Published 11th April 2012
In mid-March, three 2ft gauge steam locomotives which left Manchester Dock, bound for Norfolk, Virginia USA in July 1965 were on their way back across the Atlantic.
Hunslet 0-4-0ST Winifred (364/1885), Avonside 0-4-0ST Ogwen (2066/1933) and Andrew Barclay 0-4-0WT Glyder (1994/1931) were among a batch of six Penrhyn locos bought by American antiques dealer Mr C B Annette and exported to the USA. The trio had all worked in the huge Penrhyn slate quarry complex near Bethesda in North Wales, Winifred having been bought new for the quarry, the other two going to Penrhyn second hand after initially working for the Durham County Water Board.
Following arrival in the USA the six locos were auctioned, these three being bought by Indiana businessman, Tony Hulman. His original idea was for them to be displayed in The Early Wheels Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana but this project never came to fruition. Ogwen and Glyder were stored in a stable on the Hulman family estate in Terre Haute while Winifred, following a brief period on display, was stored in a warehouse at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is owned by the Hulman family (Tony Hulman died in 1977) and home of the world-famous Indy 500 motor race.
In mid-2010 North Norfolk Railway director Julian Birley became the owner of ex-Dinorwic Hunslet 0-4-0ST Alice, based at the Bala Lake Railway. Smitten with the charm of the Welsh narrow gauge and fascinated by the slate quarries where so many 2ft gauge locomotives had at one time worked, Julian resolved to make a contribution to preservation by seeing if he could secure and repatriate at least one of the locos which had been exported at the end of their industrial lives.
Two years ago he contacted the Hulman family. Initially aiming to repatriate Winifred, Martyn Ashworth and Graham Morris (who repatriated Avonside 0-4-0T 2071/1933 Elidir in 2006) were brought on board as the possibility of securing all three locos emerged.
The successful outcome of the negotiations has resulted in the trio being purchased. On arrival back in Britain, Winifred will go to the Bala Lake Railway to be displayed for the rest of this year while Julian Birley considers restoration of the loco which is still, literally, in ex-Penrhyn condition.
The other two are now owned by Graham Morris (Glyder) and Martyn Ashworth (Ogwen) and will be taken to the Open Air Museum at Beamish in Durham, the county where they first worked, for a similar restoration evaluation.
Of the other six locos exported by C B Annette in 1965, Avonside 0-4-0T Marchlyn (2067/1933) was repatriated in May last year and is now at the Statfold Barn Railway. Hunslet 0-4-0ST Nesta and Andrew Barclay 0-4-0WT Cegin are believed to be in Puerto Rico.
Other ex-quarry locos which went to North America via other means have been repatriated. Ex-Penrhyn Hunslet 0-4-0ST Edward Sholto was purchased and brought back to Britain from the USA by Andrew Neale in 2006 and returned to steam in 2010. Avonside 0-4-0T Elidir (2071/33) was repatriated from Canada in 2006 by Graham Morris (also the owner of operational Kerr Stuart 0-4-0ST ‘Wren’ Peter Pan and unrestored Orenstein & Koppel 0-4-0WT 2544/07) and is being restored at the Leighton Buzzard Railway.