From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Rhyd Ddu, 2013
Type NGG16
Home Railway WHR
Original Railway SAR
Number 138
Status Awaiting Overhaul
Built by Beyer Peacock, Manchester
Built 1958
1997 Acquired for WHR
2002 Named Millennium
2010 Overhauled
2012 Converted to coal
Wheel Arrangement 2-6-2+2-6-2T
Length 49 ft 2 in
Fuel Coal
Whistle(s) A4 Chime

138 is an NGG16 Garratt locomotive that that is currently awaiting overhaul on the Welsh Highland Railway.

History in South Africa[edit]

138 was built by Beyer Peacock of Manchester for South African Railways to their 2-6-2+2-6-2T NGG16 Garratt design. This loco was one of the fourth batch of seven NGG16s (no.s 137 - 143) built in 1958. These were the last steam locos built by Beyer Peacock, which were originally ordered by the Tsumeb Copper Corp of South West Africa in 1958 but when its line was altered to Cape Gauge, South African Railways took over the order. It carries the works number 7863.

138 entered service at Port Shepstone in 1958. At this time it carried plates that erroneously carried the number "E138" instead of the correct "NG138". The correct plates were later fitted. 138 had major overhauls in 1968, 1973 and 1981, receiving a different boiler each time. In 1987 the operation of the Port Shepstone branch was transferred to the Alfred County Railway who initially used 138 as the shunter at Port Shepstone before it was withdrawn from front line service due to worn tyres.[1]

Transfer to the WHR[edit]

138 was chosen for the Welsh Highland Railway in 1994. The Alfred County Railway overhauled the locomotive in South Africa, including conversion to oil firing. The overhaul was completed by 1996 and it made an appearance on a Ffestiniog Travel special before shipping it to the UK. 138 arrived on the Ffestiniog Railway in January 1997. Following further work at Boston Lodge and the Severn Valley Railway's boiler shop, it entered service on the Welsh Highland Railway in September 1997, having previously seen use during an FR Gala at Glanypwll in May. At this time it was painted in a dark green livery.

Over the winter of 2001/2 it was repainted into a new, lighter green, livery based on the house colours of Edison Mission Energy, who had sponsored the repaint. It was named Mileniwm/Millennium in May 2002, though it was noted carrying the name on 2/3/02. The locomotive received a £50k power unit overhaul in the winter of 2003/4. It subsequently suffered superheater problems which were resolved in the summer of 2004 after which the locomotive was returned to traffic as a reliable unit. In the winter of 2004/5 the regulator handle was modified to suit the general manager of the railway who is known to favour this particular locomotive.

The boiler ticket on 138 ran out in the spring of 2008, leaving only one NGG16 serviceable (143). When it had problems with fly cranks the rear bogie of 138 was substituted. During its overhaul the original boiler and oil firing were retained. An interesting boiler repair required was to the base of the dome. Similar repairs have also been required to the boilers of Merddin Emrys and Earl of Merioneth; all three boilers had been built by Hunslet in 1967-8. Parts were returned to Dinas, where it was re-assembled, in May 2010. It was repainted with in a new Midland Red livery.

138 hauled the first 'Gold and Silver' sponsors train from Caernarfon to Porthmadog on 30 October 2010. 138 and 87 maintained the service in the first part of 2011 until 143 became available.

138 was converted to coal firing during 2012, steaming on coal for the first time during early October 2012.

Over the winter of 2016/17 138's power bogies were given a heavy overhaul. It returned to service in July 2017. The modifications included new bearings made from Vesconite, a self lubricating hard wearing plastic material.[2]

Second 10-year overhaul[edit]

138's boiler ticket expired in early 2020, at which point it was stored Dinas works awaiting its 10-yearly overhaul. The old boiler will be stripped of fittings and lifted from the frames. The power units require quite a bit of work, and a new smokebox is needed. A big concern is the rear bunker, on which the water tank is rotted through and split, and this is likely to be replaced. The loco will be repainted, but retaining the red colour. Towards the end of 2019, issues were encountered with the bolts that secure the front cow catcher, and so for the final months of service the loco ran without it. This will be reassembled as part of the overhaul. [3]

It was planned to fit 138 with the boiler donated to the WHR by the Puffing Billy Railway (previously on 129). To that end the boiler was sent away to Locomotive Maintenance Services in Loughborough for overhaul so that it could be ready for fitting as soon as possible after the removal of the previous boiler. The boiler was expected to be ready for its hydraulic test in February 2019.[4] The boiler was still at LMS Loughborough in October 2019 and was nearly complete. On 23rd January 2020, following 2 years of work and considerable investment, the refurbished boiler was steamed for the first time since it was fitted to Garratt 129 (now in Australia) in South Africa.[5] However, due to Covid-19, the work on other engines was delayed, and so that boiler is now destined for 143. Due to the heavy overhaul that 138 requires, 143 will be returned to traffic first, and 138 will use the boiler previously carried by 143, currently at Israel Newtons, around half complete. This boiler is being fitted with a new inner firebox and front barrel, as well as a general overhaul.[6] 138 is currently stored out of use at Dinas.



  1. ^ Payling, David (2012). Garratts and Kalaharis of the Welsh Highland Railway. Harbour Station, Porthmadog: Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. ISBN 978-0-901848-10-9. OCLC 871303225.
  2. ^ Moving Pictures, Number Two - 16/2/17
  3. ^ F&WHR Loco Round UP, Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways YouTube channel 23 May 2020
  4. ^ "Boilers, Boilers and More Boilers", Inside Motion, 6 February 2019
  5. ^ Post on Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland railways Facebook page, 23 January 2020
  6. ^ Moving Pictures, Forty Five - 23/12/20

See also[edit]