GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2T (No 5552)
Among other locomotives, the Bodmin heritage railway also owns and operates No 5552, a steam locomotive from the GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2T. These were produced by the Great Western Railway (GWR) between 1927 and 1929, and while resembling greatly to the early 20th century GWR 4500 Class, they featured slopping rather than flat topped tanks. The locos were used for a number of tasks and jobs all over the GWR network in South West England including Bodmin.
About No 5552
No 5552 that is owned by the Bodmin & Wenford Railway was manufactured in 1928 by the Swindon Works, at the time one of the leading railway factories not only in Britain but in the world. The loco entered service in the same year and over the following three decades, operated all over Cornwall and Devon. After 33 years of service, first to the Great Western Railway and since its nationalisation in 1948 to the British Railways, No 5552 was withdrawn.
Like many other GWR locos, No 5552 too ended up at the Barry scrapyard. 25 years later, however, it was rescued from the scrapyard and sent to Bodmin where it was thoroughly restored. Restoration works were finally completed in 2003 and in the same year, the locomotive re-entered service, this time on the historic Bodmin & Wenford Railway. Since 2012, No 5552 is undergoing overhaul which is scheduled to be completed in 2016.
About George Jackson Churchward (1857-1933), Designer of the GWR 475 Class 2-6-2T
As mentioned earlier, the Bodmin’s No 5552 is a steam locomotive from the GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2T. The latter was designed by George Jackson Churchward (1857-1933) who served as the GWR’s Chief Mechanical Engineer between 1902 and 1922. In addition to designing the mentioned class of locomotives, Churchward was also responsible for the design of other cutting-edge and pioneering locos such as the 2- and 4-cylinder 4-6-0s. During the first two decades of the 20th century, these were the No 1 express passenger class of steam locos in the UK. Churchward retired in the early 1920s but his designs continued to have a major influence on the British locomotive industry until the end of the ‘Steam Era’. Elements of Churchward’s design can thus be also observed in locos that were built decades after his death.