5643 is currently onsite at Ribble Steam Railway, but not in public view. She is undergoing her regular 10 year boiler examination & overhaul. It is hoped that she will return to service in 2025, in time for her centenary.
5643 hauled its first passenger train in 43 years – ably taking the 1405 Haverthwaite to Lakeside and return on 1st September 2006. There had been an enforced period of limbo since the first test steamings and its first run under its own steam, the previous November – because it emerged during the early part of 2006 that the regulator that controls the flow of steam into the cylinders had developed a small crack that could not be repaired. The only option was to have a pattern made and a new regulator cast, machined, fettled and installed. All this took considerable time, effort and money.
In the meantime, the locomotive has been painted in fully lined British Railways green livery, with later BR crest on the tank sides, and other issues have been addressed.
The debut passenger run threw up a few small problems to fix, and the engine duly arrived at the Llangollen Railway for the steam gala on September 9/10th, and a period of running in, and hauling passenger trains, up until April 2007. During the running in period at Llangollen, the engine has received further attention to its braking system and an axlebox that had a tendency to run hot.
5643 had first turned a wheel under its own steam 80 years to the month since it entered service in October 1925. The test steaming established there were no major flaws in the locomotive. A blocked blower and the cylinder lubricator needed attention. Once these were rectified, the locomotive was steamed to the satisfaction of the insurance company’s boiler inspector, and a test run carried out on the full length of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.
The Trust has had to raise every penny of the £100,000 cost of the restoration, through donations and a variety of fund-raising methods. Volunteers put in many thousands of hours of labour, often in the open air, to return the locomotive to working order.
5643 was built at the Great Western Railway’s Swindon Works in October 1925. It spent its entire working life in South Wales, and was withdrawn from Barry Shed in July 1963, moving the short distance to the now famous Woodham’s scrapyard in Barry. Woodham’s did not scrap 5643 and over 200 other steam locomotives, thus saving them for preservation. Over 100 of this number have now been returned to steam.