Burry Port & Gwendraeath Valley
Articles on Aspects of His Railways - Locomotives
'The editors intend that this section will have regular articles on individual Colonel Stephens Railways, how they came about and how they were run. The Museum is in being to promote interest and research into his railways. Should you wish to contribute original, suitable and well researched material we will be happy to consider it, just E-mail us.'
The list of Topics Articles is below.
1st May 2007
After a prolonged period of negotiation the abandoned Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway line was reconstructed in a very short period of time to become known as the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire.
6th April 2006 (First published on 4th December 2001)
With the coming Terrier Weekend on the Kent and East Sussex Railway Brian Janes has revised, extended and updated an earlier article and recounts the long association of this class with the independent rural light railway. This article also appears in Tenterden Terrier No 99.
21st February 2006
In 1930 the S&MLR was experiencing a surge of mineral traffic and as a result it re-equiped itself with three tender engines only a little younger than their predecessors.
2nd November 2004
Brian Janes has been re-examining some of the dates and events surrounding Rolling stock departures and arrivals.
12th February 2004
Charles Judge draws together the various plans in the 1920s to economise on working the new Welsh Highland and the struggling Festiniog Railway through the use of pioneering traction.
Updated on 29th October 2003 (First published on 27th January 2003)
Following more correspondence on and off the Museum site we have managed to pin down the identity of the second Sentinel that trialed on the S&M.
An initial query from Tom Burnham in the Forum section of this site led to some interesting correspondence on and off the site particularly with John Hutchings of the Sentinel Society. Albyn Austin drew attention to an article written by Bill Willans in the Colonel, the Journal of the Colonel Stephens Society. Brian Janes has added some notes on the likely identity of the Locomotives concerned and the remarkable fact that one of the locomotives has survived.
26th August 2003
Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3
Brian Janes has been trawling the Colonel Stephens Archive and discovered that many previously published accounts of EKR locomotive history have been misleading. This three-part description of this fascinating line’s locomotives was originally published in The Tenterden Terrier, The House Magazine of the Kent & East Sussex Railway.
6th May 2003
An article which connects with an, unanswered, query put on the site some time ago.
6th April 2002
This article by Brian Janes is being published in the Latest Tenterden Terrier (Number 87 Spring 2002) but information obtained after press day meant that some important changes needed to be made to the text. What follows is the author’s definitive text.
8th August 2001
An article by Brian Janes on Colonel Stephens New Locomotives, which appeared in The Tenterden Terrier. Substantially revised on 6th August 2005
1st May 2001
Brian Janes writes about Colonel Stephens Favourite Tender Engines. Revised in May 2008
1st March 2001
This article is an edited combination of articles by Tom Burnham and Stephen Garrett in the Tenterden Terrier.
A Mystery Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Railway Contractor’s Locomotive
Click on the images to see the larger pictures
After a prolonged period of negotiation the abandoned Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales Railway line was reconstructed in a very short period of time to become known as the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire. The contractors, who were both to reconstruct and equip the line, are named in both companies’ minutes as Holman F Stephens and his legal associate F G Mathews and they were paid accordingly with shares and Debentures. They in turn passed these on to a mysterious company, apparently formed specially for the purpose of providing the necessary finance, called the Severn Syndicate whose address was the same as that of Mathews’ firm. The actual work was said to have been intended to be carried out by William Rigby, a well established contractor, who was also for many years Chairman of the Railway Company, but it is as likely to have actually been carried out by direct labour under Stephens’ direction.
The rebuilding of the line involved substantial clearance, rebuilding culverts and bridges and replacing all the sleepers and some rail of the old system. Most of the work was done by hand with very little machinery but Stephens bought in the famous Gazelle as a lightweight inspection locomotive for use over the appalling track and two engines to cope with the incoming materials trains. The first of these, an 0-6-0 saddle tank, was photographed several times but has defied identification. Indeed it has been most often misidentified as a later arrival that was also used on construction work, the Manning Wardle saddle tank that was soon to become the S&MR’s locomotive No 4 Morous, Manning Wardle (MW 178/1866).
This first contractor’s engine was featured in an early photo, probably taken by F E Fox-Davies, and was published as a postcard headed 'Llanymynech Stations from Old Railway'. On a copy in the National Archive is noted, in a hand that may well be that of the indefatigable enthusiast, T R Perkins, ' The loco is a 0-6-0 saddletank used during the reconstruction at the commencement of the work [of reconstructing the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire].' The inscription is undoubtedly correct. Reconstruction of the Shropshire Railways [sic] (the company that took over the assets of the old Potteries, Shrewsbury and North Wales), to be operated by the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway, was undertaken from the Llanymynech end commencing in summer, probably September, 1910, because access to the Shrewsbury end was initially blocked by the LNWR and GWR companies.
The locomotive featured was reported in the contemporary press (probably as reported by T R Perkins) as of Manning, Wardle design and Eric Tonks, the first chronicler of the SMR, repeats this. The precise identity of the Locomotive, which seems to have been brought in solely for the reconstruction, has however never been firmly established. However recent exchanges between the author Peter Witt and Don Townsley of the Industrial Locomotive Society have narrowed down the possibilities.
On photographic inspection the locomotive bears all the hallmarks of a very early engine built by the Hunslet Company, built at a time when there were many similarities between Manning Wardle and Hunslet products, and there are sufficient differences of bunker side sheets and safety valve cover to be able to establish this. The forward cab side sheets were similar to MW and both companies perpetuated the jointed side and front panels for many years. On the Hunslets the rear bunker was higher and the hand rail was on the side of the panel not the front. Another distinctive feature is the footstep. On the initial Hunslet designs the back was made up of two curved pieces joined in the middle. Until 1887 MW used what looks almost like a bent over shovel (rather appropriate for a contractor's loco).. By 1870 Hunslet's were using a more modern style of saddletank with the sides and top in one piece so it must have been built earlier than that. The locomotive appears to have a hinged chimney to pass under very low structures that was offered as a Hunslet option.and appeared only on Hunslet works numbers 6-8 and this mislead researches until it was realised that these were also built with Naylor safety valves which could not be contained in the mystery locomotives brass safety valve cover . They have therefore been ruled out .
Of the early 0-6-0ST with square cornered riveted saddle tank and nominal 3’-0”/3’-1” diameter wheels (3-9, 13, 15,16,19 and 20; thirteen in all) only no.4 can be definitely ruled out on account of its known subsequent history
Closer examination of the chimney reveals that it is probably not a hinged chimney but a lamp bracket affixed half way up . The stove pipe chimney is a standard Hunslet product which was used from 1867 to 1870. The drawing for this chimney is shown in the Hunslet drawing list as drawing no. 233 and originally done for stock order number 58 which covered engines numbers 19 and 20.. But neither of these is our mystery loco for the handrail on the cab fence on them straight from the top beading to the footplate with the fence plate edge straight and parallel to it. However order no 68 (taken out after no 58 for engines 19 and 20) was actually used to produce engines nos 15 and 16 and it is reasonable to assume that the new style chimney was used on these two locomotives also thereby producing two examples which would match exactly with our mystery loco except for the cab. This last item was a local afterthought anyway.
No 16 to Easton Gibb at Cardiff on 28 March 1867.and is listed as scrapped or sold after at Emlyn Colliery after May 1902. No 15 named Marguerite went to Nailstone Colliery on 11 March 1867 15 is listed as either leaving Nailstone date unknown for nearby Ellistown or leaving Nailstone around 1911 for Kegworth Gypsum Mines but confusing reports also suggest that the Kegworth loco was a Henry Hughes Machine. It is therefore definitely a possibility that 15 was on the move c/1910-11 and it has too many similarities to be ignored.
Just to add further mysteries the S&MLR locomotive Hecate ( later Severn) came from a Mr. R. Hartley,and when purchased she was standing (it does not say that it had worked ) at the Griff Colliery, near Nuneaton . The author has long speculated that this was was incorrect . Stephens' himself was clearly the source of this story and he was given to inaccuracy on the origins and dates of his Locomotives . It may be that he mixed up the origins of Hecate and the Hunslet. If so Griff seems suspiciously near Nailstone and Ellistown making HE15 a top candidate .
If it was Hunslet No. 15, on the superficial evidence of a photograph in Tonk’s SMR booklet, in Tonks' book of the locomotive on a LNWR low loader in Meole Brace interchange yard) would have left after 22 May 1911 and probably after the completion of the Criggion Branch reconstruction in February 1912 .It left to an unknown destination but may have gone to Ellistown or Kegworth .
But just to add another red herring to this tale of the unknown, recently a photograph taken by R W Kidner at Criggion Quarry in 1930 appeared in the journal of the Colonel Stephens Society showing tantalising evidence of a boiler from this type of locomotive – a type that never worked there. Was the locomotive simply left on site to service the quarry or be left derelict on the last constructed part of the S&M?
We would welcome readers considered views on the actual identity of this engine and its history.
Click on the images to see the larger pictures
Of all the locomotives on Colonel Stephens' lines, one type fixes in the memories of enthusiasts: the small ex London Brighton and South Coast Railway 0-6-0Ts known as Terriers. These extremely pretty, lightweight and competent locomotives became associated with Stephens' lines, and particularly the Kent & East Sussex Railway, almost continuously from their inception to the present day. In all, Stephens and his successors purchased eight Terriers, hired several more and were probably instrumental in the purchase of one other.
The Terrier had its origins in the need to save costs at a time of great economic depression; when William Stroudley on the London Brighton & South Coast Railway introduced one of the earliest locomotive standardisation policies in 1870, which followed a regime of chaotic individualism pursued by his predecessor, John Chester Craven. The primary motive power requirement was to serve the great surge in the expansion of London , as commuting and the suburban railway developed. The light track of the recently opened South London and East London lines called for a special, light locomotive with matching featherweight coaches.
Drawing partly on his earlier design for an engine constructed for his previous employers, the Highland Railway, Stroudley produced a robust and well-constructed locomotive classified appropriately the A (later A1). This made a strong initial impact on both the travelling public, footplate staff and the technical press and gave a sparkling performance with considerable savings in fuel and maintenance. Their distinctively snub and friendly appearance based on neat design, particularly of chimney and cab, was a great credit to their designer. Almost immediately the press was reporting that these engines had been christened "The Terriers" although to Victorian enginemen, "Rooters" was the more common expression. With their bright yellow Stroudley livery they continued to dominate the lines for which they were built, enlivening both the murky working class depths of the tunnels of the East London line and the then middle class suburbs of Peckham, Brixton and Clapham with their snap and sparkle.
By 1880 fifty engines had been built, but by 1898 the London and Brighton South Coast had decided that these engines were too small, so they sold 15 and scrapped 11. However, with the success of the rail motor concept of light supplementary trains of one Terrier-powered coach, from 1905 onwards their numbers stabilised. The general utility of the engines caused Douglas Earle Marsh to produce a modernised boiler with a drumhead smokebox that changed the appearance of the front end of the locomotives considerably. The resultant engine, reclassified A1X, was if anything an even better looking locomotive than before.
Those engines laid aside were found to be of great utility to light railways and contractors, and Stephens was in the queue. Rother Valley Railway (later K&ESR) No 3, Bodiam , was his first purchase and eight more were to follow by 1937. No doubt there would have been more, but with limited availability because of its success on motor trains till they were discontinued in WW1 service cutbacks, Stephens had to pick up his Terriers as and when he could. Their history is quite complex.
KENT & EAST SUSSEX RAILWAY (originally Rother Valley Railway)
Stephens' K&ESR owned two Terriers, becoming No 3 Bodiam and No 5 Rolvenden respectively.Both were from the original batch of six engines, four of which eventually came to Stephens' railways. Rolvenden , the former LB&SCR No 71, had the honour of being the first Terrier built. Bodiam, although having the first number of the batch as LB&SCR 70, was actually the last, having bequeathed her cylinders to 71, when a faulty casting had delayed her introduction into service (strange how these sisters were twinned from birth). Bodiam was bought by the, then, Rother Valley before the Board meeting of 6 March 1901 when its purchase for £650 (using a £500 Barclays Bank Loan) was reported though for some reason it was still at Brighton on 23 May and is generally accepted to have arrived that month .Rolvenden is reported to have arrived in February 1905 although the £700 due to the LB&SCR was not paid till 9 May 1905 (again with a Barclays loan of £600 this time) so delivery was more likely after that date; perhaps accounting for its numbering after No 4 Hecate which had arrived on 11 May. Both engines were painted in Stephens' favourite blue livery with red lining, but without a polished dome. With regular overhauls, including that of Bodiam at Eastleigh in 1919 and Rolvenden at Brighton in 1917, they gave excellent service until the depression years. They were as alike as two peas for much of their lives together even to the near simultaneous acquisition of three rail coal bunker extensions( the LB&SCR extensions had four); the only later difference being a long-strapped AIX type door carried by Rolvenden , probably acquired at Brighton. Although the two Ilfracombe goods engines acquired in 1910 and 1914 became the favoured main line engines, the Terriers were the mainstay of the line in the Edwardian era, and much used thereafter.
Both engines seem to have received their last partial re-tube in late 1928, with Bodiam falling into disuse around the time of the railways receivership in 1931 (There is photographic evidence of her apparently in steam questionably dated as 12 th September that year). Rolvenden seems to have lasted a little longer. They were then dumped in the works yard but Bodiam was resurrected in 1933 and repaired over the next two years, mainly by a Southern railway fitter at weekends. Although much reported, there is hard little evidence, apart from anecdotal, to suggest that she incorporated many major parts from her sister, except possibly her tanks. However some Terrier parts most certainly came from the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Terriers mentioned below. In the process Bodiam acquired her enlarged and distinctive bunker. Re-entering service on 27 th December 1934, she was repainted in a bright apple green with yellow lining and, according to Austen's usual practice, lost her name becoming simply No. 3, with the company's initials appearing on the tank side above the number. Officially withdrawn in 1937 the hulk of Rolvenden was finally disposed of by T W Ward in October 1938.
Bodiam was be replaced by a hired Terrier when its boiler gave out in September 1940. She was out of use until repaired in February 1943 with an A1X pattern boiler and smokebox. She may have also been fitted at this time with the S&MR's Dido' s tanks acquired in 1941 (see below). Re-boilering was a difficult job for Rolvenden Works, so two K&ESR fitters undertook the work at St Leonards Shed under wartime's cooperative arrangements. Finished in April 1943 the engine became to all intents and purposes an A1X, whilst retaining the sandboxes on the front splasher like some earlier Isle of Wight rebuilds. Some reports suggest she did not return home until 7 th March 1944 but this cannot now be verified. Further repairs were undertaken at Brighton Works between 28th April and 15th September 1947 when she received an exchange boiler and was repainted a darker green. After Nationalisation, the engine was taken into British Railways' stock and further repaired at Ashford in the second half of 1949; remarkably being repainted again in apple green with yellow lining but as British Railways No 32670. From then on she worked on the K&ESR until dieselisation; then working at Newhaven and elsewhere with occasional returns including the last day special. She returned in 1964, on preservation- a true living embodiment of the continuity of the K&ESR- on whose metals she has been present for all but 9 years of its 105 years of operation.
EDGEHILL LIGHT RAILWAY
This line, a short mineral line split into two by an inclined plane, acquired two Terriers for its lower section. The first, No 1 , came from the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (via the Longmoor Military Railway, where it had been on loan for war service) in May 1919 and No 2 followed in July 1920. No 1 was an A1X but No 2 was still an A1.According to Tonks they were repainted green with black edges, in the Brighton style, with white lining and lettering. On arrival they were used for the construction of the railway. However, because the railway never became fully operational, no shed was ever available: washing out, repairs etc were carried out at the Stratford-on-Avon Shed of the Stratford on Avon and Midland Junction Railway (who were closely associated with the Edgehill), where one of the locomotives was generally kept spare. The railway was built very slowly over the next 4 years and one of the Terriers was involved in a collision with some runaway wagons at the bottom of the incline in 1924. It appears to have been repaired, but the railway closed for ever on 27 January 1925 and the engines were then stored at the foot of the incline, under steadily decaying canvas sheets, for the next 21 years. The Southern Railway are reported to have inspected them for possible purchase in 1938 but their condition ensured that the idea was abandoned. The lower part of The EHLR was requisitioned by the government during the Second World War for a munitions depot known as C A D Kineton, and this isolated the locomotives. Perhaps, as a consequence, they escaped wartime scrap drives and remained untouched until they finally fell to the scrapman in April and May 1946.
THE SHROPSHIRE & MONTGOMERYSHIRE RAILWAY
In early 1918, during the First World War, the Admiralty had acquired 5 Terriers using them at Invergordon and Inverness, very close to their progenitor's birthplace. They were needed in connection with the laying the laying of a massive sea mines barrage in the North Sea. This involved the movement of large quantities of US material ,shipped to Kyle of Lochalsh and transported in trains of SECR trucks hauled by LSWR Adams 4-4-2T to a US depot at the evacuated Dalmore Distillery at Alness ( US Navel Base 17) or by the Caledonian Canal to the similarly evacuated Glen Albin Distillery, Muirtown Basin, Inverness ( US Naval Base 18) .At Alness, to open up better access to the nearby Invergorden harbour, a new line 2miles long was built on the foreshore to join the Invergorden harbour branch. These bases were also used at the war's end to retrieve the mines. The Terriers must have worked hard in this period with three at Dalmore and two at Muirtown but they ended up as war surplus. Stephens seemed unable to resist the bargains on offer and swept three of these favourite engines into the net, all unrebuilt A1s: one came in 1921 and two in 1923. The first came from Dalmore to become No 7 Hecate, followed by No 8 Dido from Muirtown and No 9 Daphne again from Dalmore. In the early days the locos seem to have retained their existing liveries and Hecate was certainly in Marsh Umber for a time, with Dido in the black livery she had carried on the LB&SCR. Though reportedly never repainted they appear from photographs to have painted in a plain style, probably sage green.
Although some commentators seem to think these engines were little used, there is no real evidence to support this contention. All seem to have given moderately useful service on the railway but were handicapped by their relative smallness. Although they were rapidly supplanted on some passenger services by the railcar set, they seem to have found a niche for a few years in the 1920s.Tom Rolt records that by the late twenties they were less popular than the Ilfracombe Goods, because they were hardly equal to the morning mixed train to Shrewsbury with its heavy load of roadstone from the Criggion Quarries. As original A1s they carried no injectors but were dependent on a Stroudley's axle-driven pump, which was outdated even when they were built, to feed water to their boilers. Rolt notes that overloaded on the climb from the Severn to Ford and Crossgates, speed fell so low that the pump was unable to deliver enough feed water. The Terrier would then have to be detached from its train to run up and down and pump enough water into the boiler until the journey could be resumed.
In July 1930 it was reported to the S&MR Directors that Terrier No 8 Dido had been reconditioned with No 7 Hecate's boiler, and that No 7's remains had been scrapped. Her wheels were then sent to Rolvenden in lieu of debt, where they may still be extant under Bodiam. Dido was withdrawn in July 1931 (her reconditioning the previous year was thus of very limited use) and in November she was in the process of being broken up. By January she was reported as gone, but Austen later reported, on 17 October 1933, the sale of the boilers of 7 and 8, together with two others, to G R Jackson of Wednesbury for £100. Further her tanks lingered on until September 1941 when they were sold to the K&ESR for £1/10/- (£1.50) each, presumably for use on Bodiam .
With two Terriers now withdrawn, the last, No 9 Daphne , although officially withdrawn in 1932, lingered on, reportedly in working order ,well kept and intact in Kinnerley paint shop, until bought in January 1939 by the Southern, and initially at least, stored in the paint shop at Eastleigh. Often reported as purchased for spares it does not seem to have been touched until scrapped in 1949. Daphne was an A1 in original condition and for some reason had been well preserved by the S&MR. Was it kept by the, usually unsentimental, Austen as a keepsake and intended for the Southern's Eastleigh museum collection, only for that collection to be abandoned in 1940 when it and its possible fellow relics (including Stephens K&ESR Royal Saloon acquired earlier) were put out, in some cases literally, to grass? This is a surmise at least as probable as the spares story. Boxhill later became the officially preserved Terrier.
WESTON CLEVELAND & PORTISHEAD RAILWAY
During one of the WC&P's intermittent locomotive crises in 1925, Stephens turned again to the Southern Railway, as Brighton 's successor, for a Terrier. He selected No 643, which had been rebuilt as an A1X as recently as September 1919. The engine was reputedly painted unlined black over her umber LBSC livery before sale, but this must have been a poor job because her original livery showed through clearly only 4 years later. She was purchased for in January 1926 and as No 1 Portishead did much to improve the timekeeping and image of the line. Her driver claimed to have pulled as many as 30 quarry wagons with her. Her axle broke in 1933 and was repaired with a set from the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Railway. She was virtually in continuous use, except for lengthy boiler repairs, until the line closed.
The WC&P's motive power situation reached another crisis in 1936 and Austen obtained a further Terrier. She became No 4 and was painted in Austen's customary livery of green lined with yellow but, as by now usual, did not receive a name. She was purchased for £400 on 10 February 1937, in time to allow her sister to be set aside for boiler repairs. For the last couple of years the Terriers worked most trains until No 4 hauled the last public train on 18 May 1940. After some rather dubious ownership proceedings arising from the WC&P's uncertain legal status, both engines then became the property of the Great Western Railway on 22 June, No 4 working around Bristol for a few years before being condemned in 1948. Portishead was overhauled and worked around Bristol until 1948, when she moved on to Bridgwater Docks, before going into store at Swindon . Unsuccessful attempts were made to persuade Weston-super-Mare Council to preserve her but, after a period of storage, she went for scrap in 1954.
SHEPPEY LIGHT RAILWAY
During the construction of this railway, under the supervision of Stephens as an engineer the contractor, W Rigby , hired LB&SCR No 671 Wapping , the engine that ultimately became K&ESR's No 5 Rolvenden , to help with the work. Stephens' affection for these engines probably effected both this hire, and the subsequent purchase in 1904, by the South East & Chatham Railway of a Terrier for use on this railway. The railway had opened using conventional locomotives, but in order to economise the SE&CR had, after flirtation with internal combustion railcars, decided to employ steam railcars on the line. To cope with the goods work they purchased No 654 Waddon , which became SE&CR No 751. It was also used on passenger trains at peak periods when the railcars were overloaded. Unfortunately, water supplies on the Sheppey Light were inadequate for a small tank, and by 1910 the Terrier had been moved away. Finally, carrying an A1X boiler but retaining an A1s appearance, she followed an even more peripatetic career than her fellows, including, numbered DS680, hauling a special on the K&ESR. She crowned this by ending up preserved at the Canadian National Railway Museum , near Montreal , where she has recently been repainted.
EAST KENT RAILWAY
A strange case, even by Stephens' railway standards, is of the East Kent Terrier that never was. Terrier 642 was withdrawn in May 1925 at a time when Stephens was inspecting others for the WC&P. Her boiler was retained and bought by Stephens for the EKR in 1926 and is recorded as having been transported to Shepherdswell. Although it was never observed there it is recorded as remaining there until sold back to the Southern in 1936. The Southern then used it as a replacement for that on No 2653 which the next year returned to the Stephens fold as WC&P No4 . A Stephens' Terrier in spirit if not substance
|LBSC No||LBSC Name||Built||Rebuilt A1X||Sold||Railway||No||Name||Withdrawal/Scrap|
|70||Poplar||12/1872||4/1943||5/1901||KESR||3||Bodiam *||Still running on KESR|
*Name not carried 1932 - 1963
(a) Sold to Admiralty, resold SMR 7/1921
(b) Sold to Admiralty, resold SMR 11/1923
(c) Resold to Southern Railway .Scr 4/1949
(d) Transferred to GWR 6/1940 as Nos 5 and 6 and to British Railways
(e) Preserved in Canada by Canadian Historical Association
Hirings and British Railway Workings
So far as is known, no other Terriers appeared on Stephens' lines in his lifetime, but the need for stringent economies on the K&ESR during the 1930s led W H Austen to use the good relations he and Stephens had established with the Southern Railway to initiate a sequence of engine hirings which lasted until the end of the K&ESR's independent existence.
P Class No 1556 (K&ESR' s present 753) was the first hiring, but in mid-1938 the first Terrier arrived as a substitute – No 2655 – none other than the Bluebell's Stepney . She was replaced after a year by 2678, recently returned from the Isle of Wight , where she had been W14 Bembridge . She was destined to stay on the K&ESR for 18 years and later returned still to be seen working on the railway today. In the early war years, from 1939 to 1942, 2659 was also hired. These Terriers, with Bodiam, were the mainstays of the line until the arrival later in the war of 01 tender engines on the Headcorn section. Even then Bodiam , as 32670, and the faithful 32678, continued to share the working of the Tenterden-Robertsbridge section; Bodiam even remained in K&ESR green until 1954. During these early British Railways' years they were joined at various times by some of their sisters. Stepney returned briefly in 1953, as did 2659 for 3 years in the early 1950s, before disappearing to Lancing Carriage Works as DS681. 2640 appeared in the late forties and 32644 worked for 2 years prior to scrapping in 1951. Stepney and 32678 shared the honours on the last day of passenger services.
With the retrenchment to freight services on the Tenterden-Robertsbridge section, Terriers reigned supreme. Rolvenden Shed had closed so they worked from St Leonards. Stepney left for Newhaven in a swap for 32636 Fenchurch , which had been at the harbour for over 50 years. 32662 was stationed at St Leonards for a whole two weeks in September 1958 and is known to have worked one train.
In June 1958 dieselisation finally arrived, and 32678 severed her long connection with the K&ESR and departed for the Hayling Island Branch, not returning to steam on her former home until 41 years later. Bodiam too slackened her hold on the K&ESR although like other Terriers she continued to return until final closure of the line.
With preservation, a total newcomer appeared on the scene, 32650. After spending the early 1930s on the Isle of Wight as W9 Fishbourne , she then spent 20 years at Lancing Carriage Works as DS515, finally working from 1953 onwards as a Hayling Island engine. Purchased by Sutton & Cheam Council for exhibition, changed plans found it diverted to accompany Bodiam on the resurrected K&ESR in 1964. Active on the Railway for 32 of the next 40 years and withdrawn with worn cylinders, she was moved by her owners to the Spa Valley railway in 2004 where she still languishes.
32678 had been exiled to Butlin's Holiday Camp for 15 years after withdrawal and then made her way via the West Somerset Railway and Resco Ltd, to her old stamping ground of 22 years' duration. On the K&ESR she is generally referred to by the name Knowle, a name that she had not carried since about 1907.Together with Bodiam these two long-term companions make up the duo of resident Terriers. Great living memorials to Colonel Stephens on the preserved K&ESR.
|LBSC No||LBSC Name||Built||KESR Association||Notes|
|55||Stepney||12/1875||Hired 1938 worked 5 /1953-61||extant on Bluebell Railway|
|78||Knowle||7/1880||Hired 1940> left 1958 returned 1988 to service 1999||extant on the K&ESR,to be renamed Tenterden|
|40||Brighton||3/1878||Worked 7/1948-3/1951||extant on IOW as W11 Newport|
|44||Fulham||6/1877||Worked 4/1949-4/1951||scrapped 4/1951|
|72||Fenchurch||9/1872||Worked 1954-1958?||As 32636 extant on Bluebell Railway|
|50||Whitechapel||12/1876||In Preservation1964-2004 as ‘Sutton’||extant at the Spa Valley Railway|
|59||Cheam||10/1875||Worked 9/1949-8/1953||to Lancing as DS681 Scr 6/1963|
Locomotive History of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, Vol 1 , D L Bradley, RCTS.
Lines of Character, L T C Rolt, Constable, 1952
Edge Hill Light Railway, E C Tonks, 1949
East Kent Railway, M Lawson Finch & Stephen Garrett, Oakwood Press, 2003
Sheppey Light Railway, B Hart, WSP,1999
The Highland Railway,David Ross,Stenlake Publishing ,2010
S&MR minutes and WC&P papers in the National Archive
Colonel Stephens Archive
Click on the images to see the larger pictures
The London & North Western Railway was into standardisation in a big way from its earliest days. In Ramsbottom and Webb's day truly huge numbers of the simplest engines were constructed. Starting with 857 Dx goods produced between 1858 and 1874 these were developed into the 230 ‘Special tanks’ with saddle tanks and smaller cast iron wheels. Then in 1873 the tank went and with a tender added they became the 500 ‘Coal Engines ‘and finally in 1881 their tank equivalent the 300 ‘Coal tank’ 0-6-2 T s. That great student of locomotive design E L Ahrons described the ’Coal Engines’, without undue exaggeration, as ‘probably the simplest and cheapest locomotives ever made in this country’. As built the coal engines had no brake on the engine itself but prudence ultimately overcame parsimony, at least in part, and steam brakes were fitted, but with only one cylinder for both engine and tender rather than the more normal one each.
From February 1873 to November 1882, Crewe built 400, and added another 100 in 1889-92. When Whale succeeded Webb he rebuilt 45 into square-top saddle-tank shunters. Normal withdrawal had started in March 1901 and in 1902/4 two were sold to the Manchester & Milford Railway. By the end of 1912 the total was down to 303, and in July 1917 another 85 were sent to the Railway Operating Division for war service overseas. In June 1919 the Government bought and kept 42 of them and a further 34 withdrawals in the years 1913-22 led to there being 227 to hand over to the LMS: they were allocated numbers 8088 to 8314. Withdrawals began again in April 1924. By then, all were at least 30 years old, 19 of them having worked for 50 years. Just how robust this design was is typified by the first one built, which served the LNW, then the LMS, and also British Railways for no less than 80 years. It only failed by two months to be 'Last of Class' as well as the first. All tenders seem to have been Webb type which had wooden frames, those of 1800 gallon capacity being in the majority.
By 1930 the S&MLR was experiencing a surge of mineral traffic as a contract had been landed by Roads Reconstruction Ltd, the owner of Criggion Quarries, to supply roadstone for the construction of the East Lancs Road (a 1930s new road precursor of a motorway). The 3 Ilfracombe goods engines had been the mainstay of the railway almost from its inception and now needed to be supplemented or replaced. Austen (Stephens being by now very ill) turned to the LMS for replacement; possibly as new S&MLR directors John Pike and James Ramsey, both ex LMS officers, had good contacts. The Locomotive of 15 March 1930 reported the purchase of the first Coal Engine from the LMS (No 8108) which means this had probably been available since that February.
Austen’s search for a second engine proved difficult. He had contacted the LMS and been offered two Webb Coal Engines for £420 and £390 but reported in January 1931 that they were in too poor a condition. By March he had inspected four more but only one (No 8182 at Sutton Oak) was any good. This incidentally shows how low LMS maintenance standards had sunk in the Depression, and pre-Stanier years. The loco was bought for £380 and was in use by May.
When they first arrived the coal engines could not be used on the Criggion branch, so the very heavy quarry traffic of 1930 and early 1931 was handled by the remaining operational Ilfracombes, No 3 Hesperus and No 6 Thisbe, with re-marshalling at Kinnerley. One of the Coal Engines was successfully trialled on the Criggion branch on 28 June 1931 following considerable renewal of the permanent way in that year and Austen then cleared the class for use on the line. This was just as well as in that year roadstone traffic peaked at 145,472 tons, well over twice the 1920s best figures.
This route clearance seems to have prompted the search for another of the class to replace one of the Ilfracombes and there were reports in April 1932 of the continuing search for a suitable engine. Finally on 21 June 1932 No 8236 was purchased for £375 after receiving a new tube plate. Although traffic was now well past its peak, this engine’s arrival was propitious as both of the earlier engines now required retubing. Boilers were clearly a weakness of these purchases as both 8108 and 8182 received new tube plates in November 1935 and August 1936 respectively. Indeed 8236 only lasted 3 years before receiving a new firebox in June 1935. Fortunately Crewe was relatively near and the LMS had plenty of spares so the work was done there.
With the Depression deepening, and road work never recovering even during WW2 (when road renewal was not regarded as a priority), roadstone traffic slumped without recovery. The collapse of this traffic in 1933 was the real reason for the economic crisis of 1933 that caused the calling-in of a receiver in March and the closure to normal passenger traffic later in the same year. There was an irony in this in that the three S&MLR coal engines were the only ones amongst their numerous brethren that were equipped with vacuum brakes and steam heat! Not many passengers benefited, at least until the army moved in.
A visitor to the S&MLR on Tuesday 18 May 1937 reported that all three Coal Engines were on shed at Kinnerley: No.8182 was in steam; No.8236 was undergoing light repairs; while No.8108 was reported to be '...in store, apparently being used as a source of spares'. However, by June 1938 No.8108 was undergoing a heavy overhaul. The wheels had been re-turned at Crewe and other work was underway with the limited resources to hand. She returned to traffic in July 1939 painted olive green with black and white lining and rechristened No.2, with 'S & M' inscribed in white on the sides of her tender. It was stated that the S&MLR's other two Coal Engines were to be similarly painted and indeed their new S&MLR numbers had been allotted: Nos 4 (8182) and 5 (8236). This was not to be, for when the army took over the operation of the S&MLR the engines (which were loaned, not owned, by the army) needed unique four figure ROD numbers and reverted to, or retained, their LMS identities as their ROD number.
S&MLR actives had reached a new low after the outbreak of war. The S&MLR was formally taken under the Control of the Government on 1 September 1939 but was instructed to carry on as normal, and did so. With the rundown of traffic due to the war, the Board had in June 1940 decided to close the Kinnerley–Moele Brace section. However, before this happened the War Department approached them in December 1940 with a view to taking over the line to serve war storage facilities that were to be built in the adjacent countryside. With the run-down the coal engines had been allowed to get into poor condition and at takeover the WD reported in February 1941 that, although 8182 had been prepared for transport to Crewe for overhaul, her condition was ‘very bad’. 8236 was reported as ‘generally bad’ and No2 was ‘serviceable’ but with a ‘condemned’ boiler. No wonder one fitter reminiscing in the Railway World in 1960 remembered the latter as ‘about as run down as could be, and was hardly fit to bake chestnuts.’
The Army were desperately short of suitable engines so two coal engines were loaned from the LMS; one, 28204, had arrived on the S&M by 26th June, 1941 and was to remain on hire until 12th July, 1945. The S&MLR trio were promptly despatched to Crewe and received heavy overhauls: 8236 and 8182 in March, 8108 in June. Even then there were problems, 8108 was in trouble throughout 1942 ,out of use in January and February and at 5th Mobile workshops in July, she finally had to have heavy repairs to her tender at Crewe in October /November. All three required heavy army overhauls by the 4th Mobile Workshops in 1943 and were dealt with in rotation ; 8182 in March to April, 8108 April to May and 8236 in June to July. 8108,ever the weak one, was attended to by 10th Mobile Workshops in February to April 1944 returning to work on the 21st May. In December 1944 8236 received a further general overhaul at Crewe to keep her going, followed by 8108 in February to May and 8182 in June to August 1945.
No youngsters, all the engines doing up to 2,000 miles a month and they were showing their age. With work winding down it was even possible to lay up the troublesome 8108 in September and October 1945. By 1946 their time was coming to a close. 8236 had been out of use since July 1945, swapping her good tender in January 1946 with 8108 which had damaged hers and was She sent to Crewe for overhaul again in August 1946. On 16th September the boiler was reported uneconomic to repair and she returned for store on 27th September . After having been out of use since July, 8182 was stopped for good with a leaking firebox foundation ring in the same month. Oddly 8108 ,of all engines, having been out of use from June to September, having been again at Crewe and being returned on 14th August proved the last S&MLR engine to work . But she did not last long being finally failed in traffic on 15th November with a cracked firebox. With the end of the war the ROD had plenty of their Dean goods available, and when the line was upgraded in the following year even these gave way to Austerity Tanks. So the trio were left in the sidings at Hookagate to await their owner’s pleasure.
Their fate now becomes simply a tale of bureaucratic confusion. On 8 March 1949 they were taken 'dead' to Wolverhampton Works for the S&MLR had fallen into the hands of its old enemy the GWR (in the thinly disguised form of the Western Region of British Railways) on 1 January 1948 they were apparently taken there nominally 'for attention'. In truth, the Western could never have wished to be lumbered with three ex LMS Coal Engines and no foreign engine ever survived long in Swindon’s sphere of influence. Also, a few of their sisters were still hanging around in odd corners of the former LNWR system until 1953. In August 1949 enquiries were made to see if they might be sent to Crewe for breaking up - a very sensible and pragmatic arrangement. This cross regional correspondence brought HQ intervention and they decreed that the three Coal Engines (with the surviving Gazelle – still at Kinnerley) were formally Western Region stock to be dealt with by them. Correspondence at no less than Chief Regional Officer level finally led to a formally recorded decision on 22 May 1950.They were finally towed away from Wolverhampton to Swindon Works arriving on 9 August. They were placed on the Dump to await cutting up, and dealt with during the week ending 4 November.
So ended the careers of what were amongst most overlooked but last surviving engines from Stephens’ lines. Perhaps they were too common on the mainline to get their fair share of attention by enthusiasts. Also they were acquisitions that marked the change from the more romantic era of Stephens to that of the ever pragmatic Austen. He was not only ready to acquire cheap engines of a common type but also to hire in engines from the mainline companies. Normally Stephens did not tolerate his engines roaming around with another company's number – his had his numbers and, preferably, a name. Perhaps we would remember them better if they had arrived a few years earlier when Stephens was still alive.
LNWR No (Date)
*These are the dates of arrival. Official sale dates on the books of the LMS are one month later due to recording delays and statistical recording periods.
A Compendium of LNWR Locomotives Part 2, W B Yeadon, Challenger Publications. 1996
S&MLR Minute Books
NA PRO Rail 254/213, WO32/19181
The Locomotive Magazine
Colonel Stephens Railway Archive
Brian Janes has been re-examining some of the dates and events surrounding Rolling stock departures and arrivals
Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway locomotives, like those on several of the Colonel’s railways, are constantly listed or commented on but unfortunately inaccuracies are rife. A return to primary and contemporary sources is often more reliable, particularly Company minute books where they survive. The Colonel was not a great one for detailed minutes, confining them largely to matters financial, although some details of asset management did creep in. By Austin’s time this policy was abandoned and such details were discussed and minuted. This is an interesting reflection on Austen’s personality: autocratic with the workers, but slightly subservient with directors – something Stephens the patrician was quite incapable of.
The SMR minutes are therefore quite unrevealing about locomotive movements in Stephens day and such fascinating questions as the use and disposal after a short period of the two 0-6-2Ts (see below) cannot be found in the minutes. Primary sources elsewhere reveal that during the later stages of the long process of putting together finance to build the railway in spring 1909, Stephens had actively pursued the possibility of it being worked by the London and North Western and the Great Western Railway jointly. They declined to work it on a percentage of receipts basis and offered to do so on a train mileage basis but this proved unacceptable.
In May 1910 Stephens formally contracted to rebuild the line and furnish the stock and is reported in the Cambrian archives to have placed the order for the two new 0-6-2Ts by October 1910. For some reason these were delayed and the hotch potch collection was presumably hastily assembled by Stephens personally. The Company minutes note the purchase of one LSWR locomotive in February 1911(i). This became No 3 Hesperus, so Gazelle (No 1) and the 0-4-2ST Hecate (later Severn) (No 2) might be presumed to be already secured (but see below). The second Ilfracombe Goods was not referred to in the minutes until 30 May 1918 when it was reported that £550 was still owing to the Contractors (Stephens and Mathews, the company solicitor) for the locomotive no 5 Pyramus that had been delivered in November 1914. This engine had been purchased by the K&ESR from the LSWR under a five year hire purchase agreement. It would be interesting to know how Stephens handled the bookkeeping. The third Ilfracombe Goods, No 6 Thisbe was recorded in the minutes on 4 August 1916 as being subject to purchase from the LSWR over 2 years with a down payment of £286 (plus £15 for spares) and £200 and the end of the next two years. Bradley says that the Government discharged this debt in April 1917 but the minutes are silent on this point.
Gazelle was clearly used for inspection at a very early date and is seen in several photos prior to the start of re-construction. At that stage it was still a 2-2-2WT and its long-term use as Criggion passenger engine, and probably reconstruction as a 0-4-2WT, was foreseen from the start. However when and where the work was carried out is a mystery. It may have been carried out in 1911 or 1912 but the first hard evidence is a report in the July 1913 Locomotive. This combined with its return with its new wheel arrangement in the 1913 statutory returns suggests that the changes, which probably included the passenger cabin and cab, were made in that year. As can be seen on the locomotive today this reconstruction was quite simple, if ingenious. As Allan Baker said in a letter to ‘Railway Bylines’ for April 2004 the reconstruction was highly unlikely to have been carried out by Bagnalls, as frequently reported, and there is no record of such work. The work was probably done at Kinnerley. The new driving wheels in particular are one piece castings from a pattern that was clearly made from the carrying wheels. Apart from the new connecting rods and new patch plates on the motion plate the only other changes were minor ones to brake hangers, springs etc. Thereafter she was employed on some of the Criggion passenger services till the late 1920s. A reconstructed working diagram for winter 1927/28 drawn by Stuart Pierce Higgins shows that it undertook one round trip Kinnerley to Criggion, each day.
Hecate’s early origins on the St Helens, LNW and the Bristol Port and Pier Railways and have been subject to accurate research by the RCTS. Its acquisition by the SMR was well documented in The Locomotive in 1922 probably with Stephens active involvement. That gives its arrival date as May 1911 (after opening)and it was reported in a noe by F E Fox Davies in that month that its arrival was delayed. It was ceratinly booked in for overhual at Bagnalls of Stafford in that month which would have been of unceratin duration. However both it and its number are mentioned in R E Davies’ article on the reopening in Transport and Travel Monthly for June 1911. It then spent its active life on mixed and quarry trains on the Criggion branch till set aside in the early 1920s. According to The Locomotive article the engine was renamed Severn during 1916.
The 0-6-2Ts were ordered before May 1910 but were certainty not at work before late summer 1911 and seem to have been regarded as SMR stock till at least 1915 as they are both reported in that years annual return. Thisbe was involved in a serious derailment in late July 1915 that was extensively reported and photographed. Sale to the Military railways probably took place in 1916. An advert for two locomotives of this description appeared in the Machinery Market Magazine for 11 February 1916. Further there is reference in a GWR report dated 9 June 1916 that two engines purchased by the War office from the S&MR were being overhauled at Wolverhampton Works. Although The Locomotive for November 1916 reports that their sale had been ‘lately made’ this was a report made under wartime conditions. They seem first to have worked on the Cannock Chase Military Railway but may have then moved to the Kinmell Camp railway that opened for traffic in November 1916. Thisbe moved on to the Longmoor railway in the same year. Another odd thing about these engines is that there is no trace of sale proceeds in the SMR's published accounts and their departure coincides with a final settlement (after many years) of the SMRs account with Stephens as the Contractor for rebuilding and equipping the line. Hawthorn, Leslie received £1725 worth of company debentures on 5th March 1912 presumably in part payment for these engines but what arrangements were made for the balance is not known. Stephens’ final payment was for less than the contracted cost and the adjustment could be in respect of these two engines. They might therefore even have been at least in part Stephens personal property when sold to the Military.
By the end of WW1 the railway seemed to have achieved stability in its locomotive policy with three Ilfracombe Goods and the Severn as the backbone of services. In the early 1920s however Stephens seems unable to resist the bargains on offer from the Military and swept three of his favourite engines, Stroudley Terriers, into the net. One came in 1921 and two in 1923. Their acquisition seems accurately documented by Bradley. Although some commentators seem to think they were little used there is no real evidence of this. Although they could clearly not handle heavy mixed trains or goods and were supplanted on the passenger services by the railcars they seem to have found a niche for a few years in the 1920s.
The real redundancy of this time was of the Manning Wardle No 4 Morous. Perkins excellent and informed article in the Railway Magazine for September 1911 on the reopening says it was used, together with another engine, as a contractors engine on the reconstruction. It was probably added to stock for duties unknown shortly after the opening. It was officially withdrawn following the arrival of the first Terrier in 1921, and was of no use whatever after the arrival of two more Terriers and the railcars in 1923. The Board seems to have forgotten its existence till in late 1931 when its sale to the West Sussex Railway was authorised following an offer to buy at £50. The Board wanted £60, even if it had to be in instalments, but eventually accepted £50. It is a wonder they remembered the engine as it had been on the West Sussex since at least 1924 possibly earlier.
With Stephens’ first stroke in 1929 Austen’s time as the SMR engineer came and bought changes both of locomotive policy and reporting. As early as 23 July 1930 he took command and he reported to the Board the proposed sale of ‘The Severn ‘ (No 2) to Wards for £47 and also No 5 (iii) for £134. These locomotives were noted as withdrawn in the 1930 accounts By October he had to report that the mainline companies would not allow the locos to be towed over their lines to the scrap yard so they stayed put. At this meeting it was also reported that that Terrier No 8 Dido had been reconditioned with No 7 Hecate’s boiler and that No 7’s remains were scrapped. Its wheels sent to Rolvenden in lieu of debt where they may still be extant under the K&ESR’s No3 Bodiam.
At the same Board it was reported that the railcar set had been damaged on 23 September and next month the Driver (probably Clifford Gill) was discharged as a result. This is probably when the unit lost its original pressed steel wheels and acquired 3-holed disc wheelsets.
The resultant need for steam engines forced the issue of engine availability and the acting Chairman was authorised in November to look for two second hand engines. This may have been in part retrospective authority as The Locomotive of 15 March 1930 had reported the purchase of the first Coal Engine from the LMS (No 8108) and therefore this had probably been available since that February.
Austen’s search for the second engine proved difficult. He had contacted the LMS and been offered two Webb Coal Engines for £420 and £390 but reported in January 1931 that they were in too poor a condition. By March he had inspected four more but only one (No 8182 at Sutton Oak) was any good. This incidentally shows how low LMS maintenance standards had sunk in the depression pre Stanier years. The loco had been bought for £380 (ii) and was in use by May
Although the railcars had been repaired by March they were now extravagant in Fuel (50 gallons a day) and more steam was running, requiring at least two daily steam duties with more on Summer Saturdays. In April 1932 the decision was taken to discontinue Railcar running from 30 April and dismiss the driver (S Nevitt) and rely on mixed trains. In fact the railcars were used thereafter on high days and holidays running about 2000 miles (i.e. perhaps on twenty days) annually till 1935 and perhaps on one or two days in 1936.Thereafter they were consigned to the sidings. Their demise probably prompted the resurrection of Gazelle and her trailer in 1937 to perform inspection and occasionally Criggion passenger specials.
The Locomotive for March 1932 contains an intriguing reference. Describing trials of an Armstrong Whitworth diesel railcar on the LNER and the subsequent refreshments it reports that in attendance were 'Mr Jas. Ramsey and Mr J Pike (Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Ry.)' Ramsay joined the SMR board on Rigby's death and was confirmed at the 1930 general meeting. He was described as MD (Acting) by May 1931 and became Chairman and Managing Director on Stephens' death in October remaining so until he himself died on 5th February 1943. John Pike OBE of Harrow Weald (who had retired etired as Goods Commercial Manager LMS in 1928) joined the Board at the same time as Ramsey and stayed a Director until he took over as Chairman on Ramsey's death. Strange to see such distinguished representatives from a bankrupt railway viewing such a sophisticated railcar; or were they looking at one of the smaller AW jobs and joined in the jolly. Perhaps it was an early foray by newcomers into modernising the railway with diesels before economic reality struck home.
Back in May 1931 Austen was authorised to scrap three more engines and in July he reported that five engines would be scrapped, Nos. 2 and 5 (again), 6, 7 (already dismantled) and 8 (her reconditioning the previous year was thus of very limited use). The directors were no doubt impressed and double-reporting achievements are clearly nothing new. Austen was kept under pressure though and seems to have been required to report monthly. By November (when Stephens death was noted with great regret) he reported that 5 and 7 (again) were broken up and 2 and 8 in the process. In January he reported 5, 7 and 8 had gone, with 2 and No 5’s (iv) tender still remaining. No 2 was reported as still being broken up in October 1932. It was finally dismantled in May 1933. This seems to have settled directors minds but much of the scrap had not in fact gone as on 17 October 1933 the sale was reported of the Boilers of Nos. 2, 6 (iv), 7 and 8 to G R Jackson of Wednesbury for £100. The sale on 21 February 1937 of the partially dismantled remains of No 6 Thisbe (which had received No 3s boiler probably between July 1930 and November 1931) for £136/9/9 was reported. It was broken up on site in May.
With two Terriers withdrawn in 1931, the last, No 9 Daphne, was officially withdrawn in 1932 but lingered on intact in Kinnerley shed until bought in January 1939 by the Southern. Reported by Bradley as purchased for spares it does not seem to have been touched until scrapped in 1949. Daphne was an A1 in original condition and for some reason had been kept in a shed and well preserved by the SMR. Was it kept by Austen as a keepsake and intended for the Southern’s Eastleigh museum collection, only for that collection to be abandoned in 1940 when it was put out to grass? Boxhill later became the officially preserved Terrier.
The first two Coal Engines having proven their general utility one were successfully trialled on the Criggion branch on 28 June 1931 following considerable renewal of the permanent way in that year. The branches poor bridges stood the extra weight so the directors then decided to purchase a third (8236) but this did not arrive until 21 June 1932 for £375. This proved over optimistic. Unfortunately the government in those days of pre-Keynesian economics was cutting back on road building and by the end of that year the Criggion quarry traffic had collapsed. This was the end of the limited prosperity the line had enjoyed and it struggled on until Wartime when the line was to be transformed in the national interest.
(i) Bradley gives the dates of 12 January 1911 for No 3, May 1914 for No 5 (to the K&ESR), and 30 March 1916 for No 6.
(ii) Yeadon gives a sale date of March 1930 for 8108, March 1931 for 8182 and July 1932 for 8236. These were probably the official LMS withdrawal dates.
(iii) Bradley gives No 5s withdrawal date as October 1930.
(iv) No 6 had by this date acquired No5s old boiler and lasted another year or so
PRO records particularly RAIL 1057/1925, SMR Board Minutes RAIL 621
The Locomotives of the GWR Pt 3, RCTS, 1956
The Locomotives of the LB&SCR Pt 1, D L Bradley, RCTS, 1969
LSWR Locomotives, Early Engines and the Beattie Classes, D L Bradley, WSP, 1989
A Compendium of LNWR Locomotives Pt 2, Goods Tender Engines, W B Yeadon, Challenger, 1996.
Colonel Stephens Museum Archive
Charles Judge draws together the various plans in the 1920s to economise on working the new Welsh Highland and the struggling Festiniog Railway through the use of pioneering traction
Click on the images to see the larger pictures
In 1923 after decades of planning the Welsh Highland Railway was approaching completion under the direction of a newly combined management with the Festiniog Railway. Henry Joseph Jack, managing director of the Dolgarrog based Aluminium Corporation, had over the period since the end of the First World War, obtained control of these North Wales railways. As Chairman he was the moving force in achieving the opening of the Welsh Highland on 1 June 1923. But the new management was already having cold feet about the cost of running a year round passenger service. There was a realisation that the railways could be kept afloat by the slowly foundering slate industry and a limited summer tourist traffic but buses were already creaming off daily passenger traffic. The Festiniog was already in the financial mire and the Welsh Highland seemed likely to follow.
Although the new railway had been planned and built without benefit of his advice, Colonel Stephens was hovering in the wings and had been noted in North Wales as early as 1918. With the anticipated completion of Welsh Highland construction work by McAlpines on 31 March 1923, together with oversight by the railway engineers Douglas Fox & Co, a new engineer was needed . Jack turned to Stephens who was appointed on 1 April.
Earlier in 1923 Stephens had introduced the first set of Ford railmotors (adaptations of a Ford (model T) one ton truck chassis with a bus body) on the standard gauge Kent and East Sussex Railway. despite teething troubles they had proved very promising. Jack was impressed and wrote to G E Tyrwhitt, the General Manager, on 27th April to study them for use on off peak trains. Tyrwitt acted quickly, entering into discussions with the local Ford Dealer, Charles Hughes and Sons and finding the proposal feasible for the 2ft gauge. Interestingly, the price for the chassis dropped from £170 list to £145 and then £115 (starter £15 extra) - a clear sign of Ford’s competitiveness at this time. Hughes were aware of the Kent experience and that the Lynton Wheel and Tyre Co, Longford Bridge, Warrington had supplied the necessary flanged wheels. A scheme, including an outline drawing, was prepared. With opening and summer services imminent however action lapsed, probably not helped by Tyrwitt’s retirement in August and his replacement by a Stephens appointment, the capable Captain May. The proposal was not however forgotten, as we shall see. There seems incidentally to be no evidence that there was any proposal to move goods by flange wheeled Ford trucks as suggested by Boyd in his standard history.
There are references in the correspondence to an earlier proposal to use Drewry railcars, after Tyrwitt's appointment in 1922 but before Stephens’s appointment. These long established light railcars were fully engineered for rail use and Stephens had bought one in 1921 for the Weston Clevedon and Portishead Railway were it was a considerable success. It is not certain what, if any, hand Stephens had in the original proposal but Drewry cars certainly continued to figure in planning discussions throughout 1923 /24. They were however considered rather expensive and were probably not adopted for financial reasons.
Meanwhile it was decided, in June 1923, to order a 40 hp Simplex Tractor from the Kent Construction & Engineering Company of Ashford, Kent who were, to use a modern term, re-engineering such engines for civilian use after return from the WW1 trench railways, for which hundreds had been built. This cost £350 (£110 more than the Baldwin Steam locomotive bought in the same month) and was for use in shunting Portmadoc and Minffordd yardsto where it was at first confined by Stephens .It left Ashford on 17th July and was expected to release a small Festiniog engine for use elsewhere. Extravagant in petrol consumption she was, on Stephens’ recommendation, converted to paraffin (TVO) operation. It is worth noting here at a year later a Simplex clone, built by Kent Construction, was delivered to Stephens’ Rye and Camber Tramway where it successfully took over virtually all services on that level line.
Ever on the lookout for cheaper traction, Jack’s attention was turned mid November to Muir Hill Fordson locomotives. These were primitive adaptations (‘not pretty‘ as Jack admitted) of the then modern Fordson agricultural tractor, a well-engineered vehicle, for rail use. For the narrow gauge the motor unit was mounted on a heavy cast 4-wheeled chassis with chain drive from the original drive sprocket. The great attraction as always was cost, as they were £100 cheaper than the Simplex. They could also burn paraffin. Jack proposed to buy four to take over the whole running of the Welsh Highland and four more to handle winter traffic on the Festiniog. May rapidly poured cold water on this somewhat naive proposal. They were without adequate reverse gears, continuous brakes, suitable couplings or cover from the elements. They were also slow. The Simplex had proved good for level work but, even at twice the power, could only cope with 2 coaches on a gradient. He counter-proposed that a little bit more money be spent to re-equip with 3 or 4 railmotors with trailers for winter traffic, with steam confined to summer and goods haulage. Although he referred to the success of the recently introduced Ford set on the Colonel’s Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway; there is still the hint that Drewry cars were still in the frame. This proposal was fully costed but the conclusion was that potential savings did not justify the expenditure.
Jack still wanted a Muir Hill, although May tried to steer him to a Simplex. However the next April Jack arranged for the Aluminium Corporation, who had presumably bought one in the interim, to loan it for trials and it arrived at Blaenau Festiniog on 9 April. Trails took place in early May . The tractor showed up the anticipated problems, being barely able to pull ‘an ordinary guards van‘ from Beddgelert to South Snowdon (Rhyd Ddu). Later in the month it was being tried to power the machinery at Boston Lodge. Now Stephens weighed in against it, advocating the use of the Simplex, especially as it might haul existing, rather than special light, coaches plus a Tangye oil engine (which was subsequently bought with his own private money) for the works. Jack would not let go, advocating short trains and lighter coaches. In a further trial the Muir Hill ran very well from Blaenau Ffestiniog to South Snowdon with a small van but could only return to Beddgelert at 2 ¼ mph because of its inadequate reverse. These poor results were reported to the Board in June and the unit returned to Dalgarrog. Jack still persisted, finding variants on the Fordson tractor adaptation by the International Motor Company, the Edwards Motor Car Company, the North Western Motor Company and H E Taylor and Co.. These multiple suggestions only came to an end when, in the face of shareholder disappointment at financial results, Jack resigned in November 1924. In his advocacy of these light tractors, Jack had shown a lack of grasp of the practicalities of the railways’ operations but was driven by the desperate need to find affordable economies of working.
Colonel Stephens took over as Chairman and Managing Director from January 1925. Ever the practical railwayman and with limited resources he turned again to the Simplex design, and had in October advocated two for the Welsh Highland traffic. May was in favour reporting;
''…we have had the present one for about 12 months, and it has been used for shunting— nearly all the time at Minffordd. When we first had it, it did not entire satisfaction, but, as the men got to understand it better, it has proved rather useful. … the cost of working…is £6/10/- against £10/14/- for a steam locomotive''
Trials with two coaches between Portmadoc and Dinas were arranged and are thought to have been successful but a vacuum brake was needed. However finances were desperate and the winter Welsh Highland passenger service had been stopped in December.
Later, when the opportunity, arose Stephens, though Honeywell Brothers- the agents he had dealt with for the Simplex- bought a slightly larger ex French government 50hp American Baldwin tractor for the Festiniog at what seemed to be a bargain £248 13s 4d; a half share was taken by the WHR as they list a payment for £124 6s 8d for it in that year. Put to work shunting at Minffordd and, together with the Simplex, it was also used to replace horse traction on part of the Creosor Tramway. It proved too heavy for the light track there and was returned to shunting duties. The need for economical winter services remained, for limited services had been restored and run in the 1925 /26 and 1927/28. In 1928 the Baldwin was fitted, somewhat crudely, with a 'Reavel', agricultural style vacuum pump and piping to provide and continuous brake for service on the Welsh Highland. Although no records are known to survive as to its actual use it probably did so and it was certainly used as a rescue engine for passenger trains on occasion.
However the Baldwin had feet of clay. Probably unbeknown to Stephens the American Society of Civil Engineers had in 1920 severely criticised the design. The actual petrol motors, mostly built by the Pittsburgh Model Engine Co, needed frequent repairs to the point where the Army engineering regiments asked for new motors. There were also problems with clutch and gear cases. The poor spring design was also criticised as were the long overhangs which made its riding lively at service speeds .The Baldwin had became much worn and broke an axle in April 1929. It was criticised for heavy fuel consumption in the autumn and had a heavy motor overhaul that winter. Not as popular as the Simplex it seems to have been increasingly confined to the shed after Stephens’ death.
The Baldwin was replaced on Creosor duties by another lighter tractor, a 20hp Austro-Daimler. Stephens had this transferred to the Welsh Highland at nil cost in July 1925, after it had finished construction work on the recently completed North Devon and Cornwall Junction Railway. It probably worked regularly for a time and spares were delivered in August 1926.It was even tried out with a single passenger coach on 25th January 1928, possibly for use as a standby engine, but it was a failure. With Creosor traffic declining she was then used on shunting, but although she was transferred to the Festiniog in December 1928 she was out of use by 1929. Forgotten by management till an offer to purchase at £10 was made in May 1933, she was scrapped soon after.
In the summer of 1928 the Colonel received a bonus. Kerr Stuart was pioneering diesel engines, and the prototype tractor 60hp No 4415/1928 was lent for extended trials. Put to work on the Bryngwyn branch she was very successful and shown to the press. Fitted with a vacuum brake by Kerr Stuart she was, later in the year, put on the Welsh Highland winter passenger service. She worked this with some distinction and was indeed inspected by an LNER representative. The railways finally had a unit to do the work envisaged 5 years earlier, but it was only on loan! Transferred again in March 1929 to the more profitable work of moving slate at the bottom end of the Festiniog, she finally returned to Stoke in August. Stephens could not afford to buy her but was clearly impressed and was reported to have said on being asked for it back; ‘‘I thought you had given her to us’’
Financial problems had by now finally put an end to all these pioneering efforts as far as passenger services were concerned. The steam engines had been in disrepair since the War, and with excellent bus services from about 1920 onwards, passengers left in droves. There was now insufficient winter traffic to justify any service at all. Stephens had probably realised this at an early date, as he never revisited the railmotor proposals, even though these units were holding back the inevitable on three of his other railways. All winter services except the morning and evening quarrymen’s services on the Festiniog ceased on the 24th March 1930. Internal combustion could not, at that time, cope with the remaining summer passenger and mineral services and reverted to important but fringe activities like shunting. Thus employed the Simplex and Baldwin survived into preservation when, fitted with diesel engines, they proved invaluable on works trains and even occasional light passenger services. After years on sugar cane work in Mauritius the Kerr Stuart survived into preservation and is now back on the Festiniog / Welsh Highland. All are truly worthy survivors of notable pioneering efforts to economise on working and provide a service to the community.