Lyd – the narrow gauge Tornado

A1 Tornado is a major crowd puller, while new-build Lyd is a narrow gauge icon.


In mid-2008 the new-build standard gauge A1 Tornado moved under its own steam for the first time, the culmination of an 18 year project to construct a new main line locomotive. Tornado cost around £3million to build and enables us to see a type of locomotive which had not survived into preservation - and has been a sensation whenever it appears.

By a strange coincidence, construction of the nominally 2ft gauge 2-6-2T Lyd also took 18 years to bring from concept to reality. Completion of this, considerably smaller, locomotive was achieved in 2010 and cost £370,000 (plus countless volunteer hours).

Why Lyd is Special

Tornado and Lyd are not the first new-build locomotives to be produced (standard gauge replica early locomotives preceded Tornado and a number of narrow gauge replica locomotives have been constructed) but each of this pair have a very special place in the hearts of enthusiasts.

Why is Lyd, constructed at the Ffestiniog Railway’s Boston Lodge works, so special? Simply that it is a near-replica of the long-lost Manning Wardle 2-6-2T Lew built in 1925 for the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway – and the L&B is one of the truly iconic narrow gauge lines. Both the little railway which ran across Exmoor and its beautiful equipment rightfully hold a special place in the affections of huge numbers of enthusiasts.

The Lyd Story Told in a Book

The story of how Lyd was built, from the vision of James Evans through construction to hauling trains is described in a book produced by the FR called ‘Lyd - A New Lynton & Barnstaple Locomotive’. The co-authors are James Evans, Paul Lewin, David Payling and Jon Whalley – each closely involved in the project, indeed, the names of three of the authors (Messrs Lewin, Evans and Whalley) appear on the works plate fixed to the cabside, with the plate arranged to show the first letters of their surnames spelling out ‘LEW’, the name of the loco which inspired construction of Lyd!

The book explores the design influences behind Lew, and the three slightly earlier L&B locos, built by Manning Wardle for the Lynton & Barnstaple and describes the changes from original specifications made, and why, for construction of Lyd. A particularly fascinating aspect of the volume is the first-hand description of the first moves of Lyd under its own power and its commissioning trials on the FR and Welsh Highland Railway.

Also included is the September 2010 visit to the West Country where Lyd appeared briefly at the Launceston Steam Railway followed by what everyone had been itching to see – an L&B locomotive working on L&B trackbed, in the form of the section of revived line between Woody Bay and Killington Lane – accompanied, no less, by two Ffestiniog carriages – one of which had originally been an L&B vehicle.

Subsequent to the L&B visit, at which time Lyd was still running in post-construction plain black (and subsequent to the period covered by the book) Lyd has been painted in full Southern Railway livery as carried by Lew at the L&B.

Lyd Latest - Conversion to Coal

Lyd was conceived as an oil-fired locomotive and is described as such in the book, although the possibility of conversion to coal was always taken into account.

Such a conversion was undertaken at the end of 2011 and Lyd ran as a coal-fired loco for the first time on December 12. Initial trials over the Cob to Harbour station, then to Minffordd, revealed an issue with the spark arrestor screen becoming clogged but this was rectified overnight by fitting a char-breaking bar. On December 13 Lyd double-headed the 10.15 service train to Blaenau Ffestiniog with Single Fairlie Taliesin, followed by handling the 13.35 service solo to Blaenau without problems.

While seeing an L&B loco haul a train into Woody Bay station was an emotional experience few ever expected to see, it can yet be crowned by an L&B loco in L&B livery – coal fired as was Lew to boot - operating over L&B metals. This looks certain to happen, and it could happen as soon as the coming September since the FR has confirmed Lyd will be available to visit the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway's scheduled gala.

Whether the return visit to Exmoor takes place this year depends on whether the revived L&B operation has completed construction of two ‘full size’ carriages to work with the locomotive. The line’s current passenger stock, comprising ex-Thorpe Park carriages, is much too small to look remotely ‘right’ behind such a locomotive, hence the use of FR carriages in 2010. Two vehicles (effectively replica L&B carriages incorporating some original components from L&B Nos. 7 and 17) are under construction but at this moment it is uncertain if they will be ready in time.

The Book

‘Lyd - A New Lynton & Barnstaple Locomotive’ by James Evans, Paul Lewin, David Payling and Jon Whalley is published by The Ffestiniog Railway, Harbour Station, Porthmadog, LL49 9NF. The 66 page softback book (ISBN 978 0 901848 09 3) costs £15.00, to which add £5 p&p if dispatch by mail from the F&WHR shops department is required. All proceeds from the book will be used to support Lyd.

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