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  • Andrew P.M. Wright

Great Western Railway steam locomotive brings a taste of the west country to the Swanage Railway

Photograph: Andrew P.M. Wright

An evocative taste of the West Country has come to the Swanage Railway with the visit of a 1920s Great Western Railway 2-6-2 tank wheel arrangement steam locomotive from the South Devon Railway.

It is planned to have No. 5526 hauling trains between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Swanage on Saturday, 19 February, 2022, when the Swanage Railway reopens.

Steam trains will be running daily between Saturday 19 and Sunday 27 February and then during the four weekends in March and during the last four days of March.

As well as hauling service trains during February and March, No. 5526 will be used for the Swanage Railway’s popular Taster Driving Experience trains on Mondays and Fridays during March which have been sold out.

Equipped with piston valves and superheaters, the Class 4575 locomotive has two outside cylinders, Stephenson valve gear and a water-carrying capacity of 1,300 gallons.

Swanage Railway passenger service director Trevor Parsons said: “We are delighted to have No. 5526 visit the Swanage Railway as it brings a delightful and evocative taste of the West Country during the days of steam in Devon and Cornwall from the 1920s through to the 1960s.

“Designed by Charles Collett, one hundred of the Class 4575 locomotives were built and No. 5526 looks magnificent against the background of Corfe Castle’s dramatic ruins.

“We are very grateful to the owners of No. 5526, and the South Devon Railway, for enabling the locomotive to visit the Isle of Purbeck,” added Trevor who is a volunteer signalman and guard on the popular heritage line.

Used on passenger trains and freight workings, No. 5526’s sister locomotives hauled trains for the Great Western Railway on branch and secondary lines across Devon and Cornwall from the 1920s through to the end of steam traction in the West Country in the 1960s.

One of 14 members of its class to survive into preservation – and weighing 61 long tons - No. 5526 was built for the Great Western Railway at its Swindon locomotive works, in Wiltshire, during May, 1928, at a cost of £3,694.

Spending its entire life hauling trains in the West Country, No. 5526 was based at St Blazey, Bodmin, Exeter, Plymouth Millbay, Laira and Truro – ending its days at Westbury in Wiltshire.

Withdrawn from service in June, 1962, with a mileage of around 900,000 miles, No. 5526 was sold to the Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry in South Wales.

The locomotive was rescued from Barry in 1985 with restoration starting at Swindon before No. 5526 was moved to the South Devon Railway where restoration work was completed by No. 5526’s owners – 5526 Limited – at Buckfastleigh.

The Swanage Railway welcomes new volunteers who should contact Swanage Railway volunteer recruitment and retention officer Jonathan Evans on 01929 408466 or email

Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright,

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.


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