- This article is about the original NWNGR locomotive. For the later locomotive that was to be named Beddgelert at the WHRL, see 120 Beddgelert.
Hunslet Works photo; Kim Winter collection.
|Built by||Hunslet Engine Co.|
|1894||Rebuilt by Hunslet|
Beddgelert was an 0-6-4ST locomotive that operated on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways. Built in 1878 it was primarily used on the Bryngwyn Branch. It continued in use until around 1906 when it was withdrawn following the arrival of Russell.
Origins and construction
Beddgelert built by Hunslet in 1878 (works number 206) for the Bryngwyn Branch traffic. As well as being twice as powerful as the Vulcan Fairlies (Moel Tryfan and Snowdon Ranger) 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 the Vulcan Foundry, the usual supplier of locos purchased under Charles Easton Spooner's influence. The design appears to have been Hunslet's own.
Failed proposal for additional locomotive leads to rebuild
In 1893 passenger traffic on the railway saw a dramatic increase following an advertising campaign, 35% up on 1892. One of the results was six 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, and probably other manufacturers also quoted. J. C. 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. When the engine was dismantled in Leeds to do the work it was found that further repairs were needed, increasing the estimate to £400.
The inclined boiler
The loco was originally supplied with a horizontal boiler , as shown by photographs and drawings (dated 05/08/1878).
The repair order to Hunslet specified that the boiler should 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.
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 North Wales Power and 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.
Principal stated dimensions
|Cylinders||10 in. X 16 in.|
|Heating Surface||416 sq ft|
|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.|
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.
A half sized replica of Beddgelert runs on the Fairbourne and Barmouth Steam Railway. It was built by David Curwen in 1979/80. This replica locomotive visted the Ffestiniog Railway in 2018 for Hunslet 125. During the event the replica was loaded onto a DZ flat and taken up the WHR to Beddgelert Station in a special train hauled by Lyd.
- Boyd, James I.C. (1986) . Narrow gauge railways in North Caernarvonshire. Volume 1, The West. Oxford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 085361-273-0. OCLC 14641039.
- "A ‘New’ Loco for the NWNGR?", Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 46 (2009)
- "Chancery Records Reveal an Extraordinary Proposal", Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 47 (2010)