LMS Stanier 8F 48773

LMS Stanier 8F 48773
LMS Class 8F No 48733 (8233) (8062220835).jpg
48773 at Bridgnorth, running as LMS 8233
Built By North British Locomotive Co., Glasgow
Configuration 2-8-0
BR rating 8F
Status Out of service
Loco Number 48773
Other Numbers 8233, 41.109, WD 70307, WD 500, 90733
Built 1940
Designed By William Stanier
Type Stanier 8F
1969 Arrived on SVR in working order
Length 60ft 0½"
Weight 72t 2cwt
Tractive effort 32,438 lb
Pressure 225 lb/sq in

Steam Locomotives

48773 is an LMS Stanier Class 8F 2-8-0 heavy freight locomotive. A total of 852 were built between 1935 and 1946 (not all to LMS order). As well as being used on the LMS, the Stanier 8F was adopted as the Country's standard WW2 freight locomotive. The War Department had more than 200 built to order and requisitioned more than 50 others, before the cheaper WD Austerity 2-8-0 was introduced in 1943.

Stanier 8Fs saw occasional use on Alveley Colliery coal trains during the last days of the Severn Valley Branch. Classmate 48531, then based at Wolverhampton's Oxley MPD, was photographed working a southbound coal train at Bewdley on 29 June 1966[1].


48773 in service

48773 was built by the North British Locomotive Co. in Glasgow as Works No 24607 of 1940. The locomotive was part of a War Department order for use in France, for which it was numbered WD 307. France fell to Germany before the locomotive could be exported, so it was loaned back to the LMS and numbered 8233.

Following the Soviet Union’s entry into the War, the locomotive was requisitioned and sent to Iran as Iranian State Railways No 41.109. There it worked on the Trans-Iranian Railway, hauling double-headed 700 ton trains of supplies intended for the Soviet Union up steep gradients in the searing desert heat. On 19 August 1942, the locomotive was famously derailed after colliding with a camel, and later in 1944 was converted to oil-burning.

In 1946 the locomotive was sent to the British Army's Middle East Forces (MEF) in Egypt where, numbered WD 70307, it worked in the Suez Canal zone. For a while the locomotive was loaned to Egyptian State Railways, but by 1948 was in need of a new firebox and scheduled to be scrapped.

Fortunately, the locomotive was not scrapped but repatriated to the UK and overhauled at Derby between 1952 and 1954. The locomotive then adopted yet another identity as WD 500 at the Longmoor Military Railway.

In 1957 the locomotive was bought by British Railways and at first was misallocated the number 90733 (now carried by another preserved locomotive), following the Austerity 2-8-0s series with which it had been confused, but quickly altered to 48773 at the end of the LMS 2-8-0s.[2] Although withdrawn twice for scrapping, 48773 survived each time, finally ending BR service in August 1968 based at Rose Grove.[3]

It participated in several end of steam railtours including two organised by the Manchester Rail Travel Society in conjunction with the emergent Severn Valley Railway Society, the latter being the 'Farewell to B.R. Steam', the grand finale of steam over the trans-Pennine route via Copy Pit summit.[4] Also notable is the LCGB ‘Farewell to Steam’ on 4 August 1968[5].

48773 in preservation

48773 cosmetically painted in WD livery, June 2018
Although in working order, 48773 was refused permission by BR to travel south from Rose Grove under power, despite 43106 having been allowed to do the same from Lostock Hall a week earlier.[6] The locomotive was therefore towed by BR diesel via Rotherham, Chesterfield and Derby to Tyseley, where it appeared at an open day. From there it was towed to Bewdley, arriving on 30 September 1968.[7] At the time Bewdley was still a working BR station, although the SVR had a presence in the yard. It took several months to get clearance from BR to proceed further, as no 8F had previously worked as far north as Bridgnorth.[6] The SVR initially were concerned too, mostly about the axle load of the tender, with the tender restricted to 4½ tons of coal and 2,500 gallons of water for some time.[8] The locomotive was finally steamed on 28 December before running to Bridgnorth on 4 January 1969,[9] the official arrival date shown in subsequent stock books. Although British Rail had banned all steam locomotives following the end of steam in August 1968, this move was over a section of line from Bewdley to Alveley Sidings then still in BR use for moving coal to Stourport Power Station.[10]

During the early years 48773 ran under its LMS number as 8233. On 1 September 1971 8233 was briefly renumbered 48188 for a film concerning the heroism of Driver John Axon G.C. who was killed when the real 48188 ran away at Chapel-en-le-Frith in 1957. Filming involving freight train scenes took place on 1 September 1971.[11]

The locomotive has achieved the greatest mileage in preservation of any of the SVR locos, logging 151,805 miles (including a few main line excursions) and going through a set of tyres in the process.

One of the main line excursions was in 1975 when 48773 travelled to Shildon to take part in the Rail 150 celebrations, piloting a short train which also included 43106 and three carriages. A full list of main line activities is as follows:

Date Tour name Route Notes Web SVR News
11 Aug 1975 Rail 150 Shildon Kidderminster-Shildon As LMS 8233, with 43106 8F 37-24
06 Sep 1975 Rail 150 Shildon York-Kidderminster Darlington to York some days earlier 37-24
03 Oct 1987 Cotswold Engineer Honeybourne - Long Marston - Honeybourne As LMS 8233 SBJ 86-26
03 May 1989 Cumbrian Mountain Express Carlisle-Shap-Crewe UKS
21 Sep 1991 Welsh Marches Express Hereford - Crewe As LMS 8233. Also had visited Derby, Sheffield, Worcester 101-50
01 Feb 1992 Lancastrian Shrewsbury - Bolton? - Blackburn Photo at Manchester with this headboard on 8F web site SBJ
16 May 1998 Stanier Hind Bristol-Exeter-Plymouth Photos on Stanier 8F web site SBJ 127-3
12 Sep 1998 Central Wales Adventurer II Newport-Shrewsbury Photos on Stanier 8F web site UKS, 8F 132-46
24 Oct 1998 Royal Duchy Exeter - Plymouth-Newquay D/H with 45110 UKS 129-12
31 Oct 1998 Stannary Staniers Ealing Broadway-Penzance D/H with 45110 UKS
02 Jan 1999 Midlander Gloucester-Lickey-Tyseley-Kidderminster-Gloucester Photo at Gloucester on Stanier 8F web site UKS, 8F 133-40
16 Jan 1999 Barrow Hill Collier Nottingham-Chesterfield-Nottingham Photo light engine but with tour headboard UKS, 8F
10 Apr 1999 Copy Pitfinder Crewe-Copy Pit-Pontefract-York UKS 130-56
17 Apr 1999 Cotton Weaver York-Copy Pit-Crewe D/H with 45407, photo on Stanier 8F web site UKS, 8F
24 Apr 1999 Cumbrian Mountain Express Crewe-Shap-Carlisle D/H with 45407, photo on Stanier 8F web site UKS, 8F
05 Sep 1999 Midland Devonian Gloucester-Stourbridge Jct-Bescot D/H with 6024 UKS, 8F
01 Apr 2000 Buxton Peaks Crewe-Manchester Vic-Buxton-Derby SBJ 133-29
For further information on sources and references, see The Severn Valley Railway on the main line

Not camera shy, 48773 took part in filming for The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1975), Survivors (1997) and Rosie and Jim (1991).

On 27 September 1986 a service took place at Highley in which 48773 was dedicated as a memorial to British military railway personnel who lost their lives on active service during the Second World War. The event was marked by a flypast of an Air Atlantique Douglas DC3 and the last working de Havilland Mosquito. The locomotive carries a plaque commemorating the dedication service.

In Summer 1992 48773 was hired out for a period to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, and the following year to the West Somerset Railway.

On 25 November 2000 it was involved in a collision with a vehicle on Northwood Crossing, fortunately with no fatalities involved.

It is owned by the Stanier 8F Locomotive Society. 48773 was last in traffic on 13 January 2008 and, following cosmetic restoration, the following September it moved to be displayed in The Engine House awaiting eventual overhaul. The locomotive was one of those which in 2011 had copper sheets stolen, the cost of which the SVR's insurers met in full. In 2018 the Society's archivist reported:

That engine's last ticked [sic] started before the SVR installed the reverse osmosis water treatment, as a result both boiler and firebox need major work. All tyres are down to scrapping size. The right hand cylinder is broken, and although the welded repair has so far held up, a new cylinder is highly desirable. The tender tank is badly corroded and a replacement tank is needed, all these above all the normal work needed for an overhaul.[12]

On 20 June 2018 48773 was moved from the Engine House to storage in Kidderminster in readiness for an event to mark the 50th anniversary end of BR steam in August 1968. The locomotive appeared in WD livery as WD 307, complete with mock air brake equipment, for the 2018 'Step Back to the 1940s' event which began on 30 June, before reverting to the BR 48773 livery for the 'Last Days of Steam' event on 4 August 2018. She was again displayed at Kidderminster between 16-24 February 2019, offering further opportunities for footplate visits, before returning to the Engine House in March 2019.

Railway Royal Engineers' memorial

As a locomotive with a unique military history, it was suggested that 48773 should be dedicated as a Memorial to those military railwaymen of the Corps of Royal Engineers (Transportation) who lost their lives in World War II. In 1986 a Service of Dedication was held at Highley led by the Dean of Hereford, and conducted with full Military Honours. In 2002 the Society compiled a Roll of Honour and Books of Remembrance commemorating 354 known casualties. The dedication was made by the Chief Royal Engineer, Lieutenant-General Sir Scott Grant KCB, at a Service held at Kidderminster. Since 2008 these have been on display the Engine House. The names of a further 54 WWII casualties have been identified and an additional Roll of Honour was been produced by the Stanier 8F Locomotive Society. This was unveiled by Brigadier Mike Stephens at a ceremony at the Engine House on 1 October 2011, 25 years after the locomotive’s dedication, together with a Roll of Honour commemorating the Railway Sappers killed in an accident on the Longmoor Military Railway on 13 October 1956 involving sister locomotive WD512. Over 200 ex-servicemen, family members and visitors were present. Visitors can see the Rolls of Honour and information panels describing the history of the Railway Royal Engineers alongside the locomotive.[13]

See also