From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

More pictures of the subject: K1 (Pictorial Views)
At Dinas, 2009.
Type Garratt
Home Railway WHR
Original Railway Tasmanian Govt. Rly.
Status In service (at Statfold Barn)
Built by Beyer Peacock & Co, Manchester
Built 1909
1966 Purchased by FR
2006 Returned to service on WHR
2019 Moved to Statfold Barn Railway
Wheel Arrangement 0-4-0+0-4-0T
Length 34 ft 5 in
Fuel Coal
Whistle(s) Beyer Peacock Whistle (replica)

K1 was the world's first Garratt locomotive. It was built by Beyer Peacock for the North East Dundas Tramway in Tasmania. After withdrawal in Tasmania it was purchased by Beyer Peacock for their museum collection. It later came to the Ffestiniog Railway, from where it was loaned for display in the National Railway Museum.

The rebuilding of the Welsh Highland Railway provided somewhere where K1 could run again and, starting in 1995, it was rebuilt as the flagship locomotive of the revived railway. The rebuild was completed in 2004 and after a period of testing began hauling passengers in 2006.


Works photograph, 1909.

K1 was the first locomotive built to the Garratt Patent (No 12079) granted in 1907. Built in 1909 it exists today through an amazing series of "escapes". It represents a rare and important survival of a prototype steam locomotive and represents the final stage in the development of the articulated locomotive that began in the earliest days of the steam loco.

K1 preserves important elements in the early development of the Garratt locomotive that were rarely, if at all, repeated. One example is the location of the cylinders on the inward ends of the engines which was never repeated. Another is the use of compound expansion which was only repeated once more when one further compound Garratt was supplied to Burma in 1928.

There are also a number of other important mechanical features present in this locomotive that set it apart from "ordinary industrial locomotives" and make it as important as many cherished standard gauge locomotives.


K1 or K2 in Tasmania - an early picture with the original headlamp.

1909 - 1929: Origins and work in Tasmania[edit]

K1 (and sister engine K2) were built by Beyer Peacock of Manchester in 1909 (works numbers 5292 and 5293). They were delivered to Zeehan in Western Tasmania in 1910 and put to work on the 2 ft gauge North East Dundas Tramway where they hauled Silver-Lead ore for twenty years.

By 1929, both engines were withdrawn from service following loss by the N-E Dundas Tramway of its major traffic. K1 and K2 were placed in storage at Zeehan in Western Tasmania.

1947 - 1966: Museum piece at Beyer Peacock[edit]

In 1947, Beyer Peacock purchased K1 as a museum piece. The locomotive had been drawn to their attention after Charles S Smith of the Tasmanian Government Railway (he started as an apprentice in 1940 and retired as chief engineer in 1981) had first suggested contacting Beyer Peacock. The firm was initially only interested in the loco's plates, but Smith, together with chief draughstman Douglas Wherett, persuaded TGR chief engineer George Mullens to offer the loco to Beyer Peacock at scrap value.

By this time, the loco was a combination of the power units of K1 and the boiler frame of K2; the swap was almost certainly made in service, and not (as often stated) when TGR employee Mark Gray prepared the loco for shipment; at this time the loco identified as K2 (with K1's boiler frame) was complete, stored in a different shed at Zeehan. The resultant locomotive (now known as K1) was shipped from Burnie (on Tasmania's North coast) to Manchester (England). K2 was later dismantled (when?) and the ex-K1 boiler was sold on for stationary use in a sawmill.

K1 returned to Gorton Foundry, the works of Beyer Peacock in Manchester, in 1947 where it was placed on display as a museum piece. In 1955, Beyer Peacock attempted to make K1 operational in celebration of their Centenary but failed in their attempt. K1 was offered to the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in 1961, but this was not pursued as the NGRM could not offer the required covered accommodation. In 1963 Beyer Peacock surveyed the locomotive in order to sell it.

K1 on display at Porthmadog Harbour soon after arrival.

1966 - 1995: At the Festiniog Railway and National Railway Museum[edit]

By 1965, Beyer Peacock's business was coming to an end and they looked to dispose of K1. In 1966, the Festiniog Railway succeeded in purchasing the locomotive with the aid of the Festiniog Railway Society and it was moved to Portmadoc and displayed for a while at Harbour Station.

By 1967, K1 was in store under a tarpaulin in Glan y Mor yard at Boston Lodge. Between 1966 to 1976, numerous schemes were proposed to make K1 fit to work within the limited loading gauge of the Ffestiniog Railway, but no funds were raised nor any work done.

In 1976, K1 was placed on loan by the FR to the National Railway Museum, York, where many people considered it to have reached its last resting place. Here it was cosmetically restored to photographic grey livery and put on display for visitors to enjoy.

The laborious task of reassembly had reached this point, 2002

1995 - 2006: Restoration for the Welsh Highland Railway[edit]

By 1995, having launched its bid to rebuild the Welsh Highland Railway, the Festiniog Railway Company asked the Welsh Highland Railway Society to supervise the complete restoration of K1.

After leaving the National Railway Museum, K1 returned to Wales. It spent two days on display in Caernarfon and then returned to the Ffestiniog Railway for the 1995 gala.

It then was moved to Tyseley, home of the Birmingham Railway Museum, so that volunteers living in the Midlands could work on the locomotive. It had been hoped that Tyseley's staff could rebuild the boiler whilst the volunteers worked on the frames and motion.

In early 2000, the locomotive was moved to Boston Lodge so that restoration could proceed further; the boiler frame was initially moved to Dinas. The major parts of the locomotive below footplate level were completed and the cab and tanks restored in time for display at Porthmadog in October 2000. After this, the frames were taken to Boston Lodge for further work.

K1 during its first public steaming at Boston Lodge works, 2004

The ex-K2 boiler had been condemned in stages at Tyseley; it had been hoped to fit a new barrel to the original firebox, but the latter had been found to suffer from too much cracking to allow this. After display for a time at Dinas, the firebox assembly came to rest in the boiler park at Minffordd. A new boiler was assembled by Israel Newton & Sons in Bradford (incorporating major components from an abortive contract with Winson Engineering, now defunct) and arrived in 2002.

By the end of 2002, the funds that had been raised for restoration work were almost exhausted and the use of paid staff at Boston Lodge could not continue; work on the locomotive slowed greatly as a result. However, by the beginning of 2004 enough funding was available to re-engage paid labour, and work was resumed at full pace. Reassembly had reached the point in late July where a steam test could be carried out at Boston Lodge, and K1 moved under its own power for the first time since 1929 on 22 August 2004.

On 2 October 2004, the locomotive was moved by road to Dinas. It ran trials during the first week of November but unfortunately small problems continued to impede progress for the next few years.

Until K1 gained full type approval, it ran on tests as a restricted use vehicle.

K1 approaches Rhyd Ddu on its first solo passenger run, 2006

2006 - 2014: In service and conversion to coal[edit]

After several weeks of hints, K1 received HMRI approval to work passenger trains unaided on Thursday 7 September 2006 and the long-promised Supporters' Special was run on Friday 8th, sadly without a large turnout, in view of the short notice. In celebration of HMRI approval, the yellow on the buffer beams was painted over with red on Friday 8th, showing that the loco is no longer a restricted use vehicle.

During the 2006 Superpower Weekend K1 hauled a short shuttle set, comprising FR No.39 & No.16 with the Combination Car at the rear, between Caernarfon and Waunfawr. Following the revision of the risk assessment, this train was worked with K1 at the top end in Push-Pull mode, with a qualified driver manning the brake valve in 1001 on the downhill trips, in addition to the driver and fireman on K1.

During 2007, the conversion to coal was carried out, and during 2008 it was in regular use on a shorter set, although tests were made with longer sets to assess performance.

In April and May 2009, K1 received a its final TGR livery of gloss black with red and yellow lining.

Many efforts to improve steaming were made, and during early 2011 the valve timings were reset, improving performance and giving a sharper beat to the exhaust.

K1's boiler certificate expired in 2014. Some work was done on an overhaul, but lack of time and resources meant it went uncompleted.

K1 back in steam at Statfold after its overhaul, March 2020.

2019 - present: At Statfold Barn[edit]

In November 2019, it was announced that there was no immediate prospect of the overhaul being completed at the F&WHR and that K1 would be reassembled and moved to the Statfold Barn Railway for display.[1] The move took place on December 4th. Following arrival at Statfold, checks to determine the work needed on the locomotive and whether it would be suitable for use on the line there were carried out. It was hoped that an agreement could be reached for K1 to be overhauled at Statfold and made available to run there and on the WHR.[2] The current agreement is for the locomotive to remain there for five years.[3]

In January 2020, it was announced that K1's overhaul would begin immediately with the hope that it would be running again later that year.[4] As is typical at Statfold, progress of the locomotive's overhaul was rapid; the boiler was retubed and ready for a steam test before the end of February. By the same time the front tank had been repaired so that it was water-tight and the frames tidied up ready to receive the boiler. In order to run at Statfold, the overhaul has included the provision of pipework and a drivers control valve for twin-line air brakes.[5]

The overhauled K1 was back in steam by the 10th March 2020. It was originally expected to make its first public appearance at the Statfold Enthusiast day on the 21st March, but due to the global coronavirus pandemic the event was postponed. The relaunch took place during the rescheduled event over the weekend of 8th and 9th August. An appearance on the WHR in the Autumn of 2020 was expected, but was delayed due to coronavirus restrictions. K1 returned to the WHR on the 17th - 19th September 2021 to run a number of special trains over the WHRS AGM weekend.


K1 is owned by the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways Trust, the locomotive having been purchased for them in 1966 by the Festiniog Railway Company, aided by the Ffestiniog Railway Society. K1 has been restored by a volunteer team (K1 Project) and FR Co. staff for use on the newly reopened Welsh Highland Railway.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pioneer Beyer-Garratt Moves to Statfold Barn", Inside Motion, 27 November 2019
  2. ^ Post on Festrail Insider Facebook Page 24 December 2019
  3. ^ Dafydd Thomas (2020) "From the Chairman", The Snowdon Ranger, Issue 107, page(s): 7
  4. ^ Holden, Michael (30 January 2020). "Steam locomotive K1 to return to steam in 2020". RailAdvent.
  5. ^ Post by Barry Brian on Narrow Gauge Enthusiasts Facebook group, 22 February 2020