BR ex-WD Austerity 2-8-0

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90074 at West Hartlepool shed, 1967

The British Railways (BR) ex-WD Austerity 2-8-0 was a class of 733 2-8-0 steam locomotives designed for heavy freight. These locomotives of the WD Austerity 2-8-0 type had been constructed by the War Department as war locomotives 1943-1945. After the war they were surplus and so in 1946 the LNER bought 200 of them, classifying them as LNER Class O7, and by the end of 1947 when the LNER was nationalised, had taken another 278 O7s on loan. After nationalisation, BR purchased 533 more 2-8-0s, including all of those on loan, giving a class total of 733. As many of these needed overhauling before being put to work, they were activated slowly. BR chose to reclassified from LNER Class O7 and renumbered them from the 6xxxx LNER series in the 90000-732 series for BR standard designs.


90732 was named Vulcan after the Vulcan Foundry.


BR considered them as standard classes,[citation needed] numbering them in the numbering series allocated for BR standard classes, assigned them the boiler diagram BR10; while their tenders were assigned the diagram BR5. BR built 53 new boilers at Crewe between 1951 and 1954.


The class were used almost entirely on freight services, and were always unusual on passenger work. Well over half the total number were always on the former LNER system, from East Anglia up to Scotland, and there was also a large number across the former Lancashire & Yorkshire railway depots. Some were initially used on the Southern Region, but later left there, while another smaller group was on the Western Region for much of their lives. The Scottish ones later spread from just the ex-LNER lines across the rest of the Region.


The engines were withdrawn from service as follows:

Year No. withdrawn Nos
1959 1 90083
1960 2 90062 etc.
1961 0
1962 80
1963 97
1964 125
1965 201
1966 104
1967 123


Preserved Austerity in British Railways livery and carrying a BR series number, was actually never a BR engine.

None of the BR Austerity 2-8-0s was preserved. However, one Austerity 2-8-0 (out of a total of 935 engines) has survived; WD No. 79257. This has returned to Britain via the Netherlands and Sweden, and has been restored to original condition and given the "BR number" 90733.


  • Roger Tourret Allied Military Locomotives of the Second World War
  • Willie Yeadon, Yeadon's Register of LNER Locomotives Vol.15: Class J94, O6, and O7 the engines from the years of expediency. Challenger, 1999