Snowdon Ranger (Steam Locomotive)

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Snowdon Ranger
Works photo, from Maurice Billington collection.
Type Single Fairlie
Original Railway NWNGR
Status Scrapped
Built by Vulcan Foundry
Built 1875
1902 Rebuilt
Circa WWI Amalgamated with Moel Tryfan
Wheel Arrangement 0-6-4T

Snowdon Ranger was a Single Fairlie locomotive used on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways. Built in 1875, it continued in use until some point during the First World War. Snowdon Ranger was then combined with Moel Tryfan to create one good locomotive which carried the identity of the latter.


The entry for Snowdon Ranger as it appears in the Vulcan foundry Drawing Office record book. Provided from the records held on the Vulcan Foundry website

Snowdon Ranger was a 14-ton single Fairlie 0-6-4T built in 1875 by the Vulcan Foundry in Lancashire (Builder's number 739 of 1874) for the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways. It and its mate, Moel Tryfan, were the first British 0-6-4Ts. However due to a contractural dispute they were not delivered until circa December 1876/January 1877.

In the works photo of Snowdon Ranger the worksplate appears to read 739 of 1874. In the well known Dinas photograph of Moel Tryfan the worksplate reads 739 of 1874. This photo is pre 1903, as the whistle is still mounted on the firebox (When Davies & Metcalfe fitted new fireboxes the whistle was moved to the cab roof). This anomaly has yet to be definitively resolved, but it is most likely that the works number was as per the makers list (WHHJ 87)

It went to Davies & Metcalfe of Romiley, near Stockport, for a new boiler and firebox in 1902. (See photo in C.C. Green's "Vale of Rheidol Railway") Thomas Kay, GCR Gorton boilersmith, was borrowed for work as D & M had no boiler staff or experience.

In March 1908 J.C. Russell swore an affidavit to the High Court (having been informed by the Locomotive Supt., G.C. Aitchison) saying that one of the original engines which had been running since August 1877 when the line opened was quite worn out and had to be replaced with a new one and needed money from the funds 'in Court' to pay for it. (see full text under Gowrie) Of the two - Moel Tryfan or Snowdon Ranger, the most likely candidate is Snowdon Ranger. It seems probable that it was the engine heading an excursion train to Snowdon station on 31 July 1906 near Nantmill overbridge when it was hit head-on by a coal truck which had broken loose from the previous train and run down the gradient, causing considerable damage to the front of the engine and derailing the bogie. [1] In the event Snowdon Ranger was repaired, Hunslet Engine Co. supplying a set of frame plates in 1908 for the engine. Hunslet continued to provide spare parts for it until May 1913. In February 1914 Aitchison swore another affidavit saying that two of the three engines had 'collapsed' (and he needed £500 from the funds 'in Court' for the repairs), the two being Moel Tryfan and Russell. The third must have been Gowrie, bought in 1908, suggesting that Snowdon Ranger had been retired from service.

At some stage after 1916 the 'frames' (presumably the fairly new driving bogie) of Snowdon Ranger were placed under the superstructure of Moel Tryfan. A paragraph headed North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway in a Magazine of 24 May 1919 [2] said ‘We have heard it on the highest authority that last year the Locomotive ‘Gowrie’ was sold to the Government and that the two Locomotives ‘Moel Tryfan’ and ‘Snowdon Ranger’ have been dismantled and rebuilt as one locomotive with dimensions etc. about the same as the separate Locomotives before rebuilding.’

What remained of Snowdon Ranger was then scrapped. Conventionally, this could indicate that the remaining locomotive assumed the identity of Snowdon Ranger, but with Fairlie locomotives, such an assumption cannot readily be made.

The WHR Ltd. have reused the name for one of their Lyd2 diesel locomotives.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BoT report quoted in WHHJ 24 and North Wales Observer 3 August 1906
  2. ^ The Locomotive News and Railway Notes