Published: 27th February 2015
The Ffestiniog Railway’s 1863-built George England 0-4-0STT Prince will travel south from its Porthmadog home to visit the Talyllyn Railway’s July 3-5 150th Birthday Party. The occasion marks the anniversary of the July 5 1865 Royal Assent of the Talyllyn Railway Act.
The 2ft gauge (nominal) FR loco cannot run on the 2ft 3in gauge Talyllyn line, but it will be in steam – the TR is to lay a length of FR gauge temporary track at Tywyn Wharf – a station once known as King’s station and for obvious reasons of gauge difference, this will be the first time a Ffestiniog loco has steamed at the Talyllyn.
Similarly, no Talyllyn loco has ever steam over the Ffestiniog line, but TR No. 1 Talyllyn has traversed FR metals, aboard a wagon in spring 2014 when it went to Boston Lodge for repairs following a major motion failure.
The iconic FR loco, the oldest narrow gauge locomotive currently able to steam, will join TR’s similarly venerable original locomotives, Fletcher, Jennings pair, 0-4-2ST No. 1 Talyllyn (dating from 1864) and 1866-built 0-4-0WT No. 2 Dolgoch. Both these TR locos are now sporting original liveries following repainting late in 2014 – see http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/talyllyn-surprise-for-tr150/ .
The historic Talyllyn pair will be officially launched in their 150 year-old liveries during the May 2-4 ‘Quarryman Experience’ gala weekend. This event will include operation of a special train for members of the McConnel family. The McConnel’s built the TR to assist their development of Bryneglwys quarry.
When Prince was built in 1863 doubters believed it was impossible to produce practical working steam locomotives for so narrow a gauge. Plainly they were wrong! Prince and its fellows pioneered narrow gauge steam traction on the 2ft gauge and were swiftly followed by equally effective 2ft 3in gage locos for the Talyllyn, demonstrating that these early locomotive builders produced designs that would stand the test of time.
No. 2 Dolgoch also made history on May 14 1951 when it hauled the first train ever run under the auspices of a railway preservation society.
“To have all three locomotives in steam together at Tywyn Wharf
station over the gala will be truly unique, commented Talyllyn Railway General Manager Chris Price. “They represent over 450 years of locomotive history and bringing them together for the first time is truly historic.
Completing the line-up will be our other locomotives, each of which has a place in Talyllyn history. This is an event that no narrow gauge steam enthusiast will want to miss, and is only part of the planned celebrations for the weekend.”
The final sentence of Mr Price’s comments could have added significance, we have a feeling there may be another big announcement in the pipeline!
The nearest main line railway station is Tywyn, on the Cambrian Coast line, operated by Arriva Trains Wales.
At Machynlleth, the Cambrian Coast line connects with services between Birmingham/Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth. Most Birmingham - Tywyn trains are now through trains. The Talyllyn Railway's Wharf Station is about 300 yards walk from the national network station in Tywyn.