James Spooner (Locomotive)

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For the new locomotive which is due to be constructed by 2020, please see James Spooner II.
James Spooner
James Spooner in 1874.jpg
At Portmadoc around 1874.
Type Double Fairlie
Home Railway FR
Number 8
Status Scrapped
Designed by G. P. Spooner
Built by Avonside Engine Company
Built 1872
1889,1907 Rebuilt
1933 Condemned
Wheel Arrangement 0-4-4-0T

James Spooner was the second Double Fairlie to be built for the FR. It was supplied by the Avonside Engine Company of Bristol (works nos. 929/930) to the design of G. P. (Percy) Spooner, James Spooner's grandson.


James Spooner at Duffws circa 1880 - Note the Type 1b/2 quarrymen's carriages in their shed behind.

1872-1880: Beginnings and first repairs[edit]

It began work in December 1872. It was retubed in November 1874 and reproved at 200lb (working pressure 140lbs). In June 1875 it came off the line at Tan-y-Grisiau and was repaired in a day. The coal bunkers had flanges put round them in August. In September it came in for repairs again after running over a pig at Cei Mawr! Two new sandpots were put on the engine in November 1875.The year 1876 was slightly less eventful with a frame beginning to crack in August and then breaking in October. The repairs took until April 1877 to complete. It received new rods in 1878 and two new whistles. A pair of new lubricators was fitted on top of the smokeboxes in April 1879. The second pair of sandpots were added in November 1880 thus dating the photograph.

James Spooner in 1887

1882-1887: Upgrade to cab and handrails[edit]

In 1882 the wheels had 3 new oval holes put in them for oiling in front & examining trimming, the two original round holes were plugged with cast iron.At this time also, 1 ton weights were put on the tanks. In 1883/4 lubrication was provided for the flanges of the driving wheels. The old sandpots were taken off the boiler barrel in October 1885 and 2 new safety valves fitted. A full cab was fitted in February 1887, the four small handrails on the smokeboxes for sanding and 2 new displacement lubricators.

James Spooner at Duffws in the early 1890s

1888-1904: Poor second boiler and its problems, fitting of vacuum brake[edit]

However the boiler was wearing out. A new boiler was ordered in 1888 (from Neilson & Co, Glasgow) and finally arrived in February 1889. The boiler gave problems because the rude way that the Boiler was made & put together...causing the fitting of machinery & connections to it difficult & tedious. The loco finally emerged in September 1889 with new smoke boxes and chimneys also. There were leaks from the foundation ring within 6 months and leaking tubes needed referruling from 1891. In December 1892 the vacuum brake was fitted on the loco. By 1895 the boiler required attention four times in the year. In July 1897, Palmerston collided with James Spooner at Glan-y-Pwll - an accident blamed by the Board of Trade on the signalman. The damage being to the buffer and the bogie centres being badly bent.The boiler was finally retubed in March 1901 with 200 brass tubes from Muntz Metal Co Ltd.The loco lasted until 1904 in this form, being withdrawn on December 17th of that year.

1906-current: Third, wagon top boiler, run down to scrapping in the 1920s, scrapping and salvaging parts[edit]

A new boiler was ordered in February 1906 but did not arrive until September 1907. It was a steel wagon top boiler from the Vulcan Foundry, costing £510, arrived at Boston Lodge and was fitted immediately, together with new smokeboxes, cylinders, two new injectors and the original cabs and tanks fitted on.The loco was completed in December 1907. As a cost saving, of the 222 red metal tubes, only 19 were new and the rest were second hand from Livingston Thompson. It had several overhauls in the 1920s in December 1924, March 1925, April 1926 and finally September 1927 to April 1928. It was withdrawn for the last time in December 1928 and a protracted overhaul of the boiler started, that probably ended in failure in 1930. After this the loco remained dismantled and was finally condemned in 1933. A photograph exists of the boiler at Boston Lodge Halt from c1935.The boiler was scrapped in 1935 and some remains of the locomotive were scrapped in 1937. However, the side tanks and cab remained in Glan y Môr into the 1950s The wheels have survived to the present day. They were used under Merddin Emrys from 1961 to 1984, and are currently under Livingston Thompson at the NRM.

In March 2016 it was announced that a new locomotive carrying the name James Spooner and the number eight would be built.

Principal dimensions[edit]

Cylinders 8.5 X 14"
Boiler pressure First boiler 140 psi
Second boiler 160 psi
Third boiler 170 psi
Driving wheels First 2ft 8"
Later 2ft 6" (turned down)
Tractive effort Initially 7523 lb

See also[edit]