A surface life in Wales to Underground in London

Arguably one of the most successful of the Great Western small tank designs, these versatile engines could be found at work all over the former Great Western system.

Withdrawn by BR in 1963, 5775 found further use with London Transport before entering preservation away from its homeland in 1970.

The rolling hills of South Wales to the rolling hills of West Yorkshire

Like our other ex-GWR locomotive no. 85, 5775 was sold out of service from its home railway into industrial service, so escaped to live again and eventually entered preservation away from its homeland.

BR no. 5775 left the Valleys to seek its fortune in London and, like the Welsh miners it served, worked ‘Underground’ until it left the hustle and bustle of London Transport for the tranquillity of the Pennines.

Data File

Built: 1929 Swindon
Boiler Pressure: 200 psi
Tractive Effort: 22,510 lbf
Weight 47.5 tons
Valve Gear: Stephenson
Cylinders: 17½”x24″ Inside
Numbers carried during working career: GWR & BR 5775, London Transport L89

A life in the Valleys to a life in the Capital

No. 5775 is a member of the largest class of engines designed and built for British main-line use. There were 862 built between 1929 and 1950 and they were generally regarded as the most successful of the Great Western small tank designs. They could be found at work all over the former Great Western system and, although designed primarily for shunting duties, they could also be found on local freight and passenger workings.

No.5775 was built at Swindon in 1929 and during British Railways ownership was ‘shedded’ at Danygraig, Carmarthen and Pontypool Road from where it was withdrawn in January 1963 when, like several others of the class, it was sold into private ownership. Some went to the NCB and several others, including no. 5775, were sold to London Transport for use on the Underground system on, mainly, nighttime engineers’ trains. In the LT fleet, it received the London Transport maroon livery and took the number L89 and served in the capital until it was purchased for preservation by the KWVR in January 1970.

Fame and fortune on the big screen

During it preservation history it has sported various liveries. At one point it was painted in the fictitious GN&SR (Great Northern and Southern Railway) caramel livery of ‘The Railway Children’ fame. It has also appeared in London Transport maroon and British Railways green.

It is probably remembered most affectionately by many for its appearance in the 1971 EMI film ‘The Railway Children’ starring Jenny Agutter as ‘Bobby’ when it hauled the Old Gentleman’s saloon and famously skidded to a halt as ‘Bobby’ successfully attracted the driver’s attention to a landslip blocking the line.

The locomotive is now in need of extensive and expensive repairs before it can steam again. However, it was cosmetically restored to its GN&SR caramel livery by the National Railway Museum for exhibition at York and Shildon and returned to the KWVR for exhibition at Oxenhope in 2017. With the 50th Anniversary of the making of the film, no doubt it, and 957 will once again take centre stage, albeit in a supporting, not active role.