This locomotive, was built at Swindon in 1926 and spent its working life in and around Cardiff Valley hauling both freight and passenger trains. Like many others, 5668 ended up sold to Woodham’s scrap yard at Barry in November 1964 as steam was phased out in favour of diesel. It languished there, slowly losing parts, until rescued and moved to the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway in 1987. A very similar story to that of GWR 4253.
Towards the end of 2012 we were offered this locomotive as part of a package deal involving a substantial quantity of parts that were required to progress the restoration of 4253.
At the 2013 AGM, shareholders voted in favour of proceeding with the deal and suggested an appeal be launched to raise funds to pay for the transportation of the loco from Blaenavon to Rolvenden. In excess of £2.6k was raised and, in late 2013, 5668 was moved to its new home.
Although restoration work would not begin for some years, it was important that the loco did not deteriorate further and, while the K&ESR line was closed in early 2014, 5668 was moved to Rolvenden yard where it was cleaned up and greased as necessary to provide some protection. It was carefully sheeted and returned to Wittersham Road siding for storage to await its turn to be bought back to life.
As a result of this deal our railway, the Kent & East Sussex, will be assured that yet another powerful steam locomotive will be added to its fleet in due course to haul passenger trains on the extended line from Tenterden to Robertsbridge.
Work has now been started on 5668, whilst 4263’s boiler is away having its plates and stays fitted. So far it has been stripped down, parts stored away safely, and progress is being made on rebuilding the two side water tanks.
You can follow the continuing stories of 5668 and 4253 on our weekly progress blog.