5542 was built at Swindon in 1928 at a cost of £3,602 and allocated to Gloucester Horton Road. Over the next 33 years it spent time at Bristol, Taunton (where it spent most time), Newton Abbot and Westbury where it spent the last two years of its service before being withdrawn in 1961 having run for 987,429 miles. During its working life it had used 6 boilers of which the last was built in 1943 and had previously been used on 4558, 5551 and 5501 before being fitted to 5542 in 1958 during a heavy overhaul.
Whilst at Taunton 5542 worked all four branches that once radiated from there. It had a tablet exchange apparatus fitted which allowed for faster trains on longer branches, particularly useful on the Yeovil, Barnstaple and Minehead branches.
It was sold to Woodham Brothers for scrap.
After 14 years in Barry 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.
The 5542 Fund then continued as a support and fund raising body.
The locomotive was returned to steam on the West Somerset Railway in 2002 to operate on a line that it worked on regularly in its earlier life.
5542 was used on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway for some BBC filming for the series “The Land Girls” in July 2009.
An overhaul of 5542s boiler began in October 2011 and resulted in 5542 running again in May 2012.
The locomotive which is owned by 5542 Ltd is currently operational on the South Devon Railway with a boiler certificate that expires in March 2022.
In August 2019 it was revealed that the locomotive would be maintained by the South Devon Railway for the next 30 years under a long term lease agreement between the line and the owners (5542 Ltd).
The locomotive operated on the East Somerset Railway until the end of 2020.
The boiler certificate expired in April 2022 and it was planned that the locomotive would go straight into the workshops for a full overhaul.
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|South Devon Railway||Awaiting overhaul||5542 Ltd|