C.B Collett’s powerful 56xx 0-6-2T class were developed immediately after the grouping of 1923 to provide a standard GWR design to replace the various, variable locomotives inherited from the Welsh Railway companies. They were designed to haul heavy coal loads in the Welsh Valleys. The 0-6-2T configuration was ideal, providing power and good braking ability, that was preferable to a long range or high top speed. Interestingly, the locomotive’s origins can be traced back to the Rhymney Railway M class and R class of 1904 and 1909 – the 56xx effectively being a re-boilered version. Indeed one M class and five R class locomotives were upgraded to 56xx configuration. The boiler is fitted further forward than on most locomotives and the over-hang gives the class it’s distinctive appearance.
Although very powerful – rated 5MT by British Railways – the 56/66xx class were not especially popular in service. Their axelboxes tended to overheat and they also derailed easily. Crews would run them bunker-first so that the rear pony truck could guide the locomotives through corners and points. The class were effectively superseded by the 57xx pannier tank class that did not have these failings. However, in preservation their slow speed and power make them ideal.
Unfortunately 5658 did not survive into preservation, but many other examples of the class did (5619, 5637, 5643, 5668, 6619, 6634, 6686, 6695 and 6697). 5658 was built in Swindon works in 1926. It spent the earlier years of its life in South Wales. In 1948 its owner (the Great Western Railway) was absorbed into British Railways, but as with most GWR locomotives, 5658 kept its number. At the time it was based in (shed code 88A) Cardiff Cathays. Later in it’s life, 5658 moved to the Midlands and when withdrawn in 1965 was based at Tyseley. A year later, the locomotive was cut up at Birds, Long Marston.
Don’t forget the history of many other locomotive prototypes of the locoyard model fleet can be found by clicking on the “Prototype Info” links on the Loco Models page (click here for more). Thanks for reading 🙂