Charles Fairburn was the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway for just a short period before he passed away in 1945 at the age of 58.
Locomotive building during the war was restricted but Fairburn used the time to evaluate the 2-6-4 Tank locomotives designed by his predecessor, Sir William Stanier by reducing the coupled wheelbase and the overall weight to give greater route availability.
Construction began at Derby in 1945 and by the time building ceased in 1951, 277 locomotives had been built, 41 of them at Brighton for use on the non-electrified lines of British Railways Southern Region.
The Fairburn tanks were spread far and wide with examples working on suburban services around London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester.
The introduction of diesel multiple units and the widespread closure of lines saw the first withdrawals in 1961 and the last in 1967, the penultimate year of steam operation on British Railways main lines.
Two examples (42073 / 42085) were saved for preservation on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, Cumbria where they still operate.