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5637 STEAM
LOCOMOTIVE GROUP

 
 

GWR and BR Days

 
                 
   

 

No. 5637 was built in the GWR workshops at Swindon in 1925 to lot number 228. 5637 spent its entire working life in the South Wales area and initially went into service at Cardiff Cathays shed in September 1925. That November, it was reallocated to Barry, followed by Abercynon in October 1928 where it remained.

Although the 56xx class of locos were specifically designed to haul coal trains in the South Wales coalfields it would be a mistake to dismiss them purely as powerful goods engines. They proved very flexible in practice and due to their small wheels had rapid acceleration with a top speed of 60 mph. This made 56xx locos ideal for pulling stopping passenger trains and explains why 5637 is so suited for working on heritage railways.

5637 is believed to be the first 56xx class loco to be used for passenger service, recorded as having taken the 6:50 pm train from Barry Island to Cardiff Riverside on Monday 24th May 1926, less than a year after it first entered service.


Photo: Colour-Rail
5637 at work with a coal train in June 1963

5637 was subsequently modified along with the rest of the 56xx class to add a lamp recess and extension to the rear of the bunker and fit sliding doors to the cab side windows. Large "Stroudley" weights replaced the small original pattern balance weights on the driving axle and parallel buffers replaced the original tapered buffers. The original tall safety valve cover was also replaced with a shorter version.

The loco passed to British Railways on nationalisation in 1948 when BR classified the 56xx class as mixed traffic locomotives. 5637 moved to Radyr in September 1955 and to Treherbert the following month. The locomotive finished its days back at Barry, to where it returned in March 1960.

5637 underwent overhauls and repairs at a variety of workshops including Swindon, Caerphilly and Stafford Road. The locomotive had its final Heavy General Overhaul in Swindon works during 1963/1964. At withdrawal it had worked just short of 800,000 miles.

   
           

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