Upnor Castle

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Upnor Castle
Awaiting departure from Harbour Station, 1983
Type Hibberd Planet
Home Railway F&WHR
Original Railway Chattenden and Upnor
Built by F. C. Hibberd & Co.
Built 1954
1968 Arrived on FR
Wheel Arrangement 4wDM
Length 16 ft 9 in
Fuel Diesel

Upnor Castle is a medium sized diesel locomotive in use on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.


1954-68: Origins[edit]

This locomotive was built as a 102hp F. C. Hibberd & Co. "Planet" 4wDM (Builder's number 3687 of 1954, Model SCN). It was used up to early 1962 at the Royal Navy's Lodge Hill and Upnor (Chattenden and Upnor) Railway in Kent. It arrived on the FR from the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway on 12 February 1968 and was regauged from 2ft 6ins at Boston Lodge.

Although not named at Upnor, its present name was given when it went to the W&LLR. In 1986 there was a plan to rename it Harlech Castle and plates were actually made [1] but in the end they were fitted instead to the new Baguley that now carries them.[2]

1968-2010: On the FR and WHR(C)[edit]

This locomotive was the first diesel on the FR able to haul anything like a normal service train. In 1971 it received a Gardner 6LW engine at the same time as the wheelbase was extended to improve its ride. It was later upgraded to a 180hp Gardner 6LX.

Engine noise within the cab proved to be unacceptable (hence its nickname of Uproar), so when a similar locomotive Conway Castle, was obtained in 1981, it was completely rebuilt to deal with this problem. There have been proposals to rebuild Upnor Castle in similar fashion but it was transferred to the WHR(C) in 1997 after being fitted with a reconditioned engine. Since then it saw limited use on WHR passenger trains and extensive use on construction trains.

2010 gear problem[edit]

For pictures, see Upnor Castle/Gears.

In 2010 Upnor Castle was returned to FR metals for maintenance by Boston Lodge, due its gearbox being stuck in 4th gear.

After investigation it was decided to replace the gearbox from one of the ones the FR acquired many years ago. The rebuild included a complete re-wire, and a repaint. It was used as pilot loco at Porthmadog for the Phase 4 track layers train on October 31st 2010.

After 2010[edit]

Unfortunately the fluid flywheel was also found faulty, and Upnor remained awaiting works attention during the winter of 2010/11. Time was found in the spring to rectify the fault, and Upnor was being used as works and main line shunter by July 2011. During 2013 Upnor's gear box required further attention including new parts which have now allowed it to engage 4th gear with work also done on air seals, and in 2014 was back in service. On 18th July 2020 it hauled one of the first passenger trains to Tan y Bwlch following the Covid-19 related suspension of passenger services.


1969 974 (Total 1,168)

1970 364 (Total 1,532)

1971 1,724 (Total 3,256)

1972 2,924 (Total 6,180)

1973 2,109 (total 8,289)

1974 3,604 (Total 11,893)

1975 2,684 (Total 14.577)

1976 1,493 (Total 16,070)

1977 2,528 (Total 18,598)

1978 3,111 (Total 21,709)

1979 2,181 (Total 23,890)

1980 2,068 (Total 25,958)

1881 2,329 (Total 28,287)

1982 1,193 (Total 29,480)

1983 2,508 (Total 31,988)

1984 6,523 (Total 38,511)

1985 6,243 (Total 44,754)

1986 1,046 (Total 45,800)

1987 3,393 (Total 49,193)

1988 1,170 (Total 50,363)

1989 1,035 (Total 51,398)

1990 705 (Total 52,103)

1991 1606 (Total 53,709)

1992 2,006 (Total 55,715)

1993 2,066

1994 429

Source: FR Magazine via FRHG Chronology pp 147-148.

Other Planets[edit]

It should be noted that the FR has purchased a number of standard Gauge Hibberd locomotives as a source of spare parts for both Upnor Castle and Conway Castle at various times. These have not come to the railway.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 113, page(s): 13
  2. ^ Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 125, page(s): 206
  • Weaver, C Rodney (1988). Festiniog Railway Locomotives. Leicester, England: AB Publishing. OCLC 59838875.