GWR 56xx no.5637

5637 in Cranmore station
5637 in Cranmore station
Credit: J.Cobb, 11/10/2002
Company: GWR
Type: 56xx
Built by: GWR Swindon
Status: In service
Other numbers:
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No. 5637 is a member of the 200-strong Collett designed '56xx' class of standard 0-6-2 tank locomotives. These locomotives were based upon earlier 0-6-2T built by the Taff Vale Railway, and were designed primarily for use on heavy freight trains on the grueling gradients of the Welsh Valley lines. Although intended as goods engines, these powerful locomotives were used extensively on passenger trains where speeds of up to 60 mph were recorded. Mostly associated with South Wales, the 56xx's were also familiar sight in other areas of the West Country, working from such sheds as Bristol (St. Phillip's March) and Westbury, and were also used extensively on trains originating from the North Oxfordshire ironstones mines in the Banbury area.

No. 5637 was built in 1925 to lot number 228 in the Great Western Railways workshops at Swindon. It entered traffic at Cardiff Cathays shed in late September 1925, but was transferred six weeks later to Barry shed and was used on local services in the Newport and Cardiff districts.

No. 5637 spent all its life in South Wales, and was withdrawn from traffic in June 1964 and was sold the Woodham Brothers arriving at Barry scrapyard in September 1964.

In August 1974, No. 5637 became the 61st locomotive to escape from Barry, when it was sold to the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley. In 1981 it was resold, without any restoration having been carried out, to Thamesdown Borough Council for leasing to the Swindon & Cricklade Railway. Some time after, it was purchased by a group of volunteers at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway.

In 1998, after almost 18 years of restoration, No. 5637 was steamed for the first time since 1964. All the restoration work was carried by the 5637 Steam Locomotive group, working in very primitive conditions, with little more than a giant tent for weather protection.

The locomotive was subsequently transferred by road to the East Somerset Railway for running in, and stayed there ever since. It has become the primary engine at the ESR, running most of the services. No. 5637 was repainted into Great Western livery in Feburary 1999 and then into BR Black with an early crest in 2002.