Locomotives owned by the WSRA
Small Prairie 4561
Designed by G J Churchward
Built Swindon Works 1924
Small Prairie 4561 is typical of the steam locomotives that would have run in the West Country and beyondbetween the 1920s and the mid-1960s. It spent 32 years of its working life on branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, before finally being withdrawn from service at Laira shed, Plymouth, and scrapped in May 1962, having notched up 997,635 miles.
The next 13 years were spent lanquishing at Woodham Bros scrap yard in Barry, South Wales. In 1975 it was purchased by a group from the West Somerset Railway and transported by road to the WSR. In 1982 it passed into the ownership of the WSRA and restoration work got underway in 1985, with a mainly volunteer workforce, funded by voluntary contributions. 4561 steamed for the first time in preservation on 15 August 1989.
Having run 43,000 miles in preservation, 4561 was withdrawn in 1998 pending a major overhaul. Unfortunately due to a number of factors, the restoration was sidelined for several years. In the past few years progress has been made towards completion of the overhaul and an extensive review has been conducted to inform the completion of the work and the fundraising plan. The Locomotive Restoration Strategy was presented and approved by WSRA members at the 2017 AGM.
This locomotive is the first priority of the WSR Locomotive Restoration project and fund.
Ditcheat Manor 7821
GWR 7800 class
Ditcheat Manor 7821
The second of the last batch of 10 engines of the thirty-strong class, 7821 was built by British Railways in 1950. Ditcheat Manor, No 7821 was initially allocated to Oswestry shed and later Shrewsbury before being moved to Birmingham. In 1959 it was reallocated to Newton Abbot, passing through Taunton at times, before being returned to the Cambrian Lines and finally Oxley. The engine was withdrawn in November 1965 and sent to Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, South Wales.
Rescued from Barry in 1981, it was sent to the embryonic Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, before moving to the Llangollen Railway and then Swindon works. Restoration was completed in 1998, when it first steamed on the West Somerset Railway. The loco then worked on the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire, and moved again in 2005 to the Churnet Valley Railway where it served its last months of its boiler ticket in traffic.
In 2008, the West Somerset Railway Association bought 7821 from its private owner. A mechanical examination showed that the locomotive needed extensive and expensive chassis and boiler work, and whilst funding is raised for its overhaul the WSRA agreed a static display contract with the Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon. The locomotive was subsequently relocated to the museum on 14 November 2010, where it still resides.