Numbering a grand total of 251, the ‘9F’ 2-10-0s represented one of the final developments of the main line steam locomotive in Britain and also the single most numerous of the BR standard classes. Designed under the auspices of Riddles at Crewe and built at Swindon, the first of the class was to emerge in 1954. However, by the date that the first of the locomotives was entering service, the death knell was already being sounded for main line steam operation in Great Britain. In 1955, the Modernisation Plan, with its emphasis upon diesel and electric traction, was to result in the decision to phase steam out and, whilst the class continued to be built until late 1960 (when Evening Star became the last main line steam locomotive constructed for BR), many of the type only had a woefully short operational life, many being withdrawn with less than 10 years of service.
Although perceived primarily as a heavy freight locomotive- and duties such as the heavy iron between Tyne Dock and Consett became one of the trademarks- the locomotives also performed successfully on more glamorous passenger turns, with enthusiasts having many fond memories of the class’s operation over the Somerset & Dorset line during the early 1950s. In his latest contribution to the hugely successful ‘Power of’ series, noted railway photographer and author Gavin Morrison turns his attention to this important, but often overlooked class. Drawing upon some 250 mono illustrations from his own collection and from those of other noted railways photographers, he records the development and operational history of the class from their origins in the early 1950s through to their final withdrawal from mainline service in the late 1960s and preservation.