Locomotives owned by the WSRA
Small Prairie no 4561
Small Prairie 4561 pictured above at Minehead Shed, alongside another long term WSR locomotive - Somerset and Dorset Trust owned 7f class 2-8-0 no 53808.
Designed by G J Churchward and built at Swindon Works in 1924, Small Prairie 4561 is typical of the steam locomotives that would have run in the West Country and beyond between 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 It spent 32 years of its working life on branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, before finally being withdrawn from service at Laira shed, Plymouth, and scrapped in May 1962, having notched up 997,635 miles.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Having run 43,000 miles in preservation, 4561 was withdrawn in 1998 pending a major overhaul.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.
This locomotive is the first priority of the WSR Locomotive Restoration fund and is currently undergoing active restoration at Williton with a target date of 2021 to re-enter traffic on the West Somerset Railway.
More Information about the restoration of 4561 and how you can help.