9600 was built at the Swindon works of the Great Western Railway in 1945, as one of the hugely successful ’57xx’ class of 0-6-0 pannier tank locomotives. It represents the final development of the 57XX class, having a slightly enlarged cab with rounded eaves.
Officially designated ‘light goods and shunting engines’, 9600 was seen on a variety of trains, including the occasional local passenger train. 9600 spent most of its early years working from Swindon running shed, as well as around the works, however in early 1961 it was transferred to St. Phillips Marsh shed, Bristol.
From October 1962 it was moved to Aberdare shed, where it stayed, apart from the usual repairs and overhauls at Swindon works before moving to Neath in November 1964. It moved on to Ebbw Junction in April 1965 and it was withdrawn from service here in September 1965.
It was sold to the National Coal Board’s Merthyr Vale Colliery, from where it was withdrawn in April 1973.
Bought by 7029 Clun Castle Ltd, owning group of the locomotive collection at Tyseley, the engine’s overhaul to the highest standards was completed in 1997. 9600 was certified for mainline operation in 1999, re-certified in 2009, and has regularly worked excursion trains. It was the first engine to haul a mainline charter commencing from Vintage Trains’ own Tyseley Warwick Road platform. 9600 has a further claim to fame! A very unusual working from Tyseley occurred in August 2000 when GWR Pannier 9600 ran to Peak Rail with 3 Mark I compartment coaches for exchange for 3 Mark I open coaches. 9600 was selected for the job because there was not another engine approved to run on the entire National Rail network (steam or diesel) that had an axle load that could be used on the line between Ambergate and Matlock.
At the last overhaul the locomotive was fitted with OTMR and TPWS to enable it to return to the mainline.
Its boiler certificate expires during 2018 at which time it will be taken out of service and given a quick overhaul. . It has also been suggested that the boiler certificate may be extended.
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