Although there are no less than 11 survivors of Collett’s modified 4575 class, only 3 of Churchward’s 45xx class prairie tank from which they were developed remain. Themselves an adaptation of the 44xx class, these small prairie tanks, like many of Churchward’s creations can be considered a pivotal development in steam locomotive technology. This design was evolved not just into the aforementioned mentioned 4575 class but also via Stanier to the LMS 2-6-4T classes that in turn developed into the ubiquitous Riddles British Railways standard 4MT tank.
Of the three 45xx survivors, only one currently in working order is 4566, a resident of the Severn Valley Railway. My wife and I had the pleasure of being hauled by 4566, that is currently painted in early BR black colours. On that note, it was pleasing to see that the railway had accurately painted the brass safety valve black. As nice as a GWR safety valve looks in brass, it is nevertheless more accurate in black.
The crew of 4566 were good enough to invite me onto the cab whilst the locomotive paused at Kidderminster. One of the first things I noticed was that the cab wasn’t as spacious as it looked from the outside. It wasn’t the best place to be wearing a rucksack! The driver was working at unblocking the Hydrostatic displacement lubricator. It’s always nice to be invited onto the cab, so thank you to the chap’s who were so good to let me get in their way for a few minutes!
4566 was built in Swindon, 1924. It spent much of its working life in the westcountry. As with so many surviving steam locomotives, 4566 owes it’s survival to being sent to Woodham Brothers scrap yard in Barry South Wales upon withdrawal, from where it was rescued in 1970.
This compact and versatile steam engine was a delight to see. To read more about this visit to the Severn Valley Railway, please click here.
Thanks for reading folks!