GWR 4575 Class 5542

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Totnes 5542 shirtbutton livery.jpg
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Build date 1928
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Operators Great Western Railway, British Railways
Class GWR 4575 class
Numbers 5542
Retired 1961
Current owner 5542 fund

GWR tank locomotive number 5542 is a preserved Great Western Railway steam locomotive of the GWR 4575 Class. It is currently based on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway after a very rapid boiler overhaul at South Devon Railway during the winter of 2011-12.[1]


Number 5542 was built in 1928 for £3602, as part of Lot 251, also preserved from this Lot is elder brother 5541, now based on the Forest of Dean. Together with 5541 it was first allocated to Gloucester entering traffic on 2 August 1928, then over next 33 years was based at Bristol[clarification needed], Taunton, Newton Abbot, It was last based at Taunton on 21 August 1957, when it was transferred to Westbury, where it spent its remaining years before being finally withdrawn from Westbury on 8 December 1961 after having run 987,429 miles. It was sold to Woodhams in February 1962. Throughout the greater part of its life it was based at Taunton. It was first based at Taunton in 1934 and was a regular performer on the Minehead line. It carried 6 boilers in its life. The last boiler was built in 1943 and had been used on 4558, 5551, 5501 before fitting to 5542 in March 1958, at the locomotive's last Heavy General overhaul. 5542 appears in the TV series "Land Girls" in the episode "Destinies", originally aired on 11 September 2009.


Acquired by Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, South Wales, after 14 years there with compatriots 4561 and 5521, it was sold to the West Somerset Railway Association in 1976. In 1979, a cash strapped West Somerset Railway Company, which had loaned much of the finance for the original purchase required repayment thereby forcing the sale of 5542 and 5521. Members of the Dean Forest Railway bought 5521 and a Taunton-based group of active W.S.R. supporters formed the 5542 Fund to save and restore it for use on the West Somerset Railway.

Subsequently a limited company was formed with an authorised share capital of £100,000, there are 50 voting shares and 150 non-voting shares. Only one voting share is allowed per shareholder. The 5542 Fund then continued as a support and fund raising body, which over the years has raised an average of £500 per month from a variety of fund raising initiatives.[2] The website is currently hosting images of the boiler overhaul.


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