Ex-GWR 43xx 5322 on the Watercress Line

After the cancellation of 30777 Sir Lamiel, 43xx 5322 provided a last-minute fill-in at the Watercress Line’s Autumn Steam Spectacular 2012.  5322 is usually based at the Didcot Railway Centre and although it did not quite fit in with the steam Gala’s Southern theme, it none-the-less was an interesting addition to the loco line-up.

5322 was built in 1917 at Swindon as part of a second batch of a class that eventually numbered 342 locomotives.  The 2-6-0 mogul 4300/43xx class was first introduced in 1911 to a design by CME GJ Churchwood and were a remarkably successful type, so much so that the last example was withdrawn in 1964.  Rated 4MT by British Railways, they were useful at a wide range of tasks and are an excellent example of an early mixed traffic design.

5322 has had a remarkable career, that began in France in 1917.  It has its own webpage, that is worth checking out (click here).

For such an important and versatile class, it is a pity that only two survived into preservation.  The other surviving 43xx class locomotive is 7325; that is based on the Severn Valley Railway.

5322 didn’t seem to have any problems pulling heavy trains during the Watercress Line’s steam gala, despite being the oldest steam engine in operation over the weekend.  Although not as glamorous as many, it is still a fairly attractive GWR machine and it was great to see it running.

43xx 5322 lived up to it’s reliable reputation and proved to be a worthy visitor in its own right, not just a substitute.    I hope you enjoy looking through these photographs; more blog post from the gala will follow in due course!