The forerunner of the BR Class 04 diesel-mechanical shunter originated in 1947, when the Drewry Car Co. supplied a single 0-6-0 locomotive, painted apple green, to the LNER for shunting trials.
The evaluation was carried out at Gorton, and then in east Anglia - the prototype, rejected by the LNER, was purchased by BR(SR) for departmental use at Hither Green depot.
In 1952, as a result of R.A. Riddles' policy of favouring diesel power for shunting locomotives, the first ordrers were placed with the Drewry Car Co. and Vulcan Foundry to meet the need for small but versatile locomotives, able to operate on light lines such as tramways, docks and private sidings, where the bigger 350 h.p. diesel-electrics were prohibited.
the various batches built incorporated detail differences, the most noticeable being on the first four, (11100 - 11103), for use on the Wisbech & Upwell Tramway, which had side-valances and cowcatchers fitted.