Tag Archives: Porthmadog Harbour Station

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


Steam Locos of a More Leisurely Era 1863 – 0-4-0s of the Festiniog Railway

Steam Locos of a More Leisurely Era

1863      0-4-0s of the Festiniog Railway

No.4 – Palmerstone as running in 1926

 The first four of these engines, which were built in 1863-4, came out with side tanks.  They have always run with small 4-wheeled tenders attached, and are therefore in effect both tank and tender engines.  Their numbers and names were: 1 – Princess,  2 – Prince,  3 – Mountaineer,  and 4 – Palmerstone.c1870 Princess at Porthmadog Harbour Station

Nos.5 – Welsh Pony and 6 – Little Giant, which followed in 1867, were somewhat larger and fitted with saddle tanks from the start, and Nos. 1, 2 and 4 later had their tanks altered from the side to the saddle variety.  All of these engines were built by George England & Co., of Hatcham Ironworks, London.  The gauge of the Festiniog Railway is only 1’ 11½”, and this was the first attempt to use steam locomotives on so narrow a track.  Charles Spooner, the line’s General Manager and Engineer, was, however, convinced that such small engines would be a practical proposition, a suggestion which was challenged amongst others by such a notable personality as Robert Stephenson.  Events, however, proved Spooner to have been right, and these remarkable little machines were the forerunners of many thousands of other narrow gauge engines which were to be built later in all parts of the world.Little Giant Duffws Station  c1889-92

No.3 had a very short life as it met with an accident in 1879 and was damaged beyond repair.  No.6 was cut up in 1936, but the other four were still in existence when the line closed in 1946, although in varying states of repair or disrepair.   Upon the line being re-opened in 1955 by the Festiniog Railway Society, No.2 – Prince was the first engine to be restored to work the traffic, and was in 2010 in the Engine House at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway, and will hopefully be restored for the 150th Anniversary in 2013.Prince in the Engine House on the Severn Valley Railway

No. 1 – Princess has been on display in Spooner’s Bar at the Harbour Station.  No.4 – Palmerstone was restored in 1993, converted to coal firing from oil in 2005 and is currently in traffic.  No. 5 – Welsh Pony is currently under consideration for restoration – possibly for the 150th Anniversary in 2013.Welsh Pony Porthmadog Harbour Station

Nos. 1 – 4   Driving wheels – 2’ 0”,  Cylinders – 8¼”x 12”, Pressure – 140 lb,

Weight – 8½ tons

Nos. 5 – 6   Driving wheels – 2’ 2”,  Cylinders – 8½”x 12”,  Pressure – 150 lb,

Weight – 11 tons

Both classes were originally pressured at 200lbPalmerston at Porthmadog Gala 2005