Disambiguation: For Livingston Thompson, the person, please click here
This was the second locomotive to be built by the Festiniog Railway Company in its own workshops at Boston Lodge and the fourth FR Double Fairlie. It was built in 1886 to the same basic design that G.P.Spooner had produced for Merddin Emrys, with the improvement of larger water tanks. It was given the number 3 within one year of building. The records for maintenance show it was a reliable locomotive from new, but that the boiler kept leaking from the foundation ring, requiring regular caulking. In May 1887 a plate of sheet iron was fixed to the top of the cab to strengthen it and the exhaust nozzles opened out to over 2inches. In January 1889 the reversing rods were altered, flanges put on , through excessive strain on the faces , through want of proper lubricating oil. In October that year the sides of the cab were widened and new beading put round. In 1890 the exhaust nozzles were opened out again to 2 1/4 inches. The vacuum brake was put on in January 1893. The smokeboxes had new fronts and doors in April 1895 and in November, that year the brake gear had to be repaired after running over a sheep. Finally it had a major overhaul in August 1896 and all the copper rivets were taken out of the foundation ring and replaced with iron ones. In March 1898 two tubes burst so it was retubed with 214 new red metal tubes. However in December 1899 it had to be retubed again (in brass), the tubes having been eaten away by sulphurous coal. Cracks were now having to be patched on the corners of the firebox also. Two ventilators were added to the cab in April 1901 and then in August of that year again, two tubes burst. The engine was retubed once more in September with red metal tubes by Everett & Co. In January 1904 it was damaged by running into a piece of rock with the 8.30 train. A piece of a cylinder broke off and was repaired with wrought iron angle and studs having an iron strap around same. In July the entry is fastening slack tyre on wheel - which broke, 8 old tyres taken off and 8 new steel tyres shrunk on and each pinned. Maintenance is never easy! Finally a new steel boiler from the Vulcan Foundry arrived in April 1905 and the locomotive was rebuilt by July that year. It had two new smokeboxes and the old chimneys were reused, but cut down by an inch and a quarter. The tanks were repaired with patches on the stokers side, two dome covers were altered to fit, and two new Whites injectors were fitted. The pressure of the boiler was now 170lbs. It was put in traffic for 8 months then, when it came in for cylinder joints and steam chest leaks it was repainted with 6 coats of varnish. Four new cylinders were fitted in 1907. In July 1910 a cylinder port broke. A piece 8 1/2 ounces had been blown through the chimney! The water tanks were in a very poor condition now and were patched in 1911. In February 1912 it had a new cylinder and other repairs. The cause was given as the road at Tan y Bwlch Jan 22nd. In July that year it came off the line at Portmadoc, but only damaged a 'lifeguard'. The last entry in the Williams books is for October 1914 where the tanks on one side were taken off and four patches were rivetted on. Boyd records the tanks were finally replaced in 1920. The boiler was condemned in 1924, but it wasn't until 1929 that it was sent to Avonside Engine Co. for repairs, including a new firebox. The loco returned to service in 1932. It returned to traffic bearing the name Taliesin (formerly carried by the Single Fairlie built in 1876 and withdrawn in 1932). Sometime after 1940, the engine was put into the erecting shop for repairs which could not be pressed owing to shortage of men and pressure of other work. Consequently, the work was still unfinished when the railway suspended rail operations, on 1st August, 1946.
It was the second locomotive to be put back in service. Assistance was provided for the rebuild by the Vulcan Foundry, and they donated a chime whistle to both Taliesin and Prince. It ran from 2nd Sept 1956 to 22nd April 1961 as Taliesin, after which it was then renamed yet again, as Earl Of Merioneth, one of the courtesy titles of the Duke of Edinburgh, in a misguided attempt to garner publicity.
In 1971, the locomotive was withdrawn as its boiler had reached the end of its life and was beyond economic repair. Plans to rebuild the loco to a more modern style had already been developed and it was proposed to scrap the bodywork and retain all the useful components, including the bogies, for reuse.
Appalled by the plan to destroy the last remaining Victorian-outline double Fairlie, a letter was published in the Ffestiniog Railway Magazine signed by forty staff and volunteers, who were tagged the 'Active 40' by the magazine's editor, Norman Gurley. A subsequent appeal raised sufficient money to manufacture a new boiler cradle (virtually all that was required from the carcass) and, thereby, preserve the last example of a Spooner Fairlie.
For several years the body, less its bogies which were needed for further service, languished at various locations on the FR, ending up at Glanypwll. Meanwhile a brand new locomotive, to bear the name Earl of Merioneth slowly took shape at Boston Lodge.
The original name, Livingston Thompson (a long-serving Chairman of the Company during the 19th century), was finally restored in 1988,
In 1988 restoration of the derelict body, to a condition fit for display in a museum, was completed by Winson Engineering of Penrhyndeudraeth, using a pair of bogies no longer fit for revenue service. In October of that year the locomotive, hauled by its older brother Merddin Emrys enjoyed a last trip up the line from Porthmadog to Tan y Bwlch where a ceremony to hand it over, on long term loan, to the National Railway Museum, was performed. Since then LT has continued his FR service by advertising the railway to visitors to the NRM.
In 2004 he returned to the FR to join the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the FR Society and stayed on the line until April 2006, being wheeled out for a number of special events.
The principal stated dimensions are: Cylinders (4): 9" x 14", Nominal wheel diameter: 2' 8", Boiler pressure: 160 psi. Weight 24 tons.