The Double Fairlie was patented by Robert Francis Fairlie in 1864. He believed that conventional steam locomotives were inefficient because they wasted weight on carrying wheels and tenders. He also wanted to create a locomotive that operated equally well in forward or reverse.
The resulting locomotive had every wheel driven and was symmetrical front to back. The design used a single long boiler with a single dome and firebox in the centre. The single firebox, caused problems with drafting, and had to be altered with a middle 'feather'. The first narrow gauge Double Fairlies were designed by Charles Fox and built for the 3ft 6in gauge in Queensland in 1866. They contained some unique features and were not successful.
The fourth double Fairlie to be built was the FR's Little Wonder. It was designed and built by George England & Co. It was a great success, partly because it was the first double Fairlie with two separate fireboxes which avoided the earlier drafting problems. Little Wonder's success provided the impetus for narrow gauge railway building across the world.
The Double Fairlie went on to enjoy considerable if generally short-lived success in various countries, notably Mexico and the Caucasus.
Double Fairlies on the Ffestiniog
Little Wonder saved the FR from having to go to the considerable expense of doubling the line. Because this loco had been so successful in publicising his design, Fairlie granted the FR the rights to build more Fairlie locomotives without paying the patent fees. The FR is now famous as the home of the Double Fairlies and has gone on to own six locomotives of this type. The Ffestiniog Double Fairlies are all of an 0-4-4-0 wheel arrangement.
List of Locomotives
- No. 7, Little Wonder, built by George England & Co in 1869. Withdrawn 1882
- No. 8, James Spooner, built by Avonside Engine Company in 1872. Withdrawn c1930
- No. 10, Merddin Emrys, built by Festiniog Railway Company, (Boston Lodge), in 1879. In service.
- No. 3, Livingston Thompson, built by Festiniog Railway Company (Boston Lodge), in 1886. Restored as a museum exhibit.
- No. 11, Earl of Merioneth, built by Festiniog Railway Company (Boston Lodge), in 1979. In service.
- No. 12, David Lloyd George, built by Festiniog Railway Company (Boston Lodge), in 1992. In service.
- No. 8, James Spooner II, to be built by Festiniog Railway Company (Boston Lodge), by 2020. Under construction.
FR Fairlie Power Bogies
The power bogies for the Ffestiniog's Fairlies (doubles and single) have some standard features but are not directly interchangeable. However they can be (and often are) swapped around with a bit of work to adapt them to their new loco. An example difference is that Merddin Emrys's two bogies and Taliesin's single one have steam-operated drain cocks, but David Lloyd George and Earl Of Merioneth have lever operated drain cocks. A summary of extant bogies is provided here, in order of bogie age:
- Livingston Thompson's current bogies are the frames and cylinders from those originally built for Merddin Emrys. These were used under Livingston Thompson (at the time known as Taliesin and then Earl of Merioneth) from 1932 until 1972 before being placed under Merddin Emrys again. When Merddin Emrys received new bogies these frames were fitted with the rods and wheels from James Spooner and placed under Livingston Thompson which was then undergoing a cosmetic overhaul.
- Currently spare, there exists a pair of bogies which were, until 2014, the oldest pair still operating. The frames are from Livingston Thompson and date back to 1896 if not before. They were in use under Merddin Emrys from 1923 until 1972, during which time time they were fitted with the wheels from James Spooner. In 1937 the steam chest from the first Taliesin was put into one of these bogies. They were next used, much altered and with many new parts, under the new Earl Of Merioneth from 1979 until 1992. They were then put under David Lloyd George from 1992 to 2012. In 2013 and 2014 they were once again in use with Earl of Merioneth whilst its own bogies were overhauled. These bogies will be placed back under the Earl of Merioneth when it is withdrawn.
- Earl of Merioneth's current bogies were made new in 1985-8 for Merddin Emrys with wheels and motion from Merddin's previous bogies . They were put under Earl of Merioneth in 1996. They were removed for overhaul in 2013 before going back under Earl of Merioneth in 2015. It is intended to fit these bogies to the new James Spooner following Earl of Merioneth's withdrawal.
- Taliesin's current bogie was was built around 1997 for this loco using parts originally intended for David Lloyd George. It is different from the double engines due to the provision of sanders. It was later (2011) fitted with a new monoblock piston valve cylinder casting.
- Merddin Emrys's current bogies were new in 2004-2005. These used the remainder of the parts originally intended for David Lloyd George.
- David Lloyd George's current bogies were new in 2014. They are fitted with monoblock piston valve cylinders as used on Taliesin.
- Boyd, James I.C. (1975) . The Festiniog Railway 1800 - 1974; Vol. 2 Locomotive and Rolling Stock and Quarry Feeders. Blandford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 085361-168-8.
- Payling, David (2017). Fairlie Locomotives of North Wales. Harbour Station, Porthmadog: Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. ISBN 978-0-901848-14-7. OCLC 1006424938.
- Jo Clulow (1997) "Musical Bogies", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 157 , http://www.ffestiniograilway.org.uk/full_article?a=musical-bogies-part-i
- Musical Bogies Part II, http://www.ffestiniograilway.org.uk/full_article?a=musical-bogies-part-ii
- Tony Willmore, http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WelshHighland/message/22681 WHR e-Group posting 22681