- This article is about the original Mountaineer. See Mountaineer II for the Alco that has carried the name since the 1960s and Mountaineer III for the replica of this locomotive
|George England, CM Holland
|George England & Co., Hatcham Iron Works
Mountaineer was a steam locomotive built for the Festiniog Railway in 1863. One of the line's original locomotives, it became worn out and was withdrawn in 1879. It is the only one of the original four locomotives to have been scrapped and not to have been rebuilt.
Mountaineer was the name of a local stagecoach that ran from Barmouth to Carnarvon.
Mountaineer was one of the first four FR locomotives built by George England & Co. at Hatcham Iron Works. It was a side tank locomotive with an open footplate. It was named in the Welsh paper, Baner ac Amserau Cymraeg for 29th July 1863, as being the first loco to be delivered. This engine was carried by the LNWR from London to Caernarfon and then brought (on or before 18 July 1863) by road to Portmadoc on Job and Harry Williams' specially built cart or wain drawn by ten horses. Although the first to arrive, it was numbered 3 in photographs and its bell is also numbered 3.
It took part in the trials of Little Wonder in 1870, but only in being tried for its riding qualities across the Cob.
One of the first entries in the Williams' books is for Mountaineer in February 1875 amongst general maintenance is recorded "Brass patch put on Broken Cylinder with 12 of 1/2 Copper Bolts, & 6 of 3/4 studs". It was still well thought of at this time, as it was cleaned and varnished in August 1875. In 1876, Mountaineer had two mishaps. In September " A new chimney holder put on, broke off by running under Bridge at Duffws". The replacement of the chimney holder dates the above photograph. On October 19th, it is recorded as damaged and in for repairs. This coincides with Boyd (p574 Vol 2) " A goods engine ran into the stop block at Duffws Station and was thrown from the line and slightly damaged". In March 1877, a further patch was put on the front of a cylinder. The last maintenance entry in the Williams' books is for 6 August 1877, when new brake blocks were put on.
In January 1878, it is recorded that The Prince was fitted with Mountaineer's chimney. In December 1879, it is reported that Palmerston was fitted with the tyres of Mountaineer. In 1879, Mountaineer became the first FR engine to be withdrawn, a report of this year states that it was worn out and useless and recommended it to be "dismounted, being unroadworthy". Thus, it is the only locomotive of the first four delivered that was not rebuilt to the saddle tank shape and that did not survive. The last mention of the locomotive in the Williams' books is in 1887, when a part was used in the rebuilding of Little Giant. Boston Lodge threw little away!
Reuse of the name
The name Mountaineer lives on, borne by an Alco 2-6-2T that came to the Ffestiniog in 1967. The nameplate on that locomotive is a replica of that fitted to this England engine. The bell from the original Mountaineer survives (see England Engine plates) and is fitted to the Alco on special occasions.
In 2019, an organisation called 1863 Mountaineer Locomotive Ltd was formed to construct a replica of an original condition England Engine to carry the name Mountaineer. For more information, see Mountaineer III.