The Great Central Railway built 131 locomotives from 1911 onwards, to the designs of John G. Robinson, Chief Mechanical Engineer. During Great Central days these were designated the 8K Class, some saw service with the Great Western Railway. The 8K would be adopted by the Government for military purposes as part of the Railway Operating Division during World War One, and were used overseas during World War Two. This gave rise to their nickname 'RODs'.
The London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) purchased locomotives from the Railway Operating Division and classified them as Class 04. As the 04, it would become the most numerous of LNER heavy goods locomotives. The first locomotive was withdrawn by British Railways in 1959, and the last in 1966. One locomotive (No. 63601) has been preserved as part of the National Collection.