Baldwin 590

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
At the Cambrian Crossing in the 1930s
Type Baldwin 10-12-D
Home Railway WHR
Original Railway WDLR
Status Scrapped
Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works
Built 1917
1923 Acquired for WHR
1942 Scrapped
Wheel Arrangement 4-6-0PT
Fuel Coal

The Baldwin 590 was a 4-6-0PT locomotive built for use by the War Department Light Railways during the First World War. After the war it was acquired for use on the Welsh Highland Railway. It was scrapped after the WHR was closed, but some components survive at the WHHR.

Another locomotive of the same class was recently restored by the WHHR to represent this locomotive.



590 was a 4-6-0PT locomotive of the Baldwin class 10-12-D (Builder's number 45172 of 1917). It was completed on 1st March 1917, and was part of a batch of locomotives (works numbers 45133 to 45236) ordered by the War Department from the Baldwin Locomotive Works in the USA, for use behind the Western Front. The War Department Light Railway locomotives were different from the original 10-12-D locomotives as they had half instead of full cabs.

The War Department gave this batch of locomotives the WD numbers 1001 to 1104. However, at some time during 1917, WD locomotives 996 to 1150 were renumbered 546 to 700; thus 590 received the number by which it subsequently became known. When new these locos had cast numberplates but renumbered locos had the new numbers painted on.

To the WHR[edit]

Following wartime service, the locomotive and several others were overhauled by Bagnalls of Stafford in 1919, then despatched to a military depot at Purfleet in Essex while the War Stores Disposal Board endeavoured to sell them. It was bought for use on the Welsh Highland Railway for the sum of £240 by Colonel Holman F. Stephens via E. W. Farrow & Sons of Spalding, machinery dealers. It arrived at Dinas Junction on 4th July 1923. Due to its size, it was restricted to use on the Welsh Highland Railway, never seeing service on the Festiniog Railway, though it sometimes crossed the Cob to Boston Lodge for maintenance.

590 was reputedly a rough riding locomotive, and was later confined to freight traffic as this was slower. Its ride may well have been linked to reverse running without a pony truck under the cab (Russell's 2-6-2 configuration being ideal for bi-directional running). Prior to 1934, it faced Porthmadog and carried a black livery. Then it was turned and repainted in red.

Withdrawal and modern era[edit]

In 1942, Cohen's, the contractor commissioned to scrap the WHR permanent way, attempted to steam 590. However, the locomotive was in very bad condition, leaking steam badly, and was consequently cut up for scrap.

The surviving tank was used for oil storage in a contractor's yard and is now on display at the WHHR. The only other surviving part of 590 is a builder's plate which is on display at the National Railway Museum, York.

There are few examples of this type of locomotive abandoned around the world, and four have been imported to the UK: Baldwin 778 has been restored to operation and is currently on the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway as seen in the pictures below. Baldwin 794 has been donated to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway by the Imperial War Museum and restored to represent 590 at Aberystwyth by the Vale of Rheidol Railway; it was delivered to Porthmadog in May 2023. Another example of this type is currently awaiting restoration at the Statfold Barn Railway. The fourth, Baldwin 608, was restored in Lancashire and arrived on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways in 2019.

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