North West Steam Spot “Austin 7” Class 7F 0-8-0s


Perhaps to be considered as one of nature’s ugly ducklings, the Fowler 0-8-0s built for the LMS from 1929, were intended as an update of the “Super D2” 0-8-0s of LNWR origin. The two inside cylinders were operated by Walschaerts valve gear, and the boiler pressed to work at 200 lb/sq in, was fitted with a superheater to provide 342 sq ft of’ heating surface. The boiler itself was basically the same as that fitted to the ex LNWR. locos, but with modifications to the valve gear including the use of long lap, long travel valves, and smaller diameter cylinders.

Austin 7 0-8-0 DiagramThey were lighter in all up weight than their old LNW counterparts, and nominally slightly more powerful than the Super Ds. Curiously the Hughes designed 0-8-0 for the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railways were – in terms of tractive effort at least – the most powerful of this type, but rather cruelly nicknamed “Sea Pigs”.

Leading Dimensions:

Austin 7 Dimensions

In appearance, the Fowler engines were a clean, simple design, 
embodying characteristic features of the period. Typically Midland in origin was the smokebox door fastening of eight clamping dogs, the shape of the chimney, and general layout of the cab. The firebox was the almost standard Belpaire type, but in common with other Fowler designs of this period, was a square, slab sided structure, and. not ”waisted in” to fit between the frames. Quite naturally, they were paired with a six-wheeled Fowler tender of’3,500 gallons water capacity straight sided, and with no coal rails.

The class was not subjected to any extensive modifications during its working life, though whilst it was in vogue in post war years, equipment for oil firing was fitted to five locos.- Nos.49511/33/613/42/70.

Intended for haulage of heavy mineral trains, many of the class were to be found in service in the northwest.

They were not a successful design however, and were withdrawn from service quite rapidly, particularly in the early post nationalisation years. In fact., by 1950, of the original 175 locos. in the class only 83 remained in service, 71 of these at seven north west depots. 49511 was the sole remaining oil burner, and in 1950 was allocated to Agecroft shed in Manchester.

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49592 at Aintree Shed – built in 1929 and withdrawn 30 years later, in 1959 –                                Photo courtesy: Ben Brooksbank under Creative Commons Licence) 

By far the lion’s share of these 7F 0-8-Os was allocated to Aintree, which,in1950 housed 27, with 17 of the remaining 37 in 1954. Most then were to be seen at work in the south of’ the region, with largish studs at Newton Heath and Agecroft, with a smaller number across the Pennines in Yorkshire. All had been withdrawn by the end or the decade.

Strangely perhaps, the Austin 7s were outlived by a number of locos. of classes from which the design was a development, including five members of the ex-LNWR class G2a at Bescot (2F),in 1964. And, one of these had had a particularly chequered career, beginning life as a Webb 4-cylinder compound in 1901-4. It was then converted to a. 2-8-0 compound by George Whale in1906,and re-converted to an 0-8-0,2-cylinder simple expansion by George Hughes in 1923-5. But that, as they say, is another story!

Liveries worn by the Fowler 0-8-0s varied from plain, unlined black in LMS days, to plain, unlined black in BR ownership!! Only the tender insignia was changed, five figure number plates fitted to the smokebox door, and the lower part
of the Midland Rly. style double buffer beams painted red.



1950 Allocations


1954 Allocations


The competitors:

The “Sea Pigs”

(This link connects to a list of L&YR Loco Engineers and Designs)

The former L&YR Hughes designed 0-8-0 – affectionately known as “Sea Pigs” did not survive long into BR days.  Here, 52857 is captured by the late Frank Dean in 1951, leaving Wigan with a freight.  This example is one of the final batch built / rebuilt at Horwich Works between

52857 leaving Wigan on up freight July 1951 - Frank Dean

52857 leaving Wigan with an “up freight” in July 1951 – (c) Frank Dean

The “Super D’s”

Surprisingly perhaps this ex-LNWR design lasted far longer than either the “Sea Pigs” or the Fowler “Austin 7’s”.    An example even managed to achieve preservation as part of the National Railway Museum Collection, and was for a time on the East Lancashire Railway, before being housed at Shildon.

Super D 0-8-0s - GW Sharpe 1

Perhaps the classic shot of a “Super D” (Ex-LNWR G2 0-8-0 design) –                                                   Photo Courtesy G.W.Sharpe