Published 18th May 2012
WALES - The amazing story of how a trio of locomotives which once worked in the huge Pernrhyn slate quarry complex at Bethesda, North Wales, were on their way home was reported here .
The trio left Manchester Dock for the United States in July 1965. In May 2012 they returned.
An expectant group of railway journalists, TV crews, friends and enthusiasts gathered at the Bala Lake Railway’s Llanuwchllyn station early on April 27. Julian Birley had his ex-Dinorwic Hunslet 0-4-0ST Alice in steam to welcome her newly-acquired Penrhyn shedmate, the crane to lift the container from the delivery truck was present and the Bala Lake Railway’s general manager, Roger Hine, good naturedly wound Juilan up by presenting him with a red post office docket saying his ‘large international parcel’ had been returned to the depot. The snag was, while Winifred had certainly not been ‘returned’, she had not arrived either – the precious container was still in Southampton!
The crane driver returned to Wrexham and the assembled gathering drifted away, most figuring how best to return the following day.
After an overnight trip from the docks by rail to be picked up for the balance of the journey by road, the much-awaited container finally arrived at 06.30 on April 28 and there she was. As planned, Julian’s Alice did the honours by drawing Winifred out and back on to Welsh metals for the first time since 1965, and what a sight she was in the morning sun at Llanuwchllyn. Winifred, in pure ex-Penrhyn quarry condition – she is the most original of any ‘Quarry Hunslet’ (even Rough Pup in the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at Tywyn was repainted before departing Dinorwic) - and was able to roll comparatively easily. Julian has a big decision to make as to whether she should be kept in this time-warp condition or returned to steam. There is no rush, for now he is rightly just thrilled to have brought her back home.
She spent the rest of the day outside the shed to be admired by a stream of visitors while Julian’s Alice worked the day’s Bala Lake service trains.
The repatriation story was completed on May 1 when the other two locos involved, Martyn Ashworth’s Avonside 0-4-0ST Ogwen and Graham Morris’ Andrew Barclay 0-4-0WT Glyder, were delivered to Beamish Museum. The lorry driver who had brought Winifred to Bala was so taken by the fantastic story he had requested that he also be allowed to undertake this delivery!
Ogwyn and Glyder originally worked for the Durham County Water Board before being sold to Penrhyn, so their arrival at Beamish in County Durham was just as emotional a return to home soil as Winifred being back in Wales.