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No. 5526 was built at Swindon Works in May 1928 as part of Lot 251, and cost the princely sum of £3,602 (which included £737 for the boiler!). Until 1958 she was almost exclusively based in the West Country, including Exeter and Plymouth and for much of the time at Truro, where workings would have included branch line services to Falmouth and Newquay, etc.

In March 1959 she was moved from Truro to Westbury, which was due to many of the branch trains being replaced by 'modern' Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs). At Westbury No. 5526 received her last 'Heavy' overhaul, including being fitted with her seventh and final boiler. Her last years in BR service were spent on local passenger and goods workings to Swindon and Bristol, etc.

On 08 June 1962 and after travelling a total of 968,577 miles over a period of 34 years, she was withdrawn from service and sold for scrap to Woodham Brothers, Barry, on 28 August 1962. Languishing for 23 years in corrosive sea air and with the removal of many of her parts for other locomotives, she was finally reprieved in July 1985 (when she became the 166th locomotive to be saved from the cutter's torch at Barry Island!).
The three visionary preservationists who had rescued the locomotive then decided to transport No.5526 to Toddington, on the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway. Moved to Swindon Works Heritage Centre in April 1988, the corroded rear portion of the main frame was replaced, wheels re-profiled and the boiler stripped, surveyed and retubed, plus new riveted side tanks and a bunker were manufactured.

Vacating Swindon in November 1992 the locomotive was finally moved to Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway (SDR), where it was fully restored and is now superbly maintained in a well equipped workshop by highly experienced staff.

We are proud to say that the C&PRR has a special relationship with the SDR, which means that we were able to hire this excellent locomotive for the start of the 2021 season (and grateful thanks go to to all at the SDR, for their ongoing help and cooperation).

Image provided by Andy Locke.

GWR - Swindon
4575, Prairie
Built year
Returned to the SDR in April 2021
Tractive effort
21,250 lbs
61 tons 0 cwt
Wheel arrangement

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