GWR Large Prairie 5164

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GWRGreat Western Railway Large PrairieLocomotive with a 2-6-2 wheel configuration 5164
5164 20100522.jpg
5164 at Highley (2010)
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon Works
Configuration 2-6-2T
Power class GWRGreat Western Railway: D, BRBritish Rail or British Railways: 4MTThe British Railways system of classifying steam locomotives by power using a number from 0, least powerful, to 9, most powerful, followed by either F for freight, P for Passenger or MT for Mixed Traffic.
Axle load class GWRGreat Western Railway: Blue
Status Out of Service
Loco Number 5164
Built 1930
Designed By Charles CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941
Type GWRGreat Western Railway 5101
1973 Arrived on SVRSevern Valley Railway
1979 Entered service on SVRSevern Valley Railway
2014 Withdrawn for overhaul
Length 41ft
Weight 78t 15cwt
Tractive effort 24,300 lb
Pressure 200 lb/sq in

Steam Locomotives

5164 is a GWRGreat Western Railway CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 5101 class 2-6-2T 'Large PrairieLocomotive with a 2-6-2 wheel configuration'. The 5101 Class was an updated version by CB CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 of ChurchwardGeorge Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1902-1922's 1903 3100/5100 Class. Built from 1929 to 1949, these medium-sized tank engines were used all over the GWRGreat Western Railway network for suburban and local passenger and local freight services. Their increased axle loading of 17 tons 12 cwt was the maximum permitted for 'Blue' route availability, while their power class was rated D (GWRGreat Western Railway) and 4MTThe British Railways system of classifying steam locomotives by power using a number from 0, least powerful, to 9, most powerful, followed by either F for freight, P for Passenger or MT for Mixed Traffic. (BRBritish Rail or British Railways). A total of 140 were produced; after available numbers in the 51xx range were exhausted were exhausted, later examples were numbered in the 41xx range.

A number of the class were allocated to the sheds at Worcester, Kidderminster, Stourbridge and Shrewsbury from where they were regularly used on the Severn Valley Branch on both freight and passenger services after the 1950s. Other examples from Wolverhampton Stafford Road and Tyseley were also seen on the Branch from time to time.[1] The pictures below show classmates 4114 preparing to leave Bridgnorth with a passenger service for Shrewsbury in July 1959, 4175 with an UpIn reference to the direction of travel means towards the major terminus (i.e. towards Kidderminster on the present day SVR) goods at Bewdley in April 1962, and 4153 on the coaling road at Kidderminster Shed (undated). Other class members photographed in use on the branch include 4100 in 1955,[2] and 4129[3]. The SVRSevern Valley Railway's 4150 is also a member of the class and having entered service at Stourbridge in 1947, may also have worked on the branch although no photographs are known to exist.

5164 in service

5164 was built at the GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon Works as part of Lot 259 at a cost of £4,220.[4] The locomotive entered service at Tyseley in November 1930.[5] It remained allocated to the Wolverhampton region until 1956, principally at Tyseley but also at Wolverhampton Stafford Road and Wellington. Duties included the haulage of local trains from Birmingham Snow Hill to Kidderminster and thence onto the Severn Valley Branch itself.[4] During its working life it was allocated to Tyseley 10 times, with the longest stay 3 years and the shortest 4 months.[6]

In August 1956, it was allocated to Newton Abbot, working local trains and also acting as a banker on the Dainton and Rattery Banks.[4] In July 1959, it had an overhaul at Swindon with boiler 5743 being fitted.[6]

5164's last move was to Pontypool Road in October 1961. On 4 April 1963 the loco was condemned with a slipping driving tyre,[6] having amassed 67,447 miles from its last overhaul at Swindon and 811,367 miles in service.[7] It was sold to Barry Scrapyard on 9 October 1963 and moved the following month.[6]

5164 in preservation

By summer 1971, with a 5700 Pannier Tank and 4500 'Small PrairieLocomotive with a 2-6-2 wheel configuration' already secured for the SVRSevern Valley Railway, purchase of a 'Large PrairieLocomotive with a 2-6-2 wheel configuration' was seen as the next logical step. A fund was established, organised by Mr. R.E. 'Bob' Sim, and No. 5164 was chosen as the best of the 10 'Large Prairies' at BarryWoodham Brothers Scrapyard, Barry, South Wales. The source of many locomotives now in preservation.. It was reserved for purchase 'with the usual help from Mr Woodham' while an appeal for fund raising took place.[1]

Purchase was successfully completed at a cost of £2,250.[4] The locomotive was officially the 30th to leave BarryWoodham Brothers Scrapyard, Barry, South Wales. The source of many locomotives now in preservation.,[8], arriving on the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 6 January 1973 in the company of GWR 4930 Hagley Hall and GWR 7819 Hinton Manor. The initial owners were The 5164 Preservation Group.

First boiler ticket

Restoration took place at Bewdley, with a team led by Pete Simpson. By September 1974 the engine had been completely stripped down. The tyres all needed reprofiling which, if done, would have left sufficient material for one further turning. However with a loose tyre having brought about the locomotive's withdrawal from service, the decision was taken to replace all the tyres, the work being carried out by the BSCBritish Steel Corporation, or British Sugar Corporation Railway Materials Division at Rotherham. The tanks and bunker were overhauled by Wagon Repairs Ltd of Stoke-on-Trent. The boiler was refitted on 3 May 1976 as part of the '150 ton big lift' which saw the lifting of 5 boilers and 2 frames in a single day.[9] 5164 was not steamed until 20 October 1979, by which time the entire restoration was effectively complete, as by the following week the locomotive had moved to Bridgnorth ready for use on that December's Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade Christmas services. It formally entered service in December, performing faultlessly and recording the highest mileage of the three locomotives used.[10]

5164 was taken out of service in late summer 1980 for some 'finishing touches' and a full repaint.[11] Retuning to service in 1981, the locomotive suffered some frost damage during the following winter[12] but continued in service until being withdrawn due to tube failures in July 1984.[13] Mileage recorded during the first boiler ticket was as follows:[14]

Year Mileage
1979 510
1980 1,765
1981 4,451
1982 4,379
1983 3,291
1984 2,215
Total 16,611

Second boiler ticket

After service ended in July 1984, a heavy overhaul was deemed necessary including boiler crown stays and side stays and a full mechanical repair.[15] 5164 was scheduled to appear as a static exhibit at the following year's GWRGreat Western Railway 150 exhibition at Swindon[16], although the event was subsequently cancelled when British Rail Engineering Ltd (BREL) insensitively announced the closure of the Swindon Works in the anniversary year.

A lengthy period out of service in the 'overhaul queue' followed. By the end of 1999 some component refurbishment had been carried out, hampered by the lack of machine shop facilities at Bewdley. By summer 2001 5164 was 'next in line to be put through the shops' at Bridgnorth. In summer 2002 work on the boiler was under way, with the Erlestoke Manor Fund team assisting the boilersmiths in de-tubing and de-staying. The mechanical overhaul was also starting and new side tanks were being fabricated.[17]. The boiler was steamed in mid-2003, and a new hopper ash-pan wad being fabricated to complement the new rocking grate already made by Pete Simpson at Bewdley. The overhaul was completed the following year with a passenger train test run on 12 May.[18]

5164 saw out a full "10 year ticket", including visits to the West Somerset Railway in Autumn 2006 and the Mid Hants Railway in spring 2013. However by 2013 the locomotive was "sounding extremely tired and worn out at the front end"[19] and with valves "playing a tune unbecoming of a steam engine".[20] Service ended in early January 2014, with mileage recorded during the second boiler ticket as follows (X indicates not recorded in SVRSevern Valley Railway News):[21]

Year Mileage
B/fwd 16,611
2004 8,138
2005 X
2006 X
2007 X
2008 X
2009 X
2010 X
2011 X
2012 X
2013 8,556
Total 92,447

Current status

Following withdrawal, 5164 resumed its place in the SVRSevern Valley Railway's 'overhaul queue'. In March 2014 it was moved to the Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre,[22][23] where it could be stored under cover as a static exhibit. While there it was cared for by members of the owning group, The 5164 Preservation Group. However the Group was an unincorporated organisation with a small and diminishing group of shareholders. In 2020 the remaining shareholders agreed to offer the locomotive to the The Erlestoke Manor Fund for a nominal sum in order to secure the locomotive’s future within an incorporated, charitable organisation strongly affiliated to the SVRSevern Valley Railway.[24].

After negotiations between the Group, the EMF and the SVRSevern Valley Railway, the transfer of ownership to the EMF for a nominal sum was completed in November 2021.[25]

In January 2022 the EMF announced that their members had agreed to a change of the Fund's Articles, allowing fund raising for an overhaul to begin.[26] In July 2022 the EMF announced the launch of an appeal to raise funds to return 5164 to service[27].

In April 2023 the EMF advised that they had accepted an invitation for 5164 to appear at the Warley Model Railway Exhibition at the Birmingham NEC on 25-26 November 2023, with the movement being used as an effective way of returning the locomotive closer to home ahead of its overhaul actively commencing once 7802 has returned to steam.[28]

Film and television

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 20
  2. Mitchell and Smith (2007) fig. 98.
  3. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 16, photo by Brian Moone)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3
  5. GWR Archive (Retrieved 28 January 2015).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 EMF Press Release issued 14 December 2021
  7. BRDatabase Retrieved 28 January 2015
  8. The BarryWoodham Brothers Scrapyard, Barry, South Wales. The source of many locomotives now in preservation. Story, Beckett & Hardingham, 2010
  9. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 40
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 54, 55
  11. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 56
  12. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 63
  13. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 73
  14. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 152 pp. 24-25
  15. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 76 p. 16.
  16. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 75
  17. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 136, 140, 142
  18. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 145, 147
  19. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 183
  20. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 184
  21. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 185 p. 12
  22. SVR-Online forum thread 'GWR 2-6-2T 5164' (Retrieved 14 February 2017)
  23. Barrow Hill Roundhouse (Retrieved 26 January 2020)
  24. EMF Newsletter no 75 August 2020
  25. EMF Newsletter no 78, November 2021
  26. EMF Announcement January 2022
  27. EMF: The Big "Large Prairie" Appeal – Returning 5164 to service (retrieved 1 August 2022)
  28. EMF Newsletter no 81, April 2023