5619 STEPS UP AS SWINDON SUFFERS SHORTAGE
GWR ‘56XX’ 0‑6‑2T No. 5619 became the Swindon & Cricklade Railway’s only working steam locomotive in October, with the failure of both resident engines.
The 0‑6‑2T visited for the line’s 40th anniversary celebrations in September, marking four decades since the SCR first took possession of the trackbed at Blunsdon. Its appearance, thanks to the Telford Steam Railway, proved fortuitous when both of the SCR’s own working engines – Andrew Barclay 0‑6‑0ST Works No. 2138 Swordfish and Polish 0‑6‑0T No. 3135 ‘Spartan’ – failed with injector problems and a blowing regulator respectively.
‘Spartan’ was immediately withdrawn as its boiler certificate was due to expire on October 31, while Swordfish also requires repairs to a leaking saddle tank. A planned hire of Bagnall ‘Austerity’ 0‑6‑0ST No. 75178 from Bodmin fell through because of transport costs, meaning that the SCR’s ‘Santa Specials’ will be ‘top and tailed’ by No. 5619 and diesels.
The ‘56XX’ is due to remain at the SCR until April 2019, working footplate experience courses as well as normal services. Its appearance recalls the former long‑term residency of classmate No. 5637, which was restored from Barry condition at Blunsdon but is now on the East Somerset Railway.
SCR spokesman Adrian Thompson said: “Plans are being brought forward for ‘Spartan’s’ strip‑down and repairs, and discussions are taking place for a new look when it returns – something along the lines of a Southern ‘USA’ tank engine.
“Another suggestion was to try and hone it into the lines of a ‘15XX’ pannier tank, but this was felt to be a step too far. Getting the copper cap on the chimney would certainly have been a challenge.”
Visiting ‘56XX’ no. 5619 at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway’s hayes Knoll shed with resident Andrew Barclay 0‑6‑0ST works no. 2138 Swordfish and Polish ‘TKh’ 0‑6‑0T no. 3135 ‘Spartan’.