6619 regularly appeared on ITV's popular series 'Heartbeat'

6619 in yard

6619 in the yard

When the GWR looked to replace the ageing 0-6-2 tank locomotives they had inherited on merger in South Wales, they found that the design of these earlier classes was ideal for the lines they operated and they were very popular with loco crews. They had a high adhesive weight, good braking ability and lots of power. Running short distances meant that they did not need to have high capacity tanks or a large bunker. Being designed for mixed traffic the class was also suitable for running branch line passenger services where only a modest turn of speed was required. The 56xx and 66xx classes retained all these benefits. These qualities make 6619 ideal for the K&ESR where it faces similar conditions although without the heavy coal trains it was primarily employed on.

Rather than design a totally new locomotive the GWR developed the 56xx/66xx class from the Rhymney Railway M and R class locomotives using as many standard parts as possible in true GW style. The Swindon number 2 boiler is sited well forwards giving an appearance of being unbalanced. The first batch of 100 56xx's were Swindon built between 1924 and 1927. In 1927-28 Swindon built another 50, 15cwt heavier and in the 6600-6649 series. 6619 was built in January 1928. Construction of the final 50 66xxs was outsourced (as we would term it today) to Armstrong Whitworth in 1928 due to the pressure of work at Swindon.

The 56xx/66xx tanks were the only new 0-6-2 type locomotives built by the GWR. They lasted until 1962 when withdrawal commenced rapidly- all being consigned to the scrapyards by 1965.

There are nine preserved (eight of which were from Barry) but only two of the Swindon built 66xx's, the other being 6634 under restoration on the Severn Valley Railway.

6619 was saved from Barry for two reasons-

  1. Being an inside cylinder locomotive hardly any of the motion parts had been removed as they were so hard to get at and,
  2. The boiler was in very good condition.

It was restored between 1979 and 1984 for use on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with some input from K&ESR volunteers who have a long association with that Railway. Apart from a "thank you" visit to the K&ESR and an appearance at the GW 150 celebrations at Didcot it worked entirely on the NYMR until the next overhaul. After that the owners decided that it would go on tour - so it visited many UK railways, including the K&ESR again, ending up on the Yorkshire Dales Railway.

After providing good service for a number of years, 6619 was withdrawn from service in January 2015 for a scheduled major overhaul.  A new replacement smokebox has already been completed, prior to the main overhaul work starting.

Statistics

Driving wheel diameter 4' 7 1/2"
Trailing wheel diameter 3' 8"
Length 37' 6"
Weight 62t 18cwt
Water capacity 1900 gallons
Coal capacity 3t 15cwt
Cylinders (2) 18" x 26"
Working pressure 200 lbs per sq inch
Tractive effort 25800lbs
BR power classification 5MT