Tag Archives: Merddyn Emrys

Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era – 1869 – Fairlie Engines of the Festiniog Railway

Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era

1869  Fairlie Engines of the Festiniog Railway

Taliesin as running in 1932 HCC

With the rapid growth of traffic, the Festiniog Railway soon found it necessary to provide a more powerful locomotive than the 0-4-0engines mentioned in the previous post to handle the more lengthy trains necessary to avoid doubling the line, a costly alternative.  It was decided therefore to try a design patented by one Robert Fairlie in which the locomotive incorporated two separate boilers with a common central firebox.  The two independent swivelling steam bogies each carry a saddle on which its own boiler rests, steam connections being made by means of flexible pipes.  The driver occupies one side of the central cab, and the fireman the other, on which the firehole is situated.James Spooner – Blaenau Ffestiniog 1879

The first Fairlie engine had been built in 1852 for the Semmering Incline in Austria, but it was its application to so narrow a gauge as 1’ 11½” coupled with its flexibility on extremely sharp curves which attracted railway engineers, from many parts of the world, who came to see it in action.  As a result the design became widely used abroad, chiefly in Sweden, Russia and South America, particularly Mexico.Merddyn Emrys – Porthmadog Harbour Station – Andrew Stawartz 2007

The first engine, No.7 – Little Wonder, did not last very long, being broken up in 1883.  It was largely experimental, and a certain number of initial faults found in operation were rectified in the subsequent engines, which were eminently successful.  No.7 had been built by George England & Co. in 1869, but No.8 – James Spooner, which came in 1872, was the product of the Avonside Engine Co.  The last two, Nos.10 – Merddyn Emrys and 11 – Livingstone Thompson were constructed in 1879 and 1885 in the Festiniog’s own shops at Boston Lodge, but the boilers were probably supplied by Avonsides.Livingstone Thompson – Porthmadog Harbour Station – 1879  DH Bleasdale

No.8 – James Spooner worked until 1929, when it was thoroughly worn out, but parts of it were cannibalised to repair the remaining two engines.  No.11 had been renamed Taliesin and renumbered 3.  Both this engine and No.10 were still in existence when the line was closed in 1946, and since re-opening in 1955 Taliesin has been repaired and put into service again.  It is hoped to renovate Merddyn Emrys similarly.Little Wonder – Porthmadog Harbour Station –  RH Bleasdale

                                      No.7                       No.8                            Nos.10 & 11

Driving wheels              2’ 4”                       2’ 8”                                      2’ 9¼”

Cylinders (4)                 8¼”x 13”               8½”x 14”                     9”x 14”

Pressure                       160 lb                    140 lb                          160 lb

Tractive Effort               5357 lb                  5410 lb                        6059 lb

Weight                          19 tons 10 cwt      20 tons 1cwt               24 tonsTaliesin as single Fairlie – Guy Chapman 2007