As I passed by on the Watercress Line’s Heritage DMU Thumper Unit 1125 (click here for more), I spied a visitor sitting in Ropley loco yard sitting next to a class 08 diesel shunter (click here for more), as can be seen in the picture above. The visitor was BR Standard class 7MT 70000 Britannia, that had run during the railway’s Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends event a few days previously.
Britannia was the first British Railways standard class locomotive built and is of course a Pacific type, not an Atlantic. This means it has a wheel arrangement of 4-6-2, rater than 4-4-2. However as can be seen from the photographs, the 1951 built machine had two of its driving wheels removed, making it (temporarily) a 4-4-2!
4-4-2 Atlantic’s were a common type of express locomotive in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. However, as locomotives required more traction, they soon fell out of favour for 4-6-0 or 4-6-2 types. By the end of the age of steam in the UK, many 4-4-2’s had either been withdrawn or were going to be retired soon and there certainly never was a BR Standard Atlantic to replace them.
Britannia is one of two BR Standard 7MT 4-6-2 locomotives in preservation, the other is 70013 Oliver Cromwell. Funnily enough, although I have seen Britannia on several occasions, Oliver Cromwell has always eluded me. I hope to catch it one day, but until then I had a good look at it’s older classmate whilst I had the opportunity. I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Click here to read more articles from this visit to the Watercress Line.