Full Steam Ahead - bringing history back to life

by West Somerset Railway Assoc. in Bishops Lydeard, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 15th July 2020 we successfully raised £1,100 with 23 supporters in 41 days

WSRA is seeking funding to help pay for a restoration project to repair a 1924 Great Western Small Prairie steam engine.

by West Somerset Railway Assoc. in Bishops Lydeard, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

We are so near our final target having already secured £142,000 towards this restoration project. This additional funding will pay for some of the final expenses such as painting and finishing the steam train. 


‘Small prairie’ type steam locomotive number 4561 is owned by the WSRA and is in need of urgent repair.  Our Railway mainly transports visitors and tourists along the 23-mile line. The bulk of repair work will be completed at our Restoration works in Williton by a team of trained staff, volunteers and apprentices.

Designed by G J Churchward and built at Swindon Works in 1924, ‘small prairie’ 4561 is typical of the steam locomotives that would have run in the West Country and beyond between the 1920s and the 1960s. It spent 32 years of its working life on branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, before finally being withdrawn from service and sent to a Scrapyard in May 1962, having notched up 997,635 miles. 

The ‘small prairie’ type is smaller than some of the larger steam locomotives we use, and was designed for branch lines and secondary services.  It is ideal for the ‘shoulders’ of the season when we run 5 and 6 coach trains.  Having such a locomotive available reduces the operating costs when larger locos are not required. 

The small prairie 4561 offers the unique opportunity to go back in time, to experience the nostalgic beauty of the steam train. The aim of this project is to give 4561 a new life working on our heritage railway and give pleasure to the thousands of passengers who each year enjoy the sight, sounds and smell of steam power. When not in use the engine will be available for viewing by the general public and will play a key role in our work with schools and educational visits. We hope you will feel able to support this project with a donation and enable the WSRA to go full steam ahead by bringing West Somerset’s transport history back to life.

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