British Austerity Saddle Tanks
The Amberley Railway Archive Volume 2
Series: The Amberley Railway Archive
- Gordon Edgar
15th May 2014
The Austerity saddle tank, a 1942 design born out of necessity during wartime Britain and intended for just two years of rigorous service as a general purpose shunting locomotive, far exceeded the original expectations of the Hunslet Engine Company design. In fact construction was to continue until 1964, with a total of 485 locomotives ultimately being turned out by seven different manufacturers. They became a familiar sight in a broad range of industrial settings, including military depots, collieries, quarries and steelworks, as well as on a number of main lines in Britain and overseas. This is a photographic tribute, almost three-quarters of a century on from their initial concept, portraying them in glorious grubby detail in their true working environment. Dirty, rusty and sometimes abandoned, these are not images of the 'squeaky-clean' examples to be found on heritage railways, although a handful of appropriate contemporary images are included as a tribute to those who help to keep the magic of the Austerity saddle tank alive today, some thirty years after their demise from British industry.