The British Rail Class 04 was a 0-6-0 diesel-mechanical shunting locomotive class, built between 1952 and 1962 and was the basis for the later Class 03 built in the British Railways workshops. However, the first locomotive to be built to the design was actually DS1173, in 1948, which served as a departmental shunter at Hither Green depot, before being transferred to the capital stock list as D2341 in 1967. The Class 04 locomotives were supplied by the Drewry Car Co., which at the time (and for most of its existence) had no manufacturing capability. Drewry sub-contracted the construction work to two builders both of whom built other locomotives under the same arrangement. Early locomotives (including DS1173) were built by Vulcan Foundry and later examples were built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns.


A clear line of development can be seen in the Class 04s from the 0-4-0DM locomotives built by Andrew Barclay and Drewry/Vulcan Foundry in the early 1940s. The design continued to develop during the construction period, but this was generally confined to the size of the cab windows and the diameter of the wheels. Similar locomotives had been built before the first Class 04, and others were built for industrial use.

Use on tramways

The first four of these locomotives (11100-3 later D2200-3) were fitted with side skirting and cowcatchers for use on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway and on the Yarmouth Docks tramway system. (British law requires locomotives running on unfenced street trackage to be so protected for the protection of pedestrians). The next batch differed from the first in being fitted with conical exhaust stacks (instead of the plain exhaust pipe that was later added to the original exhaust "hole") and shaped cab front windows (instead of the rectangular windows of the first batch). However, at least two (11111/D2210 and 11113/D2212) were also fitted with cowcatchers, etc. for use on the Ipswich docks tramway system. (Note - from 11115/D2215 the small cab side window of the first two batches was replaced by a much larger window, the rear half of which slid open.)

Mechanically they were identical to the Class 03, with the same 24 litre Gardner engine, 5-speed epicyclic gearbox and the same overall layout. They had a straight bonnet (US: hood) from the front to the rear-mounted cab, unlike the 03s which bulged higher towards the rear (over the larger fuel tank), and the cab's rounded roof met the sides at an angle instead of with a curve as in the 03, with a lip all the way round. The internal cab layout was almost symmetrical to allow the driver to work from either side as required.

The engine is a Gardner 8-cyl, 4-stroke 8L3 developing 204 hp (152 kW) at 1200 rpm, connected to a Wilson-Drewry CA5 R7, 5-speed epicyclic with RF11 spiral bevel reverse and final drive unit mounted on a jackshaft. The drive to the wheels was by coupling rods from the jackshaft.

The class was distributed throughout the British Railways system, but the significant decline in the traffic for which they were designed resulted in a large surplus of shunting engines on the network. With this reduction in the need for shunters it was decided to standardise on the Class 03 as a light diesel-mechanical shunter and the Class 08 and 09 as larger, diesel-electric shunters.


The Class 04s were withdrawn from service earlier than the Class 03, being taken out of service between June 1967 and May 1972, with some sold for re-use by industry. Four were exported to Italy about 1972, with D2289 reported as still in service.


18 examples of the BR Class 04 fleet have been preserved, although (until 2003), there was previously a 19th example but it has since been scrapped.