Wickham

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The Wickham is a small line car in use on the Ffestiniog Railway. Originally a standard gauge vehicle, it was acquired for use on the Festiniog Railway during the line's rebuilding.

History[edit source]

It was originally built by D Wickham & Co Ltd in Ware, Hertfordshire, as a standard gauge Type 17 gang trolley, Works No. 1543, for the London & North Eastern Railway. It was despatched from Wickham's works on 27 June 1934 and was delivered to York, originally fitted with a JAP 1100 petrol engine (Numbered Number LTZ/D 38682/S). During its LNER and later British Railways career it had the running numbers 399 & 900492.

It was obtained from British Railways by 1961 and re-gauged for use on the FR. In 1961 it was reported that Lancashire & Cheshire Group were making slow progress on re-building the Wickham PW Trolley, but due to lack of space it might be necessary to complete the job at Boston Lodge.[1] It was equipped with a hand-wound klaxon for audible warning of its approach.

In 1966 it was given a general overhaul including a reconditioned engine and new driving axle. This was in anticipation of lots of work in connection with the relaying from Tan y Bwlch to Dduallt.[2] It was used intensively up to the Dduallt reopening in 1968 and then much less. During the relaying the relaying train (Van 2, Tool Boxes, generator wagon etc.) was parked at the head of steel once the old track had been lifted. The gang rode up on the Wickham and home on it in the evenings. In 1967 it did the equivalent of about 160 round trips.

This vehicle was notoriously said to be among the faster on the line and is reputed, in 1965, as travelling from Dduallt to Minffordd in twenty five minutes, including completing from Tan y Bwlch to Penrhyn Crossing in ten minutes, with Ron Lester driving. The respective current "timetable" times being approximately 40 minutes and 14 minutes.

On 13th January 1967 the Wickham Trolley was involved in a minor accident on Bakehouse Crossing in Penrhyn when it hit a car, the driver of which thought the railway wasn't running, it being winter time.[3]

The Wickham eventually ended up out of use and stored at Glan y Pwll where it was on show during a event in 1998. An initial start on an overhaul / restoration was begun at Glan y Pwll but this was not completed and in late 2003 it was moved away from the line to a member’s home in the West Country for restoration.

Phil Traxson wrote:

In the 1990s it had already had a set of new ends with larger windows manufactured and bolted on it whilst it was at G-y-P. Quite what happened to them I don't know. They were folded from slightly thicker sheet so that they needed no frames and therefore had no overlaps for water to get in and corrode between frame and plates and had holes cut to take some large ex-Transit Van windows which Andy Putnam had in stock . I started this but had to give up when my wife became ill and I could not spend the time on it. I had the drive face of the fly wheel surface ground to remove the corrosion and pitting, and ground in the valves of the engine and cleaned up the commutator of the magneto and myself and Andy Putnam had the engine running and drove it up the long siding at G-y-P. I also replaced all the wheels with a new set that Jon Whalley found in the stores at Boston lodge, still with Wickham's ticket on them. This entailed making a new taper hub for one of them, machined up for me by Steve Coulson, as it had three of one type and 1 odd wheel with a different type altogether. All this was logged in a notebook that was kept with the trolley, but at some point after I stopped work on it, it was obviously lost.

Later it was taken on by Bill Edmondson who wrote:

It lived in my garage from 2003 until 2010. Fred Howes' instruction was that visibility had to be priority - hence BIG windows. Thanks also to Brian Faulkner who got the engine fettled to run properly.

The vehicle made a triumphant return to the FR for the Quirks & Curiosities event from 30 April to 2 May 2010, fitted with completely new bodywork. In early 2017 it was back at Boston Lodge and moving under its own power.

Mileages[edit source]

The following mileage data is from the relevant FR magazines.

1962-1965 – 2,404 Miles,

1966 – 2,353 Miles,

1967 – 2, 739 Miles,

1968 – 917 Miles,

1969 – 1,774 Miles,

1972 – 11 Miles,

1973 – 14 Miles,

1990 – 11 Miles

Total FR miles reported as 10,223 up to 1990 (1990 miles all towed).

It is worth reflecting that 1,000 miles was roughly equivalent to 59 trips from Porthmadog (where it lived in the goods shed) to the Tan-y-Bwlch to Dduallt section.

Gallery[edit source]

See also[edit source]

  • Wickham of Ware - a history of D.Wickham & Co Ltd, Railcar Manufacturers by Loxley Ford & James Cooper, The Rockingham Press, 2003
  • The Wickham Works List by Keith Gunner & Mike Kennard, Dennis Duck Publications 2004.
  • FR Locomotives

References[edit source]

  1. ^ "Group News", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 014, page(s): 004
  2. ^ "Boston Lodge", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 035, page(s): 005
  3. ^ Johnson, Peter (2004). Immortal Rails (Vol 1) The Story of the Closure and Revival of the FR 1939-1983. Chester, England, CH4 9ZH: RailRomances. ISBN 1-900622-08-4. OCLC 56654167.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)