Beddgelert (Loco)

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This article is about the original NWNGR locomotive. For the new WHRL locomotive that was to be named Beddgelert, see 120 Beddgelert.
Beddgelert
Beddgelert-2.jpg
Hunslet Works photo; Kim Winter collection.
Original Railway NWNGR
Status Scrapped
History
Built by Hunslet Engine Co.
Built 1878
1894 Rebuilt by Hunslet
1906 Withdrawn
Technical
Wheel Arrangement 0-6-4ST
Locomotives

Beddgelert was an 0-6-4ST locomotive that operated on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways.

History[edit]

Beddgelert built by Hunslet in 1878 (works number 206) for the Bryngwyn Branch traffic.[1] As well as being twice as powerful as the Vulcan Fairlies it marked a departure in that (a) it was not a Fairlie despite the NWNGR's undertaking only to use Fairlies, and (b) it was not built by Vulcan Foundry, the usual supplier of locos purchased under C.E. Spooner's influence. The design appears to have been Hunslet's own.

Livery[edit]

The livery carried on NWNGR engines was difficult to define because it was very prone to weathering. It initially was a red/brown which has been likened to Midland Railway red, whilst others have said North British Railways - whose "gamboge" green/brown livery was very different. It is possible that it was the former colour originally, and this weathered into the second colour due to the pigments used. Notably the company's initials were not carried on the engines. Beddgelert carried the company Coat of Arms on the cab panel.

Projects for more locos[edit]

In 1893 passenger traffic on the railway saw a dramatic increase following an advertising campaign, 35% up on 1892. One of the results was 6 new carriages in 1893 and 1894, and a proposal to buy a new engine from Hunslet for £1,500 or £1540. This was because the three engines (Moel Tryfan, Snowdon Ranger and Beddgelert) were not sufficiently powerful for the heavy trains at the peak of the summer, requiring double heading. Also, only having three engines left no reserve if one broke down or was under repairs. Hunslet produced a quotation accompanied by a design drawing of a 2-6-2ST in December 1893[2], and probably other manufacturers also quoted. Russell, as Receiver and Manager, had got approval from the Court for the first two carriages (Nos 9 and 10) in 1893; in 1894 he got approval to spend £2,200 on four more Carriages (Nos 11-14) at £660 and the new locomotive, to be paid for by issuing £1,523 A Debentures, (which was all that remained of the borrowing powers granted by the 1890 Act) and the balance from a Bank Loan repayable from revenue over 3 years. However, the idea for a new Locomotive was dropped; maybe there was a lack of takers for the issue of Debentures (after all the issues in the previous few years) because only £1,000 was ever raised of the intended £1,523. Whatever the reason for the change of mind, in October 1894 an order was placed with the Hunslet Engine Co. for repair and modification of Beddgelert at an estimate of £350.

The inclined boiler[edit]

The loco was originally supplied with a horizontal boiler , as shown by photographs and drawings (dated 05/08/1878).

The order to Hunslet provided that the boiler would be level when the engine was running up a gradient of 1 in 40 firebox end first, and when the Locomotive returned from this overhaul the smokebox end of the boiler was raised slightly (1½” was proposed) i.e. in the opposite direction to a "kneeling cow" rack loco. It is therefore very likely that when it was returned the loco was delivered facing to run cab-first out of Dinas, unlike the other NWNGR locos. The probable reason for the changes was to allow the loco to run cab-first up the Bryngwyn Branch. The Locomotive Magazine August 1900 confirms Beddgelert worked the Bryngwyn branch and never turned, giving greater adhesion(with the weight on the driving wheel end) with a secondary benefit of less overhang at the bottom end coupling minimising any tendency to derail slate wagons on the steep and sharp near-180-degree curve out of Tryfan Junction. The change is clearly apparent in comparison of pipework on the works photo and the post-1895 picture of the loco by Dinas signal cabin, and is not an optical distortion as evident on certain earlier NWNGR loco photographs. When the engine was dismantled in Leeds to do the work it was found that further repairs were needed, increasing the estimate to £400.

Last years[edit]

An affidavit in 1902 obtained permission from the Court to purchase three new boilers and fireboxes, two of which were obtained for Moel Tryfan and Snowdon Ranger. The third would have been for Beddgelert. Clearly this was never done and Beddgelert struggled on (maybe latterly out of service) until the National Power & Traction Co. Ltd bought Russell for the NWNGR in 1906 and Beddgelert could be withdrawn. The last spares order to Hunslet was in January 1904.

Engine details[edit]

Item Value
Cylinders 10 in. X 16 in.
Weight 17 tons
Heating Surface 416 sq ft
Pressure 160 lb.
Wheelbase total 17 ft 8 in.
Gauge 1 ft 11 3/4 in.
Driving Wheels 2ft 6 in. dia.
Tractive effort 6400 lb
Grate Area 7 1/2 sq ft.
Wheelbase (Driving) 6 ft 2 in.

Present day[edit]

The name was to be re-used for an acquired locomotive that was located at Gelert's Farm Works awaiting restoration. For further information see here.

There is a half sized replica of this loco that runs on the Fairbourne and Barmouth Steam Rilway. See the railway's website for more information.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Boyd, James I.C. (1986) [1981]. Narrow gauge railways in North Caernarvonshire. Volume 1, The West. Oxford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 085361-273-0. OCLC 14641039. 
  2. ^ Reproduced in Welsh Highland Heritage Group Journal No 46 December 2009 and explained in No 47 March 2010.