The breakdown crane is as much a part of railway infrastructure as much as it is a wagon. Such cranes began to appear in 1875, growing in size and complexity.
Over 176 cranes have appeared around the UK since their introduction, with the most modern cranes able to lift entire locomotives off the ground. Being the national operator from 1948 BR inherited a patchwork of rolling stock from its constituent companies, as they had done twenty five years earlier, including all breakdown cranes in service.
BR employed some of the largest rail cranes, with the heaviest of the lot designed for the heaviest of tasks, such as the re-railing of locomotives, or tasks that may see a locomotive needing to be removed from the track all together