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More pictures of the subject: Prince (Pictorial Views)
At Boston Lodge, 2013
Type Small England
Home Railway FR
Number 2
Status In Service
Designed by George England, CM Holland
Built by George England & Co., Hatcham Iron Works
Built 1863
1892,1920 Rebuilt
1955 Return to service
1980 Oil fired & superheated
2013 Return to coal
Wheel Arrangement 0-4-0ST+T
Length 26 ft 1 in
Fuel Coal

Prince is a locomotive built for the Ffestiniog Railway in 1863. After the reopening in the 1950s it was the first steam locomotive to be rebuilt.


Bleasdale picture of The Prince in 1887

Origins and first boiler, 1864-1891[edit]

Prince was (probably) the third of the first four locomotives. It is now numbered No.2, but there is doubt about the order of building and numbering of the first four England engines. It was delivered to the FR in January 1864. These locomotives were worked hard: before Taliesin arrived, they were coming in for a 2 week period of maintenance every quarter. In this period they would replace brake blocks, brasses and cotter pins in the crank pins and replace some of the firebars. In 1878 Prince's chimney was knocked off and that of Mountaineer was put on. By May 1881 Prince was in a poor state with the boiler pressure restricted to 110lb. It had a major refit with a 'sham' cast iron tank fitted on top of the side tanks to increase the weight to ten tons and improve adhesion in wet weather, a new weather board, new sandboxes, new cylinders, and the boiler retubed. By the time of this picture it had gained a lubricator as well. However, the boiler was wearing out and it was withdrawn on 16th May 1891.

Prince c.1898. Second boiler with low dome and vacuum braked

Second boiler and cab through to third and final rebuild under old Company, 1892-1920[edit]

In 1892, the original arrangement was replaced with the present full cab and saddle tank. At the same time the name The Prince (named in honour of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, 1840-1910) was shortened to just Prince. In 1894 it broke the front axle and an old axle from Little Wonder was used as a replacement. The England engines continued to be the workhorses of the line and Prince was re-tubed in 1898 and 1901. Painting standards were high also and the record of a repaint in 1900 states that 5 coats of varnish were used! In 1912 the loco was fitted with Welsh Pony's smokebox. The loco continued in service until May 1915. In 1918 work was started on the chassis, and the new boiler was ordered in July 1918 (costing £595, from J. Adamson & Co.). The new boiler arrived in December 1919. The locomotive came back into traffic in September 1920.

Prince c.1925 at Beddgelert. Third boiler, chopper coupling, all round smokebox handrail

Involvement with the Welsh Highland, decline to rebuild that was not complete at closure 1920-1946[edit]

The locomotive played a major role in the history of the WHR, hauling the first train from Dinas to Porthmadog in 1923, and regularly performing on both lines in the 1920s and 1930s. It was overhauled between January & May 1929, and in 1932 it had an overhaul which repaired the smokebox, and it was re-tubed later in the year. However, the firebox began to have problems and Prince was withdrawn during 1936. Work was carried out to repair the firebox in 1937 but it was found to be beyond repair. The chassis received some maintenance in 1938 in anticipation of ordering a new boiler, but this was delayed due to lack of money. Work continued sporadically on the chassis until at least 1941. Finally a new boiler was ordered from Adamsons in September 1943 for £546, with a steel firebox and tubes. The actual cost had risen to £620 when delivered in July 1945.

Prince at Boston Lodge in 1964. Note the fourth and last boiler, ordered by the old company, also straight outside frames added

Preservation era mainstay, 1954-1968[edit]

The new owners in 1954 found the loco as left in 1946, in mid overhaul and with a new boiler. It was the obvious candidate for first loco to be restored. It first ran in preservation on August 2nd 1955 and was the mainstay of the service for the next 2 years. By 1962 Prince was in need of a major overhaul and was given a different frame arrangement, to try and take the drawbar load through the frames and not the boiler. This was the form in which it ran for its Centenary in 1963

Prince at Boston Lodge in 1981 - As rebuilt with oil firing, superheating, new stepped frames and outside mounted ejector

From extensive rebuild to historic livery, 1968-1988[edit]

Withdrawn in 1968, the locomotive was considerably rebuilt between 1974 and 1980 with the 1955 boiler superheated, oil firing fitted, and new outer frames added to carry the cab (raised by 4") and saddle tank. Much of the work at this rebuild was carried out by Geoff Hall and Jack Somers.

The locomotive's tender has on its left side four bushes, apparently indicating that the metal sheeting once carried a locomotive nameplate. Measurement of the bushes indicates that the tender side sheet possibly originated as part of one of Taliesin's original side tanks. When converted to oil-firing, Prince was provided with oil and water tanks in the tender.

In 1986 Prince was chosen to be the first FR engine to be put in a historic livery. The red livery was chosen because of the 1920s livery found during the 1980 rebuild. In 1987, Prince's frames started to break. Strengthening plates were put in, that winter and the loco celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1988 in good order again.

Prince at Porthmadog on the 50th anniversary of his first train under preservation 6th August 2005. This shows the cosmetic changes from the 1999 rebuild and the strengthening plates added in 1988 when the frames were found to be cracked.

Minor repairs, 1988-2003[edit]

In 1995 a brass handrail was restored to the smokebox and in winter 1995/6 the water tanks were removed and a new, less obtrusive, oil tank inserted. Prince had an overhaul between 1997 and 1999 during which the boiler was retubed, the chassis was given a thorough overhaul, and further cosmetic improvements were made. The loco re-emerged with the same red livery, but with improved lining.

Prince taking the photocharter train over the WHR summit
Prince entering the Aberglaslyn Pass

Back on the WHR, from 2003[edit]

Prince Charles drove Prince on the opening of the WHR to Rhyd Ddu in 2003 - Prince being the only locomotive that could be used with the track as originally laid. Unwittingly, this echoed the locomotive's role in the opening of the WHR in 1923 when, as noted above, Prince pulled the first train from Dinas to Portmadoc

On 27th October 2007 Prince and Palmerston became the first England Engines to go to Cwm Cloch in over 71 years, for a photographic special and on 24th October 2008 Prince and Palmerston became the first England engines through the Aberglaslyn Pass in 72 years for a photographic special.

On 21 May 2009 Prince broke the banner at Beddgelert Station, to declare the route through the Aberglaslyn Pass open. Later that day he hauled the first fare paying passenger train through the pass. Prince operated until May 2010 when it was taken out of service for a boiler overhaul. Boston Lodge Works did not have space in their programme initially, so it was lent to the Severn Valley Railway's Engine House at Highley for exhibition.

Prince breaking the banner
Prince in the Aberglaslyn Pass
Prince at Highley 2010

Return to steam, 2013[edit]

Prince at London Transport's Acton depot during the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the underground. These coincided with the FR's own 150 years of steam celebrations.

Prince returned to Boston Lodge in 2012 and was overhauled in time for its 150th Birthday in 2013. This overhaul included reversion to coal firing. Prince's overhaul was completed by passing its official steam test on 8th April prior to visiting London to be in steam at Acton Lane Depot. Due to Prince being limited to 6 carriages it is rarely used on the regular passenger trains. It does however get used regularly over the winter months double heading on Santa and New year trains over the FR.

Other travels[edit]

Prince has travelled far during the preservation era visiting, amongst other places:

  • Olympia (1984 & 2013)
  • Chatsworth House (1987)
  • The National Railway Museum (York) for the 2004 Railfest Exhibition.
  • The WHHR for the opening of the extension from Pen-y-Mount to Traeth Mawr loop on 23rd March 2007.
  • The Severn Valley Railway's Engine House museum (2011-12)[1]
  • Acton Lane Depot (2013)
  • Shrewsbury Flower Show (2013)
  • The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway (2013)
  • The Talyllyn Railway where it participated in the 150 year celebrations on 4-5 July 2015. It ran on its own length of track at Tywyn’s Wharf Station alongside the WHHR's Russell on another.[2]

Principal dimensions[edit]

Cylinders 8" x 12"
Boiler pressure 160 psi
Driving wheel diameter 2 ft
Wheelbase 4' 6"
Rating FR: 6 carriages
WHR: 3 carriages

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Ffestiniog Railway's website, accessed 2015-12-16
  2. ^ [2] Ffestiniog Railway's website, accessed 2015-07-17