Michael L. Roach
5572 was one of a batch of five small prairies completed in February 1929. They were the last prairies of the 4575-class to be built, and the last small prairies. However the larger prairies of the 5101 class went on being built for another twenty years until 1949; i.e the last ones were built after nationalisation. 5572 went new to Exeter Shed; was at Bristol Bath Road at Nationalisation and ended its days at Laira, being condemned on 3 April 1962. It had been at Laira for 12 months after arriving from St. Blazey on 22 April 1961. I photographed it in use many times during its stay at Laira, all between Plymouth Station and Launceston apart from one occasion on the approach spans of the Royal Albert Bridge just after leaving Saltash Station – the photo can be found on the website in the relevant section.
5572 was one of a number of the class fitted with the necessary equipment in 1953 for working rail motors in South Wales. 5572 was at Treherbert and Cathays Sheds for more than four years from October 1953 to February 1958 working auto trains up and down some of the Valleys until displaced by the first generation of diesel multiple units. On 22 Feb 1958 it was reallocated to Laira for the first time (before going to St. Blazey on 8 October 1960), along with some of the other auto fitted examples; and they did indeed work auto trains between Plymouth and Tavistock South when one of the 6400-class was not available. Eleven members of the 4575 class have survived into preservation but 5572 is the only example fitted with autogear. It is currently out of use at Didcot awaiting an overhaul.
In the last three months of its working life, Jan/Feb/March 1962, I photographed 5572 many times, but mostly on Saturdays. It worked the same trains almost every Saturday from 13 January onwards: i.e
2.10pm Plymouth to Tavistock South and 4.30pm Tavistock South to Plymouth which were both rail motors
There were just two occasions when 5572 worked the trains below instead:
10.53am Plymouth Millbay to Tavistock South SO ECS and 12.40pm Tavistock South to Plymouth rail motor
There was also another SO empty rail motor in the opposite direction at 2.00pm from Tavistock South to Millbay. These empty rail motors were a result of the fifteen percent cuts to passenger services in June 1958 which left the Tavistock to Launceston section with three passenger trains Monday to Friday but five on Saturdays only with the 10.25am Plymouth to Tavistock South extended to Launceston SO and therefore unable to return from Tavistock at 12.40pm. Rail motors were normally hauled from Plymouth to Tavistock South and then propelled back to Plymouth but for a short period in February 1962 it was the other way round using 5572. I have seen no explanation for this but think it may have been something to do with releasing the engine at the end of the working day after parking the auto coaches in a different siding at Millbay perhaps.
MLR / 8 December 2023
Attached are a couple of photos of it passing Par Moor, then one last glimpse of Lostwithiel down the valley as it travelled towards Sweetshouse on the Par to Bodmin road. Finally a shot of it waiting for the carpark to clear out at Bodmin, parked up in Walker Lines industrial estate.
All the best, Jon