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Full steam ahead for railway tank’s return
A STEAM railway tank built at the Great Western Railway will return to the town this month in a much-anticipated home-coming.
The 2-6-2 “Prairie” tank 5521 was built in 1927 and spent most of its working life on branch lines in the west country, until withdrawal from British Railways in April 1962 having run just over one million miles during this period.
The tank will be at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway throughout July and August and is set to arrive on July 11.
In preservation, 5521 has travelled extensively, having spent two years in Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia from 2007 to 2009.
Railway publicity officer Adrian Brodie said: “We are very pleased to have the 5521 at the station and we hope that it will certainly attract the attention of local enthusiasts as well as families who want to come and see it.
“It is always great to have a bit of home-grown talent here, so to speak. We are always pleased to get Swindon’s own loco’s back. It is always very special to us.
“It is coming to us from York so it does get about a lot, especially having spent two years on the continent, so it is very exciting.”
During its excursion to Europe, 5521 appeared at the Wolsztyn, Poland spring steam festival in May 2007, 2008 and 2009.
It steamed through Poland and Slovakia to Hungary in 2007, and back again in 2008, and appeared at the Steam Engine Grand Prix in Zvolen, Slovakia and in Budapest, Hungary, in September, 2007.
In September 2007, it piloted the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express on its way back from Istanbul to Venice from Budapest’s Nyugati station to Kelenfold.
And during 2008 it was regularly rostered to operate three daily round-trip suburban passenger trains from Wroclaw to Jelcz Laskowice in Poland, under the auspices of the Wolsztyn Experience.
The locomotive had no failures during its time in Europe and more than once, when double-heading, had to haul the whole train due to failure of the other larger locomotives.
5521 returned from Poland to England by sea in May 2009.
It was displayed at the National Railway Museum in York until mid-July, next to King George V and Duchess of Hamilton, both of which travelled to America, and the locomotive that returned from China.
5521 will be in steam on July 14, 15 and 22, and August 12,18, 25, 26 and 27 August.
Driving experiences with 5521 will be available but must be booked in advance.
The railway is at pains to point out that, because of the major road works, access to the railway during this time, is from the Purton direction only and diversion signs are in place.
On Saturdays and Sundays, visitors can access the railway by approaching along Tadpole Lane to where the road is closed, and parking on the right hand verge.
To walk to the railway, access is over the footbridge over the River Ray, and into the car park.
For further details, call 01793 771615, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.swindon-cricklade- railway.org