The West Somerset Railway is pleased to announce that agreement has been reached with the owners of ex-GWR 56XX class 0-6-2T no. 6695 to take the locomotive on long-term loan for a period of 25 years upon completion of its current 10-year overhaul.
The 56XX class of 0-6-2T steam locomotives were built between 1924 and 1928. They were designed by C.B. Collett for the Great Western Railway (GWR), and were introduced into traffic in 1924.
After the 1923 grouping, Swindon inherited a large and variable collection of locomotives from historic Welsh railway companies, which did not fit into their standardisation programme. Two hundred 56XX class replacement locomotives were built to replace the non-standard designs and remained in service until withdrawn by British Railways between 1962 and 1965. Nine of the class have survived into preservation.
6695 was built for the GWR by Armstrong Whitworth in Newcastle in 1928. Her first shed was Tyseley in Birmingham, before moving to Leamington in 1929 for use on suburban services from Birmingham Snow Hill.
She spent most of her working life in the Midlands, transferring to freight work in 1934. At the outbreak of war, she went to South Wales where she spent the rest of her working life.
Withdrawn in 1964, she ended up in Woodham's scrapyard in Barry before becoming the 99th locomotive to be rescued from there, when, in 1979, she moved to the embryonic Swanage Railway.
Owned by the 6695 Locomotive Group since 1995, she is now undergoing a 10-year overhaul at Williton.
David Horton, Head of Mechanical Engineering at the WSR said:
“As a powerful tank engine (GWR power class ‘D’ or BR classification ‘5MT’ – equivalent to a Manor), 6695 will be well-suited to the West Somerset Railway and helps us to secure our long-term locomotive future.
She has the advantage of being at a suitable stage in her overhaul where we can work closely with the owners to specify the level of repairs required, particularly on the boiler, so that there are no unexpected surprises in future.
As with Kinlet Hall, another advantage is that some of our volunteers are already working on the overhaul of 6695 at Williton so this will give them the security of knowing that their efforts are going towards a locomotive which will be here for the long term.
The WSR has agreed to hire the locomotive for a period of 25 years commencing on the date the locomotive is accepted into traffic, expected to be in 2019. The addition of 6695 to our fleet also gains the railway another GWR locomotive which I know will be welcomed by many.”
Nigel Clark, Chairman of the 6695 Loco Group said:
“The Group is pleased to have reached agreement with WSR for the long term hire of 6695. We believe the WSR is an appropriate home for our engine, just across the Bristol Channel from her sheds in the Swansea area and her last shed of Radyr, and a line which can make ample use of a large ex-GWR tank engine. We look forward to a long mutually beneficial partnership.”