Steam Locomotives on the Bala Lake Railway
The Bala Lake Railway aims to run steam trains on each day of timetabled operation.
Five of the steam locos currently at Llanuwchllyn were built by the Hunslet Engine Co. of Leeds, England. Each of the Hunslet locomotives are 0-4-0 ST (saddle tanks) and were all made for the extensive 2ft narrow gauge systems that operated in both the Dinorwic and the Penrhyn Slate Quarries in North Wales.
The one exception is our latest arrival Diana who is a recently restored 0-4-0 side tank locomotive built in 1917 by Kerr Stuart of Stoke-on-Trent for the Kerry Tramway in Mid Wales.
Alice, Hunslet works no. 780
Built in 1902, Alice is the sister engine to Holy War (No. 779). She worked at Dinorwic until about 1960. She was then used for spare parts at the quarry and purchased as a source of spare parts by the then owner of Holy War.
In 1977 the remaining parts were gathered together at the Bala Lake Railway and in 1987 these remains were purchased by BLR volunteer worker Chris Scott & work started on restoration. The remains were later moved to the owner's garage, the Ffestiniog Railway and onto the Leighton Buzzard Railway who agreed to finance the new boiler.
Alice returned to steam in 1994, having been rebuilt in the style of quarry locomotives - cabless and with dumb buffers made from large lumps of timber. The locomotive moved back to the Bala Lake Railway in 2003.
Alice was purchased in 2010 by Julian Birley.
Diana was supplied new to The Home Grown Timber Committee in
1917 to operate on the reopened Kerry Tramway near Newtown
in Central Wales.
Following the rundown of operations at Kerry, she was sold by E.Longhurst and Sons at Kerry Sawmills to Oakeley Quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Following the introduction of a Ruston diesel, she was sold in 1942 to a dealer in Harlech and was then sold to the Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry in 1945.
Her boiler was declared unsafe by 1950, so she was shunted away into a shed where she remained until 1963 when she was purchased by Graham J Mullis and moved to his railway near Droitwich, Worcs.
When that railway was closed she was bought by Hills and Bailey at Llanberis and she moved there in 1970. Diana then moved with Tony Hills to his new base at the Brecon Mountain Railway in 1976.
She was purchased by the Davies Brothers in 1978 and was moved to their home in Clydach near Swansea in 1981 where a very detailed restoration continued until ill health slowed works.
In February 2014, the locomotive was purchased by its current owner, a long time narrow gauge enthusiast and volunteer at the Talyllyn Railway, and following assessment in Hampshire, the decision was made to begin the restoration again from scratch. The locomotive moved to the Vale of Rheidol workshops in Aberystwyth for return to as near to original ‘as supplied’ condition as possible.
You can find out much more about the history and restoration of Diana by joining the "Diana" KS1158/1917 Group on Facebook.
Supplied new to the Dinorwic Slate Quarry in 1902, Holy War worked up to 1,860 feet above sea level. She was the last steam locomotive to work in a British slate quarry finishing at Dinorwic in November 1967, ending 120 years of steam in the quarries.
After leaving Dinorwic she was taken to Quainton Road, near Aylesbury, for preservation. In 1975, Holy War was purchased by Rev. Alan Cliff, then Minister of Wrexham Methodist Church and arrived at Llanuwchllyn that December. Following overhaul she entered passenger service in 1979 and has worked regularly ever since, except for extensive boiler repairs 1985-1987. Holy War was purchased from Alan Cliff by the railway company in 1989, securing her long term future at Llanuwchllyn.
Maid Marian was built in 1903 and delivered to Dinorwic where it worked until 1964 when she was withdrawn from service. In 1965 a group of enthusiasts clubbed together, formed the Maid Marian Locomotive Fund (MMLF) and bought the loco for preservation.
Maid Marian has been on the Bala Lake Railway since 1975 has the frames and many of the numbered parts of King of the Scarlets (HE 492 of 1889) due to the works at the Dinorwic Quarry swapping components around when major overhauls took place.
Late in 2004, Maid Marian was withdrawn from service and stripped down so that a new boiler could be made. This work, entirely paid for by members of the MMLF was completed by end of 2006 and the loco was rebuilt in the Llanuwchllyn workshops of the Bala Lake Railway, re-entering service 28 May 2007 resplendent in the colour scheme she carried while at Dinorwic.
Winifred, Hunslet works no. 364
Winifred was built in 1885 by the Hunslet Engine Company for the Penrhyn Slate Quarry. She spent most of her working life at Port Penrhyn where she sorted wagons of slate ready for loading onto ships for transport all over the world. She then spent the last ten years of her life working in the quarry itself.
When the quarry decided to change to diesel locomotives she was sold and transported to America where she spent the next 50 years in a museum store out of sight.
She was purchased by Julian Birley in 2012 and brought home to Wales. Following completion of an extensive overhaul in our own workshops Winifred returned to steam in the spring of 2015.
Locomotives Undergoing Restoration
Built in 1898 and originally named Wellington, the engine was purchased from Dinorwic in 1965 by Alan White who moved the loco to Ashchurch, Gloucestershire home of the Dowty Railway Preservation Society. The engine ran for a couple of years on the Dowty line but was withdrawn from service in 1969 and stripped down to enable a total overhaul to be carried out. Due to changing circumstances, while much work has been done on components, the loco was not reconstructed.
Following an agreement between Alan White and Bala Lake Railway, all the parts have now been moved to Llanuwchllyn to enable full rebuild to take place. Steady reconstruction work has happened since its arrival and it is hoped that once complete, the loco will join the working fleet hauling passenger trains.
Diesel Locomotives on the Bala Lake Railway
The Bala Lake Railway is home to four diesel locomotives. The diesels are used to haul steam engines out of their shed in the mornings to enable them to raise steam, to move carriages into the main platform to form up the days train and to haul wagons around the railway for maintenance purposes.