Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era
0-4-4T Single Fairlie
This engine is of historic importance in that it was the first British locomotive to be fitted with Walschaert’s valve gear. It was also unusual in that it was a single Fairlie engine, the coupled wheels and cylinders forming a separate forward bogie. It should have been a very flexible machine on curves, but in other respects it was anything but a success. Its valve gear was not properly understood by the engineers into whose hands it came, and it was very heavy on coal, even on light trains. Walschaert’s gear was not used again in Great Britain until the 1890s, when it was applied to some Wordsell-von Borries compounds on the North Eastern and Belfast and Northern Counties Railways. Of more recent years it has been adopted extensively.
After a few years of comparative inactivity the engine quietly disappeared. Its owners, the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway later became the Midland and South Western Junction, which was absorbed into the GWR at the Grouping.
Illustration: The only known one of the engine, it is from a photograph probably taken about 1880. The plate resting on the running plate bears the inscription ‘Fairlie’s Patent’.
Driving wheels – 5’ 6”, Trailing wheels – 4’ 0”, Cylinders – 16”x 22”,
Weight – 44 tons.
Replica Single Fairlie locomotive built at Boston Lodge works in 1999. The original 1876-built locomotive was scrapped in 1935 after colliding into Welsh Pony. The replica used a few parts from the original but was largely built from scratch. Named after the 6th century Welsh poet Taliesin. Having been built for easy conversion between oil and coal firing, the locomotive has been coal-fired since 2007. In service and usually found on low season trains.