Conway Castle

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Conway Castle
Castell Conwy
Type Hibberd Planet
Home Railway F&WHR
Original Railway RNAD Ernesettle
Status Undergoing overhaul
Built by F. C. Hibberd & Co.
Built 1958
1981 Arrived on FR
1986 Entered service
Wheel Arrangement 4wDM
Length 16 ft 6 in
Fuel Diesel

Conway Castle is a medium sized diesel locomotive undergoing overhaul for shunting use on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. It is named bilingually, carrying the nameplates Conway Castle and Castell Conwy on either side.

It was fitted for operating Push Pull trains, but this facility is not now used.



This 77hp F. C. Hibberd & Co. "Planet" 4wDM (Builder's number 3831 of 1958, Model SCN) was built for the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Ernesettle, Devon. It was transferred to RNAD Trecwn in June 1959, thence to RNAD Crombie in Aug 1971[1], and back to Ernesettle in 1977[2] The narrow-gauge system there was last used in 1980 and the loco arrived on the FR on 29 April 1981. It was regauged from 2ft 6ins and rebuilt at Boston Lodge with a Gardner 6LXB 180hp bus engine. The locomotive bodywork was rebuilt to eliminate issues with engine noise that had been experienced with sister locomotive Upnor Castle.

The loco was not named in naval service. On acquisition by the FR it was originally intended to name it Trematon Castle after a fortification near its original home, but in the end a more local name was chosen.

Initial Entry into Service[edit]

The locomotive was named at Blaenau Ffestiniog by the Mayor of Conwy, Mrs. Molly Willdigg on 5th July 1986[3]; the livery of orange, black and grey referred to the colours of Mrs. Willdigg's robes. On the day, a spare nameplate CONWY CASTLE was presented to the Conwy Council and a badge of the seal of the town saying SIGILLUM PROVESTRI ET DE CONWEYE was presented to the FR. This badge was on the front of the loco until it was replaced by a more mundane badge saying 'Gardner 180hp.' The Conwy badge now adorns the front of the gearbox inside the cab; this must be one of few diesel locos with a Latin inscription.


It was repainted into the green and cream Push Pull livery when fitted with remote control before the introduction into traffic of driving trailer Carriage 111 in 1990. The nameplates were moved to the cab sides and the badge removed from the front. It was fitted with FR150 circular badges on the cab sides.

From 1995 Criccieth Castle was also available for Push-Pull duties.

Transfer to Welsh Highland Railway[edit]

It received a replacement Gardner 6LXB power unit in 1999 and was transferred to Welsh Highland Railway in 2000 to be used as the Dinas yard shunter. It also saw use on Phase 3 and 4 construction work and limited passenger duties.

Conway Castle's time as Dinas yard shunter saw its condition deteriorate in the last few years; the vacuum braking equipment becoming non-operational.

Rebuild as works loco[edit]

By 2013 the loco had been withdrawn for a gearbox rebuild, and it was announced that when the mechanical work was completed a new body would be constructed to make it more suitable for works train and shunting use rather than passenger work. The new bodywork will be similar both to the locomotive's original style and that of Upnor Castle.[4] This is not a high-priority job. By 2019 the locomotive was in store, partially dismantled, in the Old Loco Shed.


1985 56 (Total 56)

1986 5,473 (Total 5,529)

1987 4,788 (Total 10,317)

1988 6,945 (Total 17,262)

1989 7,029 (Total 24,291)

1990 5,145 (Total 29,436)

1991 10,638 (Total 40,074)

1992 8,309 (Total 48,384)

1993 3,443

1994 9,420

1995 7,000

Source: FR Magazine via FRHG Chronology pp 31-32.

Other Planets[edit]

It should be noted that the FR has at various times purchased a number of standard gauge Hibberd locomotives as a source of spare parts for both Conway Castle and Upnor Castle. These have not come to the railway.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Narrow Gauge Illustrated No 62 (Autumn 1972)
  2. ^ Burkhalter, P. (2017), Plymouth's Hidden Railways, Twelveheads Press ISBN 978 0 906294 92 5
  3. ^ FR Chronology
  4. ^ Moving Pictures, Nineteen - 6/6/18
  • Bradley, Vic (1993) [1992]. Industrial Locomotives of North Wales. London: Industrial Railway Society. ISBN 0-9010-9672-5. OCLC 27769657.