The Colonel

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
The Colonel
At Glanypwll 2007
Type Motor Rail Simplex
Home Railway FR
Original Railway St Alban's Sand & Gravel Co Ltd
Status Awaiting overhaul
Built by Motor Rail
Built 1943
Wheel Arrangement 4wDM
Fuel Diesel

The Colonel is a small diesel locomotive on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.


This 20 hp Motor Rail "Simplex" 4wDM (Builder's number 8788 of 1943) was purchased by Colonel Andrew Campbell of Dduallt Manor from St Alban's Sand & Gravel Co Ltd, Smallford, Hertfordshire. Fitted with an all-over cab, it arrived on FR metals on 15 July 1966. Kept at the Colonel's private siding, it ran on the FR by special arrangement, most notably when it was "borrowed" by Father Christmas to arrive at Tan y Bwlch during Santa Specials - made famous by the BBC television programme "The Campbells Came By Rail".

Absent on hire to the Llanberis Lake Railway from February 1977 to 8 June 1979, ownership was transferred to the FR on the death of Colonel Campbell in 1982. Given that if named "Colonel Andrew Campbell" everyone would have called it "The Colonel" anyway, it officially acquired the latter name.

It is generally based at Glanypwll yard and used there as yard shunter by the Civil Engineers, though it is an aquired skill to hand start it, particulary on a cold day. This is despite the fact it uses the more modern power unit transplanted from younger sister Simplex Sandra. It is the first engine many new volunteers get to drive, despite the small cab making hands-on teaching difficult. With a steady top speed of 10 mph its main role is working the annual weedkiller train, though it is often used as brakevan for down works trains working over the summit at Tanygrisiau. Prior to installation of Glanypwll loop in 2004 it was also often used to shunt release arriving works trains.

The Colonel helped out on the construction of Phase 1 of the WHR(C) in September 1997. Here it joined Harold and assisted with ballasting around Dinas using the two ex-slate waggon ballast hoppers 168 and 171. The ensemble can be seen on the official web site.

The Colonel's cab was noted removed in March 2009, to enable Sandra's power unit to be transferred into the frames of Andy, a new build simplex. The cab and chassis had been reunited, and stored in Glanypwll carriage shed, in October 2009. The intention is to fit a new engine and to restore the Colonel.

The Colonel at Minffordd Yard 2003

See also[edit]


  • Bradley, Vic (1993) [1992]. Industrial Locomotives of North Wales. London: Industrial Railway Society. ISBN 0-9010-9672-5. OCLC 27769657.
  • Andrew Elms, and personal experiences