GWR 0-6-2T 5643

Factfile

Built: 1925

Original use: Great Western Railway No. 5643

Owned by: Furness Railway Trust

The Great Western Railway inherited a vast number of run-down or even life-expired locomotives when it absorbed the independent companies of South Wales in the 1923 railway Grouping.

First of class Number 5600 in an official photograph at Swindon Works

There was an urgent need for new motive power, and the Chief Mechanical Engineer Charles Collett opted to base it on the successful 0-6-2T wheel arrangement that had been favoured by the independent companies. The first of two hundred locomotives, Number 5600, was finished at Swindon works in 1924. The 56xx class may not have been the best looking machines on the Great Western, but they were powerful locomotives for their size, and became popular with their crews.

5643 emerged from Swindon Works in October 1925. It spent its entire working life in and around South Wales.

5643 Shed Allocations
not including temporary short-term loans to other sheds in South Wales

October 1925

Coke Ovens shed (Pontypridd)

December 1933

Abercynon shed

June 1961 Barry shed

July 1963

Withdrawn from service

After 38 year’s service, 5643 was withdrawn in July 1963, and was moved just a matter of yards to the now famous Woodham’s scrapyard in Barry.

The owner Dai Woodham made the decision to stockpile old locomotives because he was receiving more income from scrapping railway wagons. It was a decision that effectively saved hundreds of steam locomotives from the cutting torch. 5643 was such an engine, and was one of the first to leave Barry scrapyard.

It was originally purchased for a now defunct steam operation in its native South Wales, but was soon transferred to Lancashire, and the now also closed Steamtown Railway Museum at Carnforth, near Lancaster.

It was bought in 1986 by members of the Lakeside Railway Society, moving to Haverthwaite 3 years later. The LRS later set up the Furness Railway Trust as a charity to manage its assets, and so 5643 passed to its present owners. It was restored to action in 2006.

This history is taken from the owners’ website, www.furnessrailwaytrust.org.uk.

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