The reference for locomotives and railcars


Page views since 2023-01-26: 241174
London, Midland & Scottish Stanier class 5 “Black Five”
Great Britain | 1934 | 842 produced

The “Black Five” was Stanier's most famous design and also one of the most famous British steam locomotives ever. It was created because Stanier was of the opinion that the Moguls with a 2-6-0 wheel arrangement used in power class 5 in mixed service would soon no longer be sufficient. From his time at GWR he was familiar with the class 4900 “Hall”, which, with a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement and a driver diameter of six feet, was suitable for all trains from freight to express. Since the Hall had been developed for the re-gauged, formerly broad-gauge lines of the GWR and therefore did not fit into the loading gauge of the lines in the north, Stanier designed a slightly narrower and lighter locomotive. Since these were painted black, in contrast to the crimson of the LMS previously used, and belonged to power class 5, they were soon known as the “Black Five”. They quickly gained the image of locomotives that could be used almost anywhere and take on almost any task. They were found in front of freight trains as well as in front of heavy express trains that could travel at speeds of up to 80 mph

From the Moguls, Stanier adopted the tapered Belpaire firebox and from the Halls he adopted the six foot wheel diameter. The first 70 locomotives came partly from the LMS workshops in Crewe and partly from the Vulcan Foundry. After 57 examples were built, a new boiler was used, which, unlike the original, had a steam dome and a higher degree of superheating. The upper edge of the firebox was soon designed to slope backwards in order to lengthen the flame paths in the boiler.

In 1936 Armstrong Whitworth received an order for 227 Black Fives, which at the time was the largest order that a British railway administration had ever placed with a commercial factory. In the same period, 20 more were built in Crewe with an even higher degree of superheating. New series were again commissioned during the Second World War, beginning in 1943 at the Derby works. From 1947 roller bearings were used for the axles, at the same time the wheelbase was slightly extended and some details on the boiler were improved. George Ivatt, as the new chief engineer, further improved the locomotives in 1948 with better bearings and a different valve design. Some locomotives received a steel instead of copper firebox and double chimneys and blowpipes.

The British Railways continued production until 1951, so that a total of 842 examples were built. Even the standard class 5 was developed from these. The Black Five also remained in service in large numbers well into the last days of steam traction in Britain. After only one engine had been retired in 1961, the number of retirements rose only slowly at first. They peaked in 1967 with 305 and in 1968 the last 151 disappeared. Today 18 units have survived, 12 of which were purchased directly from British Railways and six were rescued from the scrapyard. At the beginning of 2022, seven engines were still in operational condition, five of which had unrestricted certification for the British main lines and were not restricted to individual museum railways.

Variantdomeless boilerdomed boiler
ManufacturerCrewe, Derby, Horwich, Vulcan Foundry, Armstrong Whitworth
Axle config4-6-0 (Ten-wheeler) 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Dimensions and Weights
Length63 ft 7 3/4 in
Wheelbase27 ft 2 in
Fixed wheelbase15 ft
Service weight161,296 lbs161,504 lbs
Adhesive weight117,135 lbs
Total weight281,584 lbs278,656 lbs
Axle load40,095 lbs
Water capacity4,804 us gal
Fuel capacity20,160 lbs (coal)
Power sourcesteam
Estimated power1,800 hp (1,342 kW)
Optimal speed45 mph
Starting effort25,455 lbf
Power Plant
Driver diameter72 in
Boiler pressure225 psi
Expansion typesimple
Cylinderstwo, 18 1/2 x 28 in
Grate area28.7 sq ft
Firebox area171 sq ft
Tube heating area1,444 sq ft1,308 sq ft
Evaporative heating area1,615 sq ft1,479 sq ft
Superheater area228.1 sq ft359 sq ft
Total heating area1,843.1 sq ft1,838 sq ft
Calculated Values
steam locomotive
William Arthur Stanier
last changed: 02/2022

We use cookies to save the following settings:

  • selected navigation structure
  • selected language
  • preferred units
  • spelling of railway company names

If you refuse the use of cookies, the settings will only be retained for the current session and will be reset to the default values the next time you visit the site.

Display of units

Here you can set the desired unit system for the technical data.

  • Metric: Lengths in meters, weights in tonnes, and volumes in cubic meters
  • Imperial (UK): Lengths in feet/inches, weights in long tons and volumes in imperial gallons
  • Imperial (US): Lengths in feet/inches, weights in pounds, and volumes in US gallons
  • Individual: Depends on the country of origin of each locomotive
Operator names

Here you can set the display of railway company names.

  • Short: Abbreviation or short form of the name
  • Standard: commonly used name, partially translated to English
  • Complete: full name in local language