GWR Small Prairie 4566
At The Engine House
‘Small Prairie’ (2-6-2) tank No. 4566 was built at Swindon and entered service in October 1924. 175 engines of the same basic Churchward design were built, some at Wolverhampton in 1906/8, and some at Swindon from 1909 to 1929. Together with their predecessors, the smaller-wheeled 44XX 2-6-2 tanks of 1904/6, these machines were a common sight on G.W.R. branch lines for nearly 60 years, and were very popular amongst railwaymen and travellers alike. They were staple power for Severn Valley line passenger services from the early 1920s, the last example disappearing off the route in 1961.
4566 spent most of its working life in the south west of England, its final shed being Plymouth Laira before withdrawal in April 1962. It was sold for scrap to Woodham’s of Barry in July 1962.
The ‘4566 Group’ was formed on the SVR in 1969, and 4566 was chosen for purchase; following movement by rail to Bewdley in August 1970, restoration to operating condition started shortly afterwards at Bewdley, and 4566 steamed again in July 1975.
Apart from gaps for overhaul, it was in use until January 2017, when it was retired from service at the end of the boiler’s ’10-year ticket’.
On 20 June 2018 4566 was moved from storage in Kidderminster Carriage Shed to be put on display in The Engine House at Highley.