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The Hunslet Engine Company Austerity 0-6-0ST is a steam locomotive designed for shunting. The class became the standard Britishmarker shunting locomotive during the Second World War, and production continued until 1964.


The 48150 class were built for the Guest Keen Baldwins Iron & Steel Company in 1937, being an enlarged version of a design dating from 1923. These developed into the 50550 class of 1941–2, with various modifications.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the War Department had initially chosen the LMS 'Jinty' 3F 0-6-0T as its standard shunting locomotive, but was persuaded by Hunslet that a simplified version of their more modern 50550 design would be more suitable. The first was completed at their Leedsmarker works at the start of 1943.


Hunslet subcontracted some of the construction to Andrew Barclay, W. G. Bagnall, Hudswell Clarke, Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns and the Vulcan Foundrymarker.

After D-Day they were used on Continental Europe and in North Africa as well as at docks and military sites in Britain.

A total of 337 had been built for the War Department by 1947 (on orders placed during the war), with two further engines having been built for collieries (without the permission of the Ministry of Supply). When the end of the war reduced the need for locomotives, the military started to review its fleet:

Others were sold for industrial use. A number of those used on the continent are believed to have worked on light and industrial railways in Francemarker,six going to the Chemins de Fer Tunisiens.

Post-war construction

As the final War Department locomotives were being delivered, the National Coal Board was placing orders for identical locomotives to be used at collieries. Between 1948 and 1964, 77 new "Austerity" locomotives were built for the NCB.

In 1952 the Army needed more locomotives for military depots, so it ordered 14 locomotives to supplement the 90 that it had retained.

The Yorkshire Engine Company also built 8 locomotives in 1954 for use in ironstone quarries and at Scunthorpe Steelworks. Some railway historians and researchers think some parts for this design were sold to them by Hunslet as part of a subcontract settlement for Yorkshire Engine Co built GWR 9400 Class 0-6-0PTs (ordered from Hunslet).

Hunslet undertook the rebuilding of many NCB locomotives and when the Army started to sell off locomotives again in 1959, they bought 15 examples that were to be rebuilt and sold on. The NCB bought 13 of these, the 14th was sold directly into preservation and the final locomotive was scrapped without being rebuilt.

The NCB continued to use Austerities in the 1970s and a small number remained in service until the early 1980s. The examples that survived the longest were those fitted with mechanical stokers and Kylpor Blast pipes or Giesl ejectors to improve their performance and reduce smoke.


Around 70 Austerities have been preserved, and they are common on heritage railways. Several have been painted as LNER Class J94's to represent mainline rather than industrial steam.

Not all have survived intact; the boiler of RSHN 7135 of 1944 was used on the replica Broad gauge locomotive "Iron Duke" built in 1985. At least one has been turned into a Thomas the Tank Engine look-a-like, and another into one of Donald and Douglas also from The Railway Series.

The Kent and East Sussex Railway has three preserved austerity tanks.

In fiction

This class of engine forms the basis of Wilbert the Forest Engine and Sixteen the Steelworks Engine from the Railway Series of children's books by Christopher Awdry. Wilbert is named after the author's father the Rev. W. Awdry who created the series.



  • Continent, Coalfield and Conservation - The Biographical History of the British Army Austerity 0-6-0 Saddle Tank by A.P.Lambert & J.C.Woods ISBN 0-901096-63-6
  • Locomotives Illustrated No.61 - The Hunslet 'Austerity' 0-6-0STs (Introduction by Don Townsley) Ian Allan Ltd, 1988

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