Newly repainted, 2015
|Designed by||George England/CM Holland|
|Built by||George England & Co.|
|1974||Sold to private group|
|1987||Returned to the FR|
Palmerston is (probably) the fourth loco made for the FR. It was delivered to the FR in March 1864. The engine was named after Viscount Palmerston (external link) (1784-1865), Liberal Prime Minister and Chairman of the Welsh Slate, Copper & Lead Mining Co's quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog.
At the start of the maintenance books, in December 1874 Palmerston is in the works awaiting ferrules for a second hand set of boiler tubes (from Little Giant). They arrived and were fitted, 4 months later!
Palmerston was sent to Llanwnda (Dinas) in May 1876 to help with the construction of the NWNGR. By September the record shows that a man had to be sent from Boston Lodge to repair 'her'. The list of materials required was "a set of brasses, set of brake blocks, 6 piston rings & 4 split pins". Palmerston returned to the FR on 9th July 1877. On return, there was a long list of repairs including wheel turning, new pistons and piston rings, crankpins, neck rings, piston cotters, closing up slidebars, closing up eccentric straps,link motion overhauled, axle boxes refitted, reversing lever and quadrant overhauled, 4 mudholes re-tapped, new brakeblocks, new gauge glass and valves set up. It wasn't until 30th July that the engine was fit for traffic.
By 1879 the tyres were working loose, they tried fixing them with steel pins in October but by December the tyres had been replaced by those of Mountaineer. The cylinders then started to go, a brass patch was fixed on a cylinder, but it didn't hold, the cylinder burst in March 1880. A major refit followed with the cylinders, the smokebox, the sandpots, the crossheads and slidebars all being replaced. It was fitted with 'sham' saddle tanks made from cast iron (weighing 24cwt) to improve adhesion. The first of the original engines to be treated this way.Two new whistles were put on (only one previously). A year later it had a lubricator put on. From December 1881 there is a constant comment that it needs retubing, but in the end it was withdrawn for a complete new boiler in 1886.
The engine re-entered traffic in September 1888 and became the first of all the England Engines to be rebuilt with both a saddle tank and an enclosed cab. In 1889 it was fitted with "new sanding apparatus" which seems to be steam powered. On 13/12/90 the works recorded "Repairs required after Engine leaving rails at Tanybwlch through carelessness - all hands 14 days repairing". In 1891 the cylinders were recorded as being "in a very bad state". The valve port bridges were cracked and a piece of iron was bolted in. However this was to no avail, the cylinders finally failed in April. As part of the rebuild the opportunity was taken to shorten the length of the cab by 8 inches to enable it to have better access to the wharves at Portmadoc. Palmerston seemed accident prone in the 1890s. In 1892 an axle broke (replaced by one from Little Wonder). In 1895 it was damaged "by running into Quarryman's train at Oakleys curve". In 1897 it was damaged at Glanypwll in July and at Minffordd in December. Because of this it was probably the most painted of all the England Engines! being painted in 1894, 1895, 1896 & 1900 (also revarnished in 1890, 1893 & 1897). In 1900 it was retubed with Red Metal tubes from Livingston Thompson. From 1905 it started to get leaks from the firebox and it is recorded as coming out of service in October 1907
It was rebuilt in 1910 with a Low Moor Iron boiler, re-entering traffic in June of that year. The cab and tank were set 1 1/2" higher and a new balance weight fixed to the front footplate. The Williams book records "This Engine is practically new, all parts being repaired or renewed". The following year the axle from Little Wonder broke and the engine was repaired at Glanypwll, with the wheels, rods and eccentrics sent to Boston Lodge for refitting.
During the eleven years commencing in 1912, Palmerston was hired to the Vale of Rheidol Light Railway on a number of occasions as follows:
- 31 July - 21 August 1912
- 3 weeks in 1913
- 6 July - 4 August 1914
- 28 July-13 October 1920
- 16 August- 27th September 1921
- 29 July- 25 August 1922
The locomotive worked until May 1931 when the boiler was inspected. It really needed a new boiler, but in between April and August 1933, the boiler from Little Giant was cut shorter and fitted and it then worked until 1937. Quotes were sought to replace the firebox but they were not taken up. In 1942 was used as a stationary boiler for the Glaslyn Foundry at Boston Lodge Works ( Glaslyn Foundry had taken over operation of the Boston Lodge foundry & works for war purposes). Parts from it were used in the 1955 restoration of Prince.
Palmerston has an interesting aside at this point. In FRM-027-025 (Winter 1964/65) Francis Wayne (the FR Co. Sec) put a note in to dispel rumours that a long-term decision had been made regarding painting or varnishing carriages. The reason for trying varnish was maintenance and the lack of skilled painters. So they were going to varnish No 24 and No 100 that year, and see how it went. At the end of his note, he said: "Finally, may I add, there is absolutely no truth in the rumour that Palmerston is to be painted Pink and re-named Harold Wilson."
By FRM-029-005 (Summer 1965), it was noted: "Some humourist(s) decided to contradict Mr Wayne in Magazine 27 and Palmerston duly appeared in pink paint with Harold Wilson on the nameplates for A.G.M day. Perhaps it might have been more appropriate to paint such remains blue and name them Ernest Marples!"
But by the late 60's what was left was considered beyond repair. However it was sold to a consortium in 1974 and removed to Derbyshire, together with a wooden framed tender that had also done service as a coal wagon (number 38) and then with Linda & Blanche as each was first put into service on the FR following arrival from the Penrhyn Quarry Railway.
Return to steam
The partially restored Palmerston, under the control of Mike Hart, came back to the FR in 1987 for the final stage of its restoration, including the fitting of a new welded boiler, new cylinders and new wheels. (The old wheels are still in Minffordd yard).
Palmerston re-entered service in 1993 as a coal-fired locomotive, for use on special trains and charters. In 1994 it visited the Chemin de Fer des Chanteraines (external link) in Paris, visiting Hollycombe in Sussex en route, and the Teifi Railway (external link) in mid-Wales.
On 19-20 September 1998, it ran between Dinas and Caernarfon on the WHR for the first Enthusiasts' Weekend. On 24-25 October 1998, it ran on the WHR Ltd for the fifth Annual Gala, while Russell was visiting the WHR(C), returning to the FR in September 2000.
In 2003, Palmerston was withdrawn for overhaul and retubing by a team of volunteers, returning to service in 2005.
In autumn 2005 Palmerston was fitted with a new spark arrestor as part of wider coal firing trials. This was deemed a success with the loco steaming well whilst not throwing any sparks. On 9th September 2006, Palmerston become the first steam locomotive to run on the re-instated, phase 4, WHR track at Pitt's Head. Palmerston was helping celebrate the 125th anniversary of Rhyd Ddu station, carrying out demonstration runs with Mike Hart's Simplex. Palmerston was the first steam locomotive on this section for 69 years. The locomotive's appearance commemorated its use on both NWNGR construction and WHR construction hire duties. (See image at bottom). Palmerston was again on its travels in early 2007 with a visit to the National Railway Museum at York. On 27th October 2007 Prince & Palmerston became the first England Engines to get to Cwm Cloch on Phase 4 in over 71 years, for a photographic special.
Palmerston spent May 2008 in West Sussex at the Hollycombe Steam Collection (external link), exchanging places with Hunslet Jerry M. On 24th October 2008 Palmerston and Prince became the first England engines through the Aberglaslyn Pass in 72 years for a photographic special.In 2012 the locomotive has run on track at Llangollen alongside Dolgoch of the Tal-y-llyn Railway. In June it was running at the Railfest Exhibition at the NRM with two carriages.
During 2015 Palmerston had its 10 year boiler overhaul. It was repainted in a lighter colour to make it more photogenic especially on dull days.
Principal dimensions are the same as Prince but the rated pressure of the new boiler is 180psi instead of 160 and it is rated to haul 4 carriages on the FR. The maximum speed is limited to 18 mph.
|Cylinders||8" x 12"|
|Boiler pressure||180 psi|
|Driving wheel diameter||2 ft|
|Rating||FR: 4 carriages
WHR(C): 3 carriages