4561 at Churston - June 1960.jpg

4561 was completed at Swindon in October 1924 at a cost of £3,802 and was allocated to Tyseley depot. From Tyseley it principally worked outer-suburban services to Leamington Spa and Stratford upon Avon.

In September 1927, it moved to Newport (Ebbw Junction) where again it was employed hauling local passenger services in Wales.

In 1930 it moved to Devon to start an unbroken period of 32 years working on various lines around Devon and Cornwall. Between 1930 and 1938 it moved many times with spells at Plymouth (Laira and Millbay), Launceston, Moorswater, Bodmin, St Blazey, Exeter and Penzance. During this period it’s work included travelling on theWR branch line services to Tavistock, Launceston, Looe, Wadebridge, Newquay, Heathfield, Tiverton, Dulverton and St Ives.

In September 1938 4561 was transferred to Truro from where it became a regular performer on the services on the Falmouth branch, on the Truro to Newquay line (via Chacewater) and other stopping trains over the Cornish main line.

BR motive power depot allocations since 1948.

Date ArrivedDepot
January 1948Truro
November 1958Newton abbot
June 1961Laira (Plymouth)

From Newton Abbot 4561 was often used working passenger and goods trains on the Brent to Kingsbridge branch. In the spring of 1961 it was displaced by the introduction of diesel multiple units and it then spent a few weeks working on the Dart Valley line between Totnes and Ashburton.

Following moving to Laira depot at Plymouth it primary worked trains to Tavistock and Launceston before being withdrawn from service in May 1962 by which time it had covered 997,635 miles whilst in service.

It was then sold for scrap to Woodham brothers and arrived in the Barry scrapyard in September 1962 and remained there until September 1975.

Having worked on West Country branch lines for over 30 years prior to its withdrawal in 1962, 4561 was purchased by the West Somerset Railway Association from Barry scrapyard and transported to Bishop Lydeard along with 4575 class locomotives 5521 and 5542.

It eventually moved to Minehead but because of pressure of other work and the need to complete the overhaulof 6100 class locomotive 6412 which took five years to complete.

Work on 4561 re-commenced at the end of 1984. The frames were sent to the Severn Valley Railway for repair during 1986 and following its return the boiler was sent to Bridgnorth. At the same time work was being undertaken at Minehead including rebuilding the bottom half to create a rolling chassis and at Bitton the fabrication of a new bunker and side tanks. The boiler was refitted in March 1989.

In August 1989 4561 was steamed again for the first time in preservation. After running in the locomotive entered traffic in October 1989. The cost of achieving this was estimated to be £100,000.

In the period up to November 1998 was taken out of service when the boiler certificate expired having covered nearly 48,000 miles on the West Somerset Railway and the many heritage railways it visited whilst in service.

On 6 August 2007 the engine left Williton for static display at the Steam Museum at Swindon. 4561 returned to West Somerset in September 2008 and is currently undergoing a heavy overall at West Somerset Restorations in Williton. This overhaul involves the fabrication of a new set of frames as the originals are considered to beyond further use.

It was envisaged that the locomotive would be operational in 2021 but this proved not to be the case. In July 2022 it was reported that the need for the pistons to be recast and the wait for new tyres from Tyseley was further delaying the anticipated date of the locomotive returning to steam.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
West Somerset RailwayUndergoing overhaulWest Somerset Railway Association
4561 at Swindon – May 1959
4561 at Churston - June 1960.jpg
4561 at Churston – June 1960
4561 at Minehead on the West Somerset Railway – 1990s
4561 in store at Bishops Lydeard on the West Somersey Railway – April 2010

Back to 4500 class

Back to GWR

Back to Locomotives