No. 70000 | Britannia

One of our youngest locomotives, Britannia was built by British Railways in 1950 to combine all railway knowledge into the best possible engine. She is currently withdrawn from service for essential maintenance.

Mainline Career

The Britannia class was designed for fast mixed traffic work with wide route availability, of a pacific wheel arrangement for use on all principal routes.The locomotives featured a large free steaming boiler comprising a wide firebox with a grate area of 42 sq ft (3.9 m2).

The boiler was designed with very high superheat and a multiple valve regulator for easy starting, and 2 large outside cylinders.The design incorporated all working parts including items such as injectors and ejectors being easily accessible.

Britannia is fitted with roller bearing axle boxes throughout. A unique feature of the locomotive is the large fully enclosed cab design, with a flat one-piece footplate (no moving fall plate from the tender) making the fireman’s job easier. The driver’s controls were designed so that they are within easy reach; the tender features an inset coal space design which, complete with a spectacle plate, gives good rearward vision.

No 70000 was built at the BR Works in Crewe in 1951 and was allocated to Stratford depot on the Eastern Region. The class transformed the Liverpool Street to Norwich service instantly, with a two hour schedule. This involved regular running at 90 mph and other diagrams that included the heavy Parkstone Key boat trains.

Displaced by diesel traction in the mid 1960’s, Britannia was transferred to the North West Division working heavy trains between Manchester, Carlisle, Glasgow and Perth. Eventually the locomotive was withdrawn from Newton Heath depot in May 1966. Initially No 70000 was stored to become part of the National Collection, but a fellow member of the class was chosen as the last steam locomotive that was overhauled by British Railways.


Purchased by a group of enthusiasts in 1969, Britannia returned to steam on the Severn Valley Railway in 1980. However the 20 ton axle weight prevented its regular use – so a move to the Nene Valley took place in 1981. It worked on this railway for a few years, eventually being withdrawn from traffic with a defective firebox and tubes.

With the aid of a financial backer the locomotive was moved to Steamtown Carnforth to be fully overhauled to mainline condition. This was completed in August 1991, where No. 70000 became part of a mainline pool of locomotives. Operated by a dedicated support crew the locomotive proved to be a powerful, economic and reliable performer operating over a wide area of the network.

Many destinations were visited by Britannia such as Carlisle, Liverpool, Holyhead, Swansea, Bristol, Exeter, Penzance, Eastleigh, Dover, Cambridge and Norwich. After six and half years of this work, No 70000 Britannia was withdrawn from service with its firebox roof stays and some boiler platework down to minimum permissible thickness.The locomotive changed hands in 2000 to the Waterman Heritage Trust and then again to the present owner in 2006.

The overhaul took place between 2006 and 2009 when Britannia was returned to mainline running condition.To meet the requirements of Network Rail, the locomotive was fitted with dual air and vacuum braking, Train Protection Warning System, On Train Monitoring Recorder, as well as its original Automatic Warning System.

She has since made her mainline return, performing excellently and becoming a firm favourite with footplate crews and the public nationwide. She has visited several preserved railways including the Mid Hants Railway and West Somerset Railway as well as hauling railtours such as The Torbay Express. No. 70000 is currently based mainly at Southall depot where she is maintained and serviced in between her mainline activities and visits to preserved railways.

Britannia returned to the mainline for the first time since 1990s in 2009. She has since become a regular and reliable mainline performer.

Facts and Figures

Riddles was employed by British Railways to develop a new series of standard class steam locomotives, amalgamating the best features of all of the Big Four companies.


Robert Riddles

Britannia was the first of the Standard class locomotives to be built for BR, constructed to haul some of the fastest passenger services across the country.


British Railways

No. 70000 differed slightly from the remaining Standard Class 7MTs as she was the first of the class to be built.

Total Built of Class


The Standard Class 7s were built in Crewe to work trains all over the BR network, wherever there was a need for additional locomotives.


2nd January 1951

Built At

Crewe Works

Britannia was the first in her class, and the first ever Standard loco.

Number in Class


For the first month of running Britannia went un-named in BR Black livery.


Jan 30, 1951

No. 70000 can haul trains on preserved railways & the mainline.



The Britannia class had a working pressure of 250psi, allowing them to haul some of the heaviest trains. Her driving wheels were balanced in size for passenger and freight working.

Boiler Working Pressure


Valve gear is used to control the amount of steam an engine uses, equivalent to the gear box of a car.

Valve Gear


The area the fire in the boiler covers.

Grate Area

42 sq ft

Four leading wheels, six driving wheels and two trailing wheels on the loco.

Wheel Arrangement


Power Classification


Tractive Effort

32,150 lbf

Two cylinders, both outside the frames.



Max Speed


Cylinder Size

20 in x 28 in

No. 70000 was overhauled at Crewe Heritage for a number of years leading up to 2009, she returned to the mainline in that year.

Last Overhaul


Loco Weight

94 tons


68 ft 9 in

Coal Capacity

7 tons

Britannia has air and vacuum brakes fitted to allow her to operate a wide range of trains on the mainline.


Air and Vacuum

Water Capacity

5,000 gal



Boiler tickets last 7 years for mainline engines, after this they require an overhaul before being permitted to run again.

Boiler Ticket



May 1966

Images used on this page © Geoff Griffiths, Bob Green, Andrew Southwell, York Loco Images, Matt Veale & Colin Barker.