Will then return to the East Anglian Railway Museum
D2280 M&GNJRS North Norfolk Railway
D2284 25/03/1960 Heritage Shunters Trust Peak Rail
D2298 1960 Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
D2302 D2578 Locomotive Group, Moreton Business Park
D2310 Battlefield Line
D2324 Barrow Hill Roundhouse
D2325 Mangapps Railway Museum
D2334 Churnet Valley Railway
D2337 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 this guise at Mangapps Railway Museum, running number 11104.


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


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British Rail Class 04
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