Prairie Tank 5526 has finally made it back into traffic at Buckfastleigh after 41 years!
After a long and convoluted restoration that has seen the engine move around various sites after it was taken out of service in 1961 5526 is back in steam once again. The fire was lit in the engine for the first time on 9th December to slowly bring the engine back to life for its boiler inspection. With full working pressure having been achieved to the satisfaction of the insurance company inspector the engine was able to make its first tentative move under its own power since the fire was last dropped in the early 60's.
After withdrawal the engine was sold to Woodhams Scrapyard at Barry, which proved to be its salvation. Purchased by a group of Southern Region railwaymen led by the late Julyan Twyman the engine was moved out of Barry in 1985 to its first restoration base at Toddington on the Gloucester and Warwick Railway. After some years there it was moved to Swindon Workshops where a contract restoration job was begun. With the cost of this work escalating progress was halted until a secure future could be worked out for the engine. This is where the South Devon Railway stepped in with an offer of a home on the railway, which was then under new management so to speak, having taken over the ailing Dart valley operation. An agreement was struck which meant that in return for assisting financially with the restoration the engine would be based at Buckfastleigh. The move to Devon took place in 1992.
Initial progress was slow whilst other locomotives with greater priority were dealt with, as the restoration of an ex-Barry wreck is never a quick project. Work started in earnest in 1997 with much of the workshop staff and volunteers time over the last two years going in to the rebuild.
The engine will now await its final paint job in the new
year when the weather is more conducive to getting a good finish.
It was Julyan Twymans wish to see the engine turned out in plain BR black livery. This is how it will run initially before being repainted in to Great Western livery in a year or so.
|A sample of pictures showing 5526 on its first journey in 41 years making its way along the SDR|
|A Very Merry Christmas with a big thankyou to everyone who has worked so hard over many
years to make this day a reality.
|Update-- Wednesday 17th December 5526 on a Running in turn with six coaches this time|