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This locomotive was born out of British Railways' requirement for a heavy freight locomotive and was part of their standardisation plan. By 1954 the first twenty Class 9F locomotives had been introduced, however with coal economies in mind it was decided as an experiment that the next ten of the Class should be built using Franco-Crosti boilers.
Named after two Italian engineers who had worked for the Italian State railway in the 1930s, the Franco-Crosti boiler was a modification of the more conventional fire tube boiler, which was used on the majority of steam locomotives. Different from the more common type of boiler, the heat that remained in the exhaust gasses was used to preheat the water supply for the main boiler by using a secondary heat exchange system. The heat exchange system was in effect a secondary boiler. From there the preheated water was fed at full boiler pressure into the main boiler. The feedwater heater as it was known was not designed to produce steam but to raise the temperature of the water allowing the heater to maximise the remaining energy in the exhaust gasses more efficiently.