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#VE75 – Engines at War – Commemorating 75 Years since VE Day – Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0

Hunslet Engine Company and the Austerity 0-6-0

The final of the three commissioned War Locomotives was not designed by Riddles.

At the outbreak of the second world war The War Department had already selected The LMS Jinty 3F 0-6-0 for its standard shunting locomotive, however Hunslet persuaded them that a simplified version of the Hunslet 50550 design would be far more suited to the task.

Having accepted this the first of these Austerity 0-6-0 Saddle Tank engines was completed at the Leeds works at the start of 1943. To meet the urgent demand Hunslet subcontracted some of the construction of these Loco’s to Andrew Barclay Sons and Co, W. G. Bagnall, Hudswell Clarke, Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns and The Vulcan Foundry to expedite delivery. A total of 377 were built for the War Department by 1944. A further two had been built for the collieries without the permission of the Ministry of Supply.

After D Day the 0-6-0’s were pressed into service in Europe and North Africa and of course were utilised on the docks, and at Military sites around Britain. They were classified as Austerity 0-6-0 ST 4F.

At the end of the war only about 100 0-6-0’s remained in the Military whilst the remainder ended up working in the Collieries and a few remained in Europe. The LNER obtained a fair number and added larger coal bunkers to increase, range and save re-bunkering stops. These were classified as Class J94, to this day around 70 Austerity 0-6-0 s with slight design variations, but basically the Hunslet design, still exist.

They are extremely popular on preserved lines being powerful, a modern design for a steam engine and relatively easy to maintain. To a certain extent batch production of certain spare parts has been undertaken, thus helping to keep costs in check, this being an economic proposition because of the large survival rate of this design, indeed a credit to Hunslet.

It is safe to say that these great locomotives served their country well throughout and beyond the war years, and on until the end of Steam, even though some were not initially designed to be in service after the war.

List of some preserved Austerity 0-6-0’s: