The 16xx class of pannier tanks was the last GWR locomotive design to appear, in BR days, and replaced earlier pannier tanks.
They were built to a restricted loading gauge, which allowed them to work on lines with low bridges. Most were allocated to Wales, although two, remarkably, ended up in Scotland and others were allocated to Cornwall.
Sole survivor No. 1638 was built by BR at Swindon in 1951, being allocated to Llanelli shed to work the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley line. She was withdrawn from Croes Newydd in North Wales in August 1966 after that shed had been transferred from the Western Region to the London Midland Region of British Railways.
She was purchased privately and travelled to Buckfastleigh in November 1967 and was a regular performer on the line.
When the South Devon Railway Trust took over operation of the line in 1991, 1638 was hired from its owners, the Dart Valley Railway Co, and operated the first trains under SDR auspices.
In 1992, the DVR decided to put the locomotive up for sale. The newly formed SDRT did not have the wherewithal to purchase this unique engine and she was subsequently sold to the Kent & East Sussex Railway where she can be see today …