England Engines

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The first six steam locomotives for the FR were built by George England & Co.at Hatcham Iron Works, New Cross, South London.

Princess at Harbour Station*Date: c1871 *Photo: John Owen - FR archives

The first four were designed by George England with input from Charles Menzies Holland. When delivered, the first two (Mountaineer and The Princess) were domeless. Initial trials proved this to be a mistake, and they subsequently had a dome added. The two later locomotives were fitted with a dome before being despatched.

The cost of the initial 2 engines were £1000 each and the second two £975 7s. 6d. They were designed to haul 25 tons on a 1 in 70 gradient at 6 mph, but proved capable of taking double this load at twice the speed. The locomotives as built had side tanks (with an interconnecting pipe) and a small weather board on which was mounted the pressure gauge. A single whistle was mounted in the cab. A bell survives for Mountaineer, but no photograph or drawing exists to show how this was fitted. Square sand boxes were provided operated from the footplate, but they leaked sand and caused gravity trains to stall. Therefore, the delivery pipes were removed.

Principal dimensions:- Cylinders 8" dia x 12"stroke, Boiler Pressure 130lb, 115 tubes 1.25" O.D Tanks 237 gallons, Wheels 2ft dia, wheelbase 4ft 6" Weight 8T


Welsh Pony at Porthmadog .. (Discussion)
*Date: c1871 *Photo (FR archives)

After 4 years experience a further 2 engines were ordered to an improved design with a larger boiler and a saddle tank with greater water capacity. They cost £1003 4s. 10d each. The saddle tanks were actually enlarged before delivery, having been planned for 375 gallons, they were delivered as 418 gallons. Spectacle plates were fitted as standard, although they had been made to fit the 375 gal tanks and left a gap above the firebox when fitted to the new tanks. Other early features included cylindrical sandpots and a waisted smokebox.

Principal dimensions :- Cylinders 8 1/8" dia x 12" stroke, Boiler Pressure, 160lb, 140 tubes 1 1/4" O.D., Tank 418 gallons, Wheels 2ft dia, wheelbase 5ft, Weight 10T

At some time in the early 20th century both 'Large Englands' had their wheel diameters increased to 2ft 2inches by the expedient of fitting larger tyres, thus changing the above dimension.


As well as working on the FR, they hauled trains on the Festiniog & Blaenau Railway in 1868 before its own locomotives arrived, and were used subsequently on hire as required. The earlier locomotives (except Mountaineer, which was dismantled in 1879) were rebuilt to the saddle tank design and with a 160lb boiler. By the start of the 20th Century, the only differences between the locomotives were the larger wheel diameter and longer wheelbase of the later 2 engines.


List of the England locomotives[edit]

Small Englands[edit]

No. 1, The Princess, built 1863. Extant, static exhibit.
No. 2, The Prince, built 1863, delivered 1864. In service.
No. 3, Mountaineer, built 1863. Withdrawn 1879.
No. 4, Palmerston, built 1864. In service.

Large Englands[edit]

No. 5, Welsh Pony, built 1867. Extant, being restored (2015).
No. 6, Little Giant, built 1867. Scrapped around 1929.


Prince (left) and Palmerston (right) at Tan y Bwlch
*Date: April 2005 *Photo: Tim Goodspeed


In addition to the single England engines (above), George England also offered to build a Double Fairlie for the FR in 1868. The engine (Little Wonder) was built at England's works in 1869.

See also[edit]