Built in Swindon in 1934, 6412 is one of the 40-strong 64xx class of C. B. Collett-designed Great Western Railway pannier tanks, which were to be found on most parts of the GWR system.
Unlike most of the thousand or so pannier tanks built by the GWR over the years for shunting, short haul freight and light passenger duties, the 64xx class was fitted for working push and pull or, in GWR parlance, auto trains. This allowed for quick turnaround at terminus stations and removed the need for run-round facilities.
6412 is one of three members of the class to have been purchased for preservation and arrived at Buckfastleigh in the mid 1960s, along with fellow class members 6430 and 6435, straight from service with the Western Region of British Railways.
Restored at Buckfastleigh, 6412 had the honour of hauling the first train to run on our line on re-opening day, 5th April 1969. When the then owners of our line purchased the Paignton to Kingswear line in the early 1970s, 6412 was transferred there before being sold in 1976 to the West Somerset Railway.
There, it repeated its ‘first loco’ role, hauling the WSR’s inaugural train later that year, before gaining stardom as the Flockton Flyer in the 1977 children’s television programme produced by Southern Independent Television about the Carter family who move to a small village and take over the running of a preserved railway line.
In 2008, aware that the locomotive had become too small for use on the WSR, the West Somerset Railway Association agreed to sell her to the SDR and, in 2009, 6412 came ‘back home’.