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Steam Locomotive nicknames

Many steam engines had nicknames.  These might originate at the 'home' depot or come from the driver or fireman as the locomotive visited.  Here are a few that were said to be used at Barrow Hill Shed.



The Ivatt Class 4MT which came to Barrow Hill in the late 1950’s were immediately christened ‘Wells Fargo’s by the staff here.  Other areas called them Chinese Fours, Doodle Bugs or Flying Pigs.  3F Tank Locomotives used on shunting duties were known as Jock’s or Jinty’s, a name still used today.


Small four wheeled tank locos were coffee pots.


The very common 4F was a Derby Four, 8F’swere Number 8’sto loco men, but I have heard spotters call them Consuls likewise. The very popular 5MT Black Five was always known as such, but again spotters in different areas called them Micky's and other strange names.


The Hughes 2-6-0 was a Crab and a Stanier 2-6-0 was Stanier Crab. The Beyer Garratt locos were known as Birth Controllers for obvious reasons,(the firemen was forever shovelling coal into the firebox, he went home tired!)


The WD 2-8-0 where Austerities and other names not printable here! Moving onto some passenger locos (big wheelers) Jubilees were always 5X’s, Patriots were Baby Scots and the Duchess class were Big Lizzies, but again spotters called them Semi’s. On the LNER B1’s were in London Bongo’s but Springboks and Antelopes were also used. B7 4-6-0’s were Footballers. A J6 0-6-0 was a Retford Pacific K3’s 2-6-0’s and K2 2-6-0’s were usually known as Jazzers and Ragtimers, owing to their lively ride and J11 0-6-0 was a Pom-Pom owing to its sharp exhaust, like a gun of the same name in World War 1.


Freight locos class 02 3Cylinder 2-8-0 was a Tango and the Class 4 2-8-0 was a Tiny or ROD

On the Southern Region they had Spams and Germans but the ever different Western Region I don’t seem to recollect any Nicknames for their locos. Only the Gas Turbine when it ran was known as the Kerosene Castle! The last class of steam loco built for BR were the 9F 2-10-0 which were known as Spaceships.


Dave Darwin 2016

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