Locomotive No.6695 was built in 1928 at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne workshops of Armstrong Whitworth & Co. (works no, 983) for the Great Western Railway. The class was to the design of the then Chief Mechanical Engineer of the GWR Mr. C.B.Collett, the first 150 of the class being constructed at Swindon Works, with the remaining 50 being contracted out to Armstrong Whitworth. This design was a GWR standardized version of the myriad classes of 0-6-2 tank locomotives absorbed by the GWR from various South Wales railway companies (such as the Taff Vale and Rhymney) in the 1923 Grouping. This wheel arrangement had proved successful for the varied types of work required in the valleys. These locomotives were designed for both freight and local passenger work, being equally at home on coal trains, local passenger and even excursion passenger trains (especially excursions from the various South Wales valleys to destinations such as Barry Island, Porthcawl, and even Weston-super-Mare, and return). Locomotives of this class were also allocated to sheds outside of South Wales, notably Westbury (for banking duties) and the West Midlands area for local freight, banking, and passenger traffic. 6695 began her career in the West Midlands, allocated variously to Tyseley (Birmingham), Leamington Spa, Oxley (Wolverhampton), and Wolverhampton Stafford Road. 6695 was transferred to South Wales in 1939 going to Swansea East Dock before moving on to Landore (Swansea) where she remained for much of the remainder of her GWR/BR service. Another local move to Neath followed in 1961 during which time (Nov ’62) 6695 hauled the final passenger train from Neath General to Treherbert over the former Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway. A further move to Radyr (Cardiff Valleys Division) followed in Oct 1963 with final withdrawal from BR service in July ’64 and sale to Woodham Bros. scrap merchants of Barry where she lay until purchased for preservation in 1978.
6695 was purchased from Barry Scrapyard in 1978 for use on the Swanage Railway by a small group of local enthusiasts. The then forlorn looking loco arrived at Swanage in May 1979, the same year that the railway began operating passenger trains.
Leaving Barry scrapyard in May 1979, 6695 was gradually restored by the owners over a period of 26 years from derelict condition (with many parts missing) to full operational service, moving under her own power again in September 2005. The locomotive has been at work since that time hauling trains on various heritage railways, in particular the Swanage Railway where she was restored. 6695 has also visited the South Devon Railway, the West Somerset Railway, the Severn Valley Railway, the North Norfolk Railway, the Spa Valley Railway, and the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore where 6695 paired-up with sister loco 5637 in a preservation era ‘first’ (and to date still the only occasion) for a class 56/66xx double header. This type of locomotive is ideal for heritage railway service being economical to use on ‘normal’ size passenger trains but also having the power required to work heavier trains (8 or 9 coaches for instance) when required. 2015 was the last year for the locomotive to be in traffic before withdrawal for 10 yearly heavy overhaul however, whilst en-route to the West Somerset Railway for the March 2015 Spring Steam Gala, the low loader conveying 6695 collapsed causing significant damage to the locomotive. 6695 was moved from the incident site to Williton for assessment & inspection which included complete dismantling to assess the full extent of the damage. The damage repairs have been the subject of an insurance claim and much of the repair work has now been completed.