95 of these 0-4-2T's were built to replace the somewhat similar 517 class which, by 1932, were being scrapped in large numbers. Essentially a 19th century design with detail improvements, they were fast and popular, if somewhat ancient in appearance. They served the GWR and BR well, only being withdrawn when their particular branch line closed or was dieselized. The first 75 were fitted for auto-train working, whereby the train can be driven from a cab in the leading coach when the engine is working in the pushing direction. Nos. 4800-4874 were re-numbered 1400-1474 in 1946, to make way for 28xx class engines being converted to oil-burning, which required their numbers.
Built at Swindon in February 1936, 4866 was a particularly strong, free-running member of the class. It was based at Newton Abbot almost all its working life, transferring to Taunton at the very end. Selected for preservation, it was bought in April 1964 for £750, and delivered to the Society's Totnes depot. Here it again became popular, this time with the local children, who would flock to see it operating. The Society's first engine, it has generally been in working order all its life, and ran in steam to Didcot from Plymouth in November 1967, on establishment of Didcot Railway Centre. More details and pictures of the journey is available in a GWS Echo Article (1.6Mb .pdf file) of the time.
Shortly before the second world war, 4866 achieved some notoriety. Whilst standing in Newton Abbot station its crew saw a train bearing down on them on their track. They set the engine in motion, the fireman jumped and the driver was flung off with the impact. 4866 did not hang around, and was routed driverless on to the Kingswear line where it ran on for seven miles until purposely derailed between Torquay and Paignton.
4866 has spent all its life since 1946 running as No. 1466. Following light repairs during 1998 it was repainted to its original livery and re-entered service at Easter 1999 as 4866.
1466 was withdrawn from service in 2000 due to the condition of its foundation ring.
In June 2013 1466 was repainted into BR black livery in connection with a series of photo-charters.